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It’s been a long while since I’ve been in love—that all-in love where you place your heart unconditionally in the other person’s guillotine and hand over the rope.

It’s been a while because the last person who held the rope let it go. Whether she meant to, or it just slipped, or she just couldn’t hang on—the blade came down hard and fast.

So when love came around again, I stood in a defensive stance. I half handed over the rope, half kept a grip. For my own sake. For two and a half years.

We first confessed our love while hanging suspended on a ski lift in early autumn. I’ll never forget how badly I didn’t want to get on the chair. But you sweet-talked the operator with the nametag “BOGO” into letting us on without pass. He knew we were on a date but how could he have known how infantile our relationship was. He said he would only let us on if we promised to love each other forever.

It was awkward, but we didn’t really have any other options. We both laughed and agreed to his terms, preferring to get to the top of the bare mountain to see the leaves changing color.

The feeling of confessing your love for a person for the first time is just that. A confession. There’s a big buildup, so much anticipation. That kind of risk takes courage. But after the novelty of the words wear off, be it a month or a few, it becomes more of a mumbling. A thing you say to comfortably end a phone call. A pacifier where the meaning is no longer even heard. You get to the point where you notice more when you don’t say it than when you do. And when you type it, it reads obscurely as luv you, love ya, or love u. As if the shorthand lets us avoid the responsibility of the emotion.

You can express how much you love another person while still keeping for yourself a firm grip on the rope holding the blade safely over your heart. But that’s not trust.

Trust is the new love. To tell someone “I trust you” and really mean it is to give them all of your love, along with the ability to slice that fucker in half with no warning. To ‘love’ without the full feeling of trust is almost not to love at all. There’s no vulnerability in claiming to be fully in love, without the full aspect of unconditional trust, and thus no real sense of love in it’s truest form. If you think you can have both a true love for someone and full control of you heart and emotions, then you don’t really have either.

Billy Hafferty

Billy Hafferty is probably still hanging out of the passenger side of his best friend's ride trying to holler at you.

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