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We hadn’t been dating long when I popped a question. “How can I show you that I love you better?” I chirped bravely to my boyfriend as we sped down the freeway at sunset. While it wasn’t the question, give me credit: it’s a hard question to ask. Because what if I was bad at love?

Indeed, love was nowhere on my resume.

After a myriad of short-lived, ambiguous dating trysts in my early twenties, relationship failure was a part-time profession for me. I knew all the wrong things to do. But to really love, to set my vulnerable heart out for review, was all part of a risk I hadn’t yet made in all my calculated attempts at intimacy.

Not long into dating this guy though, I realized two things: One, This relationship feels different, better. And two, Oh no! I have no idea what I’m doing.

I started reading, naturally, trying to catch up on the tried and true relational tactics I’d missed out on before. I downed the classics: Love and Respect by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs, and Dr. John Gray’s Men are from Mars. I really, finally, wanted to be good at love.

Reading instilled the theories of love, but I had to try them out in real life. This was inevitably the tricky part. It felt like my first trip to Mexico, mouthing choppy, beginner Spanish, awkwardly formal, trying to translate quickly in my head. Until you speak speak the language fluently, it’s exhausting. I think love feels just about the same sometimes.

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