True Love: Maxim or Myth?

After attending the wedding of one of my closest friends last night, I’ve been thinking about the ideas of “true love,” “soulmates,” and just marriage and commitment in general, not as an institution which is a whole other discussion, but how some people have it, some don’t, but the people that don’t either want it or they don’t. Some are still figuring out whether they want it or not. I know several people who fit each of these descriptions.

No matter which category you fall into, we seem to see this idea of true love as a maxim, or this final large life goal that people find in a person, and oftentimes marry this person. Some of the questions I ask myself are: while I want to explore the dating world and see the different potential in romantic relationships, is the idea of searching for “The One,” just a myth we all buy into? If I want to find love but are having a hard time finding it, have I failed? If I haven’t failed, am I simply impatient, or not putting myself out there enough? Will it hit me out of the clear blue when it’s not on the mind? People have suggested all of the above to me, and while I can accept the idea of making more effort on my own part and having a little patience, I doubt I’m going to stop thinking about it enough to let it surprise me.

 
As someone who’s never had a long-term relationship, I can’t say I know what “true love” means to me yet. I do know, however, that I want to figure out what I want, and I want to do it organically, by meeting people and dating and seeing what works and what doesn’t. My limited travel options hinder me with that somewhat, and I admittedly have a tendency to use that as an excuse when I wonder why I haven’t met anyone yet. I plan to change this as I’m discovering how much it means to me to try finding a long-term relationship.  As of the writing of this post (I’m aware it may change), mobile and online dating services have provided little more than interesting conversation and budding friendships. This isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate new friends, but I do want to see which relationships have romantic chemistry and that have the potential for growth and development.
We’ve all heard of, and probably been in, the dreaded “friend zone.” We tend to think of it in terms of something someone receives, “s/he put me in the friend zone.” Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve contributed to some friendships that had the potential to grow into romances being stopped at the friendship phase. In observation of the evolution of romantic relationships of friends and family, I do think that an established friendship is part of a successful and long-lasting romantic relationship; however, in order to move beyond friendship exclusively, each party needs to have confidence in her/himself, a willingness to discuss where they see the relationship evolving toward and each new stage, and a willingness to suspend their own potential fear of change. I’m starting to realize that I personally need to work on all three of these areas.
If I want growth in relationships, I need to lose the fear of multiple things, or at least act in spite of them,  including rejection, vulnerability (though from this blog you wouldn’t think I have problem with that, it’s for some reason easier for me to be vulnerable in writing than in interpersonal situations), change, and just a general willingness to navigate new terrain and be pushed out of my comfort zone. What appeals to me about all of that, however, is that if I do find the potential for a long-term relationship, if it’s working, the pushes out of the comfort zone will be because I love someone, not due to some other reason like life-saving necessity as my surgery in April was, for example, or intellectual and career growth as some changes that I went through during and after my college years. It will be because my future, yet unknown partner and I see the potential for limitless love, respect, and growth in a relationship, and that’s what appeals to me most about finding “true love.”
I have also suggested that “true love” may be a myth, or that finding it only once is, at the very least. I’ve seen it happen more than once to family and friends, and a deep love can occur without romantic attraction, as I’ve experienced with  a couple of friends. So is this an unrealistic goal, and what we all really look for and sometimes find is just a romantic connection that is so strong, we don’t want to see what else is out there? And even if we think we’ve found it, as the cliche has it, shit happens. Divorces, break-ups, widowing. People realize their second, third or fourth tries were the charm, and then reach an age if their partners pass on, they’ve had the best and have no interest in meeting new folks to see if they can find it again. Were someone’s two ex-spouses and longest-lasting third spouse all true loves? Only the person can tell you.

In conclusion, I hope to find some form of committed romantic love, if not forever, at least once. I am committed to growing beyond friend zones and how my own fears and insecurities contribute to the stagnation occurring. I’m aware that other non-romantic loves will come and go, and I accept that. Is true love a maxim or a myth? I would say neither, though not everybody finds, needs or wants it. However, for those like me that want it: we need to actively look for it. There’s no happy accidents in this area, as I see it. We need to pursue personal and relational growth, and neither comes without falling on our face a few times. Am I a little sad to be single? Maybe, but I’m more excited to continue the chase of a beautiful, crazy, difficult, trying, exciting, fiery thing called love.

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