I’m 59, and as those who know me are abundantly aware, much of my life has been a search for “real” love. I’ve never found it, or perhaps I have but have been so distracted that I didn’t recognize that real love was right in front of my nose and I just didn’t see that. Along the road I’ve learned some lessons and these lessons are coming back to both reward and in some ways haunt me.
In my thoughts today, I’m referring to the real love of a mate, a partner and a lover because in terms of friends and family, I’ve been blessed with abundance of real love, that’s how I know it exists. But never in that partner. This story isn’t uniquely mine, in fact, it seems to be remarkably common. So today I’m reflecting and departing from the irresistible exercise of commenting on the dreary state of political campaigns and getting personal.
My search for real love has led me down some familiar and some odd paths. I’ve done online dating, met many interesting women and through all the paths followed, have managed to remain single. I could blame this on my blindness, but I really don’t think that’s the reason. Many women are completely willing to overlook that problem, not most, but many. It could just be fortuitous and to a large degree I imagine it is. My firm commitment at this point is back to the basics; relationship 101. It seemed to work for my parents.
There is a huge difference between attraction and relationship. There can be stunning attraction based on nothing that truly relates two people. The “electricity” that’s sometimes noted on a first encounter can make us go to extremes to follow a scent of bonding, but it’s not bonding, it’s attraction. Lesson One: Real love whispers and you have to be attentive or you’ll miss it.
Attraction can disguise character, cause us to see what we want to see and ignore or dismiss what’s negative. We can throw and sacrifice our hearts, minds, souls and bodies in pursuit of an illusion. In turn we often try to create an illusion that we are other than we are, somehow believing that our imagination and image weaving is superior to the person who stands behind the mask. Lesson Two: Real Love presents and accepts “as is” as the best we can offer and expect.
We move far too quickly. Set up house, invade each other’s bodies, homes, bank accounts and personal stories long before trust is established. I’ve seen it and I’ve done it. Trust is assumed and there’s nothing wrong with that, but trust is a quality that develops, deepens and becomes meaningful over time. You can’t rush the process any more than you can make a flower grow more quickly simply because you want it to. In our haste, we make “Poof Trust” and then get deflated when it’s violated. But nothing was actually violated because it never existed in the first place. Trust is first assumed and bonded when earned. Lesson Three: Be patient. Give trust the time it needs to blossom
Building anything takes effort and care, destruction is fast, easy and powerful. It can take years to grow a tree and minutes to cut it down. Construct the house of your dreams and blow it up in seconds. The same seems to be true for real love. Trust can be sabotaged by an act of deceit. Bonds shattered by selfishness. There are Ten Commandments and notably they’re not called the “Ten Suggestions.” There is no fine print or further explanations. We really don’t need to be specifically told what’s the right thing and the wrong thing to do: we know but sometimes if we’re not violating a written code we dismiss garden variety sensibility. Do the right thing, we know what that is. Lesson Four: Play by the rules.
Real love doesn’t turn when times become difficult. Real love listens, deeply listens. Real love does more than tolerate, it celebrates even in the darkest of moments. Real love isn’t the stuff of fairy tales, it’s the gritty stories of survival, sacrifice, passion, appreciation, laughter, acceptance and courage. This doesn’t sound all that glamorous: exactly my point.
This was partly inspired by a friend’s daily posting of Life Lessons: a line or two of daily inspiration. This blog was written on a Toshiba Notebook computer that’s just begging to be recycled.
What’s your opinion? Any thoughts to add to “real love?” You can leave a reply or write to me at email@example.com and let me know what you think. Thanks, Prof. Dave