[…] I don’t need to ask your age because your letter is suffused with the raw emotional vulnerability of youth and sent me spiraling back to my own similarly painful early romances. I recognised immediately that unhappy tendency to set your personal value by the object of your affections and the awful self-destructive insecurity that ensues when a relationship goes awry.
What you don’t realise when you are young and raw, not a hardened old walnut like myself, is that love is wholly irrational so attaching any level of our self-worth or self-image to the reflection we get from a lover is a big mistake. Ironically, the happiest relationships you’ll experience are when you know absolutely that you can survive without your partner, but remain together as a choice. Setting up home with someone you imagine you can’t live without puts way too much pressure on your partner and your partnership, and creates a state of dependence that is never conducive to happiness.
I’m not sure if the pig-headed young woman I once was would have wasted a second listening to some old self-invented sage telling me that love makes monkeys of us all, that the more we cling to it the faster it slips away and that the best relationships are based on kindness and respect and a wholehearted desire to make the union work despite the many great obstacles arraigned against that eventuality […]
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