After all those rosy love songs, we ladies are often convinced that great love is just around the corner, waiting for us. But on closer inspection, we see that we have more in common with Bridget Jones’s Diary than with Love Actually. And, of course, we wonder why.
I, too, spent a good number of evenings trying to answer that question. In vain. Because I still have no idea. On the other hand, I found the answer to another, far more important question.
That’s why I suggest you step aside and look in another direction. Instead of focusing on a horizon where no one is in sight, turn your gaze to the person with whom you spend most of your time: yourself.
Getting to know yourself
I remember the first time I left on a solo trip for a few days. It was in the mountains. I needed to reconnect with myself and hear my inner music again. I was tired of forever waiting for my Prince Charming to come and sing his serenade under my balcony. I needed to find my way back to my own desires, my dreams, my plans, which seemed to have been lost under the shifting sands. I was haunted by, “Where is that man who will promise me that he will love me until my last breath?”
A unmarried woman’s letter to her younger single friend
Enough! I said to myself. I packed my backpack, got on a train, and left. This was the beginning of an incredible adventure. Today, I know that if we do not love ourselves enough, in the shadow or in the light, it will be difficult to build an intimate and open relationship with another person.
When you know who you are, you know who you are looking for
At the beginning of her relationship with her husband, my friend Asia made some unsuccessful attempts to change him. One day he told her, half seriously, half jokingly, that to please her he would try to change night into day! Today, they tell this story with a smile, but it speaks volumes about our so-called good intentions and what they hide. Starting a relationship with the secret hope that our partner will change under our influence is usually a high-risk strategy.
‘Countercultural’ Message on Love, Relationships at Notre Dame Student Conference
Let’s ask who we are really looking for. What is really important to us in a relationship? What is it that we do not want to give up? What compromises are we willing to make, and do we want to agree to something that does not go with our dreams?
Our defects are not the reason for our solitude
When you have been alone for a while, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” It’s better to avoid that line of thinking. It’s a dead end. I’ve experienced it. Instead of wondering if one is not “enough” this or “too much” that, it’s better to take a clear-eyed look at our qualities and defects. We all have them. We do not have to punish ourselves over that! It’s better to know our weaknesses and … accept them.
Accept also that there are good things in us that we can share with those who need them. Remember that our defects are not the reason for our solitude. The day when we accept ourselves from all angles is the day that we will more easily accept others in all their facets, with their history, their qualities, and their faults.
Why our idea of romance is all wrong
The false idea of the ‘other half’
It’s so romantic to hear that one is the “other half” of someone else! It’s this idea that we are the person without whom the other cannot exist or that someone is everything for us and that it is only with him or her that we really feel like we are whole. Yes, but … it’s simply not true. We are whole beings. God created us as full-fledged beings. There is no missing part of the puzzle. So we can stop looking for the second half of the apple, and rather look for another whole, very ripe, appetizing fruit with which we will invent a tasty cocktail.
Look for the source of love
Finally, until I had experienced that God alone and His Love could fill my heart, I was searching blindly for the experience of being loved. If you, too, have had this experience, go to the source.
Desiring love is natural. It means that we are born of love and that we tend towards love. If we dare to draw from this source like the woman of Samaria, we will experience the living water. When we drink it, we are never thirsty again (John 4:1-42).
What C.S. Lewis can teach us about true love
My experience tells me that when I am looking for God rather than a “second half,” it is easier for me to make a distinction between a promising relationship and a relationship in which I would immerse myself only to fill an emotional void.
I would not have written this if I had not known many other couples who told me about their experience. Being near God allows you to keep the right distance with your partner, not to depend entirely on him and especially not to put all your hopes on his shoulders, because that can be very cumbersome. For our own sake and for the good of the other, it is better not to do so.
In short, find yourself and find God first – then you will have more to give.
This article was originally published in the French Edition of Aleteia.