Anatomy of this outfit: Dress & Slip by Free People, Sandals by Aldo, Hat by Urban Outfitters

Love. It’s something altogether familiar and foreign at once. Complex and simple, exhilarating and terrifying. It can be maternal, familial, platonic, romantic. Something to be shared with others and something we work to have for ourselves alone.

I’ve spoken a lot about romantic love on LFB. And while I definitely want to approach the subject of other forms of this feeling, I’m here to speak about romantic love again.

At 29 I can tell you that although I have been in love several times I don’t think I ever quite got it right. Which is probably the reason why those past relationships did not last. And while I do cherish the time that I have spent with the people that I have let get close to me, I wonder if a love that is even and uncomplicated and even possibly practical is a love better than one full of the deepest lows and the highest of highs. Because I loved the highs but I hated the lows and such a thing is not sustainable anyway. I also wonder if it’s possible to find a love that is both full of passion and yet still uncomplicated.

Although these are the questions that I have as an adult who has long since learned that Disney and romantic comedies have unreasonably set a bar so high no love could ever come close to the perfectly timed romance of all that happens on the big screen, right now I am less concerned with which expectations might be reasonable and which ones might be fabricated by societal standards and the big movie making machine, my bigger question is: am I ready to love another human being with passion and commitment? With understanding and openness?

I previously felt that nothing was more meaningful than shared feelings between two people. And while I still believe in romance more mundane but more meaningful than anything hollywood could create, I don’t think for a moment that I’m going to die alone with 50 cats slowly feeding on my corpse as I rot away for a week before anybody realizes that the odor coming from the downstairs apartment is the body of a half eaten cat lady. But the thought of loving feels like a commitment I’m not sure I want to (am ready to?) make. In fact I am not even sure if it’s about readiness or willingness, if they are one in the same or entirely different, or if it’s a bit of both.

This is the first time in my life that I have probably felt this way. In the past I put the companionship of another person very high on my list of things that made my life meaningful. And while I think that love is miraculous thing, when I think about getting into another serious relationship I question if I am actually ready and/or willing to make this kind of commitment which is odd because I have never questioned it before.

I was the person who did not understand why commitment was difficult, who didn’t understand why labels could be limiting, who didn’t understand why titles like “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” created pressures and caused people to take off running, screaming, straight into a brick wall like a chicken with its head cut off, somehow still with the ability to scream. But at this very moment in time if I were to have a boyfriend – officially that is – I am not sure if I would still feel free, I’m not sure if things would still remain without complication.

When things are undefined there are no expectations. There are no reasons to get mad. There are no causes for jealousy. I have never feared commitment before in my life. Yet I find myself in a position where I do. Part of this is due to the fact that for the first time in my existence I have come to really appreciate being on my own. I am focused on my career and I’m not a fan of anything that might come between that. And yet the closeness proximity wise and emotionally that another human being would bring is still a welcome thought.

They say timing is everything and maybe they’re right. But I find myself asking the question: is it really my headspace or lack of possibilities? Is there somebody right now who I would happily settle down with where I not to be so comfortable with life as it already is or has the right person simply not yet appeared or has this person already appeared but has a different role to play in my life for now?

Part of me worries that I will pass up the opportunity to be with somebody that could make me happy (and of course somebody that I could make happy) simply because relationships feel all to foreign right now. Part of me thinks that were an opportunity to come along right now I would fuck it all up. Because love is not constricting. But when I think of loving I worry about the things that I will loose.

I don’t want to love simply because I’m nearing 30. I don’t feel a ticking clock, nor the pressure to settle down and start a family. To be frank sometimes I think that it is more a waste of time to invest in a relationship out of fear of being alone only to have it end and have to start over all over again months or years later then it is to simply be happily alone. Or maybe practical relationships – ones you have with another person who also knows this isn’t “big love” but something comfortable and okay for the moment – are the way to go.

But of course as humans are constantly changing their minds, fickle creatures that they are. As there is also a part of me that would welcome committed companionship. Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons (why can’t seasonal love be a thing?). Or maybe it is my heart wanting more than just myself, my friends, and my family. Because somebody can be the warmth beside me in my bed without being in my heart. But Love is the warmest kind of heat of all. And so I think it’s safe to say i’m rather undecided and confused about the entire matter. But then again isn’t this confusion also part of this giant concept we call love?

Photography: Sara Tortora

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Stay conscious, Rae

Rae Tilly

Rae the EIC of LFB and YEOJA Magazine. She is also a photographer and social media influencer.


  • Your comment on seasonal love made me immediately think of Bernard Black and his want for a summer girlfriend (quality is crap but Relationships, when you stop to think about them, are slightly weird, and commitment is scary. For the first time, similarly to you, I have realised how much commitment a relationship is, and I’m taking it slow. Previously it’s been immediate ‘I love yous’ and moving in and this time it’s different and not wholly unwelcome. I do believe in the right person at the right time thing, y’know? The one that changes how you feel about love and relationships – but wether that lasts is another thing.
    You look so delicate and beautiful in these photos, Rae :)
    erin | art and words

    • rae

      Honestly, I think that taking things slowly is sometimes a lot better for the future than jumping in with both feet recklessly. And that does not mean you have to sacrifice the big romance either – it’s just smarter than immediately convincing yourself you are in love with a stranger you only just met. And thank you so much, so glad you liked these photos!

