Love is blind. Love is everlasting. Love makes the world go around. Love is blind.
Love means never having to say you’re sorry.
Love is such a driving factor in this world. It influences our music, the subject of so much literature, the heart of the church, the basis of marriage and the glue that holds families together.
Love is the most powerful force in the world. It’s even stronger than hate.
Yet so many times it ends in failure. It has been commercialized for the sole reason of selling more products. There have been many industries like greeting cards, jewelry and florists that take advantage of the perceived notions of how it should be. In fact, media and tradition have really dictated how we ought to feel, instead of just feeling. We love our children, and it’s frequently become an expectation to give them everything they could possibly want. The depth of our love is symbolized in how much money you spend on engagement rings. So many churches have become political and self serving, influencing congregations and raising money for their own ends.
As someone who has been married four times, I can tell you that love is too easy to walk away from. That’s why we have a 50% divorce rate in the US. I think that it’s popular opinion that we’re better off married, and it’s an expectation we’ve all been lead to believe should happen. So many women dream their whole lives about their wedding, and how it should be a fairy tale and so often overshadows the real reason for getting married. The celebration of love becomes more an event. Society judges the unmarried as there’s something wrong with them. That’s changed somewhat over the years with the number of divorces, but I have to admit that when I meet someone who’s never been married I’m skeptical that they will be someone who I want to develop a relationship. Especially at my age; how can someone go 50 years without ever being married? It’s become a red flag for me.
With all my failed relationships I’ve questions myself if I even understand what love really is. I’ve thought I’ve been in love before, but after the years it’s turned out that the marriages were based on totally different reasons. I got married because it’s what we did. It was just the natural progression of becoming an adult. Personalities can create a need to be with someone; we’re not strong enough or content with ourselves and needs someone else to ‘complete’ us. Lust is often mistaken for love, and relationships are started believing that it’s emotional instead of physical, when the fact is that’s all it is. The person we love turns out to be someone completely different from who we fell in love with. I’ve been guilty of it all, and I have to wonder if I’m just not capable of true love, at least when it comes to relationships.
So I ask myself; what is love.
For me, love is a feeling. It is a ‘funny tummy’ feeling we get when we think about someone special. It’s missing someone when you’re apart. In some cases it’s putting their needs ahead of your own. And in a healthy relationship, it’s sharing needs and fulfilling them together. It’s romance. It feels really good when someone cares enough to pursue you and the pursuit of someone can be gratifying. I really love treating a woman like she’s my princess. Not only does it make her feel special, but if she’s a princess, then you’re a prince. As long as the feelings are real, I don’t see anything wrong with that.
But most of all, I think that love is a choice.
It’s all too easy to fall in love. We do so not only for the wrong reasons, but even when it’s real and true it can fade away and be lost. All relationships go through phases. Initially there’s infatuation; the object of our affections can be consuming. As a love develops it becomes deeper and emotions intertwine. Then relationships hit a plateau. They get caught up in living day to day and no longer the main focus of interaction. A good relationship evolves over time to comfort and permanent connection. Two people truly become one being, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. All too often however love begins to die when it becomes a part of everyday life. No relationship is without problems and distractions, and they’re often allowed to overpower the emotion that created the love in the first place. Interaction becomes complacent; even boring. The excitement of a new relationship is gone, and we start to look for new ways to get it back. And unfortunately, the easiest way to create that excitement it with someone new. Divorce has become so commonplace and accepted; giving up on what you have to pursue something new can be so justified. And so we walk away.
That’s where the choice comes in.
If you truly want to love someone, there takes a level of commitment that transcends the mundane. When problems happen, there is a choice to face them together or use them as an excuse to quit. Remaining attractive to each other takes an effort, always looking for new ways to keep things exciting and fresh. It is a mindset of success and not an expectation of failure.
So do I have that? Or is there something broken in me that keeps me from succeeding?
I’m not in a loving relationship at the moment by choice. I believe that I have to do more to understand myself and be healthy enough to support that kind of relationship. But there’s no question in my mind that I have the capacity for love.
My strongest love is for my family and my friends. Family is a given. Not to minimize it by any means, but I’m always going to love my children unconditionally. My sister is most dear to me and I can’t contemplate life without her in my life. You just don’t walk away from family.
But friendships are totally different. I’ve had many friends over the years that I’ve lost contact with and decided to cut out of my life for various reasons. But there’s one friend that truly epitomizes love for another. We’ve been through so much, this friend and I. The friendship started at a time when we were both ending a marriage when it was at its most painful time. We shared emotions, drew from our different experiences and supported one another through the pain. Eventually the friendship grew into something more. Our friendship became romantic. And I have to admit it was awesome. I think that’s when the love really began. We connected on such a base level romantically and emotionally, and she became an integral part of me. I had the time of my life. But the romance wasn’t meant to be. We were both going through some very difficult times, and in spite of how hard we worked to get through them, it was just too overwhelming and the romance ended. There was a time when we truly parted ways. We lost touch with each other and stopped the daily interaction that had been so important. But she never left my heart. Not a single week went by without thoughts of her; wondering what she was doing, how her health was, and hoping she was happy. My memories of experiences we’d shared sustained me through some really rough times. I was sad of course that she was not with me, but she was still always there. I loved her, and separation couldn’t change that. And time has proven it out. After over a year, we reconnected. And the love I had was just as strong as it ever was. Not romantically; we’d already figured out that it wasn’t meant to be. The love I have is for her as the person she is. Sure, it would be easy to push her away and be bitter over the circumstances that got in the way of our friendship. I adapted to not having her friendship, and there is always a risk that it will be lost again. But there’s a choice to be made. And my choice is to embrace the love for what it is, and put the effort in to sustaining it. She is my friend, and I love her. I won’t deny myself of something so dear just because I can justify it.
So do I have this capacity? Unquestionably. True, a friendship isn’t the same thing as a romantic partnership and significant other. But so many of the choices, so many of feelings, and so much of the effort required in a friendship are the same. Holding on to the feeling and connection through good times and bad is the basis for any relationship. Adapting and growing together applies to both. Forgiving mistakes and understanding what someone is going through does not come easy, but it’s what you do for someone you love. Having the ability to love someone means adapting to changing circumstances, dealing with problems, and accepting them for who they are.
I love my friend in every sense of the word. And because of this, I know that there’s nothing wrong with my ability to love. I will find that special person for a romantic relationship, and I will fall in love again.
Which is just one more reason to love my friend. She gives me hope.