Looking over my shoulder: Reflections on Love
Not too long ago I was riding in a car with a friend who has been successfully married to the same man for over 40 years. We began a philosophical conversation about dating at our age and segued into a discussion about why people stay in unhappy marriages. I commented that I did not understand why anyone would. She asked me how long I was married before I got divorced. I responded fourteen years and immediately realized, and told her, that I had no idea what it was like to be in one relationship for four decades. She smiled and said, "I know you don't, I could tell when you asked me a few weeks ago if Joanne (a mutual friend also married for 40 years) was still "in love" with her husband." "It's not as simple as that." she said.
That conversation has been on my mind during the past few weeks. it made me take a second look at how I think about Love, what I've learned about Love and what my expectations are of Love in the future.
What I've Learned
1) Hold out for what you want and what you deserve, never settle where Love is concerned.
After a long spell of no romance, most of us have asked ourselves if we're being realistic about our expectations. Maybe we should just break down and accept the invitation from the nice looking guy who has been asking us out even though we have concerns about his drinking, or his language, or his friends, etc. STOP ... always stop and pay attention to that cautionary voice inside. It is better to be alone than to be with a person who makes us feel: uncomfortable, insecure, inferior, unsafe and unloved. Because Love is what we're going for here. I'm not talking about holding out for a perfect person. Prince or Princess Charming is a lovely fantasy, but does not exist. Hold out for the person that makes you laugh out loud, the person that likes you exactly as you are and treats you well. Your lover really does have to be your friend.
2) Love keeps coming back
It may feel like Love is gone, that it has been pulled up by its roots and cast aside, but Love will keep coming back at you. You may not want to see it, you may not want to feel it, but Love is not easily offended, it just keeps coming back.
3) Sex is not Love
Sex is wonderful but sex
is not Love. Never, ever, confuse the two. if you choose to have sex
without Love, have safe sex most definitely, and I'm not just talking
contraception and STDs. Be sure you understand your partner's
expectations and that he/she understands what sharing sex means to you.
If you think sex means one thing and it means something entirely
different to your partner, there's a strong possibility someone will get
hurt. Sex can be very powerful, be prepared to accept the consequences.
4) Run, don't walk, when the person you Love is in Love with someone else
We all fall in Love and people fall in Love with us, but like most things, timing is everything. You may convince yourself that you can live with unrequited Love, that it's worth the heartache to have the object of your affection in your life not matter what, but ultimately it will beat you down. Move on for a while, fill your life with other friends, find interesting things to do with your time until you feel you're in control and you're ready to have that person back in your life.
5) Never have an affair with a married person
good can come from this. Even if he/she believes they are no longer in
Love with their spouse, the question is, what is compelling them to
stay in their marriage? Money? Children? Responsibilities? The answer
doesn't really matter. Healthy Love needs to be free, open and
available or it becomes unhealthy and someone ends up being hurt. If what you feel for each other is real, the marriage has to be dealt with first.
6) All broken hearts can be mended
You have to want to mend a broken heart. Sometimes holding on to the sadness is a way of keeping the person who broke your heart in your life, not letting them go. Sometimes holding on to the sadness is an excuse we can hold out in front of us like a shield that keeps everyone and everything at a comfortable distance.
7) It takes time to mend a broken heart
Just because we want to feel better, we want to stop grieving, doesn't mean we can. We need the distance that time provides. We need to feel what life is like without our love interest and then to begin to imagine our life without them in it. We all know instinctively when the worst is over. We begin planning a life of our own.
8) Try to have a final conversation
When a romance ends abruptly and the one who is left behind does not know why it ended, it is important to get an explanation, to have a final conversation. Don't be afraid to ask for an explanation and if you are the person who ended the relationship, show respect for your ex and as awkward as it will be, answer their questions honestly.
I'll know it when I see it
have been in Love more than once in my life, yet I do not understand Love. I do not understand why out of hundreds of guys on a crowded city street one stranger will make me turn around and take a second look. I do not understand why in the middle of a conversation with a guy I have just met the thought might enter my mind that I could love this guy.
I've heard that phenomenon described as everything from a chemical reaction in the brain to a primordial response to another person's scent or even as a match made in heaven. I don't know what it is, but like every other member of my species, I certainly feel it when it happens. It seems to me the trick is not stopping there, not settling for just a mutual physical attraction, as overpowering as those emotions can be. Love is built on stronger stuff, commonalities and friendship.
During my lifetime I have stumbled, indeed fallen flat on my face, where Love is concerned, yet I have also floated on air. Mostly I have always tried to learn from Love.
I don't know where and I don't know when, but I do look forward to walking around a corner one of these days and bumping into my old friend, Love, again.