It would be reasonable to say that I’ve had my fair share of relationships. So what have I learnt?
For a start, you can’t make someone love you or want to be with you, no matter how much you want it or how hard you try. Love isn’t something you can force, it happens of its own accord, often when you’re least expecting it. And when love hits you (or someone falls in love with you), it’s not easy to extricate yourself from it. It’s a bit like a vine, relentless in its grip, whether it’s bestowing you with delicious fruits in the heat of summer or withering and dying when it gets cold.
Love also changes dramatically with age. Love for the young comes with, perhaps, unrealistic expectations. We want it all and we want it now. Slow down, lasting love needs to be nurtured, allowed to grow and deepen. As I have got older, how I love and want to be loved has changed dramatically. When we have time on our side we want love and life to speed up. When time becomes more precious, we want them to slow down.
I’ve also learnt that, for me at least, making love and having sex are very different. That’s not to say you can’t have bonkers sex with someone you love, more that the two experiences feel quite different. Making love comes from the heart – a spiritual experience. Sex is usually a much more physical thing. And both are perfectly wonderful!
The biggest lesson I ever learnt about love taught me how to have a lasting and fulfilling relationship. So many times I’ve been told that relationships are about compromise. Not so. Love is about acceptance. You can’t change someone to suit your ideal. And why should you? True love means accepting someone just as they are, warts and all. And you should expect the same in return. Settle for nothing less. That doesn’t mean love is always easy. You’ll disagree and argue. And there are things you’ll want or need to change about yourself if causes distress to you or your partner. But if you treat each other with respect, and talk frequently and honestly, your love will grow stronger, along with your understanding of each other.
Oh, one last thing – love hurts too. But don’t let that stop you jumping in and embracing it in all its glory. Even if the love doesn’t last, you’ll share experiences, learn about yourself and what you want from relationships, and have some fun along the way.