What is the secret to true love? I’ve been asked this question by a few people who have watched the love between my Harry and I grow. From quietly dating, to committed relationship, to engagement, and now in marriage. They see this unlikely couple in their 40’s somehow find love as if it is first love. The kind that isn’t jaded. The kind that doesn’t include manipulation, angles, agendas, or guilt. The kind that seems so effortless it also seems unreal. They want to know what the secret is. How did we find it?
To be honest with you…if I tried to explain all the things that fit with us…it seems impossible that it could ever be explained well. Physicality, intelligence, social standing, history, humor, ambition, maturity, and more. All of these little details working in harmony instead of dissonance. Can it be that the planets just aligned for us and we got this magical thing that truly happens so seldom it eludes most people? That is what my husband believes. He’s been out there trying to find it his whole life and he got to a point where he stopped believing it could ever happen for him. But when it did, he’s convinced it was a fluke, like a rare mutation.
Maybe he is right. I realize how special it is that we were able to find it in each other, even when we weren’t looking for it. But there was a moment early in our relationship where he looked at me, on his knees (literally) with tears in his eyes, and said, “You scare me. You see into my soul.”
I’m almost embarrassed to admit that last night, after my husband went to bed, I watched a movie call Don Jon. Embarrassed because it was pretty…um…explicit. But by the end of the movie, I was in tears because I thought this movie got something right that most romantic comedies get terribly wrong. Instead of surface romance, flirty scenarios, and meetings of fate bringing people together, this movie narrowed in on intimacy as the key to finding true love.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Intimacy is key.
The lead character in the film is addicted to porn. The movie never really condemns him for it, but points out how his addiction leads to unrealistic expectations and let downs with sex in real life. Because, “It’s all one-sided.” Even after finding a hot potential partner played by Scarlett Johansson, who makes him wait for sex, when he finally gets it from her, he slinks out of bed to watch his porn that is still much more satisfying.
No matter how hot something or someone is…having sex in and of itself is not that gratifying. You might as well be alone. That is the message and I think it’s true. Sex without love leaves a person wanting. There is something missing, so the search continues. Partner after partner is chosen in this world of dating because of chemistry connection instead of soul connection. But chemistry doesn’t produce true love. Intimacy does.
In the end, the lead character finds this love from an unlikely woman who he begins a very real, open, honest relationship with that allows him to let her in to the deepest parts of him instead of reflecting the mere façade he lets everyone else see. Friendship grows. And as it does he finds that he needs porn less and less. In fact porn begins to be what doesn’t satisfy as much as true love. But how does this happen?
It’s in the eyes. There is a line in the movie where he wrestles with this question and his answer is that they look into each other’s eyes. He says, “Now I don’t usually like it when a girl looks me right in the eye, and this girl does that a lot. But I don’t know what it is about her, when she does it, I don’t mind. I just look right back at her, and pretty soon, I’m hard as a *** rock. It’s like she knows what I’m thinkin’, or I know what she’s thinkin’. I don’t know, it’s a two-way thing.”
Before this woman, sex was just a mechanical act for this guy. He says that while engaged with porn, “For the next few minutes, all the bullshit fades away…I don’t gotta say anything, I don’t gotta do anything. I just *** lose myself. There’s only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. And my porn. I know, the last one sounds weird, but I’m just bein’ honest. Nothin’ else does it for me the same way, not even real ***.”
But after this woman, he says, “And while we’re doing it, all the bullshit does fade away, and it’s just me and her right there, and yeah I do lose myself in her. And I can tell she’s losing herself in me. And we’re just ***… lost together.”
People simply need to learn to get real and let people in. And they need to realize that being in a relationship is not about what you can get from the other person but what you can give to them. That is the key. It’s not one-sided, it’s two-sided. And if it isn’t? It is not real love. And if you can’t get lost in each other’s eyes? You’re just going through the motions.
As perfect as my relationship with Harry feels to both of us, I know that if we lacked the ability to do these things, we’d just be another couple trying to make it work. That is the magic ingredient that happened to us and contrary to my husband’s belief…I truly believe that can happen for anyone and no one should compromise on this point. Because if you do, there will be a void, and you will feel lonely, and eventually you or he will retreat and resume your search.