Is love overrated? While it is true that love makes the world go round, more and more couples are divorcing, more and more people are lonely. Even with over a billion users on facebook. The numbers are enough to make you give up on the idea of everlasting love, and you know what? Maybe you should.
I am not here to burst your bubble nor to depress you. If you have just met the person of your dreams, or if you have just realized you are in love, good for you! Enjoy it! Relish it! Make sure you are aware of every moment because it is, undeniably, the best feeling in the world. And because, according to science, it will last for around a year and a half only. A quick Internet search will actually confirm that we love, not with our hearts, but with our brains. And these hormones and chemicals secreted by our brains that give us this warm fuzzy feeling every time we are in the presence of our beloved, will soon stop being secreted.
But don’t despair. You can always get a dog.
Seriously, the point I am trying to make is that perhaps it is not love we should be focusing on, but other factors that make a relationship successful. Love takes on different forms, it evolves and if we are not ready to evolve with it, we may lose it altogether. Perhaps it is not love we should be seeking, but connection. A long-standing Harvard study completed a few years ago concluded that what made for a happy life was a sense of connection to others: friends and family. You can see a TED talk here.
Feeling connected is a primal instinct, shared among all species. Connection takes on a physical form: hugging, kissing, butt-sniffing (if you’re a dog) and of course, sex. But a mental connection is also important. A mental connection is one in which partners give each other consideration, respect, space, time, attention and understanding. And one can rarely exist without the other.
But before one can be part of a whole, one has to be at ease with oneself. Sometimes in our efforts to please another person we efface ourselves, we become non-existent, a simple tool for someone else’s desires. While this may work with someone who is egotistical, it is bound to fail eventually. When we feel good in a relationship we describe the other person as “completing” us, not being us. I’ll tell you one thing. I have been married for 20 years to someone who is very different to me. And although I would often judge him and criticize him for not seeing or doing things the way I do, I now recognize that it is our differences that have kept us together. After all it is him I wanted to marry, not myself. If I had married my double, I would have divorced ages ago! I am unbearable!
Your partner should not be you and you shouldn’t look for yourself in them. Your partner should complete you, bring out the best in you, make you a better version of yourself.
And that if you ask me, is Love.