About Love..or..The only time I’ll ever quote the Bible..or..Meet Miss Love Doctor!
Corinthians 13: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
This entry is inspired by my friend (you know who you be) and every woman (or man), who has been demoralized by dating and is fearful of a lonely loveless future. I am sorry that my alter ego, who so inventively calls herself Miss Love Doctor, is such an unbearable pedant. But here goes:
I’d say that ubiquitously, we, as a species, seek to make connections with one another. Even this here pastime of Blogging is arguably just another means by which people are trying to connect with each other. In life, these connections, whether platonic or romantic, are perhaps, as a general rule, the most crucial components of happiness. Relationships/connections are an integral part of human existence, the very conception of life is predicated on a connection, albeit just a physical one. The metaphorical structure of our lives is built from these connections. The first level i.e. the foundation of the structure is comprised from the family of origin. We are born connected to it, at the very least genetically, and since we cannot choose its members, we simply must learn to live with them, regardless of whether they bring us happiness or otherwise. The next level is friendships, we are able to choose these people for ourselves, they serve as excellent practice in the intricate art of creating lasting bonds. Those friends, who remain in our lives through the years, become a part of who we are. The next, most complicated and coveted level of all, is romantic love. It is like a roof, it completes this life structure, making it a home. It not only completes us spiritually and emotionally, but also leads to the fulfillment of our primal instinct to procreate, ensuring the birth of new families.
Love is a mysterious thing, although the spectrum of the human experience in this regard is pretty broad, we can for the most part agree that Love is as desirable as it is difficult to find. It has many faces, and responds differently to various circumstances. Commonly it is perceived as something which can be joyous, as well as incredibly painful, it can be simple and at times it can seem extremely complicated. One thing is for sure, we all, again, in our majority, strive for it. We go to clubs and bars trying to meet people, we let our friends set us up, we fill out internet profiles and spend an uncomfortable amount of time browsing through the profiles of others, at times we even work up the guts to approach an attractive stranger at the supermarket and strike up a conversation. We search for that connection far and wide, all the while bombarded by various ideas about what love is or should be, how we ought to feel about it, or ourselves for lack of it. Is it epic, is it common, is it forgiving, does it fizzle, should it last, can it hurt? Then, at a certain point, many of us who have yet to find the answers to all these questions, get a little concerned. After a number of failed relationships we often tend to find ourselves disheartened and disappointed, and just like that, we lower our standards. This is an anthropological mechanism, designed by evolution to ensure that we find a way to procreate even if the person/relationship we seek is failing to make itself available.
We often start rethinking our expectations, wondering if we had been brainwashed by rock ballads and romantic comedies. We begin to consider that there is no such thing as that perfect Love, maybe love is really about compromise. Sometimes, this way of thinking is appropriate, as it is important to have reasonable expectations, and to be able to dance the dance of Love in tandem with your partner. Other times, it is quite dangerous because it presents us with a slippery slope. How do we gauge the appropriate amount of compromise? At which point do we begin sacrificing things which are necessary and vital to our happiness? At which point are we just sacrificing ourselves? It’s all so confusing right?
And of course, there is this pressure coming from all around, our friends may be getting married and having children, while we are still wading in the singles pool. Our parents are starting to act like something must be wrong with us for not having settled down by the ripe age of say 30. More and more we hear conversations about that ever shrinking baby making window?! We are feeling judged and wonder if there isn’t something pathetic about our failure to couple up, what could it be? What is wrong with us? Sometimes we fold, we convince ourselves that we had found IT, we get married because it is time, because he or she looked good on paper, or because we feel we had wasted too much of our partner’s time to throw them back out into singledom.
A duty proposal, or a duty acceptance, is, I think, one of the most tragic occurrences plaguing the personal lives of too many people. But, this is an example of when we decide to just give it a go. Sometimes it works, sometimes we are just dutiful enough, just agreeable enough to make it last. More often than not though it’s a hard road, this road ensures job security for many marriage counselors across the nation. In these cases, people around usually start consoling us. They tell us that relationships and love are hard, that they require work, that a lifetime of marriage therapy is really not that big a deal. Many of these kinds of relationships, as well as others of course, culminate in separation. The incredibly high rate of divorce in the modern age serves as a testament to the fact that mankind struggles with the lofty aspiration of eternal love and lifelong commitment. A really good match is harder to find than we want to believe.
While a whole book can be written on the subject of all the necessary things one needs to increase his/her chances of authentic and successful coupledom, there are a few key elements which can be mentioned right here. Firstly we must KNOW ourselves. Honest self-examination is a key element in our ability to both SEE other people for what they are, and allow ourselves to be SEEN by them. Owning our flaws, identifying our deal breakers and our most urgent relationship needs, are just a few of the fruits borne of dedicated self-examination. We must then achieve a keen understanding of what kind of a person would make us happy long term, not to be confused with the kind of person we really, really want to sleep with. We then have figure out how to best attract THAT kind of person, without compromising who we are. And in aaaaaall that, we have to share with that person complimentary values, perspectives, ideologies, and relationship goals, as well as be in the same general place in life. Never you mind the sexual component of the whole ordeal, we MUST after all find one another attractive. And that’s just the short list. Seems quite impossible right? What happened to meeting a cute girl or guy at a farmer’s market and tying the proverbial knot 12 months later at a quaint Bed & Breakfast in Vermont? Well nothing, this is for all those people for whom that simply hasn’t happened or for whom it has happened but did not stick.
It seems impossible doesn’t it. Shouldn’t love be simpler than all this? No, I’d say it is definitely not at all simple. Lots of pieces have to fall into place for it to be BOTH good and lasting. Lots. I can say one thing with absolute certainty though, a good relationship, should not feel like work, should not require “work” and no, it should not hurt. NEVER should it hurt, not for a second. It should be based on a friendship first, a deep mutual respect, an understanding of one another and an open compassionate channel of communication. A good relationship doesn’t force a fit, instead the fit is organic, where each of the persons involved accepts the other wholly and completely, with foibles and without judgment. It is an intimacy unmatched by any other in a person’s life, filled with trust, kindness and equal measure of respect. It is in a word, a HOME, the safest place of all. Only in such a home do two people stand a chance of happily ever after. These are the standards to which you have the right to hold your relationship and your partner, and it is NOT impossible or unattainable. Believe that you deserve to be happy, to get as much as you give, and to be loved unconditionally. Remember that it is not at all easy to find and there is nothing wrong with taking your time, you have no one to answer to but yourself.
Love is the only gold. Lord Tennyson
Miss Love Doctor