The One who got Away
We all know about the fish story. Whatever the size of the catch it will never match the glory of the one the fisherman missed. What is it within us that makes us mourn and long for the one that got away more than we are grateful for the one we caught? It doesn’t really matter when it’s about fishing, but it matters a lot when it comes to love.
Recently an article appeared on Yahoo Health that really irritated me. The title is “Study: One in Seven Adults is not with Their True Love.” The article is about a survey of 2,000 adults which discovered many people had “made peace” with their partners but felt that the “love of their lives” was someone who had “gotten away”.
The survey was conducted by an organization that produces an opera festival, so clearly the questions asked may have been written more for their dramatic impact than their ability to create a legitimate scientific study. The article irritated me because it tried to use science to propagate harmful myths about relationships.
To a certain extent I believe in fate and karma when it comes to love. If someone really is your “true love” you will be with them when the time is right. There is no force that could keep that from happening. So it stands to reason if they “got away” they got away for a reason. And if they got away, you have no idea whether or not a long term marriage would have worked with this person.
In the drudgery of cleaning toilets, washing dishes and paying bills it is easy to fantasize about someone you knew when you were young and carefree. Young love is special and poignant. It is harder to find romance amongst the day-to-day operation of a household. But are people really naïve enough to believe that the one who got away would love them and support them and work with them better than the one who stands by their side year after year? And who is Yahoo Health to promote such unhealthy suppositions?
Another unhealthy supposition promoted by this article is the concept of the one true love. That may have had merit when people were married at thirteen and dead by the time they were thirty. With the longevity we now enjoy there is time in many people’s lives for more than one true love.
Rather than encouraging people to pine for an overly romanticized lost love it may be healthier to help people consider the stability and support many long term relationships provide. If you are not feeling the love for your partner right now, don’t despair. In a long term relationship people fall in and out of love with each other all the time. If you allow the relationship to go through its phases and cycles you may find that you rediscover love with the one who has been by your side all along.
If your long term partnership really doesn’t work, don’t let the fantasy of a long lost love sustain you. If it is time to start a new chapter have the courage to do that while looking to the future rather than to the past.
The age of social networking has brought with it many late-in-life reconciliations and reconnections. It is not unusual these days to hear about a couple who broke up in college and after marriages and kids have reconnected in their senior years, courtesy of Facebook. These are often stories with happy endings, but we cannot assume that these couples “should have” been together for all these years. When we are older being with people we knew when we were young can help us to feel young once more. Sometimes we imprint and bond with a first love. The comfort of that bond can be a blessing in old age whether or not we have spent the majority of our life with that person.
Most of us will have a story about the one who got away. Time will have a way of improving on that story. We may de-emphasize the important point that ended the relationship way back when. The alcoholism may seem like less of a burden in hindsight, for instance. It is important to remember our younger years and to treasure and learn from those memories. But chances are the one who got away did so for a good reason.