by Judy M McCutcheon
My 15-year-old daughter came to me last week asking if I believed in love at first sight and what does “forever” mean. I guess she’s at the age for those types of questions.
I don’t know what your truth is, but I can tell you my truth. Love in its purest form will always be true. The bible tells us that love is patient and kind, love never gives up, it never loses faith and it endures through all circumstances. However, in terms of intimate relationships, what is love and how does it show up for you? Is there really love at first sight, or is it lust at first sight? The idea of love, at first sight, could be warm and fuzzy and wildly romantic; you lock eyes with him or her across a crowded room, the attraction is instant, sparks fly and bam, you’ve found your special one and the rest is history. Or is it? I love science because I believe some things are worth measuring.
A 2017 research says that yes, love, at first sight, is possible, just not in the way we romanticise it. The study says that love, at first sight, isn’t really love because the qualities that are known to reflect love, such as intimacy, passion, and commitment are not there on the first sighting. Rather it is a pull of attraction that makes a person open to the possibility of a relationship. Ah, but what about forever then?
I met a lady two weeks ago, who has been married for 35 years, she’s in her 60s and her husband is in his 70s. He’s 74 actually and just left his wife for a woman who is in her late 50s. Now, before you pass judgement on him or her, you need to have an open mind about love, sex, intimacy, and relationships. So, they have been together for 35 years, and I am sure as with all relationships the beginning was fun and exciting. But as time went by, as with most things, we settle into a routine or a rut – we go to work, we come home, we cook, we may or may not entertain, we have a few kids, but life is routine and boring. The excitement and fun are all gone. We no longer feel the need to show up at our best, not for our husbands and certainly not for ourselves. It’s almost as if we have decided that the old, stale and mundane is all there is, but deep down you know life has so much more to offer you.
You know exactly what I am talking about. We go about pretending that all is well when it really isn’t. We pretend that all is perfect, even our social media posts say we are living our dream. Anyway, this husband runs into his old girlfriend and she is on fire in more ways than one. She teaches tantric yoga (you may want to Google that), so she brings a new level of excitement to his life. For him, his old girlfriend represents the fun and excitement that have evaporated from his marriage. As I look back at my life, I see lots of similarities, the spark that once was, is now gone. How do we get it back? Do we even care to get it back?
For the most part, we are afraid to be alone, so we continue to live by society’s rules for how our lives must look at each stage. But what if we gave up on love as we know it? Think about it for a moment. No more having to wonder if you were visited by the “curse fairy”, no longer waiting for the phone to ring, no more wondering if he’s with someone else when he’s not with you, no more crying yourself to sleep, no more relationship agony tears. While being alone may seem on the surface to be sad, there is a certain amount of freedom that comes with it, because alas, your happiness is no longer tied to someone else. You have finally understood that your happiness is an inside job. Imagine the possibilities and the goodness that you are making space for. You can give yourself grace and love, you can fill your space with everything that brings you joy. You can finally give yourself permission for self-care, you can finally prioritise you. I am not advocating that this could only happen when you are alone, not by any means, but we need to give ourselves some grace, whether we are in or out of a romantic relationship or marriage. I’ve found that if we give ourselves grace, allow ourselves to be vulnerable and build some self-care into our daily routine, our relationships are much better, deeper and our romance fierier.
For me, it is important that we assess our relationships along the way and not just the romantic ones, but all our relationships. What about love? Love of self. Are you treating yourself to the love you deserve? Your love of self should not be conditional on anything, especially not on the whims and fancies of other people. Are you still in those relationships because they feel right, because they feed your soul? Do those relationships nourish you, do they pour into you positively, or do they take from you and leave you weak? Are you still holding onto those relationships because society says you should? Think about it, how do you feel when you are inside those relationships?
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Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company. www.goblueinc.net