When I met my husband, I fell in love for both the first and the third time. Technically, it
was the third time that I had thought I ‘loved’ someone. But, that aside, it was the first time I was truly in love. In fact, ‘falling in love’ wasn’t what it was all about. Falling implies a clumsy, accident – an unfortunate happening that results in pain. This was more akin to swimming in love – a love that was thick, tangible, warm. It wasn’t the naive, hopeful, confusing infatuation of my teens, my first ‘love’. Nor was it the crushing, destructive mess that was my second ‘love’. No, this love was more like an ‘A-ha!’ moment.
I met my first ‘love’ in high school and spiralled deeper into infatuation after he asked me to his Matric farewell. He was well-meaning and funny, I was shy and nothing short of obsessed. Alas, we were horribly incompatible and it fizzled out after a couple of months when he left for varsity and I left for a gap year in the UK. I cried for the full ten hours to Heathrow, and comfort ate my way through endless doughnuts and bacon sandwiches for the next six months, in true Bridget Jones style.
My second ‘love’ made his appearance during my second year at university. To say I wasn’t in a fit state for a relationship is an understatement.
I was in the full throes of clinical depression, throwing myself highly unhealthy pity parties and channelling my woes into boozy nights out. I was a mess. Which is why, perhaps, I was attracted to someone who was as messy as I, if not more.
Emotionally stunted with a penchant for booze, casual sex and recreational drugs, his red flags were numerous. He wasn’t a bad guy, but he was bad for me. We bickered and bitched at one another for around three months. I lost my virginity to him a couple of months in, and the stakes rose higher – at least for me. The sex was painful, wholly unsatisfying and – worst of all – felt obligatory. He dumped me a couple of weeks later, citing the facts that I was an emotional wreck and that we had zero in common, both true. I wallowed in self-pity and sacrificed my dignity and self-respect by refusing to accept it was over for a good couple of months afterwards.
When I met my husband around six months later I was a different person. I was finally being treated for depression, and was – for the first time in my life – happy with who I was. I actually thought that I was smart, funny and worthy. I liked the way I looked and the way my body was taller, wider and curvier than my friends’. I wasn’t looking for a relationship and was instead enjoying my new found confidence, flirting and fooling around. When I met J that was still my intention – a bit of fun. We clicked all too readily.
He was warm, clever and had a deliciously dark wit. We both had had family-centred childhoods that involved moving around often. We had similar values, we both enjoyed good food and cheeky banter. We both supported Manchester United. Neither of us took ourselves too seriously. A few weeks in the L Word crept in. Soon it was a daily, at times hourly, ritual…..’I love you’. We couldn’t get enough of each other. Having been suckered into believing the ‘Love Hurts’ philosophy for so long, this was a revelation. Love shouldn’t hurt! Nor should it be hard work. This love was easy: this was having a best friend and a lover rolled into one. It was never running out of things to say, it was finding each other sexy, comfortable, funny and safe, in turn. The combination of having my own self confidence that didn’t need constant outside validation and having a man who was genuinely interested in me turned all my previous sexual experience on its head. I didn’t feel obliged to have sex, but instead was suddenly insatiable. Sex was fun, satisfying and more-ish. We got in trouble for shagging in places we shouldn’t have, or during times we were supposed to be doing other things. But enough of that.
J and I married three months ago, which was almost five years after we met. Contrary to popular belief, our love (and lust) has intensified rather than abated with time. My feelings grow rather than diminish with familiarity, and so it should be. And this is what marks it as wholly different to my other ‘loves’. This love is easy, comfortable, sexy and above all – makes me feel good about myself.