One of my Gather friends Dawn Kilby shared a quote that started a chain of thoughts running through my mind.
“You will never know true happiness until you have truly loved.” ~Author unknown.
Dawn had set the words onto a picture of a couple kissing. If you visit her post it will help you to understand my thoughts. Upon first reading the quote I associated it with romantic love, partly because of the picture Dawn chose and partly because the word love always brings romantic love to my mind first.
The application of this quote to romantic love is somewhat unsettling to me. I do not believe a person needs to be in an intimate relationship to know true love. I agree that we all need love somewhere in our lives if we wish to fill fulfilled. Love can come in many shapes and forms. When we share ourselves with other people it can create a love that does bring true happiness. Think of the satisfaction that is felt when we help others. Consider the happiness we feel when we accomplish a task or goal we have set for ourselves. Isn’t happiness defined differently by everyone? Love can have many variations and definitions.
One reason it disturbs me when I associate this quote with romantic love is that it is painful to watch people fall into relationships simply because they feel it will complete them. I believe a person should not seek out a love interest until they are capable of loving themselves. Can we expect others to truly love us if we are not happy with ourselves? I have seen the pattern with my daughters and I know I have lived it myself. When we end one relationship we rarely give ourselves time to heal. We tend to feel that if we are alone we will be miserable. Many of us are so fixated on the belief that true happiness stems from being in a relationship that we begin to choose partners for the mere sake of having a partner. Clearly this is a system that is not working. Divorce courts are full of people who settled for Mr. or Ms Right Now. The wrong kind of romantic partnership can make a person truly miserable.
I am not knocking romantic relationships. I do feel they add a special quality to our lives. When we are in love everything takes on a different hue. The world seems brighter and the road less bumpy when we find the right person. My feelings are that people should not define their happiness by limiting it to romantic love.