I am a sucker for a good love story.
I am one hundred percent, fully, completely, wholeheartedly in love with love. In my experience, everybody has a good love story, and is ever so eager to tell it, if you give them the chance; if you ever want to bring instant joy to people in your company, ask them how they met.
Because of my love of love and the stories it tells, I ask people this question a lot; I come by it honestly, as the stories of people’s lives fascinate me in general, how they play out, how the dots connect; how the lessons learned and decisions made and opportunities taken lead someone to where they are now. So it’s not uncommon for me to dive into someone’s origin story when it comes to love.
I’ve always been a dreamer, and when you’re a dreamer who loves love – and then gets divorced – you get used to a lot of people telling you a lot of things that are in opposition to what you know to be true. Things like “that’s just a fairy tale; what you’re dreaming of doesn’t exist.” “You’re living in a fantasy land; come back to reality.” After awhile, after enough of those things being told, you can start to lose sight of your dreams, and your love of love, in favour of listening to other people’s versions of reality.
I started to feel my own beliefs about love slipping away, and stopped seeing the vision that I once so clearly held and closely revered; I wasn’t thrilled to notice my usual relentless optimism being usurped and beaten down by thoughts that “maybe love isn’t for everyone – maybe it’s not for me. Maybe it’s an antiquated idea. Maybe the 50% of marriages that do stay together are held together by fear and complacency. Maybe we’ve all been sold a bill of goods and we are doomed to live a life unrequited by love.”
Not going to lie, it got pretty dark for a minute, and too dark for my liking. I needed to change my own perspective back, and to do so I knew I needed to see proof and examples from more than one couple. So I decided to start asking everyone – and I mean everyone – about their own love story. I started digging for the bigger picture, and the deeper truth from people I knew in every context, including people I’d known forever, and people I’d barely just met.
It started by simply casually asking people to tell me how they met, and if they were interested in going further – which 99% of people are – I’d ask more questions. I’d ask her, then him, then bring it up again when they were together. The stories that seemed too good to be true, and too perfectly aligned I’d go back to ask to hear them again, pulling out more detail, and savouring every single corner of the mouth that would be drawn up as each person recounted another small and seemingly insignificant detail, that to me added up to so much more.
What came back to me came back in spades. The stories of chance, luck, history, timing, fate, challenge, perseverance, trust, joy, and laughter started to chip away at the cynicism I’d let creep in, till that cynicism was eventually drowned out by waves and waves of love – to the point that now if someone were to tell me love does not exist, I’d look at them like they are crazy, not the other way around. Interestingly, now that I’m back to that place of pure belief, pure trust, unequivocal faith that love is so real and bigger than any other force we experience, I don’t think I’ve heard any of the naysaying; it’s as if this renewed belief in love begets a deeper belief in love, and the very thought of that makes me smile so much.
When I started gathering and compiling people’s stories, there were a few that really stood out, and I put together a few questions for those people to answer; after sitting with them for days, and reading and re-reading their answers, I’ve instead pulled out the key messages – which were all overlapping one another – and put together a list of How to Believe in True Love…Again.
1. Trust That Timing is Everything
Lesson: Of all the couples I talked to, this was such a truism; for some, they had known each other for years, and had either not thought of one another “in that way,” or the timing had been otherwise off throughout the time they knew each other. For others, it seemed that they were both in exactly the right place at exactly the right time – be it on a school bus, at work, at a party. In every case, the timing was perfectly aligned when it was perfectly aligned; each found themselves where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.
Why is this important: It can be tempting, in our search for love, to put ourselves in situaions we think we should put ourselves in; we act in ways we think or assume will have love find us. Over and over, the couples I spoke to had the same narrative that they found each other not on their own agenda or timeline, but when the timing is right. This is incredibly freeing, because it means you don’t have to be anywhere, you don’t have to do anything, you just have to be you, and do what makes you feel like you. Which is a segue to the second lesson.
2. Feel Whole on Your Own
Lesson: For a lot of people I spoke to, the theme that they’d done the (sometimes painful) work of healing after the end of a serious relationship, or the work of accepting their single status for what it was, and embraced the time they had on their own, without a serious relationship as a time of growth and reflection. They talked about playing the field, going on dates with people like trying on new looks, seeing what fit, what didn’t, what felt right, and what had them shaking their head. So many people in deep, loving, and very healthy relationships were brave enough to live single and solo, and explre the parts of them that made them them.
Why this is important: If you want to attract the kind of epic love you’ve been dreaming of into your life, you not only need to be very clear on what you want (and moreover what you need), but you also need to show up as the best version of yourself, so that you can offer that same epic love in return. If you are looking for someone to sweep in and save you, complete you, make you whole – you are looking for a different kind of love that is actually more co-dependent than true and lasting intimacy. When you feel whole on your own, you offer – and attract – a partner who is a complete person with the capacity to both give and receive that big love.
3. “It Happens When You’re Not Looking” is a Real Thing
Lesson: You know the adage that a watched pot never boils? It’s true. If you stand over the pot waiting for it to boil, it seems to take FOREVER, despite your best efforts to will it into the state you want. However. When you turn on the element, put the pot on to heat, then walk away and do whatever else needs to be done, as if by magic, your water is ready before you know it. Every single person I talked to – not most, but ALL – said the same thing: “I didn’t expect to meet them; it seriously happened when I wasn’t even looking for it.” Isn’t that wild?
Why this is important: Just like that pot of water, love will not happen on demand. Instead, if you set the intention that you’re going to find or be found by that one true and awesome partner you’ve been dreaming of, you can make your intentions known, then busy yourself while love works its magic. When you put a pot of water on the stove, you don’t hum and haw and fret and worry that maybe it’s not working, maybe it’s not happening fast enough, maybe it won’t boil. Nope, you intend for that water to heat up, turn it on, and expect it to deliver. Do the same with love. Don’t ever doubt that it won’t happen for you, just be clear with your intentions, expect it to be real, and go about living your life without questioning the course.
The other constant across stories was twofold, and very much rooted in Buddhist teachings, even if by accident: if you meet someone who makes you feel those nervous butterflies, it is almost a guarantee that they are not “the one.” Conversely, when you connect with someone in that easy, effortless, felt like we’d always known each other way, that’s a pretty good marker of a deeper and more spiritually connected/anointed bond.
There’s something to be said for the flow in a relationship, and sometimes there is a frustration in dating by feeling like you need to force it. If you need to force it, let it go. When you feel like you are with a very, very good (ultimately the best) friend – that you also want to tear their clothes off or spontaneously jump over and kiss them, that’s the magic one.
This is my Valentine’s gift to you; a lesson in believing unequivocally in true love, because it is real. If it hasn’t found you yet – and if it’s something you want in your life and have made the space to receive it – it will.
ps – You know what would be incredible? Adding to this collection of love stories; please, please feel free to send me yours. Happy Valentine’s Day.