Today was a beautiful morning. Birds were chirping and sun was shining as if it was not a winter morning in Canada but a beautiful, full of life, day in spring. I was able to enjoy these peaceful moments for a while without rushing into my pile of tasks that were waiting for me to accomplish. Well, this had to end at some point as my research for my master program in psychology on romantic love, and the factors that contribute in keeping this love alive, is due tomorrow. Yet, instead of feeling inspired to write and express all my thoughts and weight all the pros and cons as I am expected to do, I felt completely empty, completely blank. What do I know about romantic love? I know nothing, in fact. I know only what I read in books, I know what researchers say, I have even seen romantic love in the movies, I have heard lots of songs about that romantic love and I can sing these songs to you, full of passion as if I am dying for my love…but in reality I know nothing about romantic love. I never set on a dinner table full of candles, looking into a man’s eyes and feel so lost. I never had expensive gifts like Julia Roberts at Pretty Woman that could turn my stomach upside down, because gifts mean nothing to me. I am reckless, and value no material things at all. Any type of romance is just waste of time with me. I even took a trip to Paris for my honey moon and even there I did not feel romantic love at all, I felt bored to death. It is not that I haven’t seen much in my life, the reason why I never found romantic love. It is true that I can count the number of men in my life and my experiences with men with just one hand. But even so, I was actually married twice, divorced twice, ran away from my first finance just two weeks before our wedding, I had an affair at some point in my life and a platonic love where at some point I dared to write him a letter asking this man to either stop looking at me like that or to make a move, which makes all in all five experiences. However, I caused a lot of heart aches by saying no quite often, with a bit of annoyance in my face, but I did all that because I never felt that passion that would drive me crazy, that passion that I have seen in the movies.

In my first experience with men I did not feel love, I felt possession, I felt controlled, I felt suffocated, but people told me that was love my partner was showing me. I went on picnics with him, delicious food prepared by his mom, but instead of enjoying our time together with my fiancé, I was terrified by the stories of how maniacs, crazy men, can rape a girl even when she is out with her boyfriend/fiancé, but that I had nothing to worry about because he had borrowed his brother’s gun… Years and years after I left him, I still had nightmares about my first fiancé following me like a shadow.

But that was only one bad experience, and so I decided to search for true love and romance. I searched all my life, but never found it. I started to blame my grandma who told me the fairy tales of the boy and the girl who went through a lot of trouble to find each other and they finally got married and they made love to each other for three days and three nights nonstop. Come on grandma, these are not the stories you should tell your 8 year old granddaughter. Well, the damage was done…she inflicted in me an idea, and absurd idea, that you can make love nonstop, that true love exists and that you have to fight for it but you will finally get it and be rewarded by it with three days and three nights. But, real life taught me different things. I started to think that nothing of what my grandma told me is true, so I better settle for someone who may be mature enough, even if he is much, much older than me that he does not worry about romantic love at that point. So I did, I settled, only to find out that I was being ignored and treated like a trash, and I could not decide which one was worse, the obsessive love or total lack of love.
In Albanian we say, “Running away from the rain but ending up under hail storm,” yup, that’s what happened to me. So I decided, the hell with everything, I am going to search for that romantic true love, and one day I will find it, and when I find it I will never let go of it. And as my then husband and I made an agreement to still live together under the same roof, for the sake of our two children, we were free to live our separate lives. And so, off on a journey I went to find true love…what a stupid idea… The truth is that I was not on a journey to find true love because at that point I was convinced that true love did not exist. However, I was looking to fulfill my needs as a human being, needs that my husband had denied them to me by ignoring my existence totally. Nevertheless, despite my intentions to find what I needed without creating any attachments, that love, that romantic love found me. Our short lived story was like a thunder of light in a bright shiny day. Yes, in a bright shiny day, because I thought I knew what I was looking for and I knew what I was going to get. So, when I realized that something special happened to me, something unacceptable, that I was not supposed to feel at any time or for anyone, something that would make me go crazy and lose my dignity, my reasoning and everything else just to be with that person again, when all this happened, I stepped back. It was scary like hell to realize that grandma was right. “This must be a dream, not real,” I told myself, “This cannot be happening to me. True love, perfect love, harmonious love making like this with this gorgeous guy is not real, and even if it is real must not be destined to last. Sooner or later, this illusion will hurt me. Sooner or later I will find out his love is not for me to enjoy, so, I better run away, I better close the doors to my heart before it’s too late, before his love effects my feelings and my reasoning .” So, I closed my heart and I shut it well with lots of made up stories in my mind that if I were to speak to this man again I would end up being hurt very badly and even my whole family may be in danger if I allow myself feel love for him.

