In my life, there have been a handful of couples that capture in the smallest of their interactions the deepest sense of love and respect for one another. You can tell just by looking at the ways they look at one another how deeply in love they are, how they’re falling over again, further and farther. It’s his glance that says “no man alive is luckier than I am”. It’s the way she moves to him, by him, near him, as if they were magnets.

I doubted the existence of this love at many points — such a thing is natural when you’ve had your heart broken or been deceived by someone you trusted. I’ve gone into many relationships believing it was the One, that he was the One, to discover otherwise. At one point, I thought the love I was looking for was a collective dream, a product of poetry and stories and longing. But life proved that theory wrong.

While I was visiting Napa, Melissa and Sean showed me how love can light up a whole family, how it can be true and passionate and nurturing, how it can grow rather than fade (and grow so much that a whole new amazing little person appears). Another friend named Melissa and her husband Joel have shown me the joy and laughter and beauty in love, how you can create a home filled with warmth and art and memories.

These couples have an easiness with one another, a sense of fully settling into not only who they are as part of the duet, but who they are as individuals. It’s there in the little ways, like how my friends Jenifer and Troy have mentioned that they go to bed together every night, just sitting and reading together before the lights go out.

Some of the men I’ve dated have been so different from me that I’ve forgotten that sometimes a partner can fit into your sacred spaces, can challenge you to grow, can make you feel safe even as you’re leaning into your fears.

I might still be looking, but at least I have an idea of what I’m looking for.

Where did you learn about love? What did you discover about it?

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Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.