WRITTEN BY FRIEDA LEVYCKY, FOUNDER OF BRAVING BOUNDARIES
“Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!” – Moulin Rouge
LOVE! I love LOVE and I have done ever since I was a little girl. If you browse through my DVD collection (yes, I still have one of those), 80% of those will be love stories. From the classics of Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind and Roman Holiday to the modern day love stories of: The Notebook, Ghost, Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing to the RomComs of Bridget Jones’s Diary, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days and She’s All That – I’ve loved them all and seen them all (many, many times)!
If you take any cinematic love story though, nothing about “love” is easy. Come on, it would be a pretty boring movie if the crux of the story was: boy meets girl, they fall in love, the end!
- No, no! Love must conquer the most impossible situations for it to have meaning and depth. Look at Romeo and Juliet: two warring families prohibiting their entanglement which resulted in them poisoning themselves to be together! I’m not really sure that worked out too well for them, but I digress.
- If it’s not warring families, there is deceit, lies, mischief, a ruse that must be discovered before the protagonists’ true feelings of love and adoration can emerge. Think Bridgerton and every other period drama that has ever been filmed.
- And if there is no deceit, then there is a clear obstacle in the way that needs to be navigated (usually a husband, wife, fiancé(e) or partner, a geographical divide, or a societal gap (rich/poor, prostitute/businessman, black/white, guy/guy, girl/girl)) before “true love” can materialise!
The problem is, no matter how much we love these Hollywood fables, we start to believe that this is reality. Unrealistic, fantastical expectations about love are created and then transposed into the real world. To find “true love” one must experience hardship, drama and tears. It needs to conquer all, with the promise that all the pain will be worth it in the end.
The drama that was my love life
Needless to say, my own love life mirrored my Hollywood love education, leading to 20 years of romantic chaos and drama. It provided the source of much entertainment for my work colleagues & friends. I always had a story to tell about some ski chalet shenanigans or “Gorilla in the Mist” exploits. The constant newness of the beginning phase of the relationships was exhilarating. It held so much potential. “Maybe this is the one?!” But the dizzy highs were met with devastating lows.
- From the high of feeling my knees buckling under me as the “man of my dreams” strode up to me, took me in his arms and kissed me in the elevator, to the crushing realisation that three years later he was in a relationship with my colleague.
- From the high of a forbidden glance, a touch, a breath against my ear, to the desperation of waiting for a call on my birthday that never came.
- From the high of a long-distance romance that started in the valleys of the Dordogne, to a broken engagement and a wedding dress that, to this day, hangs unused, never to be worn.
Hollywood’s romantic drama infused my life. But, that promise of a “true love” phoenix rising from the flames of pain and suffering, never did transpire.
When Reality Bites
Unlike the single blow experienced by the protagonist in a romantic movie (which can seemingly be resolved by a makeover montage and a few cutting words which make the intended realise what he’s about to lose unless he comes to his senses), the reality of constant drama repeated in one relationship after another begins to wear you down.
- You begin to question yourself. Your choices. Your self-worth.
- Your confidence takes an almighty blow.
- You start to lower your standards and accept things because you feel like you have no other option.
- Your insecurities come to the fore.
- You start behaving in ways you never imagined. Where did this neediness and desperation come from?
- You pretend to be someone you’re not, purely because you start to believe that you – “just as you are” – are not good enough.
It’s a recipe for disaster, and one that inevitably ends in heartbreak. Compounding the pain realised from the break-up before.
And yet, with this hope of true love still residing deep inside you, somehow you manage to stitch the broken pieces of your heart back together again. Willing it to just keep on searching for the one. He has to be out there somewhere. Just a little more effort.
And so you go out, you search, you find, you repeat your pattern, you experience that giddy, all-consuming high…
And then you feel the tug. Something is off. The drama starts again. And soon that piece of string holding those fragile pieces of your heart together is yanked away like a rip cord, spiralling you back down to that familiar pit of despair and confusion.
There’s your Hollywood drama. Just not the intended romantic comedy type.
Finding love – Re-writing the fairy tale
Fast forward 6 years, and here I am in love and in a healthy relationship. As I sit down to write my vows, I realise that I’m none the wiser about how you find “true love”. Is there a method to the madness? Is it fluke? Can you intentionally go out and “find” it? Or is it just destiny?
I’d be a hypocrite to even think that I could tell you the formula for love, despite having eventually found it. Why? Because I think love comes in many forms, and my understanding of love will be very different from yours.
What I can share with you though are a few lessons I learned along the way, which I’m pretty certain put me in a better position for love to find me.
By identifying your patterns in relationships, you can change your internal narrative.
By breaking your patterns, you can start making better, more conscious choices. A whole new world opens up to you, and you’ll be amazed at what you can find.
- “Weddings are the best place to meet your future partner.” – As they surreptitiously pop you on the dreaded singles’ table! Just because your friends met their beloveds in a particular way, doesn’t mean that you will follow suit.
- “I have a single friend – he’ll be perfect for you.” Why? Because he’s single? I’ve been on some terrible dates purely because of our shared status!
- “You don’t have to be attracted to them initially to fall in love with someone.” – Do you know, that’s probably true for some, but not for me.
- “You’ll never find true love with someone who you sleep with on the first night. He’ll just think you’re easy.” – Sorry, also a myth.
- “Don’t punch above your weight. Good looking men are always self-centred.” – A double whammy. Not only does this one absolutely shatter your own self-worth and self-confidence by suggesting our looks dictate who we should or should not be with, but it also suggests that someone’s looks will determine their morals and values! Again, not true! Good old Hollywood movies influencing all our thinking it seems.
- “Are you still single? Tick-tock. Tick-tock” – I’m not sure how well-meaning this advice was, but it was certainly not helpful in finding true love. I’ve seen many a friend walk down the aisle with the wrong person because of this biological and societal pressure to have children. Choose your partner for love, not because the time for having children is running out.
Love, in many ways, should feel easy. I’m not saying that relationships won’t face their difficulties, but the “love” part – that’s the straightforward part. It’s a strong, positive emotion. It allows you to be yourself in a relationship. To maintain your identity. To be part of a team. To feel supported. To have a voice. To be vulnerable. To feel safe.
That, in my humble view, is love … actually.