Over the years, I have discovered that what I have been told about love and relationships is quite different from what I have experienced.
Realizing that when my soulmate does approach me, he is not going to resemble a prince in shining armor, nor will he exude halos of light from the top of his head nor will angels be singing in my ears as he speaks, confused me. The fairy tale ending that we are all in search of comes in a much different package and is achieved through much different means.
I am not discounting true love in any way, I just think that Mom left out a few important details from her relationship education, details that need to be discussed.
I cannot thank my mother enough for always stressing the power of independence and being a strong woman. She taught me that being yourself is the most important aspect of a relationship. She taught me how to respect and ultimately love a person and to understand the importance of being single. She taught me everything I know but left me slightly unprepared.
So far, I think I’ve gotten along just fine but recently I noticed that there are hidden dynamics at play that I was never told about. Maybe they are lessons we are meant to learn from experience but it would have been nice to get a heads up rather than learning the hard way.
Here are some lessons I compiled through personal experience and witnessing the women around me deal with relationships. I have a feeling there is much more for me to learn…
You can be in love with two people at the same time.
How could no one have dropped a little hint that it is possible to have strong feelings for different people at the same time? In everything we are taught about love, we focus on this “one and only.” The traditional lovey-dovey movies we watch, the books we read and people that surround us appear to have a one true love. Discussion of another coming into the picture is rarely expressed publicly and when it is, it’s usually frowned upon.
How utterly confusing it is to be completely absorbed in what you think to be a perfect relationship and then find another whose company you enjoy just as much? Another whose physique is enticing and who is just that different from the person you are in love with that you cannot help but want to be with them too.
What I am here to say is that it is completely natural and normal to have feelings for multiple people at the same time, it happens.
The only problem is figuring out how to deal with it because it is a situation that can leave you and your lovers hurt in the long run.
I think it is completely possible and acceptable (at this time in my life) to be leading multiple relationships, as long as each person is being respected.
One Johnny Depp quote I did find intriguing regarding this subject and that should be kept in mind is:
“If you love two people at the same time, choose the second one, because if you really loved the first one you wouldn’t have fallen for the second.”~ Johnny Depp
“I wonder if it’s possible to have a love affair that lasts forever.”~ Andy Warhol
Yes, I have faith that this is a possibility. It is reaffirmed each time I watch my parents, who have been together for 35 years, look at each other. But then I watch the seemingly perfect relationships around me (that I am sure will last) end abruptly for the sole reason that they are simply not in love any longer.
I was aware of the idea that nothing lasts, but why was I not warned that it is just as easy to fall out of love as it is to fall in. It seems shocking that you can be with and love a person for years and then one day not feel it anymore. It is a hard feeling to recognize because undoubtedly you still love the person in question, it may have been such a long time that you each have fallen into comfort and don’t want to leave if nothing is technically wrong.
If you find yourself not being treated as you were in the beginning of the relationship or questioning your feelings and after much time and work, understand that it is natural to fall out of love with someone. Things change and relationships cannot always keep up. It is a sad and confusing revelation, but sometimes it happens and it is not always the right thing to stay with someone you do not love anymore.
Breaking up is not always a bad thing.
Ending a relationship that is in an endless rut can be rejuvenating. Not only is getting out of an imperfect relationship good for you as a person, it can prove good for the relationship.
Being away from someone can help you each realize how important you are to each other or that you really do need time to be single.
Either way, breaking up does not always have to be tragic and dramatic like we see in movies.
No matter what terms you end on, breaking up is always difficult but it should not ruin your life.
What do you mean I’ll just know?
When asking people how they knew their lover was the one, most respond that they just knew. Sorry but I don’t know what that means. I wish someone could give me a little more concrete of an answer. What if you think they are the right person and they screw you over (which I have seen happen too many times)?
I was taught what qualities to value and look for in my relationships, when someone embodies each of them and makes me completely happy does that make them right for me? At this transitional point in my life another question that is arising is at what point do you just know? At what point in a relationship does being with someone completely and following them wherever they go become romantic and not giving up your independence and womanhood?
It is the 21st century so naturally my desire to be in love and obsession with being independent conflict. I remember vowing to never follow any man after reading Lady GaGa’s quote:
“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams…remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it does not love you anymore.”
I suppose I will just have to wait around, experiment and explore until I just know, then maybe my mind will be changed.
Timing is a funny thing.
It is hard to deal with the fact that real life love affairs do not tend to work out as flawlessly as in the movies. Making a relationship work has a lot to do with timing, which can be tricky.
What are you supposed to do when the person you love lives far away?
What are you supposed to do when you meet someone you have feelings for but you (or they) are attached?
What are you supposed to do when you meet and fall for someone right before you are about to make a monumental life change?
Timing is everything when it comes to making a relationship work. If the time interferes with your current relationship maybe it just isn’t right for now, but that doesn’t mean that it will never be right.
I try to remember that everything happens for a reason and look for the positives in any relationship no matter how long or short. If timing or differing obligations are delaying a relationship you deem worthy just think that one day maybe the timing will be right.
The main aspects I have taken away from my experiences in the wild world of dating is that love and relationships are far more complicated that we are intitally taught to believe, they take work but when you find that right person it shouldn’t have to be a chore.
Hayley is studying journalism, politics and international media at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In between juggling school and various jobs, she makes time to snowboard, travel, write and craft. She surrounds herself with people that motivate and embrace her as she strives to make a difference in anyway she can. Follow her on twitter.