A Picture of Lasting Love

Sometimes people wonder how they will find true love. Partly you have to be ready with open eyes and hearts to see it and act on it when it appears. Then you need to hang out together and make sure it’s really love and not just a flash in the pan. Live your love for awhile, get confident, but don’t take forever before you make it permanent. Like all things, love can spoil or get stale if it doesn’t develop into the full catastrophe of making a life together—picking up socks or cereal in the supermarket, deciding where to go on vacation, or live, or how to spend your money. Whose money? That’s a question, too. How do you deal with the money, not to mention all the parents, brothers and sisters, etc., and, by the way, while we’re on the subject of family, do you want kids? Yes, no? If no, okay. If yes, when, how, and how many? What happens when somebody gets sick? Or is out of work?

True love is taking the other person’s life in your hands and letting that person take your life in his or her hands, because that’s the level of trust that true love needs. Otherwise you’re somewhere else all together, maybe you’re part of a joint venture, which can have its own rewards, but when you’re in love, the other person’s life is just as real to you as your own is.

For Valentine’s Day I decided to write a little vignette—a dialogue between two people—about a true love that has lasted. This was a love like lightning that blew up suddenly and keeps on flashing over the years. Think about the two people who are talking, picture them in your mind, and then if you feel like it, write in and tell me about them. Who are they? Who are you? Do you want a partner? What kind of life do you want?

Sweetheart, I remember when we first met, I was sure right away that this was serious. You took my number. I told you not to call before 9:00 PM. I had my reasons. Now we’ve been together for thirty years and I still need to know that I look as good to you as you look to me, most times, anyway. We got married the day after Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want to get married in February, I wanted to wait for the warm weather, but you insisted.

Honey, I first saw you on the subway. You wore a red T-shirt. You were all sweaty and reading, your nose was part of the book you held in your right hand while you held the train pole in your left; you held tight but you weren’t really paying attention, so when the train jerked you fell. I caught you, my good luck, I wanted to get to know you but I was scared to ask for your phone number. But then I asked you anyway, and you said you didn’t have any paper where you could write it down, no pen either, so I told you I’d remember it, and you looked like you didn’t believe me, but you gave me your number and told me not to call before 9:00 PM.

The next day you called. “Hello,” you said, “It’s me. It’s 9:05.”

 Clearly you wanted to call me at the right time, but you didn’t want to wait much longer. You know what you want, I thought, I like that, but then later I found out that you often don’t know what you want, you take forever to make up your mind sometimes, but I like you anyway. And you always knew you wanted me.

Honey, I knew I wanted you from the first look. Even though you were wearing those ugly glasses.

 My life changed with you in it, and I got new glasses. Those first years were scary and deep. Then when you first got sick I thought I’d die too. I walked along Third Avenue crying and screaming. People thought I was crazy. I was glad to live in a place where a crazy person can scream on the street and nobody ever calls the cops. I yelled outside because inside at home with you I wanted to stay positive, because I thought that would help keep you alive. It did; for many years your health was perfect. And then when you got sick again I was a lot quieter, we’d been through this before and we knew the drill; stay positive, find good doctors, the right medicine, pray for luck. The medicine worked and you got better again.

I did. Now it’s thirty years later, and when we lie down together we both feel grateful. We write notes to each other, like “The dishes in the dishwasher are dirty,” or “We need milk,” or “Want to eat out?” We always sign the notes “Love, me.”

So, what do you think, who are these people? Picture them; what do they look like? What kind of Valentine do they make? What kind of Valentine would you like to make? Let me know.

Related articles:
Singles’ Guide to a Happy Valentine’s Day
Pragmatic/Experiential Couples Therapy: Deepening Love, Desire, and Connection
Nine Ways to Show Love- Even When It’s Not Valentine’s Day

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Lynn Somerstein, PhD, RYT, Object Relations Topic Expert Contributor

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Aimee M

    February 14th, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    I want that true and lasting love! And I am always on the lookout for that right person but I am not sure yet that he is on the lookout for me!

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    February 14th, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Aimee- perfect name – I bet he is.
    Take care,

  • Vanessa

    February 15th, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    That’s such a touching vignette. I could see it happening too… I could see myself in it, nose in a book and all. I’ve never been one to “do” Valentine’s Day, it being a “corporate holiday” and all, and having broken up with someone on V-Day a few years ago hasn’t helped make it feel special. Nor do I usually feel pathetic or rebellious on this day, either.

    This year, though, I’ve thought a lot more about meeting that someone about whom I will scream in the streets if he ever got sick. I’m in a place where I know I’m just about ready and meeting him will make me totally ready. I know how to be real now, and how not to get lost in trying to please him so much that I forget who I am. I’m ready to have my life change with him in it.

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    February 15th, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Vanessa- what a beautiful letter! You are certainly ready, as you say, “I know how to be real now.” How did you arrive at this special place?
    Take care, and thanks for writing.

  • Paul

    February 15th, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    I think the author is right, you have to be on the lookout for love andbe willing to embrace it when it comes to you. It is not something that you have to chase, but given the right time and the right situation it will find you.

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    February 15th, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Nicely said, Paul- you don’t have to chase it down, but you do have to be ready to “embrace” love.
    Take care, and thanks!

  • andrea

    February 15th, 2012 at 11:55 PM

    love requires a lot of trust in the other [person and is basically akin to ‘letting your guard down’.but what has happened in the past few decades is that we see everybody else as being out to hurt or harm us,the trust is gone and ego has only inflated.that is what is causing all the divorces if you ask me.once we get over these things,love is neither hard to find nor is it hard to keep love,which I believe is more important than finding it!

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    February 16th, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Hi Andrea-
    Keeping love is the real deal- but I think it’s not always so easy to keep it- both parties have to be committed to work hard and develop understanding.
    Your thoughts about trust- why do you think people are less trusting now? Is it a product of convulsive world events? Something else? What do you think?
    Thanks for writing in- and I think we’ve written to each other before, is that right?
    Take care,

  • Vanessa

    February 17th, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Lynn, there is no “arriving” at this place — it’s so fluid and ever-changing. I’ve had several years of analysis where I learned bit by bit how to be more and more real with myself and others. Still, there is no way to be “perfect” at being real. But I think I have finally learned to be okay with THAT. I’ve learned to be present and to treat others as real human beings like me. If I’m on a date where things just don’t feel right, I can say, “So, this hasn’t been so great, what do you think?” Even if he was unaware of it until just then, I’ve clued him in and taught him something about honesty along the way. It hasn’t been easy, but more often than not people appreciate honesty even if it hurts — something that still surprises me more often than not.

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    February 17th, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Vanessa- clearly you’re connected with your unconscious and learning how to trust yourself and then speak your feelings. Compassion and honesty are keys to relating.
    Thanks for writing in.
    Take care,

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein

    February 19th, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    At the end of the article I asked “who are these people?” If you notice, there is no reference to gender.

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