Love. For another. For someone to share our days and nights with. What an utterly confusing, exhausting, yet ridiculously comforting thought. For those who have it and those that don’t, love is a universal desire. I’ve yet to meet a person that hasn’t wondered about it at least once in their lifetime. We all hear the stories about finding it, being in it, and how wonderfully exciting all that is. But keeping hold of that love? Now that’s another story.
A concept that’s always intrigued me, as well as scared me a little, is how loving someone can turn into something so fragile. With divorce rates so high, it makes you wonder why that love seems to evaporate. Is it marriage? Is it time? Or is it just boredom? Why is it that two people can be so into each other one minute that they barely see the rest of the world around them, and the next moment you see one of them alone in town and hear all about how the other suddenly “needed space” or “couldn’t handle the pressure”?
I have one theory for at least some of those heartbreaks, anyway. People (and yes, we’ve all been guilty) are so busy looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right—”The One”—that they forget one crucial thing: Perfection is an illusion. It really takes something to finally step away from a checklist of redeeming features that your partner must or must not have. To stop looking through always-critical eyes. To realize that perfect doesn’t exist. Perfect isn’t real.
Here’s an easy way to think about it: Take a member of your family that you truly love—the kind of unconditional love that we look for in a partner. Maybe a parent or a sibling. You’ve been stuck with them since birth, and for the most part, you’ll be stuck with them until death too.
You love them dearly. But sometimes? God, they drive you mad. They irritate, anger, and infuriate you. You’ve had blazing rows and said things neither of you mean. You hate the bad habits they just won’t drop. But have you ever cut them off? Have you really, honestly, cut off a member of your immediate family? (Again, I stress, it has to be a member that you love and respect!) I’m guessing not.
Because if you’re like me, you’ll pretty much take it as a given that love comes above those things that make us different. The good times outweigh the arguments. The similarities outweigh the differences. The shared experiences we have together outweigh the separate lives we lead.
You see, we don’t tend to “divorce” our family. You see it through. You talk things out. You accept them for their flaws. And so for me, your long-term partner or spouse that you fell in love with and chose is your family. They will be your home, the person you laugh or cry or cook dinner with. They might be the parent of your children. They’ll be the ones you promise to be with in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Because family isn’t always blood. It’s also who you choose.
I’m not saying everyone should stay with someone who is destructive to their wellbeing. We all make mistakes, and people can fool us. But it’s so essential to remember one thing before making a make or break decision. No one is perfect. Not you, not them, not anyone walking this earth. So ask yourself one thing and answer honestly: Are you looking for something that doesn’t even exist? I think a lot of us might be. Because if you are, you’ll never be happy. And yes, you may not have to endure cold shoulders and moods and the nagging about socks and who left the toilet seat up or how much money you’re spending. But ultimately, even if you left, chances are you will never find the kind of rose-tinted happy ending you want.
My advice would always be: Stay picky. Stay guarded. Stay you. Choose carefully, however long that takes. But please don’t dismiss a love when it comes along because it’s not perfect enough for you. If you want someone out there to accept all of you, for all you are, the least you can do is do the same for them.
If you have a loved one, a true loved one, hold onto them. Make the effort to understand them. And if you’re still looking for yours, keep your heart open. Remember, the grass is rarely greener, and you’ll be surprised what comes your way.