What I’ve learned about love and relationships.
I have to admit, I’ve seen a few blogs lately about this very topic. When they pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, I read them with interest, noting that there’s some stuff I agree with, some stuff I don’t. But heck, we’re all at different steps along this crazy life journey, and we’re all learning the lessons that go along with each step.
When I tell people the story of Miloš and I: how we met, and all the amazing odds we’ve overcome to be a couple, along with our goal to spend our lives together, they usually comment that it’s like a plot of a movie or a book. And I’ll be honest, I guess it kind of is. Heck, I’ve remarked previously on just the insane odds of us even meeting in the first place – all the factors that had to line up just right for it to happen. And ever since then, so many things have come together in amazing ways on this crazy adventure of ours. It constantly reinforces my belief that there are NO coincidences in this world, and everything happens for a reason. It’s all a part of some great master plan.
Because so many people I meet like to ask me how I got a Croatian boyfriend in the first place, they’ll then often open up to me about their own relationship experiences after I’ve told my story. Alas, sometimes those moments – when people tell me their stories – it reminds me that so often in life, people settle due to their strong desire of wanting to have love. They want love so much, that they settle for something that is NOT love. Believe me, I know this first hand. In my earlier quests to find love, I let myself get dragged into very painful places and let myself be treated poorly. I then went on to make the mistake of thinking that “adult love” wasn’t like young love. I guessed that maybe that’s where I had gotten it wrong before – perhaps I needed something that wasn’t so emotionally tumultuous and traumatic. I thought that maybe “adult love” was more subdued. More sensible. More logical. I convinced myself that all that butterfly and excitement stuff was something only teenagers really went through, and that “adult love” was about making logical decisions and choosing an acceptable person that you can live with.
Holy shit, was I ever wrong.
Now first, let me say that different things work for different people. I’ll always acknowledge that we’re not all the same, so not all the same things work for everyone and every situation and every relationship. (People sometimes tend to lose sight of that. There is no “one size fits all” relationship!!! Get that through your heads, everybody!) This is MY life, my story, what is true for me. I truly do believe that there is a special person out there for each of us – the person who will click perfectly with you. You can call that person a soul mate, or any other name you like, but I believe in it wholeheartedly.
That being said, if you do want the kind of love in your life that makes you feel like the lovers in books and fairytales, it’s out there, and it will come to you when it’s ready. It will hit you in the head out of the blue and change your life in HUGE dramatic ways. You can’t force it into being. You can’t make it out of nothing. It is or it isn’t. Your soul mate will come to you at the moment in your life when it’s meant to happen, and not a moment sooner. And yes, that might mean going through some not-too-great things along the way before you get to that place and time. In some situations, like my own, it may mean going through some downright traumatically awful experiences before the right person comes into your life.
What else have I learned? When it’s the real deal true love, the butterflies never go away. Really truly. I met Miloš over three years ago, and we’ve been a couple for well over two and a half years now – it’ll be three years in February. (We’re officially past what many would consider the initial “honeymoon period.”) Each time I get ready to see him after any amount of time apart, I feel like I’m going to explode out of my skin! We are always so genuinely excited to see each other. And after all this time together, I still get an electrical charge through my entire body every time we kiss. It has not subsided with time. In all honesty, our feelings just keep getting stronger with time. Each passing day, month, and year bonds us closer together still. It’s totally that full-out “teenager” love feeling – a perpetual giddy excitement. Yet it’s backed up with a profoundly deep level of love, trust, and intimacy. Since the beginning, I’ve always had a sense of comfort with Miloš as if I’ve somehow always known him, but at the same time, there’s always a newness or freshness that also seems to hover over our love. And I’ve never missed anyone like this before. Damn! Even after a few hours or a day apart, I’m missing him terribly and I’m counting the moments until we can be together again. I’m a perfectly capable independent person who can do things for herself – BUT – life is just better when we’re together. It’s just better. Period. We work so well as a couple; as a team. Anything we can do alone, we do better together.
Here’s something else to remember, though. When love comes to your door – when it finally arrives – grab it! Go with it! Don’t hide in fear and worry. You don’t get an infinite amount of time to think it over and decide. You don’t get to say, “I’m not ready yet – I was planning on finding love five years from now!” Nope – you don’t get to choose. It’s a swiftly moving train that is going to drive past you maybe just once and once only. Jump on that train! Enjoy the ride! Yes, you will have challenges. Yes, you will work for it. Yes, you will both make sacrifices. It’s not always easy. You must also go in knowing that no person is perfect, but you can certainly be perfect for each other. Miloš and I are no exception. I know he gets frustrated when I have an over-reacting emotionally charged drama queen moment. (Usually during PMS time.) And he knows I want to smack him upside the head whenever he says something supremely idiotic. (Usually when he’s drunk.) But when it comes down to it, he still loves the drama queen, and I still love that idiot – SO MUCH! Haha! 😉 We both acknowledge our own shortcomings and love each other knowing that those elements exist in ourselves and in the other. In a healthy relationship, you talk through the potential problems. You react with patience and understanding instead of defensiveness or silence. You understand how your other half reacts in moments of stress, anxiety, or exhaustion. You admit when you’re wrong, and you never let your pride get in the way. Neither of us is ever too proud to apologize. You appreciate each other. When you go out to conquer the world, you do it together as a united front, always having the other person’s back in any kind of challenging situation. You build each other up around other people, and you help your mate feel confident and strong.
And for me, love has been immensely healing. I actually dislike some of those articles and quotes that lecture people about needing to love yourself first, because you can’t find love without that particular “crucial step.” As someone who went through some really horrible relationship shit early on in my life (without professional counseling to help me through it), I ended up with terrible problems of depression, low self-esteem, and constant feelings of inadequacy. My poor beaten-up little heart was scarred, bruised, and battered. For so long, I didn’t know there could be something better. And then when I thought that maybe it was possible, I didn’t know HOW to get better. For me, having the intense, pure, nurturing love of a good soul has made my heart strong again. The bruises disappeared. The scars healed. The tattered remains of my poor injured heart were nursed back to health. I now feel like my heart is so strong, it could run it’s own little heart 5K marathon, followed by a little heart triathlon, followed by the Olympic trials in some kind of endurance sport for hearts. 🙂
True love helps you to grow into the best version of you possible. It doesn’t change you into another person – it just makes you better. The best qualities already in you come out and flourish. Love doesn’t make you compromise on your principles and values. Your soulmate will love the real you. All your quirks, all your silliness, all your passions, and all your dreams.
Love doesn’t mean finding someone you can live with, it means finding that one person that you cannot ever live without.
***additional quote images courtesy of Pinterest