Love was always the rope I hung myself from, the thing I desired the most, and that which I systematically destroyed whenever it came close enough to touch me.

When you’re young, it’s easy to see love as an endless romance. A Disney fairytale where the princess is always pretty, the hero always brave, and the ending always happy. Every wedding is white, there is no such thing as separation or divorce, and one day you will grow old with your sweetheart. Even when you experience your first heart break (when my first boyfriend dumped me because of ‘sexual pressure’, I threw a chair at him and cried for six months), you still hold onto that little pebble of hope; that one day, your prince will come and you will live happily ever after in a converted barn, surrounded by happy, healthy children, spending your days baking pies on the Aga and feeding chickens.

Then reality inevitably sets in.

Over and over, your heart is torn in two by broken promises and promiscuity. The rot sets in when he stops calling as frequently. With each new relationship, your hope is quickly diminished by lies, painful truths and late-night arguments. You find yourself faced with choices; give up, or break as many hearts as you can. Walk away, or keep flogging the horse until your arms ache and the spit in your mouth tastes of failure.

You learn that what you thought was an apologetic kiss can just as easily mean goodbye. Love teaches you the art of fine-tuning your jealousy, until you can no longer tell what’s real and what is fantasy.

Then one day, somebody turns your life upside down. All misconceptions about what love should be are thrown out of the window; everything you learned from romantic comedies and books becomes the big lie. Love simply isn’t like that.

Love is falling asleep with your mouth on his nose. Waking up and eating cereal together out of the box. Sharing tobacco. Midnight cups of coffee to keep you both awake so you can play computer games. Love is walking to the shop with him, even though your body aches. It’s quiet and unassuming. It’s simple. It’s not about drama, and the passion isn’t portrayed through grand gestures. It’s a pint after work and a shoulder massage after a long day.

Love is nothing like they say. It doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t break your heart.

I love him.