Falls Hurt, So That’s Why I’m Not Going To Be Falling In Love …
And they all lived happily ever after….they’re great words to end a fairytale, aren’t they? What better point to end any fairytale worth its’ salt – when the two main characters have met and fallen in love and they’re heading into the sunset arm in arm. There would be absolutely no point in carrying on with the story and finding out what happened when they got home, and the washing machine needed emptying, and there’s a pile of dishes in the sink looking forlornly at the Fairy Liquid instead of thinking about the fairytale ending. Call me cynical (I’ve been called much worse, believe me) but I’m sort of desperate to know what happened next when the vagaries of everyday life set in and the Council Tax needs paying.
There’s a reason why every decent fairytale ends at the point where the two main characters are staring goofily into each other’s eyes at the altar or outside of the castle door or just as the handsome prince awakens his beloved with a kiss from his (stereotypically) cupid’s bow mouth. That reason is that – are you ready for this, all you undiluted romantic souls out there – you don’t stay in love forever.
Coincidentally, I had a conversation with someone only this morning, about the whole concept of falling in love and that was really what gave me the idea to write this blog about it, because it’s quite a show stopper, isn’t it, telling someone that you’re not in love with them?
That’s what happened to me a few weeks ago. If you follow my blogs and my twitter feed, you’ll know that me and the boyfriend parted company quite recently. So I suppose he’s the Ex boyfriend. But that’s just a technicality. It was him I was talking to, the very same ex boyfriend who told me he wasn’t in love with me when we split up because his mental health issues – including a dollop of anxiety and PTSD – finally overrode any feelings – love or not – that he’d had for me and overwhelmed him to the point where he simply couldn’t carry on with the relationship.
Anyway, this isn’t going to turn into a beleaguering of anxiety and PTSD and their combined effect on relationships – what he said about not being in love with me got me thinking about the whole concept of love and our expectations and perceptions of the whole ‘happy ever after thing’.
Maybe I’m a bit odd, because his saying that he wasn’t in love with me didn’t upset me quite as much as you might imagine. I’ve been hurt and angry – I’ve let people who follow me on Twitter know that – but I was more hurt and angry about the loss of a basically great relationship than I was about him not being in love with me. You see, him saying that made me realise something – I wasn’t in love with him either! Now, if he’s reading this, he’s probably choked on his pint of real ale (no IPA’s please) because I’m pretty certain that he thought I was (in love with him). So it’ll come as a bit of a shock and could someone give him a thump on the back, please, we don’t want him choking halfway through a decent blog.
This is the problem with the whole concept of Love – with – a – capital L. We are all conditioned to believe that the heady sense of anticipatory attraction, that sinking of the stomach, insides turned to liquid whenever you see each other feeling lasts. We’re told (mainly by the manufacturers of Valentine’s Day greeting cards and wedding planners) that you fall in love and you don’t get back up again. That’s rubbish – and that’s where all our relationship problems stem from, this crass expectation of happy ever after, and the mistaken the confusion in our brains (it’s the brain that makes you love someone, the heart has nothing to do with it) between being in love and actually loving someone.
Yes, these feelings exist – everyone experiences them at the beginning of a relationship and why not when we are force fed the concept by practically every Disney movie we’ve ever watched and we lose ourselves in the fantasy of that happy ever after we are all looking for. So we make the same mistake over and over again – we meet our Dream Person and switch our emotions into overdrive, we long for Dream Person, we suffer separation anxiety when we are parted from them, we crave their presence in our arms, our hearts, our beds and simply cannot get enough of them. We are infatuated by them. Be still, your beating heart because it’s got nothing to do with your heart as I keep telling you! The initial attraction and this giddiness is the result of too much dopamine and norepinephrine and suddenly we’re on a ‘high’. Robert Palmer was right when he sang about being Addicted To Love.
I’ve got a whole heap of Twitter messages and What’s App conversations which the ex and I had, and I can confirm, even if he denies it – but we were fairly bloody conventionally ‘in love’ in those first few heady weeks. But what we didn’t know then, and what I’ve come to discover is that this feeling, like any decent ‘high’, doesn’t last and that’s why we never stayed in love. We never realised it at the time, of course, because his anxiety and PTSD sort of kicked in at around the time when he mumbled ‘Of course I love you’ after a few protracted months of us trying to pretend that we were still ‘in love’.
We never realised that what our relationship was actually going through was the transitional period in which that lustful, infatuated in love experience was giving way to a far deeper level of connection and commitment – if he’s reading this, I dare him to think back to some of the conversations we had about his PTSD, and remind himself that he once admitted that he’d told me things about his condition that he’d never shared with anyone else. Neither of us pointed our fingers at each other in an Eureaka moment and started ticking off all the reasons why our relationship had moved away from the romantic illusion of being in love to the three elements needed to truly love someone – and yes, it’s all to do with chemistry – physical, intellectual and friendship. We had all three. We had it all. The problem wasn’t that we didn’t love one another, the problem was that we did. We just didn’t know it at the time, and those dishes still need washing, so forget the fairytale, and get the Fairy Liquid out.
© Amy J Steinberg 2017