Do you believe in everlasting love?

No, is the short answer. But that wouldn’t make great reading, so I will try and expand…

I want to believe in the idea that at some point in my life, I will meet somebody and know. Know that this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, the person who completes me, the person I will love forever. But I don’t believe it. It’s a lovely idea, but in my mind completely unreasonable. How can you say that you will love somebody forever? How can you know?

Recently I bought a new dress. It’s a long dress, with a low v-neck and a complicated floral print and the fabric is slippery and shiny. I really love it, I think it suits me, it flatters my shape and makes me feel good about myself. Great.

Fast forward ten years though and I know I won’t feel the same about it. I will change. My tastes will change, my body will change and what makes me happy will change. This doesn’t mean I love the dress any less right now – and is no reflection on the quality of the dress (although to be fair it did only come from Peacocks, so in ten years it will probably have disintegrated) –  I’m just not under the illusion that I will love it forever.

I appreciate that this may sound rather shallow, comparing true love to a cheap dress, but to me it feels like the same principle. As I get older, I’m growing to like the idea of marriage, but I couldn’t stand up in front of all my family and friends and vow to love someone forever, I would feel like I was making an impossible promise.

The first time I fell in love I was 16. It was the purest love I have ever felt, (what with being a child and all…), uncomplicated initially by any of those things that strain adult relationships, like money or work or emotional baggage. Of course once I became pregnant it got a bit more complicated, but if anything that added for me to the intensity of it. When he left to go home at 9pm every night I missed him immediately, I wanted to spend every minute with him. The week we spent apart when I was on a college exchange in Germany and six months pregnant was one of the worst of my life. No kidding, I missed him so much it physically hurt me, I couldn’t think about anything else.

And then one day, a couple of years later, I realised I didn’t love him anymore. I didn’t know why. He hadn’t done anything different, nothing had really changed, there seemed to be no explanation for it. There I was, living with the person I had honestly imagined spending the rest of my life with, and my feelings had just changed. I hadn’t wanted them to, but I couldn’t change them back.

Yes I was young, and you can tell me I didn’t know what love was, but I did. It might have been different to the kind of love I would have now, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t count. Experiences since have shown me that love at any age can be just as fickle, and that does scare me sometimes. I wouldn’t trust anyone who told me they would love me forever. Not because I wouldn’t believe that was how they felt at that moment, but because I don’t believe love is that predictable.

I really don’t mean this to sound negative, I’m just being realistic. It doesn’t mean I would take a relationship any less seriously or just be waiting for it to go wrong. If anything, it would have the opposite effect. Because I don’t believe in taking love for granted I would cherish it all the more, any relationship I was in would be because every day I wanted to be, not because I had made some promise and was sticking to it regardless.

What do you think? Do you believe in everlasting love? Am I just a cynical kill-joy or is the idea of loving someone forever just an impossible dream?

41 Comments

  1. 10 November, 2010 / 10:35 am

    isn’t all real love everlasting?

  2. 10 November, 2010 / 10:44 am

    The short answer . . . yes, I believe in everlasting love. To be completely mushy my husband and I complete each other!

    But we are certainly not the norm; many friends have split up and moved on, or area still together but incredibly unhappy. Many have come out of intense long lasting relationships only to then find their soul mates and finally be happy.

    I think it’s different from one person to the next, but I do believe that when you meet ‘the one’ everything just falls into place and the goes away.

    P.S. I don’t have a single item of clothing from when we met, I’ve gotten bigger as has our love. Sadly the love hasn’t been what caused the increased dress sizes :-)!

  3. 10 November, 2010 / 11:08 am

    A really interesting post Jo (as usual!) and I have so much to say on the subject but I’ll try and keep it brief.

    Basically, I do think that love can last forever, but not in the way it’s portrayed in your average RomCom. For me love is, as Louis de Bernieres writes, “what is left over when being in love has burned away”. Real love is more than a feeling (although feelings are part of it, of course) – it is a choice, a commitment. That’s why I think marriage is so important, it’s the public declaration of the commitment rather than the feeling.

