Life would be simpler if we could lie down and wait for a magical kiss — or even one of Cupid’s arrows — and then walk off into the sunset and live happily ever after. I had my heart set on something more closely resembling that than what I got; but as it turns out, simpler isn’t better.
Along the way, I’ve had my share (OK, more than my share) of magical kisses, arrows and sunsets. There’s a lot of ground between those and happily ever after, though, and it’s under-covered in love stories.
Chances are, the first time you “fell in love” is really the first time you got infatuated. And infatuation is irrational and short-lived!
It feels bigger than life, though, like the moon and the stars, and everything you ever wished for all wrapped up in a titillating package that you can actually get your arms around! Well, temporarily.
When infatuation strikes, it’s generally unfounded; so, unless you move quickly to put a foundation under it, it fizzles. And, let’s face it, you’re way too busy making googly eyes to build a foundation. Besides, you’re not about to let the “love of your life” get away, right? You both want the feeling to last forever. So, why wouldn’t it?
Kisses and arrows don’t really work magic.
Maybe you saw her across a crowded room and were immediately swept away by her brain — or was it her legs? Then she saw your “brain,” and you knew it was love at first sight! Wedding bells, the sweet sounds of a baby’s cry and rocking on the front porch all hit you at once.
OK, maybe what hit you was more like an insatiable physical desire and “how am I going to hold out on the first date?” So, how did you get from that to thinking it was going to last forever?
Well, there was all that conversation when you both sauntered across the room. And in fairness, you did cling to each other’s words and ask questions as though you were genuinely interested in knowing each other — for at least a few weeks.
The problem is that you didn’t really know each other. You “fell in love” first, which means you fell in love with an image. You were smitten by somebody who made you feel important and desirable, somebody who was going to make you and your life feel worthwhile! And you began to fill in the gaps with what you wanted to be there.
You decided that she was sweet and caring — in addition to hot — or that he was a respected attorney, as well as a charming smooth talker. Maybe you imagined her walking barefoot on the beach, still beautiful without makeup. Maybe you saw him walking beside you in the park with a little boy on his shoulders.
All good stuff, but rooted in your imagination, not reality. And eventually, usually within a few months, we wake up to reality. It happens to the best of us (before we become our best).
What’s interesting is that when we’re not looking for somebody else to complete us, we can appreciate legs and charm without turning them into more than they are. Reality is enough; you are enough. But until you know that, you’re looking for a security blanket, somebody else to make it all better for you.
They can’t. Infatuation can’t. The feeling is unsurpassed, though … until you’ve covered all that ground between infatuation and happily ever after.
And that’s a long haul, a very long haul, and another newsletter.