It's a bit fascinating, flattering and surprising to me, but my last post caused quite a stir. I've received a number of notes from readers expressing their thoughts about the idea of true love. And it flows that in a number of those notes, readers also commented on various things I've written and the things I've said that I want in a partner.
It's been about half and half of people (men and women) agreeing and disagreeing with the idea that true love means that there are no others...and it's heartening to know that there are so many who agree and recognise how important it is :)
At the same time, debate and discussion are always good things and so I'm also interested in the reasons behind the disagreeing emails I've received. I don't want to just broadly discount all of those ideas, but I did notice a theme across most of the emails from those who disagreed with me, who said that true love isn't possible the way I described it.
The theme I saw in those emails is that many readers thought I meant that true love means you'll never even be briefly physically attracted to someone else...a stranger, a colleague, etc. And the resounding disagreement was "that's just hormones." And, drumroll please, you're all right :)
It seems there's a bit of a misunderstanding in what I meant...in reading back through my post, I realise that I kept using the word "feelings," but I never clarified what those encompass, I never further defined the word.
When I spoke of "having feelings" for someone, I was speaking of emotional involvement - and lasting physical feelings. To me, that encompasses romantic feelings toward someone, and it encompasses long-standing physical attraction to someone. It does not include just fancying a stranger who walks by, it doesn't include observing that your colleague has nice legs.
If my future husband had ongoing "what ifs" and regrets about a previous girl he'd been with, if he wished even a little that things had worked out between them, then I would feel that he didn't truly love me - that something was missing between us. Because in his ongoing regrets about her, he's investing romantic and emotional feelings in her, and taking them from me. I'm not complete to him because part of his heart wants her. If he flirted repeatedly with a female friend, I would feel that he didn't truly love me, for all of the same reasons. However, if my future husband and I were out to dinner one night and, whilst I was speaking to him, his eyes wandered briefly to an attractive woman across the room, I would giggle, raise a teasingly offended eyebrow and tease him about it - I wouldn't feel threatened by briefly wandering hormones, I'd be amused at his raging hormones and I'd know by the brief nature of it that I'm still his, that I'm still complete to him.
The difference between the two scenarios is very clear to me...my point, in my first post, is that when you're truly in love, you don't have to try not to want others, you just don't want others. And whilst I did want to further explain myself, my ideals haven't changed since I wrote my post. I'm only more convinced now than I was when I wrote that entry, that when you have truly found the magic, when you're truly in love, you want for nothing. You don't have to try and work to love your partner, you just do.
There are no regrets about the past, no lingering daydreams about life with someone else or the feeling that you're missing out on anything with anyone else...your true love is everything to you, complete to you sexually, emotionally and romantically.
I'll allow that many people don't wait for it...on the contrary, being single is seen as odd. You are supposed to be in a couple, by society's rules...and as humans, we all want companionship. And sadly, that seems to lead many people to settle for someone they love most of the time, to settle for someone who sort of excites them, to settle for someone who they want just a bit more than they want someone else - because having that person means that you at least have someone.
I'm not superhuman, I'm not better than anyone else...I'm just very passionate in my wants and very stubborn ;) I am also quite content being single...I do want very much to find The One. But I don't want someone...life can be hard sometimes, life can even be completely and utterly painful. But true love is easy...it's natural, it's constant, you don't have to try to truly love someone, the love is just there and it's magical.
So why would anyone...why would I...want to struggle and try to love someone, adding difficulty to my life, when there's a man out there that I'll just truly love, magically? Why would I want to permanently mar my currently happy life by settling for a man I'll have to work to sort of love, for the rest of my life?
They say that in order to love someone else, you have to love yourself first...and I think that the reason I can afford to be so passionate and stubborn about finding someone I truly love is that I've come to really enjoy and appreciate singlehood...and I've come to love who I've become as a woman and a person, I love the experiences I've been able to have - experiences I've been able to have because I'm single, not despite it.
