True Love – does it exist?

‘Tis the stuff of myths – true love’s kiss cures all ills, and bride and groom, knight and damsel, prince and princess, king and queen, Buttercup and Wesley waltz off into the sunset never to be heard from again because they are busy living a perfectly harmonious life.

 

Does this kind of thing exist in society today? Can LOVE be defined simply? Or does love mean something different to everyone? Or is what we think love really lust in disguise?

 

I love my children, but the love I feel for them is different from a romantic love. I would lay down my life, slay many dragons, go to the ends of the earth and back again for my children. I know their every breath, their every sound, their every worry. I know what they think, and why. I am the centre of their universe. How can any man ever compete with that, am I setting myself up for failure in thinking that I can have the filial love from the kids and romantic love from future husband? Or can I really have it all?

 

Growing up I only had to look to my grandparents for inspiration – I believe that even though they were married more than 50 years, every time my grandfather looked at my grandmother he saw her as the 17 year old that he married. There was a special softness in his gaze when he spoke to her. He taught me about chivalry, which is something I appreciate. But more than that, they both showed me how devoted they were to each other, a devotion that had to have been based on love.

 

On my quest for answers I asked many people what their thoughts about love were, and the answers were varied and very interesting.

 

I had many answers that there is no such thing as true love, that it is just lust, and will fade with time to contentment. I would like to think that there is more to it than that, but I do agree that initial attraction can sometimes be mistaken as love, where all it is is really chemistry and infatuation.

 

Some people were brutally honest, that they had never found true love, but either hoped it exists out there, or wonder whether it is just a myth, a fabrication of society.

 

Here is a sampling of their comments:

 

Shtetl Fabulous had this to say

I think “true love” as a construct is very dangerous. It might exist, it might not. But believing in it and expecting it can often make people unhappy and dissatisfied with their relationships. Some people are lucky enough to experience true, mutual love instantaneously, but more often than not, the love that is most true develops over time and is forged by trials/obstacles overcome. When people run themselves ragged looking for true love in the fairy tale sense in relationship after relationship, or they reject potential partners because of some unrealistic ideal, they essentially defeat what true love really is.”

 

My girlfriend C had this to say

Love is the most wonderful and yet the most painful force known to (wo)man.  It’s almost like a drug – and can influence you to do the craziest things. But being in love with someone, and having that love returned, even for  5mins of your life, well, that kinda makes all the sh*t worth while.”

 

This, from M

“I’m not convinced that true romantic love (like in the movies) exists.  I think that 2 people can feel a connection – and it can be instantaneous – and that, if accompanied by attraction, can make people feel like it’s true romantic love, but I think that that feeling is usually fleeting… that is, no one can maintain it forever. 

I think that we’re set up, in society, to expect that feeling to last forever, and when a relationship’s fire begins to turn into smoldering embers, people panic and oftentimes don’t ride it out and wait for the next gust of wind to blow it back into raging flames… Love, to me, means that you have the stamina to ride your way through the fire just being embers now and again.  I think that every love relationship has ebbs and flows.  There are times when, while we still love our partner, we don’t feel especially fond of them and that’s okay. Let me see if this makes any sense to you… I love [my husband] so much that I’m incredibly happy that he has someone in his life that loves him the way he deserves to be loved.  

Love? in a nutshell?  Simply: the inability to imagine living your life without that person in it”|

 

This, from my buddy C:

I think that true love does exist, but like everything else, love changes with age. Romantic love is an ideal but I guess that life takes over and it is very difficult to maintain. What is romance and how do you separate it from lust?”

 

My girl Z told me:

I believe that true love is based on three things: 
1. respect 
2. common goals and values 
3. attraction
 
  Someone once told me that marriage isn’t 50/50. Some days it’s 20/80 on your part and sometimes the other way around. “

And this from my girlfriend who just got married and is blissfully happy:

“Until I met [my husband] I would have said that this type of [love] only happens in the movies…but I am here to say that it does exist.  It may not be that starry-eyed fairy tale romantic stuff 24 hours a day/7 days a week but I must admit that I wake up every day and I am still so giddy in love and there are often times during the day when I look at him and I feel like a high school teenager mad with puppy love.  It’s been two years since [we met] so I don’t think of this as the lovey dovey feeling you get when you are in a new relationship – because it really feels like it only gets better every day as we get to share more and more with each other and seem to fall more and more in love with each other.  Don’t give up…it’s out there for you too :)”

 

I was sent an email that really touched me, and it had something to do with today’s theme.

