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Looking over my shoulder: Reflections on Love

Updated on April 27, 2011

The Question

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

Nothing 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.

Everyone has a mended heart
Everyone has a mended heart

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

I 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.


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    • Words from Jan profile image

      Words from Jan 6 years ago from Near Albany, NY

      Thanks, Cousin Fudd. Congratulations to you and your lady ... almost 40 years together ... that's quite lovely. Janice

    • profile image

      Cousin Fudd 6 years ago

      Almost 40 years with the same lady. Great advice and a wonderful read.

    • profile image

      Words from Jan 6 years ago

      Hi ahorseback - I'm assuming from your comment that you're a guy. It's always nice to get feedback on THIS subject from someone on the other side of the aisle :) Yes, I agree lots of hormones are involved, it is nature at it's most confusing and it can consume us if we don't use that impulse control. I guess in the end I prefer to just float along on this river called life and see where it takes me.

      Thanks for taking the time to tell me your thoughts on the subject ... always good to hear other people's opinions.

      Take care,


    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 6 years ago

      Jan , I guess somehow each of us is a romantic to some extent, Love....everything or nothing! At times I think its all as simple as impulse control . Out of control hormones , unknown chemicals , the pure nature in everything , who doesn't feel it anywhere , anytime ? The wolves , the elk ,the coyotes the faries ! Man ,woman , we are all the same. I know this though ; it consumes us . It consumes everything around it at times , and then you turn around one day and's gone. Oh there I go , rambling away about something that , I have found , I know no answers for at all...:-} Great hub though , I find that man and woman aren't really all that far apart.

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      words from jan 6 years ago

      Thanks,Cindy, thanks, Jack ... your consistent support keeps me going. Love.


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      Jack N 6 years ago

      Every person over the age of 15 can find themselves in the words that you wrote. Excellent work. Keep it up. Jack

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      cindy 6 years ago

      Janice-after having come full circle with the love of my life-I know that you will find what you are searching for-great writing once again-love cindy d

    • Words from Jan profile image

      Words from Jan 6 years ago from Near Albany, NY

      Thanks, Dr. Amilia.


    • Dr. Amilia profile image

      Dr. Amilia 6 years ago

      Great hub.