On yet another flight from Paris to New York, Charlotte was once again contemplating her love life. Charlotte, an advice columnist focusing on relationships, was deemed by many as a “love expert,” but it was quite the contrary in her own life.

She was admired by many people: she came and went between Manhattan and Paris, two of the most amazing cities in the world; she had a beautiful relationship with her boyfriend, Olivier; she was very attractive, well-spoken, charismatic, confident, intelligent, and had a phenomenal sense of style, and she was a successful columnist, and was truly happy that she had helped so many individuals struggling with relationship problems. This was all that her readers could see, but it was just one part of her life.

Despite this glamorous exterior, there was a side of Charlotte that hardly anyone knew. Aside from all that everyone could see, her inner self was invisible. And it was worrisome, distrusting, and her own harshest critic. No one would suspect that the always calm and collected Charlotte was struggling with these inner thoughts.

Given her success at her job, one would deem her as “lucky” to have the insight not to make the same mistakes commonly made by others. This was true, in part. She had a very keen eye for spotting “red flags,” no matter how dim or hidden they were. However, she encountered problems elsewhere in her own relationships.

During the flight, she thought about her relationship with Olivier, specifically her “goodbye” with him that morning. Although he was admittedly in love with her and had previously done nothing to make her think otherwise, Charlotte had an uneasy feeling about how they parted ways, and was unsure whether she was overthinking the situation or just following her instincts.

Her relationship with Olivier was another one of her long-distance relationships in Paris. She loved staying living in Paris—she had always felt more French than American anyway—, and, since her mother was French, Charlotte was completely in love with the culture of her ancestral heritage. At this point, her French was almost better than her English. Born and raised in Manhattan, a multi-cultural and open-minded city, her friends there thought this between-two-countries lifestyle was very cool —which it was— until things got complicated.

Charlotte was always fully aware of the potential difficulties of long-distance relationships, which she thought she could supersede given her knowledge as a “love expert.” Each time she mistakenly told herself, “This time it’ll work out better. It’s a different person, and a new relationship. Not everyone’s the same, so why treat relationships that way.” There’s some truth to that, but, unfortunately, not enough to prevent the same outcome.

Although she was very knowledgeable in relationships, and despite that she knew that “not everyone’s the same,” she entered each relationship using her “knowledge” of what someone else did and applied it to situations with a new person. Instead of allowing herself to get to know the person by listening to them, she was too preoccupied with being on the “lookout” for a potential problem. Her suspicion distracted her from a very important part of the relationship: enjoying time with her partner. Instead, she would overthink and scrutinize their words. She was playing the doctor, looking for symptoms to find what the “disease” is; or the lawyer, looking for evidence to win her “case.” However, people are not diseases or cases on trial, they are just individuals, some more complex than others, and we must know that we are not always going to find answers for everything, especially in the matter of love. Each person loves in their own way. There’s no applicable formula to use to see how much someone loves you.

Charlotte was neither a doctor nor a lawyer. She was a writer who was looking for answers that would not be written anywhere. The answers exist, but they are invisible to our eyes. They are only visible in our hearts.

She continued to ponder the somewhat frigid “goodbye,” and how it may be the last regardless of what words Olivier might have said. She could sense it in his demeanor. For her, this was the beginning of the end. His love set her emotions free, which unraveled all her passion with intensity and drew both people very close to each other in a very short amount of time. Instead of this being a good thing, this intensity frightened Olivier. This was Charlotte’s assumption, but she knew that he would eventually be back because she had been through this before. If her assumptions were correct, he was making a mistake because she already knew that she would not be there when he decided to return.

Then another thought popped in her head. Perhaps the goodbye was distant because he was sad to leave her. Maybe it wasn’t the beginning of the end, but instead the opposite. Maybe they had built a stronger bond, and it was just more emotionally difficult to let go of the person. Maybe the thought of her crossing the Atlantic Ocean by herself worried him. Maybe it was just too difficult for him to look closely at her face knowing that he would not be able to see her face in front of him again in over a month. Whereas Charlotte was emotional, and expressed these emotions with her tears, Olivier may have felt that he needed to be the stronger of the couple.

At this point, in the air, with nothing to do but think, Charlotte is left with two options: one, Olivier was distant because he wanted to end the relationship, or two, Olivier’s distant behavior was due to his own pain because of her departure. Although the latter option would appear to be better, this does not exactly mean that their relationship is fine. Aside from love, he would need the strength to carry on with the relationship and not become emotionally exhausted by it. It would depend on how strong their love was. True love continues to exist, no matter how far two individuals are from each other. There will always be a yearning to see each other and be close no matter what the circumstances are.

Staring out the window of the plane into beautiful clear skies and contemplating the situation, seemed very ironic given how cloudy her thoughts were. Was she overthinking or just following her instincts?

Charlotte landed in New York and turned her phone back on. She received a message from Olivier asking her how her flight was. She sarcastically laughed to herself and wanted to respond that it was mentally exhausting due to his distant behavior, but instead just wrote that it was fine.

She’ll never know what exactly was Olivier’s reason for his sudden change unless he chooses to tell her. We search for answers that exist, but we will never find on our own, which is a reality we cannot see, an invisible reality.