Exploring the hidden reasons why love dies (even quicker than we expect)
With you, I have learned a way to love you but alas no longer how to stop loving youLinda
Two months ago, Leah Lockhart came out public with her life’s deception, to her, it remains the worst mistake she ever made. She phrased it, “waking up and realizing that life has passed you by”. In this expressed regrets, she exposed the feelings and inner thoughts that persistently haunted her, from the day she noticed something in her husband’s briefcase, it went like this, “One day I found a USB key in my husband’s briefcase, which had hours and hours long of my best friend’s nude body. It had been taken with a hidden camera by my husband and it all started 10 years ago. Confronting him with it that day, just made the situation worse; a whole hidden life of his came out, of prostitutes, pornography, regular gang-bang and group sex … I had first noticed he was attracted to my friend 20 years ago (he calls it an obsession), I guess he stopped loving me in the first ten years of our marriage (if he ever did). Almost 30 years of my life, I wasted with a man that didn’t give a crap about me and was off chasing others, while I didn’t know it.”
We humans detest complexity, at some point in our lives, we accept the fact that there are very difficult questions whose answers are very complex and attempting them might end up being a life’s mission. The second observation on such questions is that they are so deep and responding to them might take days and years of talking, before we get to the answer (if we ever do), but we don’t seem to have that much time in our hands, to answer just a question. The last piece to the puzzle, is the timing; many expect us, whenever we are being asked to, to answer these complex questions in the space of 1 or 2 minutes, which frankly speaking is bananas. Hence, to foster human thinking and understanding, we humans developed metaphors. Human thinking depends on metaphors, we understand new or complex things in relation to things we already know, for example, if I were to ask you “what is life”? What would you say? This is so complex a question but I guess your best answer will come from metaphors like “life is journey”, by saying this we open a loop of understanding from what the person listening already knows. A journey? Why so? Because every journey has a start, the road might sometimes be rocky, sandy, bumpy or well tarred but, there is a point where every journey ends. The next answer can be life is all about choices, or life is a mystery, or life is like a painting, but with no eraser.
Metaphors on questions related to life, seem to work quite well, but when we shift the question to love, do metaphors accurately represent it? Most of them tend to instead contradict each other like opposites attract & birds of the same feather flock together. Which among these so called truisms is more adaptive?
To frame it more appropriately, are relationships where the partners are more similar to each other more or less likely to work than those in which the partners are different?
This is my 3rd article on broken norms, and today, I will like us to explore the untold reasons why love dies (even quicker than we might imagine) while, examining the aforementioned metaphors at war.
What does love mean to you?
Linda, since she was a child always felt a relationship was the most holy and deep commitment two human beings could make. Her parents, still happily married, are interdependent. They live only for each other and for their children. If Linda’s father steps out of the house to go to the store, he makes sure the entire family knows where he is going and when he will be back. Some years back, Linda met her lover, George, at the gym. George was different from many of the men she had met before. He was charming and independent. He was a banker, had paid his way through school and was now working with a great bank and he was very proud that he had made it on his own. He had never asked anyone for anything or answered to anyone. Linda then fell in love with George very quickly, they seemed ideal for each other and enjoyed the same activities. They were both excellent sports lovers. They felt basically the same way about the important things in life. They both wanted children, they had the same beliefs about God (Catholics). They agreed on how to spend their money, on where to go for vacations, tourism, retreats and on many other issues. They wisely discussed these and other related stuffs before getting engaged. It is worth noting that George came from a broken family, he didn’t live with both parents under the same roof throughout his life. He defined an ideal relationship very differently from Linda. Two months before their wedding, Linda was in tears. Everyone was baffled. What happened? You reading, might be also be wondering what happened.
