I am reminded today of how we all begin relationships… with the best of intentions and the greatest of hopes. We meet someone new and the possibilities seem endless. We delight in the prospect of what we might just have been fortunate enough to have stumbled upon.
But then, more often than not, some harsh reality slips into the mix, like a thief through a back door inadvertently left open. Perhaps it’s a flaw in him — he’s uncommunicative or a terrible kisser. Maybe it’s a flaw in your dynamic — he needs more together time and you’re more independent. Or maybe it’s neither of those things. Maybe it’s simply those intangibles not lining up — those things that pull us toward one another in some mysterious cosmic dance that humans have mulled for centuries and seem no closer to understanding. Pheromones. Biorhythms. Soul connections. Whatever they are, they are mostly undefinable and immutable, at least in my experience. They are the things that separate a perfectly nice relationship from a great love.
I have had a few truly life-changing relationships. They varied in how they started, how long they lasted, and how healthy they were. But all of them — the rare relationships that have been meaningful in my life, that affected me the most, that altered me for the better in some fashion — spoke to my soul almost immediately. Each of them had a moment — very, very early on — in which I recognized that something in me had shifted… that I was being pulled toward this man in a way that was beyond my simple comprehension. One time that moment comprised an unexpectedly great conversation on a first date. Another time it was a first kiss that left me weak in the knees. Yet another time it was the revelation of a tender side to him that was entirely unanticipated. In all of these moments, I felt, in my soul, the stirrings of a connection that was going to matter.
The other element that these relationships had in common was physical chemistry. Strong, undeniable, unforgettable physical chemistry. The kind that leaves you yearning for him long after you’ve broken up. The kind that everyone in your mutual vicinity is aware of. The kind that offers the framework for the most fulfilling physical intimacy possible. But I’m not only talking about physical attraction here — whether he has a hunky body or beautiful eyes or whatever — I’m also and primarily talking about biological chemistry. The way he smells and tastes. The way his skin feels under my fingers. The electricity that’s exchanged when his lips brush mine.
Of course, these two ingredients don’t guarantee a happy ending. Indeed, some of my memorable relationships did not end well at all. Some of them made no sense to my friends, and some of them resulted in me getting my heart broken. But I wouldn’t sacrifice a minute of any of them. Those relationships enriched all the best parts of me and brought me greater joy than practically anything else in this world, even if they later ended.
I am not looking for neat and tidy. I am not looking for safe or logical. I want spectacular. I want deep and rich and textured. I want to tear his clothes off and hold his heart tenderly. I want to talk until the wee hours and wake up in the middle of night to make love. I want to challenge each other and push each other to be better than we are. I want the kind of love that brings a smile to my face when I see it happening for other people. I will not — cannot — settle for one iota less.
My determination in this regard is not based only on theory, but on experience. I have tried the rational route. I married a man who was seemingly perfect for me. On paper, we were an ideal match — so much in common, so many similarities. Having both been very hurt before, I suspect that we opted for safe and secure and sane. Surely anything that was lacking could be overcome by our overwhelming compatibility in so many other areas….?
I may not be a rocket scientist, but 13 years is long enough for me to learn any lesson, and I learned this one well. I will compromise on many, many things, but not on this. Never again on this.
I was mulling over this very topic this morning in a waiting room when I happened upon an advice column in Women’s Health magazine, with the following exchange:
Q: Can you create passion or is it an innate feeling?
A: You can sustain passion, but creating it is a whole different kind of sorcery. There’s always the chance you’ll find a new spark between you and your guy as you both change over time, but that’s a long shot. If those tricky little parts of your brain stem buried deep within your emotional compass aren’t popping to life every time he’s around, you’re in trouble. Bottom line: Passion is either there or it’s not. Without that pull, a relationship that makes perfect sense on paper can end up just as flat.
At this point in my life, I didn’t need a magazine expert to validate my sensibility, but I thought it was very well put. (In fact, it’s taken me nearly 1000 words to say what he said in approximately 100.)
Of additional interest was a readers’ poll further down the page, which asked “Did you have instant chemistry with your partner?” Fifty-one percent of readers responding answered “Yes, definitely!”; 28% answered “No, our bond grew over time”; and 21% answered “Doesn’t apply to me.” (I’m not entirely sure what that last response means, but I’m pretty darn sure that I wouldn’t be happy in those relationships.) Based on this supremely scientific polling, I am apparently in the majority in our country. Or at least in the readers of Women’s Health.
During my divorce, I realized that my idea of a perfect love is not shared by the entire world, and not even by some of my friends. But that’s okay. I’m good with it. I am completely comfortable with the knowledge that my particular definition of a perfect love only has to be shared by one special, amazing guy with whom I share some toe-curling chemistry and a heart-pounding connection.