I don’t know how to fall in love

I don't know how to fall in love. My longest relationship was 13 months, and in all that time, we never said "I love you." I was comfortable and cared for him – my love language is gift-giving/acts of service – but he was just ... there.

I have tried the dating apps, gone to the bars, joined recreation league sports, and yet I still feel like I'm missing something. I honestly do not know how people can fall in love with multiple people. Whenever I ask, they say love is something you just feel, but I'm worried that I will never have that feeling. I have everything I could want: a great job, an adorable beagle, friends, and a social life. But I have this nagging suspicion that the reason I can't find love is because I don't know how to fall in love. I've heard "you'll fall in love when you least expect it," "love will find you,” and all that. I'm tired. I'm 28 years old and ready. So how do I fall in love?

– Loveless

Have you read Mandy Len Catron's Modern Love essay about falling in love? It's interesting and helpful. It brings up a lot of questions about what we mean when we say those words.

I talk to a lot of people about how they found love and I have yet to meet someone who says it happened when they weren't looking. All of those platitudes about love are sort of meaningless. Saying "love will find you!" gives people false hope and implies that they can just sit and wait for love while watching television. We at Love Letters know that's not how it works.

I do think it takes time to fall in love. Sometimes it takes more than a few dates to fall in like with another person. You also have to remember that quantity isn't the goal here. I'm sure many people on this column can tell you they met their first love when they were in their 30s – or much older.

Also, you say "in love" like it's one specific feeling, but I think it's sort of a blanket phrase to express a range of emotions. "In love" after one year feels different than "in love" after 20. Some people say it after a few weeks. That just means they're excited. Instead of focusing on those two words, think about having experiences. Get to know people and take a beat to notice when you really enjoy someone's company. You're ready for something. Go figure out what.

– Meredith

Readers? What does "in love" mean to you?