Well, it was at this time when I decided to stop searching for little adventures on just to fulfill my human needs. Instead, I divorced my husband and a year later I said yes again to someone else for totally wrong reasons, again. This time I said yes, not because of love; my heart was totally closed to that idea by then. I said yes again, not because I believed that love would come afterwards, like I did with my first fiancé which ended up hurting him even more when I ran away two weeks before our wedding. I said yes, not because I wanted to settle down, thinking that true love does not exist. At that point I knew that something did exist, and I experienced that something, which I could not find words to describe it, but I buried it deep into my heart. I said yes, because I believed I needed a man to help me raise my two children, to have a friend at old age to talk to, to have a shoulder to rely on, but in all those reasons love had no place. I was wrong again. If there is no love then nothing of those will ever last.

So many times I failed to find romantic love and I failed hard indeed. Therefore, today, I came to the conclusion that I do not know anything about romantic love and what can make it last, but what I know is what’s missing on any type of relationship to be qualified as romantic love. What I know today about romantic love are those ingredients in a relationship that if they are gone missing, the relationship will not last.

So here is what I have learned through my failures in life:
First, I can tell you now that if there is no passion from the first moment you become intimate with one another then forget pushing your love story any further. You can talk and you can laugh, and you can find this person matching your interests and your taste in the quality of life and all that, but the moment you two kiss you are passing the threshold of friendship into intimacy. That moment is your first clue. If you do not feel the energy pushing you toward one another, longing for one another, counting minutes and seconds to be together again, then I must say he or she is not your match my friend. If you do not believe me then go ahead and do the same mistakes that I made.

Second, in a relationship must be mutual respect, where one is not looking to satisfy his or her needs only. Now here is when things get tricky, and it goes back to step one that if you did not feel that passion on your first kiss then you will, subconsciously, ruin this relationship. It is because of the lack of passion that you or your partner become greedy and start asking for more from your partner, more attention, more money, more help, more of this, and more of that. When you felt the passion in step one, you do not ask for more; instead, you want to give more, more love, more attention, more trust, more security, because you do not want to risk losing the beautiful passion that you felt while kissing your partner. You start appreciating your partner and instead of using and abusing him or her, you look at your partner as a blessing, as a gift that fell from sky. You will start enjoying every second without ruining the moment by thinking what the future may bring for you.

Third, after the passion, and mutual respect comes trust. While making love or building the relationship, the man has one goal in mind, to give his woman maximum pleasure by lasting longer, or providing what she needs in a relationship, while woman needs to accept him by opening up to him, without holding back so much, yet without giving in totally. Basically, trust is needed otherwise making love and the whole relationship will seem like a war for territories. In order to open up like that, the woman must trust her partner. She must instinctively know that this man will not hurt her and it will be alright if she lets him in her life. But in order to do that, her partner must have earned her trust. How? Well, you see, it goes back to step one. If there were no chemistry, no passion, no anticipation from the first kiss, then there will not be any of this later on, and no trust is earned to allow him as a good match in her life.

Fourth, after passion, respect and trust, comes the team-work, the cha-cha-cha, dancing with the rhythm, where one is the leader and the other one is the follower. Yes, there are areas in a relationship where man is the leader and woman is the follower, just as there areas where the woman is the leader and the man is the follower. Many times these areas could be negotiated but I know for sure one area is not negotiable, and that area is sex. When making love, man has to lead and woman has to follow, point. It is like dancing, man leads woman complements his moves. I have never been a perfect dancer on my own, I could never remember the steps of dancing for God’s sake, but when I danced with a partner that knew what he was doing our dance was fantastic. And it is not because I say so but so it happens that dancers who knew their moves were either confident on what they were doing with their lives or they were dance instructors for that matter. So even though my dance instructor was disappointed in me when he asked me to show some moves on my own, he was then shocked to find out that I was a very good dance partner, and indeed I didn’t need much lessons since I could easily follow his moves. It was a terrible moment for us, when me and soon to be my husband realized that while we were taking these dance lessons for the bride and groom dance on my last wedding, we as a couple were totally out of sync. The dance instructor felt hopeless, I felt hopeless, my soon to be husband felt horrible and he started to blame me. And that was the moment of truth which unfolded in front of my eyes how my whole marriage was going to be. However, I did not believe my intuition, because I had to fail again to learn my precious painful lesson.

So my dear friends and readers, who are still looking for romantic love, know that romantic love is not found in the number of lit candles, or under the moon light; is not found on boats, restaurants, and expensive gifts. I found mine in a kiss full of passion, I found it sitting in a van, I found this romance in a small café in the suburbs, I found my romance while he looked me in the eye as if nothing else but me existed in this whole wide world. And yet, I let him go….But at least, now I know what romantic love is. Now I know…

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