I had my first crush in kindergarten. Like two bookends on my love life, he shared a name with my current significant other. He had glasses (which automatically made him smart, of course) and he took advanced classes with me. I thought he was cute and less icky than the rest of the boys, so basically, he was a perfect match in my mind.
It’s funny to look back and see how simple the criteria was for deeming someone boyfriend-worthy back in elementary school. This crush, and others that followed, simply had to be cute, funny, smart, and not dirty or gross. That was it. I didn’t care about how much money they were going to make someday or where they wanted to move and settle down someday, and I didn’t have to.
So where did things become so complicated?
Sometimes I think that in our infinite “wisdom,” we “grown-ups” have begun to favor pragmatism over real, unbounded love. Obviously there are going to be times where the interests of you and someone else are so incompatible that even if love existed between you, you could never sustain it. Perhaps you are both fiercely religious and your religious beliefs are in direct opposition or you both want to live on opposite sides of the world and neither of you are willing to compromise.
But there are also times where we do not allow ourselves to love for fear of the “practical.” We start making checklists in our minds and deeming anyone who doesn’t make the marks undateable or incompatible with us. In an attempt to avoid a naive “love can conquer all” attitude, we have shifted to the other end of the spectrum, assuming that love is nothing more than a list of qualifications and check marks veiled in desire.
Reflecting on my elementary school love interests (of which there were a couple) makes me wonder if we as children had it right. When we were small, we didn’t consider the “details.” We loved because we just did. We didn’t love because it would be convenient or because it would set us up financially. We loved the boy on the playground who told funny stories but never finished his homework, or the girl that had pretty hair and smiled lots. We didn’t love the boy who told us he also wanted to live on the West Coast after college, or the girl who only wanted two kids.
We can never return to our childhood naivete, but sometimes I wish we could return in part to our beliefs about love. Because when I look at the rest of my life, I don’t need someone who’s going to make millions of dollars a year. I just want someone who’s going to share their fruit snacks at lunch.
Inspired by the WordPress blog prompt “It’s Friday, I’m in Love.”
For some more reading on the topic, here are a couple of my favorites.