 

It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80′s, arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. 


On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound. 
 
While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. 
 
I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for awhile and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now. 
 
I was surprised, and asked him, “And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?” He smiled as he patted my hand and said, “She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.” 
 
I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, “That is the kind of love I want in my life.” True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be. The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they  just make the best of everything they have. 
 

I believe that said it all.

The Talmud (Tractate Derech Eretz Zuta) tells us “If you want to bond yourself to loving your friend, give to him for his benefit.” The Hebrew word for “love” (ahav) is rooted in the word “to give” (hav). This Talmudic statement teaches that genuine love comes only after giving. Which basically says that love comes only after time spent together. That love at first sight isn’t really something that the Talmud believed in.

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler had this to say “A person loves the fruits of his efforts, as he feels that he has imparted his essence to it. Whether it is a son he has brought up, an animal he has raised, a plant he has nurtured, or even a house he has built, he feels bound with love to the results of his labour. In it, he sees himself.” (Michtav Me-Eliyahu)

So in essence, the more we give, the more we love. When we give of ourselves, its our self love that enables us to do so. VeAhavta LeRayacha Kamocha – and you should love your friend the way you love yourself.

In conclusion, I would like to posit that I do believe in true love, I do believe it exists, I believe that we have soulmates who touch us deeper than could be thought possible. Love does not conquer all, and even if you are in love, you still need to work at your relationship every single day. I believe wholeheartedly that there is a special someone out there for me, who will not have to compete with the kids for my love, because they each will have their own special place in my life. But perhaps what I perceive as true love, today, as opposed to what I saw as true love when I was 20, is different. It has been molded by my life experience. It’s not all violins, hearts and flowers. It’s quiet moments of simple contentment, just being in each other’s company, a small gesture that shows so much, a card, an email, just because.

 

I hope you feel free to comment on this – I am very interested in all you have to say.

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  1. Gitty Levi says:

    Okay usually I can leave a comment without having think too deeply, this one is different. I was thinking about my relationship with my husband. We have been married for 12 almost 13 years. We were both 19 when we got married. In the beginning it was total lust, sex all the time, no kids to interrupt you lust. You all know that kind. All of a sudden it’s two years later, still no kids, just us but somehow, not so sparkly anymore. Uh oh, what happened here? Things that used to be quirky suddenly got on my last nerve, yikes! Phone calls to Mommy, “I think I made a mistake!” Mommy’s answer, “Sorry sweetie, you married him, deal with it.” Two years later, Dahlia is born. This annoying man is suddenly the most amazing man in the whole world, he is the father of my princess! But is that enough? Two years late, Dahlia is two, he is just, well, the sperm donor. Two years later, I am pregant again, he, is diagnosed with cancer. He is my love, my life, my soul mate, my other half. I could not live without him. Is it fair that it took a diagnosis of cancer to make me realize that he is my true love? No. Bottom line, it is the best thing that ever happened to us, it made me realize that true love does exist. It’s not sparkly or firworks or violins. It is solid, reliable and realistic. But you know what? I would take safe, warm fireplace over fireworks anyday.

  2. Thanks for including me/my thoughts here! Definitely made me think about the role of romantic love in our lives – for better or worse. Great work and good luck with finding and keeping this kind of love in your life.

  3. Ron says:

    Since there are those who seem to think I can shed some light on this topic let me chime in. I have written a fair bit on Hadassah’s wall already but I will reiterate them here.

    Since we are navigating Love and it’s mamy byways I will use a nautical reference and present to you the 7 “C”s of relationship. It’s sounds a little simplistic, but here they are……

    Companionship
    Courtesy
    Communication
    Compromise
    Civility
    Compassion
    Common Sense

    By Companionship I mean the deep friendship that develops over time. SO relationships take time.

