Yesterday while sitting in the provincial garden of the quintessential Italian “nonna” (grandmother), she took my hand and looked me square in the eyes. Lucina started to recount how both she and her husband of over 50 years met. She was originally from a small mountainous town about two hours outside of Rome and although she was quite desired by suitors in the city square, no one ever truly “ha girato la testa”—made her head turn. It wasn’t until she caught the eye of her future husband and within his first approach she too was taken by him. Eight years older than she, Lucina appreciated his protective qualities whereas he was instantly attracted to her looks and laughter.
After almost a year of courtship, they got married. She described them both as incredibly passionate, beautiful, with a strong attraction to each other. “Do you understand what I am saying?” she asked me with a raised eyebrow. “Yes, of course!” I replied with a smile. She continued that she and her husband didn’t have a concept of love but a connection that was perhaps more physically based along with common interests and values. “Dear Marisa, but reflecting back all these years later, I can tell you that looks fade, passion diminishes, children, the home, and work become more of a priority as life unfolds. But what remains is the foundation of love that we actually were creating this whole time. It’s only with age and experience, that one begins to realize it.”
Although it seems like such a basic concept to grasp, why is it that so many of us search for “the one”, adhere to the “dream person” we’ve envisioned in our heads, but he/she most likely doesn’t exist in reality, and set out for the “chase” only to run after we “conquered” who or what we wanted? Why is it that hot and heavy passion seems to outweigh the benefits of slowing down and truly getting to know the person that has caught our interest as we have caught theirs? Living in a fast paced society where our schedules are tightly filled, social media feeds represent the superficial bonds between others, and there are endless options to choose from whether it be personal or professional, we often forget that things take time. Moreover, if things feel like they are taking too long, we are quick to abandon ship and jump onto a new one that can give us the quick fix that perhaps we desire in the moment but without consideration of the long term impacts. This is true when we’re especially dealing with two different time frames, life experiences, and backgrounds. There are many external factors that already impact life itself let alone dating/courtship and committed relationships that either result in marriage or a life partnership. Why further complicate the simplicity and the beauty of experiencing a meaningful connection that could certainly be of high quality and value by rushing? This is not to say to be taken advantage of, remain with someone out of convenience or settling, or to use the excuse that the investment of time together justifies other dysfunctions that are causing more harm than good for both parties involved. By evaluating someone and a relationship at face value, both people can reveal what they have to offer each other, if the time spent together is more enriching and pleasant rather than draining and suffocating, and if there is a mutual respect as two individuals who have a joint interest in discovering if/how things develop together. This is when one truly can make choices using both the heart and head within moderation and balance.
Of course the initial attraction, spark of passion, and appreciation of each other’s beauty is what gives the initial impression of physical chemistry and is certainly needed as it differentiates something plutonic verse something romantic. But if in fact either one or both people involved want to create a relationship that could perhaps turn into something serious and long lasting, it’s better to to be clear with such intentions. Yet, taking the time to let things happen naturally rather than forcing something to come to fruition. It would be quite startling to wake up one morning in the near future or many years down the road—next to your partner that is physically recognizable, but in terms of feelings and mental connection isn’t. However, on the other hand, it would be quite comforting to wake up each morning having made the choice to love one another. Although the physical beauty that once sparked the initial attraction may not be as strong and recognizable, the feelings and mental connection are and is forever growing; which renders both people even more beautiful than ever.