“Don’t talk to me about love,” she said to him. “You don’t know love. You’re too young. What you think you know about love is actually what you’ve taken from the movies. And those are full of pink roses and froth. Those are falling in love with what you think is the ideal man or woman.”
She continued: “And that’s not love. That’s fantasy. Because love — real love — is more than that. Love is more than the image you have of someone. It’s not just a pretty picture. It’s not just thinking you know someone based on their texts or their tweets or their blog or their profile on some dating website.
“Love is getting to know that person far beyond that surface stuff. Seeing them every day. Seeing them in hard times that are so difficult you want to cry and scream and rage out. And you do those things to let those crazy emotions out. Love is staying through that chaos and staying there afterward. Love is sometimes being pissed off at the other person so badly you want to slap the shit out of them, but you don’t. Love is saying you’re sorry and actually meaning it. And doing things to make up for the stupid mistakes we’re all capable of.
“Love is seeing the ugly shit underneath the pretty surface. Love is dealing with your disappointments when someone doesn’t live up to your unrealistic expectations of them. Love is seeing the other person for who they really are.
“That takes days and days, years and years. Because we clean up ourselves when we go out on dates. We stick to sparkling conversation that tries to show our intelligence and our humor and our charm. We try to make the other person think we’re glowing good souls, when a lot of our selves are petty and selfish and lazy about the things we really don’t care about.
“So don’t jump off and tell me you love me when you haven’t seen me in all that. You love our dating. You love our sex. You love the charm. But you don’t fully, truly love me.”
He looked at her for a long moment, his eyes thoughtful as he took all of that in.
Finally, he said, “Then let me find out about love. I want to find out with you.”
Another moment, a longer one than before. “You better be as strong as you think you are.”