It goes back to that idea about whatifs and regrets. When I hit my late 20s and really came to realise what I wanted in a man - what I still want today - I also felt a bit consumed by regret, by the whatifs of past events, decisions and past partners in my life. I felt like I had wasted time, missed out on time with my One. Eventually though, more life experience, a bit of introspection and time brought me to where I am today.
I'm in my early 30s, I've changed careers, I've moved twice (the second time to a different continent!), I've lost love, I've walked away from bad relationships, I've travelled all over the place, I've met amazing friends, I've managed to keep old friends...and through all of that, I came to be me. I developed a sense of self, a level of confidence, a level of self-assurance that I know I wouldn't have if Mr. Perfect Back Then had turned up.
I might have lucked out, he and I might still be compatible and we might even still be truly in love. But I doubt it, extremely. Early adulthood is a huge time of change, for all of us...and who you are when you start that period of your life is nearly guaranteed to be massively different than who you are when you finish it.
And whilst we all continue to change and grow throughout our lives, until our last day, I truly don't think that any time is as life-changing and vital as those years of early adulthood. So, I'm happy being single because I had the chance to experience some of the most important years of my life on my own, I got the chance to truly find me. I was free to become whoever I wanted to be, who I needed to be. I've been free to develop myself so that I can be that much more loving and happy as a wife and mother, so that I can be happy with myself.
They say we're all settling down later these days than people did in previous eras...and whilst it makes it harder to find The One, because now I have a much clearer idea of the kind of man I need and so I'm pickier...I'm also much more likely to find true love. The man I fall in love with won't be a crush, he won't be a fleeting satisfaction until I fall for someone else, he won't be the man I settled for because Mr. Wonderful got away...he'll be the man so complete, so wonderful to me that I'll truly love him. He'll be the man I gave up my freedom for :)
I won't look back at my life with regrets and whatifs - I'll look back at my failed earlier relationships and will be eternally grateful for what they taught me about me, what they taught me about life. But most of all, I'll be grateful that they all failed - because the failure of those past relationships is what will lead me to my true love :)
If I never find my One, if I'll always be single, I'll get to continue experiencing things on my own...it's not a lesser life than finding the One, it's just a different one. I very much want to find true love, to experience motherhood...but I also know that I can be truly happy even if that never happens.
There are three paths in front of me, life with the One - a life where I get to be truly in love, I get to be a mother and watch my children grow up with an amazing man beside me. There's the life continuing where I am today, going where ever I want to, becoming whoever I choose to be, seeing the world on the way. Both of those, to me, have amazing and endless merits. I'd be lying if I said I didn't prefer the path of finding my One...but I'd be happy, in different ways, with either. The third path though, is the broken path and one that would mean unhappiness and regret for me or my partner...or both. And that would be to settle for a man when I want someone else, to settle for a man when I'm not quite sure about him, to settle for less than true love. And I'll never choose the broken path.
Relationships take work, of course. It's about working together to grow together. Some days the other person drives you crazy, they're too grumpy, too opinionated, whatever. But at the same time, when it's right, you love that they drive you crazy.
It's that old adage, I don't like you - but I love you. Liking someone sometimes takes work ;) But the true love is always there...true love is out of our control, it just is.
So...the second point, many readers commented on the things I've said about what I want in my future partner. I mentioned earlier than being so sure in who I am means I'm pickier than I used to be, which is definitely true. But at the same time, it's not about a laundry list of tick boxes. When I look back at who I've been drawn to in the past and why, each man was very different from the last. There were similarities, of course, but when I think about why I wanted to give myself to these men, it wasn't about a bunch of pre-defined criteria - it was about the magic. It was about who each man was, what he did to my heart, how he made me feel. It was about us.
I have wants and ideas about my future One, we all do and I am picky about my feelings toward a man. I need to feel something amazing toward him to be further interested...but I also know, from life experience, that I just don't know what he'll be like specifically, until it happens. I won't know how to truly describe or define my One until he becomes my One.
After all, you can't go grocery shopping for love, it hits you like an asteroid when you least expect it and from exactly the direction you weren't looking ;)