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15 love stories told through Humans of New York photos

Although February is most commonly known for Valentine’s Day, love isn’t just about chocolates and gifts. Humans of New York showcases snippets from the lives of the real people who walk the streets of NYC. Here are 15 top love moments from the Humans of New York Instagram:

1. Perseverance will get you places

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“I was watching the girls’ dance class one night when I noticed one girl in particular: beautiful, slim, big afro. She didn’t wear much make-up. She was a natural beauty. But when she noticed me looking at her, she did that face thing. She scrunched up her face like ‘don’t be looking at me.’ But that was the one I wanted. Back in the 70’s, if you had good words you could say to a woman– that was known as your ‘rap.’ But I was shy. I had no rap. But I said: ‘Fuck it,’ and I asked to be introduced to her. We dated for six months. I took her to movies and parties, but I never made it official. One day my friend Douglas warned me that she was getting impatient, so I finally asked her to go steady. But she said: ‘Too late. I’m taken.’ She said she was already dating the lead singer of a band. I swear she did it just to get a rise out of me. She had me begging her. I’d drop by her house. I’d get her girlfriends to put in a good word for me. I’d go to all the same parties just to get one slow dance and whisper into her ear. I finally convinced her. Last Thursday was our 39th wedding anniversary.” (4/4)

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Remember to speak up when it comes to love. It can be difficult to tell someone how you feel about them, but if you wait too long, you may end up losing them. Luckily this persistent man didn’t lose his lady.

2. Not everyone’s perfect

Some people buy houses that are “fixer-uppers,” other times you’re drawn to someone you’d like to “fix” or help become their best self.

3. Sometimes love hurts

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(4/4) “She left without telling me. I came back from a dentist appointment and everyone was gone. I went into a deep depression. My friend had to move in with me to keep me from killing myself. She wasn’t allowed to take my kids like that. The court issued a summons, but her father got a lawyer and they took out an order of protection against me. I’m not a bad man. I’m not a bad father. She knows I love my kids. She can’t look me in the eye and tell me that I’m an abusive man. I would never hurt her. But there was something that happened. We had an argument a week before she left. I got so mad and stressed that I grabbed a bat and started smacking the door and the wall. She came out of the kitchen and she caught me in that moment. She was so scared. I’ll never forget the look of terror in her eyes. I immediately dropped the bat. I said ‘I’m so sorry babe,’ but she didn’t want me to talk to her or touch her. It took four days for her to let me kiss her again. Then a few days later she was gone. I haven’t seen my family for a year. I know it was wrong. I’m sorry. But I’d never hurt her or the kids, I promise. I was only hurting the wall.”

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When you’re in the heat of a moment, you act without thinking of how others might react. This man may have lost the people closest to him, but he still loves them.

4. Love is company

It would be nice to have a partner to help you raise a child, but sometimes you just have to make plans on your own. This single mother is rockin’ it.

5. Sometimes love is silent

How do you tell a loved one what you want when they’re so against it?

6. “…until death do us part”

This man loved his wife until the very end. It’s never too late to say “I love you.”

7. A mistake could end up being the best mistake you’ve ever made

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(2/3) “We met because of a wrong number. But we ended up speaking for a few minutes, and at the end of our conversation, he asked if he could call again. Soon he was calling me every day. It never felt romantic. I never felt that he had bad intentions. It just felt like he needed someone to talk to. He would tell me every little detail about his day. We’d talk for hours. Those phone calls were the highlight of my days. I was a refugee too. I was also lonely. So I’d sit in my room and wait for the phone to ring. Eventually we met in person. But I’m seven years older than him. I never once expected him to mention marriage. But then one day he asked if he could come speak to my family.” (Amman, Jordan)

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Have you ever fallen in love with the sound of a voice? It’s not always about “love at first sight.”

8. You can feel so much love through one embrace

The best hugs are the ones where you run into each other’s arms and just hold on tight. You know it’s true love when you never want to let go.

9. Love is a promise

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He pulled me aside, and said: “I’m taking her on a boat ride tonight and I’m going to read her a poem I wrote, and then give her a promise ring. When I met her, there were things going on in my life that would have made any other woman walk away. But I told her everything, and nothing changed her mind about me. I don’t have any money. I don’t have a great job. But she still sees so much in me. I’d marry her tomorrow if I could, but I’m only nineteen and we’re both working students, so I can’t quite do that yet. But I wanted to give her a promise ring to let her know that I planned on being with her forever. Eventually I’ll get her an engagement ring too. But I think the promise ring is even more important. Because an engagement ring is just my promise to get married. But the promise ring is my promise that we’ll be together forever.”

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Promises are important because they should never be broken. These young lovers have promised to stay together forever.

10. Love is happiness at the end of a long week

It’s easy to get stressed about life, but spending time with the one you love can easily lift your mood.

11. Love has its ups and downs

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“I’m trying to focus on my first year in college while my parents get divorced. They told me when I came home for Thanksgiving break. They’ve been together since they were my age. Dad wanted to be a successful artist. He was always the dreamer. He was the one that played games with me, while Mom was the one that helped me with my homework. I just don’t think that Mom felt she could grow with him anymore. She’d recently gone back to school and gotten a new job. Dad is still hoping that his art will get noticed. She thinks he needs to be realistic. He thinks she lost hope too early. Ever since they decided to separate, I noticed that a light seemed to dim in my dad. But a light seemed to grow in my mom.”

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One decision can mean so much to the people involved. It can make your life better, worse, or you can just be stuck in the middle.

12. Love isn’t just about humans

Humans and pets love each other, but sometimes pets need some lovin’ too.

13. A mother shows her love in many ways

Showing someone you love them isn’t just by saying “I love you.”

14. The steps of falling in love aren’t in a textbook

You don’t choose how you fall in love. Most of the time, love happens in the most unexpected ways.

15. Love knows no age

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“My wife passed away last January. We’d been married for 62 years. You caught me at a time when I’ve been thinking a lot about love because I’m reading Shakespeare’s sonnets. The definition of love is elusive, which is why we write about it endlessly. Even Shakespeare couldn’t touch it. All the greatest love stories just seem to be about physical attraction. Romeo and Juliet didn’t know ifthey liked the same books or movies. It was just physical. After 62 years, it becomes something different entirely. My wife used to say: ‘We are one.’ And believe me, she was not the type of person to overstate something. Now that she’s gone, I realize how right she was. So much of our lives were linked. We were very physical and affectionate. But we also shared every ritual of our life. I miss her every time I leave a movie and can’t ask for her opinion. Or every time I go to a restaurant and can’t give her a taste of my chicken. I miss her most at night. We got in bed together at the same time every night.”

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There’s something about love that makes us think about it, talk about it and write about it. It’s always a constant in our loves, no matter how young or old we are.

Make sure you show and tell those closest to your heart how you really feel. Don’t let people know you care just on Valentine’s Day — keep reminding them all year round. Love never dies, even though it may need a little push to spark a fire or rekindle a romance. Never lose hope, because love is out there. Love is everywhere.

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