    Think of non-romantic love. You could promise to love your children forever, right? Even if sometimes you didn’t feel it because they were going through a rebellious phase and driving you demented. You would continue to act in love towards them and, at some point, you’d realise those feelings hadn’t really disappeared after all.

    They may have changed. Love does change, it’s not a constant, and so sometimes it will be passionate and sometimes comfortable and sometimes it will be painful and sometimes ordinary. But if you commit to love someone then it will grow and strengthen and those very times when you thought it had disappeared will be the times that you look back on and think “I’m so glad I made the effort”.

  4. ronke
    10 November, 2010 / 11:15 am

    i like the dress analogy, it does make a lot of sense, i have the feelings too, severally infact……

    But that does not mean i agree with you, it takes more than love to keep two people together forever, there is a place for respect, commitment and other spice.

  5. 10 November, 2010 / 11:41 am

    “He hadn’t done anything different, nothing had really changed, there seemed to be no explanation for it.”

    Except you changed. When you are lucky enough to find that person, and I believe damn few are, that person changes with you. You grow and change together. You fight, you make up, you learn new ideas, adjust your ways of thinking, together.

    It is my belief that those that don’t change with each other break up. And yes, there is no way of knowing when you are standing there wearing a white dress. We just need to take that leap every once and a while.

  6. hilly
    10 November, 2010 / 1:45 pm

    Great post. I’m sure that the emotions people feel as a 20 and 30-something are a watered down version of those they felt a teen. At what point it changes, I have no idea, but I know that when I was younger I felt a different love to that which I feel now.
    I guess the thing with the dress presumes that the dress stays the same while you change over time; if a couples both change in compatable ways over time they will be the lucky ones who stay together, happily, forever.

  7. 10 November, 2010 / 1:59 pm

    even if i did believe in ever lasting love, it’d mean that i’ve lost it forever… so to calm down and keep expecting good things from life, i’ve got to say that the key to being happy (in a relationship) is attraction and a whole lot of respect to your partner. this is *my* cynical recipe.

  8. 10 November, 2010 / 2:43 pm

    That’s the trick I think – don’t stand up in front of everyone and say you will love eachother for ever – as far as i’m concerned that’s asking for failure! I have been married for 10 years but it was a swift registry office jobby with one witness and actually I’d say I love him more than at the beginning because we have been through so much together. Yes it does exist!

  9. Lisbeth
    10 November, 2010 / 3:50 pm

    Now I will be honest: I fall in love A LOT. I usually have an office boyfriend or girlfriend – not for actual shagging purposes, but for some passionate flirtation. But I still want to spend my life with my husband, and I know he feels the same. We want to grow old together and retire together and be a solid example to our kids together – and enjoy being with each other – because we’ve shared most of our grown-up lives together (15 years) and all that shared history is massively important. I know I could have made a lifelong partnership with several people that I’ve met in life, I don’t have any illusions that there is ‘the one’ out there to complete me – but I love being with him so much, I love it when he wakes me up in the morning and I love sneakily watching him undress every night, and I think: this is fantastic. We are both miserable if we’re apart from each other for more than a day.

    He doesn’t complete me – I’m complete enough already thanks – but the fact is: he makes my life so much better for just being there, and being my companion, and being my lover – every day is just better than it would be without him there. And as long as that’s the case, and as long as he feels the same way about me, then neither of us will walk out – that’s everlasting enough for me.

  10. 10 November, 2010 / 4:02 pm

    Hmmm…

    I love all these brilliant, thoughtful comments!

    What it goes to show though I think is that I am clearly in a minority, and that I am possibly just cynical and/or emotionally immature. Oopps.

