Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Love is a Many Splendored Thing... Scratch That: It's Hellish.

This isn't a rant. I don't hate men. But I've lived long enough to realize that love isn't as easily defined as I thought it was when I was growing up. In fact, I'm writing a book about it (but more on that another time).

Love can be a rather painful process, overall, unless you're exceptionally lucky. I've been through two marriages which ended in two divorces and actually I'm very positive about my future. Yes: I still want to be married and live happily ever after. Will that happen for me? I simply don't know, and I'm OK with that. But it took me a long time to get there.

A Case Study

Some people are still on that journey. Take Trevor, for instance.

Trevor and I had gone on a couple casual dates and then I found out that he was a severe alcoholic (in the one to three percentile of the disease). By then, he'd decided he was in love with me. And by then, I'd decided I would never be in love with him.

I didn't lie to him: I told him the cold, hard truth with compassion. There is that certain something that is missing and I can't define it: I only know that it's not there. And yes, of course, his alcoholism is a disaster.

Will Trevor ever meet The One: That woman who is perfect for him? I doubt it. He would have to change more than he's willing to change in order to be The One for someone else and if you're not willing to be The One, certainly you can't expect someone else to be.

People Are People

When I was younger, I was willing to assume that people were these wonderful Chinese puzzle boxes. Instead, I've learned that most of them are as complicated as Tupperware: What you see is what you get. And just because I took steps to be a better person and change what needed to be changed in my life doesn't mean that others will do the same thing. In fact, I find that most people remain appallingly content with dysfunction and mediocrity.

I learned these lessons the hard way and, unfortunately, most people will have to do the same. Very few of us learn from watching others' mistakes.

Society Doesn't Help

As if the usual issues aren't difficult enough, modern society has now introduced even more things designed to damage relationships. New trends have emerged that should alarm all of us, like the hookup culture on today's college campuses. And sexual permissiveness and promiscuity has bled into our daily lives, encouraged by TV/movies and badly written but well-received erotic literature like 50 Shades of Grey (I'll talk about our lowered standards in literature another time). At the same time, we're fed ridiculously high standards: You have to always feel you're in love with your spouse or it's time to pack up and get that quickie divorce that's so easy to come by these days. Feelings mean everything: Commitment is so passé.

How do you find The One?

Dating sites are pitiful and plentiful. I've never had any success in any of them. Like a good job, you won't find the right one advertised online: you can only find it through word of mouth. If someone is worth having, they soon grow tired of dealing with creepy people and shut down their account. The ones that remain are desperate in one form or another: Maybe they're co-dependent. Maybe they're looking for a free meal. Maybe they're looking for a Sugar Mama. Maybe they have issues that make them so damaged that they are incapable of carrying on a genuine relationship in the real world. Are there exceptions? Of course. But by definition, an exception is rare.

As a Christian, I know that I can leave the selection of my future husband in God's hands, even though I'd like to help the process along at times.

Some people are lucky and meet each other when they're young, and weather the storms of teenagers and middle age and roof repairs and dog vomit on the carpet. Other people go most of their lives before they meet The One. Some meet through friends, others meet through coincidence.

My father, a cynical scientist, compares falling wildly in love with getting the flu: You can only hope you get over it quickly. And yet, he remains very much in love with his wife of 52 years: My mother, whom he met on a blind date.

So how do you find The One?

I have no clue.