Maggie Gilewicz, PhD*
I do know about love and I don’t know about love. Both statements are true. I don’t know about love because I cannot claim to know about something that I consider to be infinite. I don’t know about love because my knowledge of love will always be constrained, limited simply to my human experience of it, so I can only speak about love as such…as my own personal experience. And even then where do I start? I can talk about love for life, love for family, love for work, love of God, love of the Universe, romantic love. I can quote St Paul, or some Shakespeare, or Rumi. So I decided to talk about romantic love, love between man and woman since it is Valentine’s Day and it is associated mainly with romantic couples.
I think we all want to find ‘the one’. We succeed or we fail. We enter a relationship, marriage hoping that it will be forever. We succeed or we fail. I believe that anyone we failed to create a long term relationship with, a ‘forever’ relationship has taught us something. I don’t believe that any relationship that didn’t work out is a waste of time or a failure. I look at it as a valuable experience where I had a chance to learn about myself, to learn about things I do not want in a relationship and things that really matter to me. I do not consider blaming each other to be of any value either, because we get together with someone in different times, with different knowledge and those change, we change. What we might have considered important in our relationship 5 years ago might not matter to us now at all.
I have no definitions to share, I have no ‘this is a good relationship’ and ‘this is a bad relationship’ guidelines to share with you either. I don’t believe in any. I don’t believe that anyone can tell us whether the person we’re with is ‘the one’ or guarantee that we will be together forever. I don’t believe in anyone telling me what’s acceptable or not acceptable in my relationship. I don’t believe in statistics and anyone telling me how often I should make love in a week as a reflection of the quality of my relationship or connection with my partner. I don’t believe in general prescriptions on ‘how to create a long lasting relationship’ type. The only thing I believe in is that the more we know who we are, the more we know about who is right for us. It is about your personal knowing, not intellectual knowledge so that you can tick off the boxes on some ‘perfect relationship’ chart’ created by God knows who.
Now I am not saying that we should not read poems and stories, that we should not read books written on the subject of relationship. I am also not saying that to listen to friends or family and their opinions about relationships is a bad thing. I am simply saying that ultimately you are an expert on you, you know yourself best and you know who’s best for you. As they say, you are your own ‘relationship guru’.
If you ask me, how does it feel (to me) or what does it mean to be with the one then I will tell you this…
It feels that if the whole human race was wiped out and somehow myself and ‘the one’ survived, I would feel beyond happy to be ‘stuck’ with him for the rest of my life.
It means that I can be fully myself with the so called ‘good’ and the so called ‘bad’ parts of me (I truly believe that these labels are a matter of perspective and choice and not the actual description of the person concerned).
It means being able to fully express myself without fear of rejection, in particular when things that need to be said might not be pleasant.
It means to be allowed to have ‘moods’ and ‘bad days’ without making it to any big deal or a drama.
It means recognizing that if we have ‘bad days’ or ‘bad mood’ we really don’t have to think that it MEANS something about our love or relationship. It is simply part of a relationship, part of life.
It means, to be able to grow as individuals (preferably not in size). It means allowing the other person to do what they love, to follow their passions and interests.
It means accepting that we both change. We change our views, our perspective on life, we change our interests. We simply evolve. It means knowing that we can do it and we can do it together.
It means no sacrifices. Compromises yes, sacrifices no.
It means recognizing our individual freedoms.While it might sound very counter intuitive to some, I consider it to be one of the keys to a happy relationship.
It means having our own inner confidence and sense of security and not rely or expect ‘the one’ to give it us or make us feel confident or secure.
It means (ideally), no expectations.
It means intimacy and a sense of connection which is not limited to sexual attraction. I believe that sexual chemistry doesn’t last, just like lust doesn’t. There is something that goes beyond physical chemistry. It is ‘that look’, ‘that touch’, connection which all together enhance sexual connection and allow it to last as long as two people are together. When this kind of connection is felt, there is really no need to count how many times we make love in a week or in a month, because it really doesn’t matter!
It also means seeing the beauty of the other person which goes beyond the physical appearance. This one doesn’t fade away. It means you fancy the other when they look glamorous and when they wear a tracksuit.
It means knowing when to shut up.
It means that sometimes it is worth considering whether we want to have peace or we want to be right.
It means taking care of one another.
It means not needing Valentine’s Day to say ‘I love you’.
It means not needing a ring as a proof of love so we can feel secure or have guarantees.
It means sharing.
It means silent days and talks through the night.
It means friendship.
It means knowing when to offer an advice and when to offer a glass of wine.
It means, as much as possible, not to take things personally.
It means recognizing that how we see each other really depends on our thinking, our mood that day or that given moment.
It means wanting the same things and wanting different things.
It means spending time separately, doing our own things and feeling eager to get back together.
It means loving without ‘because’…..
Yes, that would be my knowledge. And I know that the list might change. There might be more to add, there might be things to remove or replace and that’s the whole point.
And if you want to read a much more beautiful piece which reflects what I have tried to convey above I highly recommend a chapter ‘On Marriage’ by Khalil Gibran Khalil from his book ‘The Prophet’
*Dr. Maggie Writes from London. She is a political scientist, sociologist, teacher and transformative coach. While she is still passionate about her academic interests, currently her work focuses on writing, teaching, speaking and coaching. Her mission is to encourage, assist and inspire everyone to question the status quo, to live however they want to live and be whoever they want to be, fearlessly.