If our personalities are always changing throughout life, then how can we ever make decisions for our future? How can we possibly choose a career that’s right for us many years from now? How can we promise to love someone always? How long should we wait around for someone to change, when they promise us they will?
When I was divorced many years ago I felt like a failure. I was married 10 years, but I’d promised to stay married for the rest of my life.
A boyfriend of mine, I’ll call him Jerry, said that the end of a relationship is never a failure. “Who told you that a marriage, or any relationship for that matter, has to last forever? Maybe your marriage was a success for 10 years. And if you and I only last for 2 years, why can’t we think of that as a success as well?
When I told my mother I could no longer stay married, she said, “I knew this marriage wouldn’t last. I just wondered how long it would take for you to leave.”
I was shocked. “How did you know it wouldn’t last?”
She gave a sad little smile. “We all saw that you two were completely unsuited to each other. It was just a matter of time.”
“Then why didn’t you warn me before I got married?”
“You wouldn’t have believe me,” she said. “You were in love. If I told you he wasn’t right for you, you’d get married anyway and then never want to talk to me.”
She was right.
What can two people promise each other? They can vow to be truthful and faithful. Although these promises are broken all the time it’s still possible to honor them because they’re promises about behavior, not about emotions. I believe in free will and our power to control our own actions. Without a belief in free will, everything would be meaningless. Thinking that everything is determined by genetics, or environment, or chance, is a waste of time and life. Our only logical choice is to believe in free will.
But we can’t promise, or control, how we’ll feel in the future. Emotions have a life of their own. We can’t even predict in the morning how we’ll feel in the afternoon.
Love and attachment, no matter how you look at it, remain a mystery. We can act in nurturing ways and then hope for the best.
After reading my post about manufacturing romantic chemistry, someone asked me, “Do you think that attraction can ever grow between two people, even if it doesn’t start out that way? If you keep spending time together as friends, is it possible that your feelings might evolve into something more?”
Maybe. If we can fall out of love when we least expect it, why can’t we fall in love when it seems furthest from our thoughts?
I know people who have started out as friends and become true lovers.
I’ve met couples who’ve been married for decades. They say they’ve fallen in and out of love with each other many times over those years. They’re still together, still happy, and feel infinitely lucky.
The problem may be that when we don’t have a mutual attraction in the beginning, we don’t give things a chance to develop. We don’t spend the time to wait and see. What if we did?
I don’t know the answer. It has never happened for me that way.
What about you? Have you ever begun a friendship with someone you weren’t attracted to and later fell in love with?