How to Recognize True Love

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How do you know what true love is? Is there a formula to follow, an ancient wisdom or a book to read?

In fact, there are tons of those that we have stumbled upon on our life journey. Thrown at us from all directions – our grandmother, our high school friends, the reality TV shows, magazine articles, online dating web sites, etc. They all claim to have the right answer. But if the answer was that easy, then why so many people continue to recycle through dysfunctional relationships? And why so many marriages end up in divorce?

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure out that answer. You only need to look at your own life and analyze your relationship patterns. After years of searching, I finally got it…

You won’t know what true love is unless you have experienced what it is not.

This theory is universal. It doesn’t apply to my life only but to everyone’s life. The difference between people who end up in happy relationships and those who keep recycling through dysfunctional relationships is that the former have discovered what they no longer want or need in a relationship. In other words, they realized the bad pattern they repeated and finally broke free from it.

To put this theory into perspective think of that one special relationship where you were head over heals with your partner and thought he or she was the One. Things were going great for a while. You dated perhaps you even married them. Then one day they broke your heart by having an affair, changing their heart, choosing different direction in life or simply disappearing on you. If you were like me, who was so deeply in love that missed all the red flags on the road, you probably ended up heartbroken and devastated for a long time.

In the beginning of our dating life we tend to confuse true love for something else. We pick our partners based on how we perceive the world at that point in our development. In general, men heavily rely on the woman’s physical attractiveness while women rely on the man’s financial security and success. It is not until a man has dated a very attractive woman that turned out to have a terrible personality that he realizes looks alone cannot sustain a relationship. Similarly, it is not until a woman has dated the rich Wall Street man that she realizes fortune alone cannot buy loyalty and happiness. As we go through life we are shaped by the new jobs, people and events that we encounter. What we thought we wanted in our 20s may be quite different than what we want in our 30s, 40s or 50s.

I’ve been there myself and that is how I came to my theory. What I thought was true love in my early 20s is not what I discovered true love to be in my late 20s. The men I was in love with then pale before the man I am in love with today. What constituted happiness for me then is not what constitutes happiness today. As paradox as it may sound, I needed to experience those negative relationships so that I can recognize and appreciate the beautiful, positive relationship I am in today.

Just as you won’t know the meaning of a day unless you have experienced night, you won’t know the meaning of true love unless you have experienced what it is not.

© 2008 Zoe Vaklinova – All Rights Reserved

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