Because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, this topic is our pre-Valentine special.
This topic isn’t commonly discussed. Some people know about it but, in general, we all just keep the image of love as the innocent, sweet, and irresistible Cupid. He makes you feel good, you’re smiling every day, all the food tastes good, everyone around you is kind, and the whole world is beautiful.
But you have to admit, there are some parts of love that make you feel like you ordered something on Ebay, but the item you got isn’t what you expected. Or, you signed a document but now you think you should’ve carefully read it first.
Beginning, Middle and End
It’s easy to tell whether someone doesn’t have much experience with the opposite sex. The thing that occupies their minds the most, in fact the only thing they think of is the start of a relationship – or to be exact, how to start one. That’s their greatest concern.
But for people who have had enough experience, the middle and the end parts are what matter more.
If you look at it closely, starting a relationship is easy. But keeping and ending it, now those can be a nightmare.
Starting a relationship is natural and easy. Because it’s human nature to find a companion. Everybody does or will do it, at some point in time. In fact, the whole natural process of falling in love becomes hard only when somebody makes it feel unnatural. Or when the person who’s trying to make a partner fails to keep the natural effect.
Making a partner also has its rhythm, pattern and pace. Break it and you’ll be going against the natural flow and it’ll be twice as hard.
So, starting a relationship is easy enough. What’s the hard part?
A Short Definition of Love
If you’re not ready – intellectually or emotionally – to enter a relationship, think twice about it. Coz it’s not as simple and perfect as it looks.
A relationship is basically two completely different people coming together. Different backgrounds, ways of thinking, opinions, styles, tastes etc. Even if you say you will find a compatible partner, being the same is impossible.
Why? First and most importantly, you’re a man; she’s a woman. (Or vice versa). Two, unless you find a way to clone yourself, there will always be something different between you and your partner. Three, you might say these differences are just small things. But in love, small things are big things.
With two different people coming together, there tend to be clashes, collisions. And that’s natural - that’s part of the whole deal and the whole process. Don’t believe the red-hearts-and-roses image that says it’s all smooth and easy. Or the Bulgari wedding advertisements that teach you love is all fairytale and magic.
Love is all about, and especially about, the troubles and problems - and in spite of them all, working together and making it work for the longest time. That’s real love.
If love is collisions and clashes, it’s also about compromises and negotiations. Basically, what you’re trying to do is adjust to each other. But not try to change each other- that’s an unhealthy kind of love.
Sometimes you yield, sometimes she budges; sometimes she holds her ground, sometimes you’re stubborn. As you can imagine, this process can be very frustrating. It can be emotionally-draining and stressful for both people.
For the average man and woman who haven’t had long enough experience with the other gender, you’ll be like a couple holding knives inside a dark elevator. If you’re not careful or if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll keep on hurting each other.
Mr. Right or an Iguana?
Is the person the right one for you? Is he or she worth all the effort?
Personally, I would always say “Yes” to this question. Coz everybody deserves the chance to experience loving and being loved. And the ideal, passive, forever-just-around-the-corner image of a Mr. Right and Ms. Right is just so impractical.
You love a person wholly – imperfections, faults, warts and all – and when you learn to accept everything, that’s when you start to realize Mr. Right and Ms. Right was standing in front of you all along.
But also, you’d better ask yourself the question early on before the relationship gains momentum. Is this person worth it? Or in particular, do I believe we as a couple stand a chance of succeeding?
Coz later, once love hits full force, there’s no stopping it. It’s chemistry at work inside and out. And it’ll be only after the break-up and a couple of years later that you’ll be wondering:
Did I really fall in love with such a person? How did I ever fall in love with someone who looks and acts like an iguana?
Friends and Lovers
Once you’re in a relationship, you have to learn to balance or juggle two lives: your life as a loving partner and your original single life with your friends. If you choose to concentrate on only one, then both two lives will suffer – sooner or later.
So ask yourselves: Are we both ready to change that carefree part of our lives? And how much?
...and All Those Little Things
If you’re thinking about the “lovey-dovey-petals-all-over-my-eyes” kind of love, where you are both so obsessed with each other that you don’t care about anything (maybe just sex), that’s not real love, or that’s just love at its early stage. You tell your partner “Forever,” but do you know the exact meaning of that word?
