Monday, November 20, 2006

Incompatible Love?

I've been thinking a lot about love and relationships recently for obvious reasons. I'm a romantic at heart and I have always believed (and I know I'll sound cliche here) that love conquers all. No matter what, if there is true love, the love is supposed to triumph and the two people are supposed to live happily ever after. That is how it is supposed to work.

Take the Princess Bride, one of the greatest movies of all time, and the story of another Buttercup, this one a Princess. In that movie, Princess Buttercup had a true love, Westley (who I had a crush on when the movie first came out), who she was separated from by a number of massive obstacles including: An arrogant king who wanted to force Buttercup to wed him, Westley's need to assume a false identity as a dreaded pirate, a Giant, a swordsmen, ugly swamp-dwelling rat creatures, and a maniacal evil little man set on Westley's destruction. Those are some serious obstacles, but guess what happened? In the end the love between Princess Buttercup and Westley prevailed; their love was true, and so they made it through the challenges.

Admittedly, the Princess Bride is a fairy tale, but if the point of the tale is wrong, if love doesn't conquer all, what's the point of love? If you can love someone, and they can love you, and you can't have faith in that love to get you through, there is no point in love. If love does not conquer all, love is is only a cliff from which you leap off into the unknown, not knowing whether you'll crash down upon the rocks below. There's no security in a love that can not conquer all.

Now, I'm not talking about a situation where two people allegedly fall in love and then one or both of them fall out of love with the other one. This by the way, I would not define as love. I would say that in hindsight, what probably happened is that the two people *thought* they were in love, but actually were not, or at least that they did not fall truly and completely in love. Prior to my last relationship, I had had many boyfriends, and at the time that I was dating them, there were several that I thought that I loved. But with time, I've realized that what I felt for them was not really love. It was affection, infactuation, tenderness, caring, compassion, admiration, respect, and a host of other emotions that all rolled together approximated something very close to love. But the love that I thought I had for them didn't last, so I broke up with them, and ultimately I came to realize that I hadn't really loved them, at least not as much as I'm capable of loving now. (And perhaps that's because your capacity to love develops over time as you grow and mature, but that's a different topic).

Perhaps, if the other person did something horrible to you, and you truly loved them, then your love for them could fade and die. But in those circumstances, probably what had happened is that you fell in love with who you thought they were, instead of who they actually were. Upon realizing that the object of your love did not exist as you had imagined them, it makes sense that your love would fade and die, after you accepted that reality.

What started me thinking about all of this, some time ago, was when someone introduced to me the notion that a relationship might not work out, even though there is love between the two people, because of some type of incompatibility. The idea being that the two people, though loving one another, might just not be a "good fit." They might just have different lifestyles, different views, different desires as to how to spend their time, different priorities. And so, the notion was put to me, love does not conquer all, because sometimes two people who love one another might just be a bad fit.

At the moment, though I'm struggling with this and open to opposing viewpoints, I think this is a load of crap, and I do not care if my sole basis for believing this comes from fairytales. If you love someone, then you love them. You treat them with care, you think about what brings them happiness, you make them a priority, not because you have to, but because you want to. You are there for them because you want to be, because you care about them, and because without them your life would be less meaningful.

This notion of a relationship not working because of incompatibilities as opposed to a lack of love just doesn't ring true for me. It sounds like an excuse. It sounds like a lack of love. Because if there is love between two people, they should be able to iron out the incompatibilities. The incompatibilities should fade away, not the love.


star shine said...

I do think compatibility is a factor in the potential happiness of a couple. Some relationships just have an ease that others don't. However, I have always disliked the notion that a marriage could dissolve over incompatibility.

Being in love is a wonderful feeling and state to be in. But it is a feeling that ebbs and flows. Love that lasts over the long haul, I believe, is a decision that is based in an unwaivering commitment between two people. To love in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer. In other words, to love you even when I don't like you. To love you even when I don't feel like it. That is love that lasts. Anything less is a house built on a very unstable foundation.

Bubbles said...

