1 Feb 2012

Lessons in Love

Not sure whether this quiet time of year is the reason why it lends itself beautifully to an introspective mood, but lately friends and I have been discussing matters of the heart, otherwise known as the ta-da troublesome knee-jerking four-letter word starting with an L. No, just leave 'Lust' out for now, the L word in question is... (take a deep breath!) 'L-O-V-E'.

Rosie Parsons wedding photography
For starters, it's oh so funny how I find out that coupled-up friends are more likely to envy the single life rather than their (supposed) love-filled existence... And somehow the debate takes me back to re-runs of SATC. My friends with boyfriends in tow envy the fact that singletons like I are free, free to do what we want, when we want, where we want... And wait a minute, singles like I are invariably drawn to whimper back that they wish they could actually share their freedom with erm someone. Get the picture? No-one seems happy with their condition.

If I am honest, I recall that when I too was in a relationship, I used to envy my single friends who could do as they please and gave the impression of having it all (minus the relationship - which in a bizarre twist of fate did seem like a minor detail to the coupled-up woman). Having said that, there were times when I didn't envy their condition as single girls, when they were exposed to predatory conduct in social situations while I could hide behind my relationship status and enjoy the appearance of comfort and stability, although whether or not I was actually happy in the relationship was a different matter.

Love in untroubled waters: 'From Here to Eternity' (1953), photograph by Rex Features
We want it all but we can't exactly have it all, even in an ideal world. Some things may morph into something else (like the pretence of happiness), while some things have to give (individualism and selfishness), some need to lean towards compromise (freedom, independence) and others may simply snap or at least frazzle when bent too low (personality clashes, different lifestyle aspirations, self-awareness and love of self). This is the price to pay for being either single or in pairs. Either way, life is no bed of roses... Then again who wants roses when beauty is that thorny? I'll opt for the daisies.

Be my 'Sweet Valentine' (illustration by Isabelle Duvignon)

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