It means staying together with your partner 24/7 and, according to plan, for the rest of your lives. “Till death do us part,” as they say.
Now are you ready for that kind of commitment? Maybe you’re not but you just wanna enjoy. That’s fine. As long as it’s clear in your heads what you want – in both yours and your partner’s.
But if you're looking for the real thing called Love, ask yourself: Have I ever had a roommate that I wanted to stay with every day for more than a year?
It’s gonna be hard work for you and your partner. It’s gonna take a lot of dedication, patience and the right communication. So the more precise question is:
Is your love really gonna last?
The Green-eyed Monster
It was Shakespeare who first said jealousy is a “green-eyed monster.” Many people don’t recognize Shakespeare’s words but they know what kind of sick monster their partner transforms into.
But, again, what people fail to realize is that jealousy is another normal part of the deal. Or, at least it’s something that you have to accept and you can’t completely stop or ignore. If your partner doesn’t feel even a hint of jealousy for you, then that’s another problem entirely.
I once met a family with a pet dog. The family got a new puppy and I saw the old dog barking non-stop at the new pet.
If animals like them can feel jealous, what more people?
First of all, jealousy is negative and it signifies insecurity and a lack of trust in your partner. All in all, jealousy is not something you should encourage. You should learn to control or handle it.
But at the same time, it’s impossible to erase it completely. So both partners should be responsible enough for each other’s feelings. Don’t consciously or more often than reasonable, put your partner in a position where they will feel jealous. Coz you and nobody ever wanna feel that, right?
If you or your partner is jealous, ask yourself if there’s enough or one valid reason for it. If there is, understand your partner and fix it. If there isn’t, tell him or her early on.
If there isn’t any valid reason for it, then the person has to grapple with jealousy and drive it out of his or her system. Again, it’s hard work coz it’s yourself you’re fighting against. In the end, if you succeed though, it’ll be worth it – coz you’ve become a better and more emotionally-stable person.
“Do you still love me?”
There are many different kinds of relationships. But let’s just divide them into two very general types: The man loves the woman more. The woman loves the man more.
And a normal relationship is either of them - at different points in time.
Again, it’s natural. It’s part of the process. If somebody says “forever,” it’s not really forever unless he’s Edward from Twilight. A change of heart is also inescapable.
But when the time comes for us to change, will you be ready?
1. If you don’t love your partner as much as before or not at all, will you stick with it? What will you do?
2. If you are on the opposite end, you still love your partner very much but he or she has changed, that will be the most painful experience for you. Will you try and weather this storm? Or, will you ever find the strength to cut your losses and move on?
“It’s Not Working Out.”
You ever try building a house in the middle of a hurricane? Fixing a relationship that’s on its way down is like that. A living nightmare. Everything you build around you is falling apart. And there’s nothing you can do to fix it or bring it back to its original condition.
Will anyone ever be ready for that kind of experience?
The End of the Line
A perfectly clean break-up is impossible, no matter what people say. Whether without speaking, on the phone, in a letter, in person etc.
Basically, what you wanna say is: “I know we said ‘I love you,’ but that was another person who said it, not me.”
Life After Love
After the break up, if you think all your troubles are finished, you’re wrong. Aside from the very unoriginal twist that one of you will go crazy and become a stalker, there’s also all these awkward moments of avoiding and running into each other – especially if you stay in the same workplace or neighborhood.
In addition, there’s the important issue of who will make a new partner first and how soon after the break-up. This might also be a time for one of you to hatch a plan for revenge - whether deliberately or unconsciously. To hurt the ex by entering a fresh and completely different relationship.
Then it becomes a complete cycle of hurting yourself, your ex-lover and now other people as well.
In fact, sometimes even innocent bystanders.
I once heard the story of a couple who bought a pair of rabbits when they were madly in love. What do you think happened to the rabbits after they broke up?
Conclusion: Cupid or Icarus?
Now I’ve shown you the real face of love. Not the smiling, all twinkly and cute public image that you might be imagining. It’s more of the down, dirty, realistic and responsible image of love. The one that actually works. The real deal.
Coz once you’ve jumped out of the plane, it would be too late for you to start thinking of all the things I told you. You’re soaring. It’s all good. You’re the captain and the whole world is yours.
But just in case, I think you should’ve prepared a parachute. You know, practical-wise.
Coz even though love gives you wings, everybody’s still earth-bound.