    By Courtesy I mean respect and all that it entails. SO relationships need Commitment. There will be other Cs that fall out from this.

    By Communication I mean exactly that the ability to Convey ideas Clearly and Concisely to your partner. See the Cs falling?

    By Compromise I mean the ability to Change if you have to, Cohabit when you need to, Cajole when you must, Concede when you have to. Compromise is not a bad thing, it is just something you should be able to do.

    By Civility I mean just that be Civil. There will be times when the stresses of life will assail you they are called Challenges (yes more Cs to deal with). You may have trouble, but you should never let them override you basic sense of responsibility to be a good person. Never speak in anger, never speak when stressed and never be rude because the world seems to be against you.

    By Compassion I mean to be able to look beyond what is just you and to deal with the Challenges and Chaos around you. The means you must reach deep and share your loved one(s) burdens and accept that you may in fact not be able to anything more than be there, stumbling, crying, failing right there with them. The fact that you are there and are willing to shoulder the burden – makes all the difference.

    By Commonsense I mean just that, commonsense. This is ability to not ask the obvious when the obvious need not be asked, to not make light of a bad situation see compassion there are times for humour and times when it is never appropriate, no matter what you think. And if your loved one says they have a headache go get an aspirin or give them a massage don’t make it about you. Of course if it is constant then you need the Communication skills to determine what is wrong if anything.

    So you look at this and say “Great gogglywoggly this guy is a saint……”, nope I’m human. I forget these things or choose to put myself first and don’t follow my own advice. I do fail and expect I will always fail, but as ideals I hold them true and try and be a better person, by remembering them and doing better. That is what being a person is all about.

    Now someone said “what about lust”. My response was as follows -

    “No lust is there it’s the above that is needed in order for the lust to survive. If you’re not friends then the lust is meaningless, if you have no respect, then the lust is not only meaningless it’s base. If there is no compromise, then the lust is one-sided and may only be legitimized rape in as much as it can be. If there is not communication, then it is anonymous and what does that mean. Yes sex, lust, beast with two backs call it what you want is a component of relationships but one cannot take it for granted and you must have some basis of respect for it to work.”

    I could take everyone of the Cs above and expand it to support why it is needed to support lust, but you get the issue. The wild abandon of sex is a necessary part of the navigation in the sea of Life, but if you don’t have the 7 above what do you have? Now friendship with benefits, fuckbuddies or whatever you want to call it, satisfies an itch, but how do you relate to the person? Your relationship is tied up not in mutual respect, but in stroking libido (or other bodily parts). How does this make a relationship?

    The original premise is “Does True Love exist?”,well yes it does but it requires a great deal of time and effort. One must be ever-vigilant to ensure that it can survive the rocky shoals of Life. There is definitely Lust at first Sight, but that rarely if ever translates into True Love.

    So for all the dreamers,the poets, the singers, the downtrodden and all the others that believe there is no true love or believe there is true love – know that it does exist, but it is not the twinkly-eyed stories of the big screen or boob tube. It’s not the bodice-ripping tales of paperbacks or even in the Bacardi and Smirnoff ads. It is found in the everyday lives of people and if you must believe in magic, then believe in the magic of people and their powers to form, maintain and nourish relationships that in turn inspire others.

    Hadassah I hope you find yours again. Gitty I’m happy you have learned to compromise and adapt. Everyone else I wish you all the magic, time, patience and tomorrows to find the true love you seek – know that you will likely sweat, cry and bleed finding it. Your roads will be strewn with glass and rocks and the road may be little more than a goat path to a precipice, but before you jump ask yourself how does the shepherd get down? Look before you leap – a truism in love as in life, maybe even more so.

  4. Mo-tech says:

    You know that saying, that revenge is a dish best served cold. Well, I wonder if the same applies to love. After the dish cools down, once the passion is allowed to subside, are both partners really there for each other? Hot looks can’t keep a couple together, neither can cash nor status. Love at the start isn’t real, it isn’t there. It is only something that exists in a potential state. If you look at the here and now, your vision is limited. Look at what can be, and you might see farther.

    Do you remember the song, “Do you love me?” from Fiddler? Here are the lyrics – I think they put it best:

    (Tevye)
    “Golde, I have decided to give Perchik permission to become engaged to our daughter, Hodel.”

