By Emily Lingenfelser
Falling in love isn't a choice; it's an irrational chain of events that simply cannot be stopped. It can happen slowly, over time, or quickly in a matter of moments. One glance. One touch. One eight-hour phone conversation. And it's all over.
Falling in love is the easy part -- the excitement that comes with learning what makes another person tick, and the equally terrifying counterpart of exposing your soul to somebody else. It's interesting, unique. It never happens the same way twice.
But staying in love is a choice. An active decision-making process that requires work and dedication. It's easy to fall in love with somebody for all their good qualities: they're smart, sexy, funny. These things are easy to love.
Staying in love is the hard part. The rush dissipates and there are just two flawed people trying to come up with new ways to fall in love.
You start running out of things to talk about, you catch yourself telling the same stories over and over again. And the blinders you once had to each other's imperfections slowly disappear.
Maybe it's little things, like he always seems to forget important days or isn't as thoughtful as he used to be when he was trying to win your affection. Maybe it's big things, like he screams stuff when he's mad that he can't take back.
At the end of the day, nobody's perfect and everybody comes with their own unique set of flaws and features.
People who stay in love don't do so because they have no choice; every single day is a choice.
Over the course of time, you begin to realize that the person you fell in love with is imperfect, and the true act of love, the true definition of loving someone, is loving those imperfections as wholly and completely as you love the good.
Love is saying I see you, all of you, exactly how you are -- the good, the bad, the things that you don't want anybody else to see. I see what you're ashamed of, what you wish you could hide. I see these things, and I still love you. I still choose you.
And you hope and pray and plead for the other person to do the same.
To take your set of shortcomings and love them in the same way.
To stick around when sh*t gets unimaginably hard and tough and complicated.
To choose you back.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.