Falling in Love Story

Relationships and Love

Love Story

What's Really Important in a Relationship

by Laurel A.

Having passed yet another birthday and wondering if I will ever find a partner with whom I can imagine spending the rest of my life, I have begun to wonder about what is really important in a relationship.

I have long believed (and still do to a large extent) that a life partner should be someone who, on at least some level, stimulates you in four ways: intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Not all of these things will ever exist at the same level, but there has to be at least a part of each in order to sustain a relationship for years.

For a while I thought that even three out of four was all right. I was with someone for a long time who was just wonderful on the intellectual, emotional and spiritual levels, but I was not attracted to him physically. I thought to myself "Well, sex becomes less passionate as time goes on, and it's not the most important thing certainly." But while it's not the most important thing, it is still important, and no matter how fantastic someone is in all other respects, if you don't have that physical "spark" it's just not going to work in the long-term.

Then, being a very spiritual person myself (though not religious), I dated someone who was on exactly the same spiritual path I was on and I figured it would be absolutely wonderful. But he was so devoted to his practice, above all else, that I could never form a close enough emotional connection, and we only had sex every six weeks or so since he felt that sex drained the energy that one needed to find spiritual enlightenment. So I had to give up on that relationship too. How could I compete with God?

Then I dated someone who didn't believe in anything. Now that was a challenge. I don't care what someone's spiritual beliefs are or if they have never set foot in any type of religious organization (and I don't blame them), but as far as I'm concerned, I can't be with someone who has no faith in anything. Even Einstein, one of the greatest scientific minds in history, said "The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead." I'm not into dating dead people.

Now in my late-30's I am beginning to wonder if, as we get older, it gets easier or more difficult for us to find a life companion. The nice thing is that I know who I am and what I want, which is something I can't say I felt in my 20's. However, in knowing what I want I also know what I don't want, and I may miss opportunities to meet someone who doesn't fit into my pre-conceived notion of who I think is right for me.

There are some societies where people don't even meet thier spouse until the day of their wedding. Arranged marriages are more common in the world than we imagine. Going into a marriage of this type, how can one have any expectations at all, aside from hoping your partner will not be abusive. When you have no expectations you can't be disappointed.

Besides, most of the day-to-day life of a marriage consists of very ordinary things. It's not like you will be discussing Sartre every morning over your Rice Krispies. It's about who gets to wash the dog, fix the heater, pick up the kids from school, and the myriad of things that make up 90 percent of living. Nevertheless, that other 10 percent is very important too, and it's what makes the other 90 percent worthwhile.

After a long day at work where the boss has berated you, then having battled your way through traffic and rude drivers so you can get to the grocery store where you wait a half-hour on line to check out amid screaming children, and finally arrive home, it's nice to know there is someone there who you can talk to, who understands who you are, both your strengths and your flaws, and who loves and respects you anyway. And when I find someone who fits that description, I know I will have found the right one for me.


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