    Or perhaps it’s just that I’ve not met the right person yet…

    Lovely, inspiring comments though – thank you :-)

  11. 10 November, 2010 / 4:56 pm

    I really understand your feelings Jo! And I know what you mean by not wanting to sound negative despite not believing in “forever” when it comes to the subject of love.
    I think I’d put it this way: I have been in love twice. The first was a disaster and ended badly after nearly 5 years. The second is two years in and still flourishing :) I thought the first one would last forever and it didn’t but it makes me no less optimistic about this current love.
    As long as it works for us both then we will treasure it and hopefully we will grow and change together. If we don’t then it doesn’t make the love we had any less real.
    x

    • 10 November, 2010 / 5:02 pm

      That’s exactly what I was trying to say – just because I don’t believe something will definitely last forever doesn’t mean I wouldn’t treasure it and value it for as long as it worked. Thank you for making that sound much more sensible and less cynical than I did! x

  12. 10 November, 2010 / 5:11 pm

    I think I do believe in everlasting love.
    And I think the key is that true love means that you grow together. I met my OH when I was just 17 and I am a completely different person now of course, 16 years later. But we are probably more in love now, than we were back then! I think love can grow even stronger over the years x

  13. 10 November, 2010 / 6:28 pm

    I believe in true love, forever love. Me and MadDad have been together for 17 years and I am as happy now as I was then. Yes I have changed, but so has her. We have grown and developed together. We have made two wonderful children and I love him more today than ever. Yes it is a little sickly, but I believe it to be true and you have to have a dream.

  14. 10 November, 2010 / 7:37 pm

    it’s not impossible, but it is difficult. I love my husband with all my heart, but there are times I want to kill him. I don’t love him any less, I just don’t like him. I think that is the difference- people confuse like and love and they are two totally different things!

  15. 10 November, 2010 / 8:25 pm

    i still love my husband and while i stil love my husband i vow to work very hard at my marriage and at keeping us together. I want to love him forever, i want to be with him forever, and i will do everything i can to make that happen. And i do honestly think we will be together forever, as Madhouse says you tend to grow together and the bond you have just gets stronger and stronger. It’s not based on superficilialities. But if i or he fall out of love then we would have to move on, and that would be okay.
    I remember Bruce Willis once talking about his relationship with demi moore in those terms. Like a part of their life that was wonderful, but that ended and they’d moved on, and that was okay. I think they are a good example of how to work it when it doesn’t last.

    M2M

  16. 11 November, 2010 / 9:04 am

    somewhere there is a me with the time and mental energy to write a proper reply to this very apt post. Instead I shall have (another) little cry under my duvet

    • 11 November, 2010 / 9:11 am

      *big hugs*

      You know where I am if there is anything useful I can do. Other than take you out and get you drunk, which I am pretty good at :-)

    • Lisbeth
      11 November, 2010 / 7:58 pm

      yes me too birdie

  17. 11 November, 2010 / 10:22 am

    I think I’m in the yes camp. I love love love my boy and know that I want to be with him till I’m proper old. I daydream about what we’ll do, the fun we’ll have (sadly it’s all reliant on finding some £ to travel the world..).

    But I am definitely not a daydreamer when it comes to love, it takes a lot, lot, lot of work and I guess I know I love him because I want to work at it.

  18. 11 November, 2010 / 10:29 am

    I am feeling properly heartwarmed by all these lovely stories – thank you! Maybe I can become a believer after all… :-)

  19. 11 November, 2010 / 1:36 pm

    I believe that love can last forever but I think it’s like a an old-fashioned oil burning stove that you have to keep feeding, otherwise it’s likely to go out in the middle of the night! ;) You can’t take love for granted, it needs it’s own nourishment- wow I’m cheesy today! Love the post, very thought-provoking

    • 12 November, 2010 / 10:44 am

      Loving the cheese and the oil lamp metaphors :-)

  20. Emma
    11 November, 2010 / 10:01 pm

    I always thought that when i met mr right it would be ever lasting but sadly I have yet to find him. The more i see of other peoples relationships and problems and breakdowns the more i am glad i am single right now…god that makes me synical!
    Hopefully i will be whisked off my feet one day :)

    • 12 November, 2010 / 10:45 am

      I don’t think it makes you cynical, just wary maybe. It can be hard to be optimistic when you see so many relationships ending badly. You can’t help but wonder if it is all worth it.

