Written by Sarah McMaster
Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction." -Antoine de Saint Exupery
Boyfriend. Girlfriend. Partner. Love. I often hear from my friends that the labels used to describe two people in a committed relationship are antiquated and sound like a teenage crush. Some I know a reusing other words to describe their relationships: Beloved. Sweetheart. My TrueLove. But what makes a good partnership?And how do we know when we’ve metThe One?
I met my husband many years ago as two strangers backpacking around Europe.
We met eyes on a crowded train and never spoke, but as fate would have it, we ended up at the same youth hostel that night and the rest is history. I knew when I met him. I just knew. I called my friend from a payphone in Paris after spending two glorious weeks with my future husband and told her that I would be moving to Chicago, a city I had never even visited, to be with him. I was certain. It wasn’t like me to put my feelings on the line so quickly. So how did I know?...
I knew because something deep inside of me trusted him more than reason would advise me to. I wasn’t talking myself in to trusting him, I just did. I knew because he was kind and gentle, respectful and fun, and he carried my dad’s birthday present all over Spain until I could find an open Post Office; and because he helped me put on my heavy backpack every time we were on thego. As I got to know him over that short period of time, he continued to amaze me--inspiring me to become a better person. When he knew things I did not, he did not belittle me for my ignorance. He wooed me by surprising me with a wine and cheese picnic and a Rolling Stones concert. He changed his flight so we could see each other one last time, and so he could meet my sister who happened to be traveling as well. His actions showed me that he put me first—that our new relationship was the most important to him. Later on he would prove it again when I got scared and had doubts about relocating from Philadelphia to Chicago. When I explained that I would be leaving my job, my family and my friends, and that I knew no one there besides him, he told me that he would move to Philadelphia instead. He explained that he didn’t care where we were he just wanted us to be together. So, I moved to Chicago!
Now, I realize that my story may sound a bit like a fairytale and that most relationships start in a series of hiccups, uncertainty, confusing text messages and...waiting. I’m lucky, I know. I’m reminded of that often by many of my friends...So, how should anyone navigate the singles world without going insane? I’m not a relationship expert, but I will tell you what I tell my closest girlfriends: People should be judged by their actions more heavily than their words. “He says he loves me”... Ok, but he’s got a girlfriend and he hasn’t left her. “She said she really wanted to see me”...But, she flaked and you wasted your whole day waiting for her.
Imagine yourself as your own child. Would you want your daughter/son dating this person? Then there’s this—he ADORES you. That’s wonderful! But, do you adore him? Imbalanced love can create confusion and resentment over time, and more than anything you are denying your own truth. Are you partnering with someone out of safety? Take ample time to think about what your values and goals are and if they match your partner’s. Can you see yourself growing old with this person? Does he respect you completely? And do you return that respect? How do you feel about his friends? I believe that the company a person keeps speaks volumes about that person. Don’trushanything. Passion can fade, but true love can weather the ebb and flow. In short, unless you’re 97, I’d say it might be worth waiting for the one that you adore as well.
Of course, it is important to remember that even the best relationships require patience and work. Love does require sacrifice and putting your partner’s needs and desires ahead of yours at times. However, your needs and desires are equally as important. Inourtenyearstogether,myhusband and I have been through difficult times, but we have been able to get through it and grow together as we learn and change,notgrowapart. Part of our continual growth and connection as a unit comes from respecting individuality. We started with many of the same core values: honesty, trust, communication and celebrating each other’s uniqueness. We see the importance of small measures, which can help you honor your relationship. For example, moving the television out of the bedroom, surprising one another with small gifts (bought or made or even free – like a backrub), going to bed at the same time, dedicating evenings to dining together and turning off the phone while doing so, spending a night or weekend away together every couple of months. Equally as important is giving each other privacy and having interests independent of those you share. All of these elements can help create a sanctuary for your relationship and cultivate respect and intimacy. Lastly and probably most importantly, when you do find that person who is your soulmate, cherish and honor that relationship. Protect it.You deserve it. And remember the good times should outweigh the bad in a landslide!
*Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of the “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.