Looking for that one special person who will complete you, love you unconditionally, make you happy for the rest of your life? Before finding someone else we first have to be a whole, content person on our own, we have to genuinely love ourselves and commit to honouring and respecting ourselves for the rest of our lives. This is real life after all, not a Disney film, so what does love look like for modern day princes and princesses?
Here’s the thing… I don’t believe in ‘the one’, I certainly don’t believe in soulmates but, my goodness, do I believe in love. I actually think believing in the ‘romantic’ idea of true love and living happily ever after, will more than likely prevent real romance from blossoming in a long-term relationship. Having unrealistic expectations of fairy-tale love will only lead to an unattractive sense of entitlement and ultimately, disappointment.
I think there are many people out there who we could be happy in a relationship so it’s about recognising when we meet someone who is special to us and deciding to commit to building a relationship with that person. After all, what could be more endearing than two imperfect people, who are not ‘destined’ to be together, making a commitment to grow together, to learn from each other, to bring out the best in each other, to forgive each other.
That is not to say we can make it work with anyone. If there is something I have learned through my own experience and watching some of my closest friends go through it, it’s that as much as you might want a relationship to work with someone, if they are not willing to change, you will never change them. That can shake your confidence in your own judgment, you thought they were ‘the one’, but it didn’t work out. Sometimes it is about situations, circumstance and timing as well as the person.
There are two things which I think are so important in making the right decision for a long-term partner. First of all we have to love ourselves and be clear about how we should be treated and the high level of physical and emotional respect that we deserve. If we have that clear from the beginning then we won’t waste time with people who won’t be a good partner for us long-term, no matter how fun, talented, good-looking or generous they are. Respect must come first.
Secondly, I think it’s about recognising real commitment. Real commitment isn’t about a getting a ring or a changing your second name. It’s about the willingness to resolve problems in the relationship, it’s about listening, admitting when you’re wrong, it’s about forgiving and moving forward. It’s making time for the person you love and giving them your undivided attention. All of this needs to work both ways. Everything we expect in a relationship we must be willing to give.
What I realise is that when you find someone you love, who loves you back in the same way, who is also your best friend and who is as committed to building a future with you as you are with them, you’re onto a good thing. There is no guarantee that is will be forever, only a consistent recommitting to each other everyday will make that possible, not one day of repeated vows at an alter. I’ve been with my boyfriend for nearly 5 years and I know we are both in it for the long haul. I don’t need a proposal or a promise, I know from his actions every day. He is absolutely my best friend and he has shown me a depth of romantic love that I never even knew existed. We have given everything to each other and to our relationship even, and especially, in the hard times. I have let myself be completely vulnerable and now I understand that is the only way to truly love. We have to trust them with our whole heart. I don’t believe in doing anything in life half-heartedly and certainly not love.