How do we get it right? Romantic love. Most of the time we don’t buy what we first try—by this I mean we get something different to that we try. In other words, the person we fell in love changes or we do (or probably both).
And even still if we invest via dating and find we don’t entirely like them, what’s the recourse?—it’s better often to continue than turn back for home, or so our logic often dictates.
We think it’s safe to do this. We can ‘put up with’ those “idiosyncrasies” of theirs, surely. It’s equally safe to assume that none of us gets it completely—or even partly—right. This explains the high percentage of failed partnerships and marriages, cheating etc.
But at some point we must realise that being happy—in a selfish sort of way—is only part of the deal. The whole deal, of course, is accepting that a good partnership is not really about ourselves alone—it’s about the two-person team. Understanding this is one thing; living it is another thing altogether.
Recently I was intrigued to listen to a talkback radio show on cheating. Three separate “cheaters” called in as invited by the broadcaster and gave quite unique accounts for “why” they cheated—what it proved to me was that all romantic relationships have a finite “life” unless we seek life beyond that life. We, of course, know that romantic love spikes early and companionate love finishes the course.
Back to dating: I feel that if you’re dating you’re destined to not get it right—not that this inference should depress you. From the long-term viewpoint, the perfect—or even eighty percent perfect—date doesn’t exist. It’s impossible to get a partner who’s so aligned with us personally, yet holds our love in tension.
When we find that our relationships remind us sadly of a time when we or they were different, livelier or lovelier—‘long ago; someone else ago’—we must recall that somehow our expectations of love were/are askew.
We must choose to re-adjust and re-affix our expectations of love—and “them” too. No wonder love is so hard!
But, to be left with hopelessness is entirely inappropriate. The fact is many thousands of couples choose to sacrifice much of themselves to have a happy and successful marriage—and what’s more, they achieve it. They are not put off by change; they sweep with change and commit wholeheartedly to their partner—it’s their whole ideal and identity wrapped up in them.
Dating is a debacle but lifetime love needn’t be.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.