    (Golde)
    “What??? He’s poor! He has nothing, absolutely nothing!”

    (Tevye)
    “He’s a good man, Golde.
    I like him. And what’s more important, Hodel likes him. Hodel loves him.
    So what can we do?
    It’s a new world… A new world. Love. Golde…”

    Do you love me?

    (Golde)
    Do I what?

    (Tevye)
    Do you love me?

    (Golde)
    Do I love you?
    With our daughters getting married
    And this trouble in the town
    You’re upset, you’re worn out
    Go inside, go lie down!
    Maybe it’s indigestion

    (Tevye)
    “Golde I’m asking you a question…”

    Do you love me?

    (Golde)
    You’re a fool

    (Tevye)
    “I know…”

    But do you love me?

    (Golde)
    Do I love you?
    For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes
    Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
    Given you children, milked the cow
    After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

    (Tevye)
    Golde, The first time I met you
    Was on our wedding day
    I was scared

    (Golde)
    I was shy

    (Tevye)
    I was nervous

    (Golde)
    So was I

    (Tevye)
    But my father and my mother
    Said we’d learn to love each other
    And now I’m asking, Golde
    Do you love me?

    (Golde)
    I’m your wife

    (Tevye)
    “I know…”
    But do you love me?

    (Golde)
    Do I love him?
    For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him
    Fought him, starved with him
    Twenty-five years my bed is his
    If that’s not love, what is?

    (Tevye)
    Then you love me?

    (Golde)
    I suppose I do

    (Tevye)
    And I suppose I love you too

    (Both)
    It doesn’t change a thing
    But even so
    After twenty-five years
    It’s nice to know

  5. I think our generation is all messed up about love. We grew up on Disney, and this image of fireworks.

    I do believe in true love.

    But I do not believe in the fantasy. I believe in the true love that comes from caring and comfort. The true love that comes from sharing your thoughts at the end of day; from taking care of sick children in the middle of the night; from the little things like “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry;” from the present that shows s/he paid attention when you showed interest in that item MONTHS ago.

    For my husband and I, true love came at different times, and in different ways.

    For him, it was right there, almost from the beginning, strong, overpowering, based on the knowledge that our souls were meant to be together. He just knew. I do not know how.

    For me, it has developed slowly, gradually, growing stronger and stronger over time. We are married for over 15 years, and I know that he is my soulmate.

    Life is hard, even with true love. Marriage is all about compromising and swallowing your pride, and giving in, even when you are “right.”

    I believe that we can find true love if we respect and value the person with whom we choose to live. Over time, together, we overcome obstacles and grow stronger. We share the good times, and the tough times. We stop trying to change the other, and work more on changing ourselves. We grow up.

    We can only find true love, when we realize that true love is more about giving than about getting.

  6. hadassahsabo says:

    i am so humbled in reading all of these responses! ok, i started crying when i read Gitty’s comment, and each one of the other comments has touched me deeply.

  7. shoshi says:

    Does it not strike you sometimes that you are somewhat arrogant and backward?

    I know a woman who is with a man who is about 15 years younger than her and they have been a perfectly happy for the past 20 years.

    I also heard about a woman who married the son of her friend, and it also works (except that the mother is angry that the son married and “old wife”.

    So I think that there is no “natural law” that it should not work, as you are insinuating.

    Secondly, you complained in a previous post how badly educated and whatever those men are and that you cannot find anyone who suits you. While I find the posts quite amusing, I still think that it betrays an arrogance that I do not like. Who knows? Perhaps men don’t like it either.

  8. Ron says:

    What a statement to start a comment – arrogant and backward. Can you be more inflammatory? Did you mean to pick a fight? WOW! Here is a woman, who obviously know her wants and desires and expresses her opinion. How does this make her arrogrant? Confident, self-assured – but arrogant? Backward how is she backward?

    You then give two examples, one from your personal experience and another from second-hand sources. Most people would consider the latter hearsay and not use it to defend an argument, much less try and prove a point with it.

