My boyfriend and I approach romantic love very differently. It caused many fights and misunderstandings in the early days – at times I’m surprised we made it through.
Some of this is due to personality, I know. But I believe a lot of it also has to do with culture. He is a hopeless, passionate romantic. He often says – and began saying early on – ‘we are one’. He is not shy about needing me and my time. He is anti-divorce, and even anti-breakup. He truly believes that love conquers all.
I’m more cynical. I believe in love, but I don’t believe in fairy tales. I think relationships take work and compromise, maintenance and effort. I don’t aspire to divorce, but I do think it’s the best choice in some situations, and I don’t think there is any shame in admitting it and moving on. I think love is crucial to a successful relationship, but it can’t replace practical, boring stuff like compatibility, trust, etc – that needs to be in place as a foundation.
I don’t believe in The One. It’s ludicrous, almost vain to believe that there is just one worthy person out there waiting. I think we could be happy with a great number of people. The concept of a soul mate is naive. And worse, it invites complacency. If you’re both in the headspace of ‘this is meant to be’, why try? If you both know you would never break up because of cultural pressures, why make an effort with one another? Why be kind, polite, romantic? They’re not going anywhere, they’re The One.
My boyfriend is not the sole person in the universe meant for me, that I could ever conceive of loving. He is the one I choose to be with. The one I choose to work for. And I think that is so much more meaningful.