It was 30 minutes before the midnight when a chat notification came into my phone. I called him Cimeng, one of my best friends when I was in college. The name Cimeng in bahasa Indonesia means weed. My circle gave him that nickname because his face constantly looked like someone who was under drugs influence.
“Are you busy?” he asked.
I always knew, random text in the middle of the nights means he just experienced a bad thing. Most of the times the bad thing was related to his romance story. He kinda sucks in doing relationship.
“No mate, what’s up?” I replied.
“Well, it’s about the story I told you last time. Can I call you?”
Not long after that my phone rang, a voice call from him through WhatsApp application showed up on the screen.
He started to share his story about a girl he adored in the office. I knew he’d been approaching this girl quite long time, and I knew how much effort he had given just to get a single glimpse from the girl. It wasn’t very smooth, but he did it anyway.
I thought everything was just fine. I thought both of them were two happiest people in the world. While the actual fact was, they didn’t.
Long story short, after awhile they were together, they were sure to step forward to a more serious commitment. So they introduced each other to their families.
“Are you sure you want to give up?” I asked him again.
“My family and I are one package, and so is she and her family” he replied in weak voice.
“My family can’t accept her family. We are different, they said. They urge me to find a girl who has an equal background” he explained.
I remained silent for awhile. To be honest I was not sure if I could deal with that kind of situation. To some people, family background is a great deal when it comes to a marriage. I can only gave emotional support and normative advice which I wasn’t sure it helped him much.
In this age, after all the things we’ve been through. We can’t just tell someone ‘I love you’, considering there are a lot more than just feeling to start a relationship.
I remember when I was teenager, when things were still easy, ‘I love you’ was the only thing I wanted to hear from someone I liked. Like when I was in middle school, I can clearly recall the first time someone I adored said those words to me. For the first time in my life it was mutual. From all the boys she knew, she still chose me. I felt as the most special guy in the world. Or at least, the best potato boy in the world.
I can still remember the moment those common three words were enough. The moment I thought I was no longer a kid. The moment I thought the words ‘I love you’ was a sign that I have found ‘the one’. The moment I thought that’s all it takes to be together. The moment I thought love was that powerful. I thought love could wipe away every tear shed in a relationship.
Those words was enough before I faced disapproving parents, before pretending to like what she likes just to make her happy, before those silly principles dragged us into endless debates. It was enough before she was ready for marriage and kids, and I wasn’t.
‘I love you’ was enough to be with someone until it was replaced by ‘I thought I loved you’, before our head was swarmed by the thoughts of someone else, before we experienced other ‘I love you’s that made those words less and less meaningful. It was enough before our heart scattered into pieces, and before we hurt others so selfishly.
‘I love you’ was enough until I realized I was wrong, very wrong. Until I realized saying it is not as simple as once I thought it was. Until I realized, it’s just words, and it might be just another empty statement when it is said too lightly.
It’s crazy, how each relationship we went through shifted our perspectives towards it. After each failed relationship we learned a bit more about what we are going to put up with.
We started drafting our ‘bucket list’; she should be emotionally stable, has a similar values, has the same visions, must be physically healthy, must be trustworthy, and then the list keeps going on.
The funny thing is, sometimes the ‘bucket list’ isn’t only built by our own standards, but also from our surroundings. Like to get the approval from parents, we started seeing a partner who fulfills the expectations of our family; she should be religious, has a steady job, has a good education, has similar values with them or like in my friend’s case, the girl should has a good family background and etc etc. Additional requirements that make the concept of relationship harder than it already is.
As things getting more serious and more complicated, we started to understand that ‘I love you’ is no more enough to run relationship in perpetuity. The little things that romanticizes love such as flowers, chocolates, dolls, flirting and whatnot are no longer matters when we start facing fundamental problems such as family pressure, basic principles and future plans.
We begin to realize that there’s a barrier between us and the feeling we thought was enough. An invisible barrier that reveals the weaknesses of our feeling.
In the end, love stories are just stories. Not that love doesn’t exist, but it takes so much more than love to make a relationship work and long-lasting. The parts that are not so interesting to share but are also crucial in running relationship, the parts that are never being revealed in fairy tales or Disney movies.
I love you is not enough, because love itself cannot act as a remedy to all problems that emerge after the wedding reception ends.