Falling in love

I know most of my (known) readers are married, so it brings me to a question: how does it feel knowing you will never (or should never) romantically fall in love again?

The recent Father’s Day PostSecret post started me on these thoughts, here’s an example:

Postsecret 1
Postsecret 1

It’s not Father’s Day in Australia, we celebrate that in September.  However the above secret seems somewhat perverse to me.  To me, once you’re married, that’s it.  You make it work.  I strongly feel divorce is the last resort, and love is something to be worked on.  It’s not to say I think divorce shouldn’t exist – there are many situations where I think it is suitable.

I don’t miss my Dad (other than him being in Tahiti with my mother for three weeks!) cause he is a great dad.  And my mother and father are committed to their warts and all relationship, for that I am SURE!

I know, though, that I fall in love insanely often.  One year I counted at least five men I was romantically fixated on.  And this was as recent as before the current BF.  This wasn’t as a teenager.  If anything, I was hooked on one guy for longer then!  Is a fixation different to love – for sure! Is that insane level of curiosity and the desire to know more about them and spend more time with them the foundation of a relationship – most definitely.

One thing I wish, dream and pray for is to have a marriage as long, happy and stable as my parents.  It’s the only way strong families can be built, from a strong foundation in the two parents. But gosh darn do I worry about my ability to become attracted to someone else.

And of course there’s this:

I'm not single
I’m not single

How high is TOO high to set your standards on your life partner?  At church today, I spoke about this with a woman who’s husband passed away a year ago and she has daughters approaching their 40s.  Both her daughters married in their late fourties, one has children, one is still trying.  We spoke frankly – the good fortune of one to have children.  Of her long and happy marriage.  She confided that she mourned not so much the passing of her husband, but the passing of the idea of what he might have been! She said, he was wonderful to offer to make her a hot drink countless times a day (and now she seldom makes them herself without him).  But how she *still* wishes he had looked her in the eye more and said ‘I love you’ or ‘You don’t seem happy today’.

And this rocked me – here’s a woman who spent most of her life happily married to a man whom she admits she loved, and mourns but still wonders what could have been.  How he could have been better?  And whilst she didn’t say it, I felt there was a thought ‘if I’d been married to someone else’.  I asked her “What’s too much of a compromise?  What do you live with, so that you can have children and have a family?”.  There will always be times of doubts in relationships, surely…?

Presently, my BF is well aware of my most recent crush.  I feel that at least being honest, open and transparent I can help work through this.  Thankfully, the BF is not the jealous or non trusting type.  I feel like sometimes the ‘secret’ that comes from affairs is half the fun – the sneaking around, the hiding.  However, it IS unsettling to love your current partner, and to find yourself interested in someone else. Odd though it may be, perhaps it’s not all that uncommon.  How do you make these fleeting interests outside your primary partnership short lived and not destructive?

So many big questions – your wisdom and experience welcomed.

12 Replies to “Falling in love”

  1. Here's an answer: have a crush on a gay man, plenty of them in Sydney, then you know there'll be no jealousy!

    I just knew Mr Sans would be my one, and while he is not perfect, that in itself is a hard-to-define concept. What would be perfect? The man who always pleases you? The man who always agrees with you?

    I don't want a copy of me. I don't want a push over. I want someone who is confident in his own self, so there will be conflict when we debate things or prioritise things differently or do things differently. So another question is: to what extent are you willing to accept the inevitable differences and conflicts? Continual agreement and happiness are not possible.

    Another question is: what is it you enjoy when you have a crush? (You don't have to answer here.) the physical attraction, the novel, the ability to have the image you have of the person not be tainted by how they actually are (ie your imagined person rather than a real person with his own hang-ups, opinions, quirks, mannerisms, repeatedly used sayings.) And herein lies the appeal of erotic fiction. Men in our mind don't have to be real. But they don't make cups of tea either!

    1. Ah ha! Gay men come at me!!

      I agree though – with the collection of relationships prior to this one – I want someone who can stand up to me, and I have that here. I think the heart is how much conflict or disagreement is OK in value based questions/dilemmas?

