I sat there in awe of the most average couple I’d ever seen. Superficially, neither of them were oil paintings, and listening to their combination of bland drivel talk and her scolding him like a naughty schoolboy, I wondered how on earth they could be happy. On the surface, they made no sense to me. And as I watched them, I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘How can you find love with someone who is so incompatible with yourself?’
I sipped my mocha and stared at my reflection in the café window, ‘How is this possible?’ I thought. In my 25 years of existence, my encounters with love had been a blend of unsuccessful, fruitless and pointless. Guys approached me, but only the cocky ones who thought “NO!” was me setting a challenge for them. For a long time, I couldn’t fathom it. Until I watched this couple. And then it hit me.
The Love Complex.
Cultivated by a set of opportunistic scenarios and innate traits, The Love Complex boils down to a pretty obvious story when you think about it. Allow me to explain.
Damsel in Distress: How often do you see this in movies? The poor, beautiful princess locked in a tower awaiting a knight in shining armour to free her from captivity? Well, that’s the fairy tale version of the contemporary equivalent “woman in need”. This enigma of a princess is hypnotic, dazzling and awe-inspiring. Yet, all we really know about her is that she is beautiful (or so the story goes) and trapped. The truth is, it’s all baloney. But the men in the story want to save her based on just that premise. She could be a proper misery-guts in reality and yet, that doesn’t even enter their heads. She is just helpless and needs saving, and the man who is successful in doing so will surely win her heart.
But, how does this fit into the modern era? Well, how often can you say you’ve met a guy who is really nice, has loads in common with you and yet you have no sexual attraction to? You think, “How can this be? We’re so obviously right for each other.” and yet there’s nothing there. Being a self-sufficient woman means that he doesn’t offer you anything new to what you already do for yourself. That’s why you fell in love with that jerk of an ex. Because, although he was intolerable and messy, he was also a talented publisher and – as an aspiring writer yourself – you made an exquisite team. Therefore, he gave you something you “needed.” He saved you from a life of daydreaming about your books on the shelves and made it into a reality. He was your hero and you were his damsel in distress.
Be Wary of the Takers: I know what you’re thinking – “We don’t live in a bloody fairy tale. This is bollocks.” It’s not though, not really. We now live in an empowering era focused on women’s rights and independence. As a gender, we have become stronger than ever. So the need for a “hero” sounds awfully like the antithesis of everything we’ve fought for in order to build this profile. The tables have turned and it’s us ladies who often wear “the trousers” now. Hence why I guess the guy in the café seemed so resilient to his wife’s pedantic remarks. But, doesn’t that make it all the more difficult to find love? Or, does it make room for a different kind of love? Are our standards for ourselves so high now because, in truth, we want to play the heroin?
As much as those thoughts may run through your head, don’t let them make you give up on finding someone to appreciate you for all that you’re worth by sticking with someone who merely puts you on a pedestal because you supply them with a spine. If you think that solving all their woes and sorrows you will make a solid foundation for love then think again. Don’t get me wrong, we all need support sometimes. However, if you are in a relationship where you’re doing all the groundwork and effort, then it’s not right. Yes, he’s grateful to you. Yes, he thinks you’re hot and likes to show you off. But, is that deep enough?
There’s a song that answers that one by the White Stripes called, “A Martyr for My Love For You” It’s about a guy who really likes a girl, but ultimately walks away from her because he knows he’ll never be enough in the long run. His fascination with her could only ever be superficial because his “love” for her was only ever puddle-deep. Of course, it was never going to be deep enough. No matter how much either of them wanted it to be.
The fact of the matter is, if you are playing a martyr to your partner, they will appreciate you until you’ve helped them reach their goal. Once you have done that and they realise they can’t return the favour, the relationship crumbles like an old flower shaken by the weight of time.
If you are a martyr, then be aware of the hourglass that holds the sands of longevity to your relationship. Time will run out.
Back in the cafe, my remnants of mocha sat oxidised in the base of the cup and the couple I’d been silently observing set off for the rest of their day’s journey. Hand in hand, they left smiling at each other and uttering things that only served to intermingle with other people’s chitter-chatter in the room. I then realised why they loved each other.
It was not because she was beautiful, not because he was funny, and not even because they had heaps in common. They loved each other because, at some point in their romance, she needed him for something only he could give her, and he felt like a superhero for it. And, despite her berating of him and his obvious dislike for it, she supported him for always just being him. His love for her was created because she gave him purpose and her love for him was because he helped craft her dream. As a result, their mutual happiness worked as a reinforcing concept. He was her hero and she loved him for all that he was and had done for her, and her love for him further reignited his for her, and so the cycle continues.
So, I guess it’s not all about being perfect-looking, or smart, or even kind. It’s about finding the person that completes your soul, someone who shares your vision and aims to make it a reality for you both to share. But you’ll only find that person once you truly know yourself.
Embrace your being, be confident in who you are and know your dreams.
You will find your hero.