Social structures of romance seem to evade me, but dammit, I know how to love.
I realized a while ago that I'm a bit of an emotional klutz. I say things that don't need to be said out loud and sometimes nose my way into situations that don't call for my presence or input at all.
I've held onto people for years completely unaware I was in love with them and, strangely, I've held onto people I loved at one point years after I stopped actually liking them. I'm prone to casually blurting things that step outside the social boundaries of monogamy, and that always makes things interesting/awkward.
But, if nothing else, those I love have no question that I do. I'm loyal to a fault. I get loud in defense of my loved ones even when they won't. I spend too much time and money on gifts or special extras. I get extra sentimental when heaping on overzealous praise at the drop of a hat. I rave about those I love to friends so often I'm sure they're convinced I'm overcompensating for something.
I've always been this way but in my younger years, my lack of confidence or real-life romance role model caused me to counter my good intentions with a lot of belittling language or insane jealousy when I felt slighted. These years aren't my proudest memories, but honestly, I'm glad I'm able to see them in my rearview instead of realizing I'm still acting out like that now.
My love isn't possessive and makes no attempts to control my partner these days. I've found that loving from a place of gratitude that we get to share time together — no matter the amount — eliminates an enormous amount of bullsh*t relationship drama and, in turn, keeps my relationship afloat longer in the end.
I know how to give in ways that complement my partner's needs. I know how to listen when I'm mad. I know how to create a warm space with my presence and build up my partner when he is hurting or feeling less than himself. I know how to protect the part of a union that makes being with someone special and worthwhile in any context. And I know how to find someone who will give me the same.
I may not be great at playing by those weird, arbitrary social norms about romance, but dammit, I know how to love.