FRIDAY REFLECTIONS – TRUE LOVE, DOES IT EXIST?

Friday reflections is the part of my blog where I talk about life, or of issues relevant to me, or just generally things I love or like, so that you have a better perspective of who I am.

TRUE LOVE, DOES IT EXIST?

This is one of those burning questions that has undoubtedly crossed all our minds at one point or another, most likely in a time of heartbreak or disillusionment. It is then that we usually question the concept of true love. For sure, in times of great happiness when we have been in a new relationship where we think of that person all the time, where the sex is regular and exciting, and where you cannot get enough of each other, then the question of true love also comes to the fore. I am sure many of us have looked on that new partner, or object of our affection, as our possible true love. Or perhaps we just hope they might be.

As I begin to think on this subject, I am not sure true love exists. I think for the majority of us, we only ever truly love one person in our lives, deeply. We might love several people in our lifetime, but there is ever only one person we think of when we are alone, and when we reminisce on what might have been, had our lives gone the way we wanted it to. When we feel this way, it is because we looked on that person as the one we believed to be our true love. To be reflecting on such a thing, we have no doubt suffered the heartbreak of losing that one special person. For true love to exist, that love has to be shown and expressed by both parties. It has to be reciprocal always. Therefore, the person you have loved above all others may not be your true love, not if they do not feel the exact same way.

Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages, talks about the mad, in-love phase. It lasts usually eighteen months to two years and encompasses the period where we go above and beyond the lengths and limits of our normal behaviour to win the heart of the one we cherish. But it comes to an end. Then, you have to find that middle ground and foundation to build something that will endure for a lifetime together. We have all reached this point when we have been in a loving relationship. Often, one party may look elsewhere to try and find that “high” again, because unless two people are in this same place at the same time, that foundation cannot be built. And that foundation is necessary for any possibility of us having true love.

In my experience, this is most definitely true. The woman I viewed as my true love, came out of that in-love phase immediately after our wedding, exactly eighteen months into our relationship. In retrospect, I remained there in that phase for another three years and it was only a request for divorce, and then separation, that snapped me out of it. When one person in a marriage has moved on from that phase, and the other has not, you are looking for different things and unable to find what you need from the other. It leads to a natural drift between the two people involved, which more often than not will prove fatal to the relationship or marriage.

“The best things in life are not free. They are given freely, but you have to work hard to keep them.” Shane KP O’Neill – The Dracula Chronicles.

Of course, there are other factors. The key one of course is compatibility. Many people, though, have the wrong idea of what this is. My former wife felt we were incompatible because we did not like the same movies, or because we did not share the same tastes in music, or many of the same interests. These things certainly help, but they are inconsequential in the scheme of things, just the small stuff. Compatibility is respecting the differences we have, because there will be many, and men and women are very different creatures. We are not made the same way, and we do not think or react to situations in the same way. It is NOT changing the other person to conform to your own needs and wishes, as was the case in my marriage. If you set out to change someone, and succeed, then you finish up with someone different to the person you fell in love with and married. Compatibility is understanding and appreciating the differences we have, and having a shared view of what you want from life. If you want to grow old together, that is compatibility, but you have to put in the time and work to achieve that. To achieve or succeed in anything, you have to put in the hard work. You have to do it every day. This is more true of marriage than anything, yet so many people do not do this. So many people give up way too easily.

“True love never runs smooth.”

The old adage certainly rings true, and it is something I heard my father say often when I was young. In my opinion, someone can only really love you if you are able to evoke every passion within them. Some would view this idea in a negative way, but I say they are wrong. If someone loves you, for real – warts and all – then not only will you make them ache for you, yearn for you, want you, need you, desire you, make them laugh, and smile, but you will also make them cry, make them angry and sometimes, even make them hate you. Real love, or true love, is not just the sunshine days. It is every day, and every situation, be it good or bad.

If I have learned anything, it is that a man should never stop dating his wife, and a wife should never stop flirting with her husband. And if there is ever a chance for true love to thrive or exist, then a relationship or marriage can only ever have two people in it. The moment you allow a third party, even a sibling, into your relationship, it is doomed to end. You can trust me on that.

Sure there are couples out there who have been together fifty years or more. Perhaps they know the secret, and have tapped into the essence of what true love is. They will have had many bad days, many fights and no doubt many occasions where one or both wanted to walk away, but they did not give in to that. They remained together, because they know true love means every day – for better or worse, in good times and in bad. This, for me, is the best argument that true love does exist.

To conclude, based on my life experiences, and there are very many to draw on, I do not think there is such a thing as true love. If it is attainable, it requires the greatest effort to have and maintain. In my opinion, there are very few out there willing to go to those lengths. For those of you who believe you have found your true love, then I am so happy for you. There is no emptier feeling than having found love, only to lose it again. Perhaps, you can enlighten me a little and share a secret or two of yours with me.