  • Oh the heart is a fickle thing! Like you, I was pretty happy on my own, focusing on my career and all that jazz. I can even pinpoint a moment earlier this year where the girls and I sat down in January and everybody supported me in ‘no boys in 2016, go for gold with the business’.

    Et voila! I’m happier than ever having fallen into an unexpected relationship. I too didn’t understand or want the limiting labels of ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ and I also hated the idea of wasting my prime years, but the best things plod along when you’re busy nurturing everything else, I’m a huge believer of that, now! With every day, week, month, important event or occasion that passes, I honestly feel that I experience a different sort of love with my boyfriend. Without totally oversharing, he’s helped me learn that love is simple, spontaneous, fun, frivolous, confusing, practical and more, all at once. (: Really liked and related to the line you wrote: ‘I believe in romance more mundane but more meaningful’. I’m such a hopeless romantic, but small things like my boyfriend stocking the bathroom with my favourite Lush shampoo or leaving an extra blanket on the side when he leaves for work (England essentials right now, lol) are more romantic than grand gestures of flowers and fireworks and all that filmstar crap.

    Loved reading this. Geez, I love reading about love, haha. xx

    • rae

      I believe that as well – things happen when you least expect it – meaning things happen when they happen, not when you wait for them or try to plan them or will them to be. And yes, it’s honestly the small things that can be the most romantic. Of course we all even get those move-like moments now and then but it’s the smaller things that are the most endearing. And your boyfriend doing small things like that are actually huge – it show just how much he loves you and how considerate he is. Sounds like a lovely fella.

  • Monique | WritingMonique

    Love is a splendid thing! :) I don’t believe in that ticking clock either, and am so glad you don’t feel pressured or anything: cause you shouldn’t! I loved reading this so much, you are so honest and delicately adorable :) (ps. I also love the dress in the photos!)

    • rae

      Thanks so much, Monique!

  • Such a loving post, and can’t get over how adorable and beautiful you are. And you’re 29? I would have never guess it! You look so so much younger

    • rae

      Thank you so much Corina! And yeah, I get that about every day haha. I was in the floral shop today and the Vietnamese woman working there thought I was about 19 or 20!

  • Hallo du Schöne! Tolle Fotos! Und ja, die Liebe… ich habe das Glück, dass ich sie gefunden habe in meinem Mann mit dem es harmonisch und dennoch immer wieder aufregend ist. Wir haben das große Glück eine wirklich wunderschöne Beziehung zu haben in der wir uns beide komplett fallenlassen können und auf die wir uns immer und zu 100% verlassen können. Wir hatten in den letzten 7 Jahren nicht eine größere Krise und lieben uns heute wie am ersten Tag… nee, viel viel mehr als damals :)
    Liebe Grüße!
    Rosa Larissa Klara

    conscious lifestyle of mine

    • rae

      Hallo Larissa! Wie schön dass du so eine Liebe gefunden hast! Wunsche dir und deinem Partner das alle bestens! :)

  • I could be reading between the lines, but it sounds to me like you are tired of wasting time on relationships that haven’t made you feel fulfilled. Maybe you were always involved with someone in the past and never took enough time to just be by yourself. I think it’s definitely a good idea to spend some time as a single woman (I know at 29 the idea is kind of hard! Well here in America anyways everyone starts to settle down around this age) and the added bonus is that it will make you available for when the BIG love comes along!

    xx freshfizzle

    • rae

      I am not tired of wasting my time perse, and I would not change the past for anything – those past relationships have taught me valuable lessons. I just want to make sure that the next relationship I get into is one that is healthy and done right!

  • Sophie Lee

    Your dress is so cute <3

    xoxo, Cool style for men

    • rae

      Thanks Sophie.

  • I feel like my romantic maturity is about middle school level. Love is illogical, so I’ve stopped trying to make sense of it. If I feel it, I’ll feel it. Is that me flowing with life (and being super chill) or is that me being a hopeless romantic? :o -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

    • rae

      “Love is illogical, so I’ve stopped trying to make sense of it.” yes yes yes, this is so true. And I think going with the flow (or the feeling) is the right way to do things.

  • ah, love. as you age you started to see things in another light because of experience. what you want when you’re young and full of hopes are entirely on a different spectrum of what you want right now, that you’re crazily independent and have seen the worst in people. i LOVE this line:

    “I wonder if a love that is even and uncomplicated and even possibly
    practical is a love better than one full of the deepest lows and the
    highest of highs.”

    because it’s been running in my mind eversince i hit quarter of the century. probably i only need one simple love to feel complete. i don’t need the love that’s full of fireworks and turmoils and wars. maybe a simple “i feel old when i’m with you” (in a good way) is all that i need.

    i do believe in the concept of soulmate eventhough the word icked me. the concept of having someone compatible, that completes you in every sense, that makes you feel whole, is someone i strived to be and to look for. maybe that person is not yet in the role to be of the one that i’d love. but he’ll reveal himself someday. and i’ll be there when he showed up. for now, the search continues..

    also, this might be my fave anatomy of an outfit post. and your photos, your styling, oh, everything, i love everything. you look superbly gorgeous moreso in the first photo. i can stare at it forever??? <333

    • rae

      Thank you so much for your thoughts and kind words and I am so pleased that this has been your favorite Anatomy of an Outfit post yet!