      I think I should be able to answer the crush enjoyment. I definitely rationalise many potential crushes by thinking that I only know the good sides, I don't know if they leave their home a mess, or they speak poorly to wait staff etc etc. And no – erotic fiction RARELY has tea making men – but they still sell remarkably well!

      1. How much disagreement is acceptable depends. Depends on how willing you are to seeing you are equally at fault. Whether the disagreement is really about superficial things or core values. Depends on how much you want to be right or want to be happy (in the words of Dr Phil).

        As to crushes, I am lucky that I think my darling husband (DH) is handsome and sexy. Even after 20+ years. And he makes my cup of tea perfectly. So no man with a lovely smile will be able to match this as well as his intellect. And I know that, so having crushes on others I keep to my imagination. And don't share with DH. Cause I know they would disappoint me, so no need letting DH know my imaginings.

        BTW, Leave the erotic fiction until you hit your 40s and have been with the same man for decades. It's like a clutch. (Another thing young'uns probably don't know about.)

  2. For me, you can only really hope at best to find someone who fits you 90%. Your values (core ones) have to be the same, and if you can get along 90% of the time, it's a good fit. No one is perfect and relationships aren't perfect….

  3. I am the very last person who should give you advice because my track record is not good!! I'll be frank: my first divorce happened because we never should have been married in the first place. We had been together for 6 years and I just couldn't imagine being without him, even though I was unhappy. My religion had a lot to do with it because I thought I should think the best of him, always work things out, and always "not sweat the small stuff." In retrospect, this led me to accept a lot of misery because I "couldn't leave." I ended up getting an annulment. My second divorce happened because of severe substance abuse. I took every feasible step at that time and it was a long process but family safety won out. I then remained single for 10 years because I refused to accept a second-rate new dad for my kid!

    One thing which hasn't affected you yet (luckily) is that one gets tired of meeting new people, always trying to flirt and impress, and being in competition for a good partner. I think the feeling of having crushes and falling in love, if acted upon, gives the rush of "winning" their attention and feels like an accomplishment, which can be quite addictive. But most people get tired of the ensuing breakups and starting-overs and play-acting their best selves again. So then, of course, the key is not to compromise too much when finally settling down!

    My conclusion? Best combination is shared values plus genuine friendship and respect plus a spark! Shared interests, friends in common, career goals, family backgrounds…not so much.

  4. That's a really interesting one…"how much conflict or disagreement is too much." My husband and I have been married for 14 years, but we have quite a volatile relationship! We have giant barneys. But the strange thing is…I do not doubt that he is the 'one'. And I don't think he does either, or he would have walked away long ago!

    I think the key defining element to making it work is whether you argue about the "negotiable" or the "not-negotiable" things. For example, my husband has never made me a cup of tea! And I have never watched a game of his beloved cricket. But there are certain, rock-solid, absolutely non-negotiable things that we are 100% together on. We don't have to 'try' in these areas, we both share the same common values. So yes, you'll hear us have whopping, enormous arguments about finances, say, or about the cleanliness of the house. But in the end, these are not life-or-death issues to me. On things that matter to my core, you'll hear us both murmuring in agreement. We have never had an argument on those really essential things.

    On the question of other attractions…a very thorny one. Can I say from long experience watching many, many friends…once you have committed to a relationship, it becomes a conscious decision not to pursue the first flicker of interest elsewhere. In some cases it has to be brutally cut-off. I have known some friends who have literally changed jobs to move themselves out of the line of fire with someone they are attracted to. And I've seen friends who have NOT made those hard choices…and their life has spiralled into chaos.

    Ah, this is a long topic that could go all night!!!

  5. Sorry, I’m doing my multiple-comment thing!

    Just remembered: I read a thing once that said the critical, divorce-predicting element is “contempt.”

    I agree with this. It’s one thing to argue a lot, to argue loudly, to argue passionately.

    But that can happen without scorn, or contempt. I think it would be incredibly hard to stay in a relationship with that element (from one or both parties.)