    You might want to get a better dictionary or thesaurus. Insinuation has a specific meaning and I do not think Hadassah was insinuating anything – suggesting definitely, but the connotation of low-handedness and deviousness that goes with insinuation is auspiciously missing. Like I said a better dictionary might serve you well.

    Secondly?!? Where was the Firstly ?!? Your ability to form cogent arguments is being tested here. You have no Primus so no Secondus can exist. You might have been better served by saying “Additionally” or “Another issue I have”, as it seems you have many.

    You find the posts amusing, but you question the message. Well I admire your courage and stick-to-it-tiveness to write a comment to something that you feel strongly about. I applaud you, but as I read this blog also I prefer to see arguments that are at least well-formed and reasoned.

    I too am amused by some of the post and others have little or no attraction for me. Some I comment on and some I don’t. I reckon it is the same for you, but you need to realize that you are not obliged to read them and if the tone of prose offends you, you have the option of going elsewhere. Of course should you find value in what you read then – read on! But to use inflammatory language to try and make a point and correct me if I’m worng, he point was to essential tell Hadassah her standards are too high, she’s to hard, she wants and expects too much, she….well if that was you intention – I can lay the restless spirits in your mind to rest – she is a very confident lady with definite goals, dreams and aspirations. She is slowly realizing them. She should be applauded. hers has not been an easy row to till, but yet she manages. Can you say they same?

  9. shoshi says:

    No, I don’t want to say that her standards are too high.

    I just don’t like the depreciative tone she uses, and from this tone I conclude that she is arrogant.

    But I suppose I am mistaken in my last hypothesis: some men like arrogance in women… So perhaps you would be a good candidate, if you are available?

  10. Z! says:

    Although cases of younger men marrying older women are out there, these are not the “norm”. So, stating a few cases, although helpful, are not going to change H’s view on marrying younger. It has to do aswell with stage in life and expectations.
    I too, made the decision early on in my life to date and marry only older men. I find that they have a maturity that younger men lack. I had no desire to “mother” my husband- though, I have now found out that this happens anyway, regardless of age… I wanted to feel that I would be taken care of, and although some women do not need a number to feel safe, others feel that life experiences + age = safety/protection.
    Arrogance? for trying to figure out what a person wants and needs? I fully congradulate H on stating those things that she has discovered about herself on her journey.
    Dating is difficult, but what we have found out is that by knowing who we are and what we can GIVE of ourselves, we LOVE better.
    Also, it *should* be the man who Falls head over heels! A woman should NEVER run after a man- wishing and begging for his respect, love and devotion. When a man is totally in love, if a woman returns that love, even a little bit, that man will love and cherish her forever.

  11. Jack says:

    True love exists, period, end of story.

  12. Idan Gazit says:

    I have had the ridiculously good fortune to have found true love at a stupidly early age, through no good deed of my own. Pure luck.

    I don’t mean to boast, the point of sharing my story is to to show that it does happen.

    I met my wife almost 11 years ago. We were both babies, 19 and 17 years old, at the time. As much as I poke fun at the “religious” way of getting married when barely out of puberty, there was a material benefit for us: we grew into adulthood together. We developed and changed and worked through a lot of issues together. Nothing gives me greater confidence in our future than the measure of adversity we have already overcome together to make our relationship work.

    And as cliche as at may seem, I cannot imagine my life without her. Literally! I do not know an adult life absent my wife.

    And so 10 years down the line, now 3 and some years married (there was a long and arduous path to even living on the same continent, but that’s a separate story), we are still hopelessly enamored of each other. The amount of time we were forced to spend apart by life and happenstance has pretty much cured us of wanting to be apart.

    So you might see it as codependency borne of long habit, or a comfortable role we fell into at a young age, but to us, it is true love, a devotion to overcome whatever stands between and ahead of us. It is as palpably real as the keyboard underneath my fingers. It exists to us, and although I can’t say that I believe in god, I’m thankful for every day of it, even the really bad ones.

  13. hadassahsabo says:

    Idan – that was just beautiful and inspiring. thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  14. True love exists.

    Trust me on this;
    it does.

  15. I’ve found pure, endless, unconditional True Love,
    and I’m probably the youngest to comment here.

    He and I, are engaged to be married.

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