You already kind of know my feelings on the subject, but I will restate them. Behavior is learned. Being in love or "loving" someone can't do a way with a whole life time of learning. (This opinion is formed by lots of experience and learning about human development, etc. ... but one experience that has formed this opinion is seeing mothers who do in fact love their babies very much but have absolutely no idea how to care for them emotionally). And frankly, love simply is not the same thing as happiness and one does not necessarily invite the other and vice versa. You really need to find a person that brings both (and I personally don't believe in the only one person for you idea either, I think it is all about meeting (one of the) right someone(s) at the right time). I also do not believe that love conquers all. In fairy tales, beautiful is always good and ugly is always evil and people fall "in love" without actually having a conversation. Life just much more complicated. I have such a strong opinion of this because I think that the idea that love is enough is dangerous in that it can make people stay in situations that are bad for them.

Gypsy said...

I think there are all kinds of love. Did I love my ex who I was with for 4 years? Yes, absolutely. Did it work out for us? No. We broke up. That doesn't mean I didn't love him or that he didn't love me. Timing, desires, lifestyles, wants, hopes, dreams, fears... they all play a part in the success or failure of relationships. We were young. We grew up and apart. Was it the kind of love that lasts a lifetime? No. But we loved each other.

Lancelot and I are an interesting example, I guess. We were together for 5 years then broke up. We were "apart" (although our apart was really kind of a strange together) for a couple of years and then got back together. In that case I guess you can say that love conquers all, but it wasn't just love. It was a conscious effort to make it work, and it was a lot of hard work and discovery and pain and wondering if, in the end, it was even worth it. It was. And now here we are. But if we ever break up for some reason there will never be any doubt in my mind that I love him.

People change, expectations change, life gets in the way, the bloom of love fades and people stop working at the relationship, stop chosing love. Relationships then fail. But that doesn't mean they never loved each other or don't still love each other. One could say it means they didn't love each other enough, I suppose, to make that love a priority.

As for not working out because of incompatibilities... I don't know. Lancelot and I almost didn't. We almost let it go.

Wood said...

I completely agree with Bubbles.

Buttercup said...

Well, I think you've all hit the nail on the head with your talk of "committment," and "deciding," and "choosing," and "priorities." Perhaps you can love someone but yet not committ, or decide to be loving towards them, or choose them over other competing priorities. But if so, that still makes me sad. It seems like an incredible waste.

And maybe that is a type of love, but I would prefer a love I could depend on.

gravelly said...

No experience in life is a waste, as long as one learns from it.

InterstellarLass said...

I think some people actually love themselves more than others. They can be in love if it's what they think is good for them. Love is more than just an emotion. It's commitment. It's work. It's an every day conscious decision that you are going to be with a person, for both how you feel for them, how they make you feel, the good they bring out in you, the happiness they bring out in your life. It's a strange thing. I've wondered many times if there is just one love, or if we can have many loves. Humans are one of the few creatures that (supposedly) mate for life.

star shine said...

A love you can depend on--I believe that you will find it.

Anonymous said...

I awoke this morning dreaming of you. We were looking passionately into each others eyes. I wished that I might go on dreaming, sadly though I drifted awake and started crying. I miss you so and feel like I am dying. I meant those words about how I felt for you. I loved you. I am committed to you and this family. I love you and am committed and loyal and devoted to you and our children. That is all anyone should expect from their life's partner. You are the one that has had a change of heart and you alone are responsible for the breakup of this family. I am not a drunk who terrorizes my children or wife. You want to justify this divorce by making me out to be the bad guy and you know in your heart what kind of a person I am and how much I am devoted to you and Scan and Leah and Dana. I can't move heaven and earth and I can't change your heart and I can't get you to admit that it is your heart that is cold, that you had the change of heart and that you can stop blaming me for this. Maybe you found someone else. Maybe you really do blame me for your panic attacks, which can be treated. I know that I did not drive you to the point that you had a loaded gun in our bed contemplating murder or suicide. You took desperate measures and there was not a desperate situation. That same week we had sex for four days straight. You went from showing me a lot affection to telling me that sometimes you wished I were dead and even taking a loaded gun to our bed. I told you just a week prior how happy I was with you and the kids. I said to you that if I died today, I would die a happy man because of all that god has put in my life. I sometimes now wish that you would have shot me dead if not for the sake my children. My pain has been so unbearable. You mate so many promises even building our house(home). You left me notes to attract me, you suggested we move in together, you wanted more children , you wanted to build a house. I gave you all that you asked. I have given all that I can give. All I am asking you to do is be honest and reveal who has stolen my angel from me.

Buttercup said...

JamieI - That sounds like an intense, potentially dangerous situation. I hope that you and your family are safe and ok.