  6. This is a tough one . . I agree with you that marriage is a serious commitment and Mr. G and I plan to be together for the rest of our lives. My husband and I fight, but we still love each other and want to be together. It's good to disagree though – makes me consider other perspectives.

    How good is good enough though? That's hard to say. When I first met my husband, I knew immediately he was different from other guys I'd crushed on or been in relationships with. He's awesome, and I have no desire to give that up to be with another man. Plus we've built such a great relationship over the past 7 years – we communicate better, we laugh at each other's idiosyncrasies (rather than resent them), and support each other. I can't wait to see where we'll be in another 7 🙂

    1. Hi Sarah, not sure if you’re interested in reading more about relationships/marriage, but I just read this article because Pearl wrote about it and I thought you might be interested. 🙂

      And I understand completely that you’re not responding – no worries!

  7. My first relationship probably shouldn't have gone on as long as it did, but I was young, and it was my first serious one, so I was a bit naive. Looking back, I wish it would have ended after the "honeymoon phase" wore off, and we had our first disagreement.

    After two years, I think we got to the point where we were too comfortable. It sounds weird, but we were better as friends. All the excitement was gone, and he was more interested in video games than me. So of course, he happened to have an attractive friend, who started showing interest in me around the time I started having doubts. Nothing ever happened, and I was upfront with my then boyfriend about hanging out with him once (he was doing something else at the time). But I felt too guilty, and obviously something was broken if I was looking elsewhere, so I came clean and we separated.

    It was a confusing few months that followed, as I changed and he remained distrustful. We wanted time apart to evaluate things and see if it could be worked out. In the end, I was resentful, because I was honest and nothing had happened. (I had even voiced my concerns to him beforehand, telling him said friend was flirting with me and he brushed it off.) He couldn't decide on what he wanted, and I got the courage to cut him off after I met my current boyfriend.

    I'm not an extremely social person, so temptation really doesn't pop up. But I can say I learned my lesson from the previous relationship – the grass isn't always greener. It may seem so, and I do think that butterflies tend to cloud judgment. Everyone enjoys the newness of a relationship, and that's something that doesn't usually come around again after you commit. Like you said, we don't truly know how compatible we'll be with someone else. They might seem "perfect" on the surface, but everyone has their flaws.

    I'm not the easiest person to please or get along with, and I appreciate my boyfriend for sticking with me through rough times. I also know I can act like a complete idiot and he'll laugh along with me. I'm not really embarrassed around him, and we can be weird together. I love that about our relationship, and it's not easy to build that up. So for me, it's about being able to be myself, and having trust.

  8. The referendum on divorce in Ireland (the one which actually passed and made divorce legal, that is) was just before my 21st birthday. I was living in Germany at the time but at christmas that year I was home and had a party for a few friends. Mostly my close group of friends – there were six of us who always hung around together in school. Given that it was a hot topic at the time, especially since it was passed so narrowly (51% to 49% or something like that), it naturally came up in discussion. Two of my friends nearly came to blows about it. One so grateful it had been passed and wishing that it had been introduced years before so that her parents could have divorced, i.e. so that her mum could get away from an abusive husband. Not to mention so that she could get away from him, too, as well as away from the drama. The other horrified and upset because, she said, marriage is something you have to work at through the tough times. She reckoned that if divorce had been a possibility her dad would have just given up and left instead of working at the relationship. Both points of view are valid enough. I do think that relationships can be hard and need work and not just giving up on when things get tough. But that should happen because of the character of those involved and not because of societal expectations. And, if you've done lots of work and things are still bad, then I don't think there is anything to be gained by flogging a dead horse. Personally, much as I would like to think that there is just one person for everybody I'm not convinced that that's true. I think it's entirely possible to be in love with more than one person (not necessarily at the same time). And that it's possible for love to fade. But I also think that love isn't necessarily equal to a relationship and any non-conventional monogamous relationship would need an awful lot of hard work from all involved and a level of emotional maturity and personal security that very few people possess.

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