Love is part of the natural human experience. We all experience it in various degrees from the cradle to the grave. Love means many different things to each individual and varies from one age to another. As infants, being love simply means we’re cuddled, fed, and cared for. Children often mistake indulgence for love and as adults we seek love in the form of intimacy both physical and emotional. If I’ve learned anything thus far in life, it’s that the early bonds we make are the ones that remain. That doesn’t mean that every relationship from childhood endures or is even positive. Many aren’t but I’ve found that the ones that are deep and strong endure.
Romantic love, the kind I write about, is another animal. Falling in love doesn’t come in a one size fits all version and there’s no set timetable for how long is long enough to know your heart. I’ve heard from a few readers – and they are in the minority – that objects to the speed in which some of my characters fall in love or rekindle old bonds. These folks tell me that it’s not plausible, that love requires time to grow like a seed planted in a garden. Apparently they envision long courtships where characters follow a slow path to realizing that the emotion filling their hearts is love. Sometimes love is like that but more often and in my own experience it is not.
Before anyone else attempts to school me in the differences between “real” love and infatuation or lust, I’d like to state that I do know this or at least I believe I do. As a veteran of multiple relationships in my lifetime, I’ve learned the difference. Yes, I’ve felt that sizzling instant attraction to someone leading up to an encounter that begins with delight and ends with heartbreak but even in the throes of passion, I remained aware physical was all we’d share. I’ve also dated a few guys who were lovely men, nice, solid, and hard working but there just wasn’t a spark of desire, not a hint of erotic appeal. Unless the proverbial boy next door exudes a little heat that draws me into the flame, the relationship isn’t going to work. Platonic never was my thing. I could have dated a few men for years without ever falling in love or into bed but that wouldn’t work for me.
My long term relationships all began with instant attraction. There’s a certain combination of heat but it’s more. The men I love including my husband of seventeen years shared a moment in which we looked, eyes met, and something clicked. Of course there was an element of sex but somehow more filled in the spaces too. I married my husband five months after we began dating but we got engaged in six weeks. We would have married that quickly too except we decided we wanted to be married on 7-7 at 7 o’clock so we held out until July.
With another long term love, he looked at me with eyes that seemed to stare right down into the depths of my soul and I looked back. It might sound like sentimental hogwash but I knew in that glance that he wanted me, body and soul, to know me in every way. That kind of love lasts no matter how fast it begins.
On a personal level I never could envision a long dating relationship for adults. That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe it works for some but it wouldn’t for me. Once I move past that casual dating stage where there isn’t just one guy in my life to something deeper, then I’m in a relationship. I suppose I could have dated my husband for a year or more but when we both knew it was right, why wait? Seventeen years later, no regrets.
When my characters fall in love or renew bonds from the past, I write believing it. I write what I feel is totally plausible and it works for most readers. For those that don’t believe in love at warp speed, just consider that there are many different people who have diverse ways. Allow yourself to believe that something out of your own ken and experience can work for someone and enjoy the read.
And who knows – the ones who wondered about falling in love too fast might experience it one day themselves. Anything is possible when it comes to love.