THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM
AN EXPLORATION OF THE THREE LOVE THEORY.
He loves me, he loves me not.
He loves me, he loves me not.
He loves me, he loves me not.
Please… as if it was ever going to be as simple as pulling petals from a flower. It’s a laughable contradiction, that those “out of love” are often the best at providing an accurate depiction of love. People in the midst of a great love are blinded by romantic ideals. It was those in love that wrote the children’s tales that ended in ‘happily ever after’ and our romantic comedies where the guy always gets the girl and vice versa. Unfortunately, this is usually our first exposure to romantic love, that is until our first love comes along and sets our expectations on fire. You may have heard the saying that ‘love is a fickle thing’, likely coined by one of our more cynical lovers and speaks to its mercurial nature. Love comes in all different shapes and sizes, different genders and sexualities. Sometimes you look for it, while other times it finds you. Sometimes it ends amicably, while other times we do irreparable damage to one another.
There is a theory that throughout our lives we will only truly fall in love three times, at three different stages of life, each time serving three very different purposes. This is known as the Three Love Theory. The premise of the Three Love Theory is that not all love is experienced equally. Anyone with even a small amount of romantic and sexual experience can tell you that love and passion come in many different flavours, and I am not talking about your classic Blue Ribbon spread. I am talking about Messina’s selection of gelato. Each time you fall in love it feels unique – some relationships are passionate and fiery, some are easy and secure, while others are tumultuous and intense. The Three Love Theory explains that each love happens for a specific reason: the first teaches us what we expect from love, the second teaches us about our true selves, and the third teaches us what it means to love another person unconditionally. What most people don’t realise is that these relationships aren’t always singular, sometimes we have to kiss a few frogs before we learn one of these lessons, and sometimes our feelings betray us. They can have you treating your postman like he’s your fucking soul mate. Like I said before, love is fickle!
Disclaimer: First, I must say that the Three Love Theory may not apply to everyone. What it does do, is provide grounds for a learning curve. It helps us to see our past for what it has taught us, rather than wishing we never met that jerk in the first place.
THE FIRST: THE ONE-DIMENSIONAL LOVE
Our first love is all-consuming, it’s our introduction to the feeling itself, the first time we experience romantic love. This is the love that occupies your thoughts, allows you to compromise your values and teaches you the brutal reality of heartbreak. We enter into this relationship with the belief that this will be our one and only love, despite whether or not it feels right. We often find ourselves swallowing our personal truths, believing that this is what love is supposed to be, I mean, my parents always did say to love is to compromise, right? While it certainly feels like true love at the time, it’s not usually the deep, raw love that you’ll experience later on. This love is superficial, we are more concerned with what it looks like to those around us, rather than how we truly feel.
My first love was all of the above, it was driven by this indescribable sense of elation, undeniable passion and overwhelming lust. I needed him, a feeling that now, several years on, I hope to never have again. I hope to never need another person to be happy, to only love those who feel like an extension of my happiness, not the reason for it.
I compromised my values at absolutely every turn. Being a child from a broken home, having a front-row seat to the damage that cheating can cause a relationship and family – I vowed to never cheat or stand for being cheated on. Yet, despite finding messages on my computer between my boyfriend and a lovely girl named Pearl, discussing how loud he would make her scream in the bedroom, I took him back. I accepted the ridiculous lie he had conjured up on the way home and took him back – no grovelling, no giving him time to realise what he had done. Just forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate having loved him, together we transitioned from children to adults. But after experiencing a love that is selfless, I have realised that we were both in the relationship for him.
THE SECOND: THE HARD LOVE
Our first love often ends in deception and mistrust, this may be due to its surface-level nature but it definitely makes our next relationship look very appealing. This is our roller coaster love – the veil is lifted and we get to see all of our insecurities, needs and desires laid bare. This relationship comes with indescribable highs and excruciating lows, while we often try to mould this person into our perfect partner and mould ourselves into theirs. It is in this love that we learn what we do and don’t want from a relationship and what we can and can’t give to our partners. We also often learn just how painful heartbreak can be, but also, just how resilient we really are.
Cue love number two, a naughty English boy with a bad attitude and an inability to hold a job. A love built upon fun, until the fun was over and the disagreements arose. The words we used would hurt each other and sadly that was our intention. This one certainly didn’t end easily, there was a bit of back and forth, off and on (just in case we hadn’t hurt each other enough) and then we parted ways.
THE THIRD: THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
After we have recovered from the heartbreak of love number two and we’ve begun to understand ourselves again and cultivate a little bit of self-love, our unexpected love comes along. In this love, we do not play games with each other’s emotions, you embrace every facet of the other person: the good, the bad, the ugly. You accept their imperfections and all of their nuances, they almost become these little idiosyncrasies that only you know about and you love them for it. You face obstacles together and work to overcome them, aware of your part to play and not blaming your partner for theirs. This is unconditional love and it often has the strong foundations needed to last.
My third love was unexpected and is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It is selfless and has been from the very beginning. When I met him, I had this undeniable desire to know him. It wasn’t necessarily in a romantic capacity, he just seemed so interesting. Our first argument rolled around quite late in the relationship, from previous experience I immediately geared up for a fight. I was ready to throw nasty words at him, ready to scream and yell. Before I could begin, he quickly interrupted and said “I just want you to know that we’re a team.” My anger immediately diminished, I had never had someone on my team before. I was suddenly overcome with a new feeling altogether: Security. I was in a relationship that made me feel safe, safe to be myself down to my grossest habits, safe to make mistakes without judgement, and safe from criticism.