The trick to love is in the waiting…
Love is one area of life where most of us fail miserably. And not only do we fail, but we usually fail over and over and over again. I swear love has to have the worst success rate of anything we do in life.
In the words of Erich Fromm:
There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love.
Throughout my younger years, I remember how the time slowed to a crawl when I was single. Every day felt like a year, every hour felt like a day, and every second felt like an uncomfortable personal hell.
I would sit in my apartment all alone at night, watching TV, playing music, doing whatever I wanted to after work, all while feeling empty inside.
Sometimes, this feeling led me to total despair.
“How unlovable am I?” I wondered to myself.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had that crisis!
Boy, it’s a fun one.
What’s so strange about it is that there wasn’t anything to be afraid of when looking back. Life was good. But at the time, I felt this incessant need to have someone else complete my life.
Even when I was young and in my teenage years, far too young to be settling down and having a family — I still felt the urge.
It wouldn’t have worked practically. I still had a lot of living to do. I still had to forge my path along the long road of life, learning from experience and hardship. I wasn’t yet responsible and on my feet, with my future set up and waiting to accept me.
Most of us feel this. I don’t think anybody is exempt. We all wonder why we’re single when we’re single, and we all feel at least a slight tinge of pain watching everyone else live it up with their partners or going out on dates while we sit home and cure our boredom.
Even worse, sometimes, this feeling can drive us to act like complete idiots. In trying to escape the isolation, loneliness, and feelings of despair that the single life can dish out, we make horrible decisions.
We cling to partners we don’t actually love. We date people in whom we’re only moderately interested. And we’ll put up with a lot more nonsense than usual just to numb that gnawing feeling of loneliness.
I now see I didn’t have patience in my romantic life. Stop and think about how ridiculous this is…
Close your eyes and picture a world-class violinist playing on a stage. Do you think they just woke up there on accident, stood up, and started churning out Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor?
Do we think sports stars got to their championship games by just waiting around, and suddenly, athletic talent, mental fortitude, and perfect fitness fell into their laps?
Of course not.
So why do we expect the same from our romantic relationships?
I think most people want to take shortcuts on the road to love. But if you’ve lived and learned as much as I have, you know there are no such things as shortcuts on the road to love.
Back then, I wanted my love right then, and I didn’t want to wait for it. I just wanted to be done with the process already. Who the hell was I kidding?
Most people tend to approach the “preparation” part of the “preparation and opportunity” all wrong. They sit around and wait for someone to show up. Well, this is like a wannabe violinist never practicing and expecting someone to show up at their house and teach them how to be the greatest violinist of all time.
This makes no sense.
Finding a great partner takes time. And preparing ourselves for love takes time.
Preparation for love, especially lasting love and a quality relationship takes work. We must first understand the basics of how humans operate, most of all so we can understand them, which is an absolute necessity if we are to forgive them.
Forgiveness is one of the hardest things for a lot of people to learn and it’s absolutely vital if we want to embark on the process of love. Nobody will be perfect all of the time and until we understand this and we can forgive them for their mistakes, their shortcomings, and their failures, we can’t reasonably be expected to be forgiven for ours.
“Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone,” Jesus said.
Speaking of Jesus, faith is a funny thing…
It’s something that my science brain often dismisses. Usually, I consider it wholly unimportant, at least when compared to the precise world of concrete facts and calculated reason that I’m used to dealing with.
But that doesn’t mean that faith has no place in our lives.
What I was missing when I was young was faith that everything would work out okay. Everything felt like a crisis — an emergency. And I couldn’t just relax and enjoy the experience of life, trusting that everything would work out fine.
The magic lies in having faith in ourselves and the Universe. The magic lies in having patience when it comes to finding love, and not expecting it right away.
The magic lies in being able to admit to ourselves that we’re still a work in progress. It lies in telling ourselves that it’s okay to not have all of our shit together right now, right this moment; and that we can — and should — put in the work to get our own lives together before we try to hop right into the uncertainty of new love and the changing landscape of interpersonal sexuality and love.