At 17, love finally cut me a break, making me fall head over heels for a charming Michael J. Fox lookalike who’d made his intentions known. But love crushed me again three years later, when the same boy ripped my heart in two, announcing he’d decided it was time for us to part.
Love did a number on me after that, propelling me into a rebound relationship with someone so ill suited we spent most of our time watching TV. And then love pulled a dramatic plot twist when my Michael J. Fox lookalike returned, claiming he’d never stopped loving me, six years after we’d broken up.
It was a fairytale ending. I married my Michael, bought a house with him, and created a family. But love wasn’t finished with me. It had made me love someone with whom I clashed, and our path did not run smooth. And why would it? Love isn’t considered, or wise. If love was sensible, it wouldn’t feel as magical as it does, or hurt so intensely when it goes horribly wrong.
My husband and I separated after 17 years and three brilliant kids. It was by far the most painful experience of my life, and it took me years to recover. And when I did, love left me well and truly alone.
Except it didn’t, of course. Love wasn’t nearly through with me. It had the best fun with me after my divorce! Love gave me a passionate affair with a man who was unwilling to commit, then a thrilling romance with a man who turned out to have already committed … to his wife.
It gave me crazed, tingly feelings for men who weren’t interested in me at all and left me stone-cold for men who were very interested indeed.
Romantic love can be maddening, whimsical and quixotic. When it turns up for the wrong person at the wrong time, you simply cope as best you can. And when it doesn’t turn up at all, you can’t force it into existence, no matter how pleasant or appropriate the person.
For the past couple of years, I have lived without romantic love – and really, I’m far better for it. Hell, I don’t need love to have a good time!
And yet, love feels so damn good. Even the tiniest hint of romance can be intoxicating: that first fizz of attraction when you meet someone you like; the anticipation of seeing a special person again; the thrill of a kiss; the sense of connection when you get someone who really gets you.
I can live without romantic love; it’s just far more fun to live with it. Love gives life colour and flavour. It makes five-year-old girls pine for a departed classmate, and hormonal teens jump when a certain boy walks into school. It makes hopeful young couples merge lives and start families. It’s why people like me go back to those damn dating apps, time and time again.
I’ve been sad when my relationships have ended, but I’ve rarely been sorry they happened. Love can be frustrating and painful, but there is no greater joy. I love love, in all its glory and disaster. I’d definitely risk it again.
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale February 10.