He thought a while, then managed to answer, I think so. We waited eighteen years for each other, didn’t we? Doesn’t such a long time prove we love each other?
No, time may prove nothing. Actually you never loved her. You just had a crush on her, which you didn’t get a chance to outgrow or to develop into love.
What? A crush! He was taken aback and paused in his tracks. His sinuses became congested.
Yes, you mistook your crush for love. You didn’t know what love was like. In fact you waited eighteen years just for the sake of waiting. You could have waited that long for another woman too, couldn’t you?
Let me tell you what really happened, the voice said. All those years you waited torpidly, like a sleepwalker, pulled and pushed about by others’ opinions, by external pressure, by your illusions, by the official rules you internalized. You were misled by your own frustration and passivity, believing that what you were not allowed to have was what your heart was destined to embrace.
Ha Jin, “Waiting”