Well, Linda said, George worked very hard at his job and only wanted to be with her on weekends. She had convinced George they should see each other regularly, and he had accepted. Then, on their dates, those within the week, he would go into long moments of silence. She added that, George never phoned her when he was on the road. She had convinced him to call her on his frequent business trips, but he had always made it seem like he was trying. Fearing their relationship was in trouble, Linda told George how she felt, but he protested, insisting that everything was fine. He loved her and was super pumped for their wedding. That however, didn’t reassure Linda, she still feared that George was drifting away, one day, she suggested they go to a relationship counselor. “A what, a counselor?” George shouted. ”No way!” Linda was shocked. He had never raised his voice on her before. She then decided to do it herself. Hence, she bought some books and audios on making relationships work. She listened to the audios, which promised to heal relationships by encouraging people to get in touch with their inner child. She told George how wonderful the audios were, and she suggested he listen to them with her. “What? George reminded her, that she was asking him to take time from his work, come over to her place, light a candle, sit cross-legged on the floor, and listen to some inner kid tell him what his doing wrong in the relationship? That was bananas to him. He thanked her and said No to her offer, indicating that Linda, had gone off the deep end. The following week, George suggested they put off the wedding. And that was it, for good…
WHAT MAKES RELATIONSHIPS WORK
I was sold the idea for a very long time that in a relationship, partners need to be different, it was justified by the fact that the difference creates the magic. As I started questioning my belief, I noticed that it was wrong. Why? Because all the studies tell us lovers are drawn to partners with similar attitudes, values, interests, and outlooks on life. In this confused world of ours where everyone is bombarding us every minute, with differences in opinion, our minds are confused. We constantly ask ourselves, “How should I feel about that? What should I believe? Should I change my mind? With the outpour of so many truths and so many lies directed at us, we wonder what makes sense. Finally, when we find someone who has come to the same conclusions about the world, we feel a tremendous sense of relief. We feel close to this person. Then the admiration fertilizes that closeness into, “It’s you and me, baby, alone against this mad, mad world.” Ed sheraan or better still LOVE.
The 3 similarities that either make relationships work or fail
1st are Interests. What are the interests that the two of you have? What kinds of hobbies, sports, and activities do you both enjoy? What kinds of music do you like, what films do you enjoy watching, and what books do you read?
2nd are your basic values, beliefs, reactions, and ways of looking at the world. This one is extremely deep and extremely important.
The third is so important, it is to me the bedrock of every successful relationships and the seed of every failed relationship, but before I expose it, let’s sparsely examine these 2 points.
When you meet someone, the first point of contact are the similarities in your interests. What kind of music or movies do you both love watching? The more similar you get, the greater your admiration for each other. Those who typically poke you on these similarities are your friends and siblings (so Joshua loves horror movies? Wow, you’re so lucky) and they tend to be thrilled once they get the similarities. The second layer, that of beliefs and the way he/ she sees the world, is very important. Let’s take religious beliefs as an example, let us imagine she’s a catholic and you are a Presbyterian, can it work? Yes it might. You guys have quite similar journeys, but what if he is an atheist? Can it work, maybe not, why? Any act of worship will be considered a waste of time and the choice of whose philosophy the kids should follow will be another critical crisis. Same with the way you both view the world, if she loves a private, simple life and you want a transparent and glamourous life, I can sense war. Those who might question you on these might be your parents and spiritual leaders (so he is a believer? I’m proud of you my child).
Finally, the third and last similarity which is the most important, and also why I retained it, is the question of “how do you both define love?” It seems quite easy, eccentric and trivial, but I bet you that you guys can be similar in interests, beliefs, values and the way you see the world, but if you guys aren’t similar on what love means? Then you’re doomed. Researchers call it the Comparison level (CL). If, to you, a relationship should be total commitment and completely engulfing, a distant partner will drive you crazy. Hence, the more the distance the greater the death of the love. Conversely, if the ideal relationship to you is loving coexistence, a partner who gets too close will suffocate you. The more you push him or her away, the more you kill the relationship.
Is it now clear why Dave and Linda couldn’t be together for so long? They couldn’t because he emerged from a broken home and spent most of his time alone interdependence was his ideal love model. But, Linda on the other hand, had every loved one beside her, constantly checking on her, telling her where they were and what they were doing. The way she defined a relationship was so different from the way he defined his. He wanted freedom, where he gets to follow his passion during the week days and be with her during the weekends, but that was hell to her, she constantly needed to feel his attention and presence, that is how she defined love—with commitment. The definition of love is the question I ask and you reading this as from today, will start asking. Once I sense the presence of huge differences, I can predict, the relationships journey won’t be that long.
We asked a question at the beginning and this happens to be my non-metaphorical response.
Are you in a relationship? Do you love your partner? Do you want that love to last? Ask her/ him what love means to her/him.
If you read this till the end, just like my brother John Divine says it “you’re a legend”, please remember to drop your comment on what resonated with you in this piece.
Leslie Micheal ACE