On Romantic Love

When a relationship is new and the man makes comments about his future, I can’t help but imagine if I might be in it, and what that would look like. My first reaction is, Why is he doing this to me?, as if he’s deliberately trying to mislead me. Don’t get your hopes up, the negative voice in me says. Is he trying to show me how wonderful my life could become if I stay with him, knowing it may not work out? Is he suggesting he wants me, or someone, to be in this future that he imagines? I suppose I could turn it around and look at what I’m thinking when I talk about my future, which is usually one that doesn’t include a man necessarily. I picture myself moving to another country or state to teach or write, or both, and it’s not that I don’t want a man in the picture, because I hope to find one there, but I have this idea that the only way to find myself is by getting there alone, and that I have to leave the city where I currently live to find a man in another city. I forget that I moved from the city where I lived prior to this with a man and then became single, which means I could theoretically meet the love of my life in this city without taking a geographical false cure of finding happiness somewhere else. This is a relatively new idea, because originally I felt like I’m learning that I find myself through relationship with other people, but I’m not sure what that looks like.

One of my friends posted this article by Paul Hudson on Facebook about what a waste of time it is to get involved in a relationship you know won’t work out, which has caused me to re-evaluate the way I think of love—not because it provides new information, but because it’s triggered something in me that I’ve already been investigating. Just as Hudson suggests, I’ve always believed that spending time on someone I know isn’t the right one is a waste, but at what point does a person really know it will work? Do most of us label infatuation as love that we later decide is true love, based on a commitment we make?

With my divorce papers awaiting my signature to make it legal and final, I hesitate. Do I really want to do this? What was so wrong with him? We could have had a good life. If the things that bothered me about him aren’t the same as what will bother me about someone else, other things will bother me about someone else. When I met him I believed he was The One. We had a lot in common with similar personality types and similar interests, and we had good sex in the beginning. Looking back on it I’m not so sure because it’s clear that I was looking for a way out of my first marriage in which I was miserable. I knew it even at the time, but I still thought I loved him. And experience has shown that having similar interests doesn’t equal a shared passion in pursuing those interests together, and that similar personality types can be too much of the same thing. What I wanted was for him to take the lead and make decisions on occasion, and for me not to feel like I was the only one contributing to the relationship. Maybe that would’ve happened eventually had I committed and gone to marriage counseling like he’d requested.

The way that other women talk about their significant others, declaring their love for them, how their partner is their best friend, is something I cannot relate to. On some level I love everyone, and feel compassion and understanding for everyone I date, but rarely do I feel that this man is the love of my life and my best friend. Can that many women be deluded or do I have an inability to love anyone on a deeper level?

If I exclude a man just because I don’t feel an instant connection on the first date, am I quitting too soon, or am I right in feeling that without some spark then no flame can ignite any kind of interest whatsoever? Is the feeling I have for my new guy love or fear of financial instability, knowing he makes enough money to support me, combined with a desire for a father figure to support me emotionally? Does questioning it automatically mean it must be true, and if it is true, then can those desires for emotional and financial support turn into love? My heart tells me, as I write this, no. Yet I don’t want to stop seeing him. Why is that? And why is it that when he tells me he’s out to dinner with another woman, my heart feels hollow, and immediately I tell myself that I didn’t want him anyway, this will be over soon, it’s all for the better, and then when he tells me it wasn’t a date I change my mind and feel relieved. Maybe it’s just a fear of rejection. Maybe he’s not the one for me, but if so, then what is my higher power trying to tell me? It seems that the men I really want are unavailable while those I don’t want are readily available, with financial stability awaiting. Are the available ones the ones I’m supposed to learn to love and accept? Or is this a lesson to teach me how to say no and follow my heart?

In this article, the writer provides a list of things to do before getting into a relationship, all things I’d have agreed with, but now I’m not so sure. For one, a lot of these things take a lifetime to achieve, and some people never find these things. Are these things just a product of loving yourself? If so, then maybe doing all of this stuff alone is necessary. Or maybe not. One of the commenters writes that they’re tired of all these articles about “finding” yourself. S/he argues that we are already ourselves, which is a Buddhist belief that I can ascribe to, although I’ve spent my life trying to find myself. S/he writes that all of the to-do’s that the author of the article demands are things we can do with someone else. Maybe so. On the other hand, once we do these things, are we still the same person as we were initially, and will we be able to grow with someone else as we go along? But then, isn’t that always the question anyway?

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