This is a guest post by Shruti, a story-loving traveler driven by curiosity and a thirst for inspiration.
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. – Buddha
When I was little I used to think that I would grow up, fall in love, get married and stay that way forever. I imagine I’m not the only one who looked at love this way, thanks to fairy tales and blockbuster films. Now fast-forward a couple of decades to a more recent time when I sat eating fish and chips with a dear friend. Between delicious bites of haddock and tartar sauce, the conversation turned to our thoughts on lasting, romantic love. No better segue to matters of the heart than food!
Now when I consider the first time I fell in love and the havoc wreaked by my broken heart afterward, I know I wasn’t just sad then for having lost my boyfriend. My one and only shot at love had failed. I couldn’t see how I would ever emerge from that shadowy darkness and fall in love again.
Yet slowly over time there emerged hopeful glimmers of sunny possibility that perhaps one love per person per lifetime wasn’t all there was after all.
Of course I fell in love again. With each experience I shared in incredible moments, felt deep connections and learned lasting lessons to offset the aches in between. Through it all I have continued to ponder love and what it means.
Love means different things to different people
One day last summer I found this beautiful, bright-green patch of grass in Budapest. I was with an exceedingly intelligent and fun friend I had met on that journey. As we came out of the supermarket with fixings for sandwiches, we decided to lie in the sun on that luscious, green grass. We spent the next while nursing our hangovers, eating ham and cheese and, of course, talking.
That day as well, lunch led us to the topic of love. What my friend shared was stunning to me. Imagine thinking of one’s true, lasting love as being someone you only need to tolerate! It still doesn’t make much sense to me. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s not a real and satisfying way for others to experience love. I have since realized that a person’s meaning of love doesn’t need my permission, or anyone else’s, to be valid.
Love and compatibility don’t always go together
I spent some years in a relationship with a really wonderful man. We loved each other with passion akin to stormy weather and perfect summer breezes. Over time we recognized our differences in important areas of life such as our values and philosophies. In time we realized we had to let go and move on. Perhaps certain circumstances allow compatibility to be created through things like compromise. In other scenarios, loving someone doesn’t make them good for your or vice versa.
Don’t hold your breath or give up
Any time I’ve fallen in love it’s been when I least expected to. Love is like a bar of wet soap without the rope; the more you grasp for it the more it eludes you. In or out of love, I’m always happiest when I focus on doing the things I love to do for myown sake. Compared to a decade ago I have now had more experiences to remind me that life happens in its own erratic waves of ups and downs. It’s easier to stay grounded while riding out those waves when you stop trying to control how things will unfold.
Don’t look to status quo for instruction
It’s tempting to succumb to pressures around us, real or perceived. If you are still single while most of your friends are partnered up, married or having babies, that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. It takes faith to know that your timing in life is your own.
To stay true to oneself is challenging, yet it yields great rewards. An old friend once told me her life’s circumstances took precedence over mine because she had a husband and a baby. Needless to say, that friendship didn’t last much longer. It takes self-respect to recognize what is right for you, what doesn’t serve you and to choose well between the two.
Ultimately in love as in life, there really are no set rules. It’s enough to grow and learn from our experiences, to get back up each time we fall. And, above all else remain open to giving and receiving love for as long as we possibly can.
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