      • Emma
        12 November, 2010 / 11:00 am

        Yes ‘more wary’ is a better way of putting it ;) I am going to try and be more optimistic……

  21. mollyskiss
    12 November, 2010 / 12:49 am

    If you had asked me that question 18 months/2 years ago I would have agreed with you completely but not any more. You see I found him and I love him like I have never loved another person before. I know there are no sure bets in this life but I never ever thought I would meet a man who would change my opinion on love and ever lasting love, but I have, I think the key is that you both have to have the same passion and love for your love and for me, its the laughter. No matter what is happening he can make me laugh and ever time he does that, I find myself falling in love all over again.

    Mollyxxx

    ps….great thought provoking post btw

    • 12 November, 2010 / 10:47 am

      Molly, I think *I* am in love with you – what a brilliant comment! Thank you :-)

    • Emma
      12 November, 2010 / 11:02 am

      You lucky thing Molly, it made me feel more hopeful :)

  22. 12 November, 2010 / 9:58 am

    I don’t believe that love in the strickest sense can last forever.

    I believe unity and partnership can. When it’s all stripped back – I want someone I’m confortable with, I can share my inner most thoughts and ‘exist’ with.

    I spent my entire 20s being in love with someone – I thought I would die if we split up and I became cynical when did.

    I thought I’d never find that again. Really, all I had was ‘a length of time’. A chance to know someone completely like I know my family and closest friends. If you can make a long term partnership work, that there is everlasting love.

  23. Re:Morse full
    14 November, 2010 / 10:38 pm

    It’s a temporary state, but it’s so potent that it feels like it must last forever…probably best it doesn’t lest we all become impulsive & unpredictable…god forbid!!! It’s when someone else’s heart feels
    like the home you didn’t know you were looking for. One can certainly miss it forever, so maybe it is everlasting! X

  24. Steve
    15 November, 2010 / 6:44 pm

    Didn’t read the article. As usual, too boring.

    However, I will say this:

    Everlasting love is definitely promoted through sharing children, bank accounts and mortgages.

    • 15 November, 2010 / 6:49 pm

      Don’t lie Steve. You LOVE my blog and you know it.

      Funnily enough, it has always been the sharing of children and money that has rather soured things for me. Clearly I’m not picking well to start with though…

      • Steve
        15 November, 2010 / 6:53 pm

        OK, I admit it. I made it to the fifth paragraph.

        • 15 November, 2010 / 6:59 pm

          I knew it.

          I lost interest at about that point to be honest.

          • Steve
            15 November, 2010 / 7:13 pm

            It shows.

            Only joking.

            In honesty, re: the everlasting love theme, you get back what you put in. If either one doesn’t think it’s worth it then the whole thing collapses. You get peaks and troughs but as long as you love each other you will prevail.

            Utter and everlasting adoration is a fallacy. Life-long companionship is not.

            I think I have something in my eye.

  25. 15 November, 2010 / 6:52 pm

    Interesting! I married my first boyfriend at the grand old age of 19 1/2. We are still together 12 years on. Friendship, other than everlasting love, helps. http://www.zaarascloset.com. Drop by some time.

  26. 15 November, 2010 / 8:45 pm

    Totally and utterly agree with Steve when he says you get back what you put in – that’s the most succinct, truthful statement about love and relationships I’ve heard in a long while.

    • 16 November, 2010 / 10:08 am

      Wow – look Steve – someone valuing your opinion!

      Who’d have thought it.

      *smiles sweetly to negate effect of vicious sarcasm*

  27. 19 November, 2010 / 7:23 pm

    I’m divorced and I still believe in everlasting love. The problem is, it’s doesn’t live up to the promise. I believed true love could solve everything. Right up to the bitter end, my ex and I loved each other (we still do) but we still couldn’t work out how to stay together. It would have been easier if we had just fallen out of love. True love doesn’t wipe out the sadness of the past, it doesn’t make life perfect. It’s just another emotion.

    I’m glad I just stumbled on your blog by the way!

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