  • sileas

    This is weird, I do think a lot about the concept of love recently too… Maybe it’s the season? Very well written, I won’t be a able to put my thoughts into such comprehensive yet thoughtful words! I think our expectations are still very high as well as the pressure we put on ourselves how a perfect relationship should look like – and it seems a lot of commitment during times where individual freedom and self-realization are our highest goals. A lot of things have been changing dramatically fast but the concept of romantic love hasn’t changed for centuries…

    • rae

      Thank you so much, so glad that this post could speak to you, and yes I do think that when the fall sets in, we tend to get more sentimental.

  • I don’t think romantic love can ever really be uncomplicated. The fact that you love someone and are committed to the relationship you share with them doesn’t have to be complicated in itself, but the bottom line is you’re intertwining your life with another person’s, so of course you’re going to have to take their feelings and needs into consideration, and they’re going to have to do the same for you. So even if nothing were to go wrong at all, it still means that things would change and you would have to make room in your life for them and complications will inevitably arise because of that. Certainly more than if you didn’t have to give a partner a second thought when you’re allocating time to whatever you want to do, which you have the freedom to do when you’re single.

    In saying that, it doesn’t automatically mean that if you found love again that you would have to sacrifice your career or personal goals. There would probably be a shift in priorities initially – maybe you’d rather curl up and watch a movie together than write a blog post one night, so in that sense new love is definitely a distraction but I think that is part of the adjustment period. Ultimately good love should make you happier and challenge you to be a better person and if someone wasn’t supporting you and pushing you to achieve your goals then they’re not doing the right thing by you as a partner.

    My boyfriend and I got together almost a year ago and before that I didn’t have an official partner for 5 years. Initially because I was so fucked up from my first relationship and then as I came out of that a few years later, I was stuck in this limbo where I would have liked to fall in love but I was petrified of the commitment and being vulnerable and getting hurt, etc. That whole cliche. I got to a place where I didn’t believe it was going to happen for me again and I had genuinely made peace with that and felt that if I was meant to spend my life more or less on my own then that wasn’t the end of the world and it didn’t have to mean I was a crazy cat lady or that there was even anything really depressing about it.

    But then my partner came along and even though I had all this emotional baggage somehow there wasn’t even anything dramatic or complicated about it, it all just fell into place and was so easy when nothing before it had been. I still definitely have some of that fear still in me and I had to challenge myself a lot in the early days (particularly leading up to the whole “I love you” part) but I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though I’m in a relationship now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with being alone and that there doesn’t have to be this whole stigma of a crazy cat lady or a spinster or whatever, you can just be happy and work on your own shit, and if it’s meant to happen then it will be worth whatever sacrifices or complications that may come your way. But if it doesn’t happen you can still have an incredibly rich, fulfilling life because love is not the only thing that matters and there is nothing at all wrong with working on your own goals and building your own happiness instead of relying on someone else to swoop in and deliver it to you.

    Also for the record I definitely don’t think love marked by huge highs and lows is the best kind of love there is. I’ve been there before and now I’m in a pretty consistent relationship where we talk about our problems and want to build our lives together and it’s so much better. Life is full of highs and lows and at least for me my current, far more mature and stable relationship (with a far more mature and stable partner) has just as many highs as my first one but with far less crushing lows. Love doesn’t have to be either a rollercoaster or boring, it’s not one or the other. It should be all the good things with as few bad things as possible, if you’re getting close to 50/50 what’s the point?

    • rae

      While I am totally on board with relationships being about compromise and working together and know what you mean about this in itself making things intricate, when I say complicated I mean more like those relationships that turn unhealthy and co-dependent. I have had my fair share of relationships where I lost myself and my own needs while I was busy trying to fix or take care of the other person. I want to make sure that in my next relationship both of us take each other into account and still stay true to ourselves. That being said, at the moment, I am honestly not sure I want to sacrifice being selfish and focusing solely on my own dreams right now, which tells me I am not ready to date just yet, but then again if the right man came along, I think I would very easily change my mind.

      “But then my partner came along and even though I had all this emotional baggage somehow there wasn’t even anything dramatic or complicated about it, it all just fell into place and was so easy when nothing before it had been.” This is also what I mean – I feel like when it works it clicks and it works – although there will always be difficulties, and introducing another person into your life is inherently “complicated,” it should not be a relationship full of constant battles. I am really happy to hear that you have found that kind of simple (simple in a good way) and loving relationship.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and I could not agree with you more with everything you have said here.