What is Love?

1459 words  |  
Categories:  Life, Relationships
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I recently read an article that depressed me quite a bit.

No not this one.
This is the one I mean.
In this article, they say that sociology and relationship experts (whatever those are) assert that no one will ever experience the passion and excitement of their first relationship again, and that they should completely forget their first relationships. As much as this feels like common sense to me, I feel resistant to the notion. On first glance, you might think this is exactly what I’ve been doing, searching for that intense passion of a love found in innocence, but I don’t think that’s what I want exactly. I don’t think that I’m looking for the full-force feeling of passion that occurred all those years ago. I think I’m looking for the same feeling, but to a lesser, more stable degree. My more recent relationships have been lacking that passionate feeling for me almost entirely. There have been a few that I still felt sparks of it from and I savored every dim flicker of that spark. I think I would be satisfied with that if it could last. But perhaps that spark would never last, no matter how hard I tried. Perhaps looking for it would make me give up a far more fulfilling future.

I’ve been struggling with my romantic emotions for years now and I’ve written about them before. I don’t even know what love feels like anymore. Every time I felt or thought I was in love it has been completely different. And when I say different, I mean not even close to each other. There is not a single recognizable (or at least memorable) factor in common between the different times I had these feelings.

So which one is it? Or have I not experienced love at all yet? Do you love someone because seeing them and being near them lights an intense fire in your gut that consumes you in a passion that would be devastating to give up? Do you love someone because you can feel comfortable, trusting, and like you know each other so well that you can practically read their mind? Is it because the person your with has almost everything you’ve ever wanted in a lover? Is it some spiritual or chemical connection that you can’t describe? Or is it because of how much time and effort both of you have invested in your relationship?

I’m inclined to believe that history means very little, but I’m not so sure now that I’m in my longest relationship I’ve ever had. It’s not that I’m unhappy or unsatisfied. I just don’t know if I will continue to be happy if this turns out to last “forever”. And is exploration of new relationships worth sacrificing everything we’ve worked for?

I started thinking about all of the relationships I’ve had and also of the long-term relationships and marriages of my friends and family. What would I want my relationships to be like?

My parents are divorced and remarried, so I already know I don’t want that.

My dad is married to a slightly younger woman who shares similar interests with him and their personalities seem to compliment each other very well. I’ve known her for over 10 years now and I have seen her change quite a bit since I first met her, while my dad is still pretty much the way I’ve always known him to be. I have a feeling that they both changed as they experienced new things together, but more so my stepmother. In any case, they seem quite happy together. A much more stable and rewarding relationship than my memory of his relationship with my mom. The older I get, the more similarities I feel with my dad and the more I look to him for hints of my future.

My mother is married to a significantly older, unlikely man that I would never have expected her to like, let alone fall for. Perhaps there is a side of him that I have never seen. Maybe he lost that part when my brother and I moved into his home. Maybe it’s still there and he hides it from us. He’s grumpy and introverted 90% of the time, and the other 10% is when he’s in public or around people who he doesn’t live with. From my limited recent experience, (since I haven’t lived there for over 5 years now) my mother seems unhappy and unfulfilled in their relationship. I worry that once my brother moves away and she retires, my mom will become depressed and introverted, but hopefully the life that she breathes at her work (which she loves) and when she sees her kids can keep her in good spirits. In any case, I could never relate to my stepfather, nor do I desire that kind of relationship.

My girlfriend’s parents are remarkable. They were high school sweethearts that stayed together during the time her father was in the Vietnam War and got married when he returned. They seem to be extremely devoted to one another and they have this bond that you can feel just being near them. It’s almost as if they were one person because of how they function as a whole, balancing each other out. Their relationship strikes me as being from love at first sight, or a mutual belief that they are soul mates. I have spent almost as much time with them in the past 3 years as I have with my own parents, and I have yet to see them kiss, however. I’m not sure if they keep that to themselves away from their kids (who are long moved out) or if that part of their relationship has fallen on the wayside. Nevertheless they have been married for coming up on 40 years and they seem happy and fulfilled. My girlfriend and I seem to be headed down this path, and I’m not 100% sure if that’s what I want, even if it’s definitely not a bad way to be.

I’ve had friends whose parents are married and argue constantly. They have the most heated shouting matches I’ve heard from any couple, but they stick together for their kids. They don’t seem unhappy, or like they hate each other, but it does seem like they don’t like living with each other.

My model family is actually one of my blog readers. Her and her husband seem to have the makings of a passionate, intimate, and comfortable relationship. They both have their own activities that they can enjoy separately or together, so despite living in a small home they give each other space when they want it. Their children are well-adjusted and socially adept for their ages. There are many times where the hustle and bustle of having a family and both of them having demanding jobs seems to wear them out, but it feels to me like when they come home, they are happy to be there together. I hope that I can achieve this kind of relationship someday, but I’m not sure if my personality would fit into that mold. I might be a little too high strung. I have this weird thing that happens to me after I’ve been somewhere for a long time. It feels like claustrophobic anxiety. I’m not sure I’d ever be able to settle down the way that they do. Maybe I’ll grow out of it.

My friend Brooke recently wrote a blog raving about how happy she is and how great her relationship is. She expresses herself very much the same way I do through her writing, and I can relate to the feelings she describes. She’s only a year younger than me, and she’s probably been in the same number or more relationships than I have, so its not like she’s outgrown it and I have. I want to have these feelings she writes about, but I’m not sure if I can. Her personality is way more open and trusting than mine is. She has the added benefit of that crazy-juice they call estrogen, too, so her passion might be something I couldn’t chemically feel anyway. And yet… I feel like it’s in me somewhere. Would changing myself allow me to experience that with my girlfriend now, making everything perfect? Or is it the relationship itself that is missing it?

All I know is that as confused as I am, I’m generally happy with how things are right now. I have no good reason to change anything and doing so would probably mess up everything anyway. I’m just going to have to dig deeper into myself to find out what it is I’m holding back if anything at all.


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