All men cheat. If they cheat once they always will. All women cheat. If they cheat once they always will. No one recovers from anything. No one changes. Nothing changes.

That’s all wrong. Look at the paragraph above: All wrong.

Ok, so there’s a tiny bit of truth in the idea that people tend to repeat themselves I guess? We all have patterns we tend to follow. But sometimes people break patterns and regardless they certainly change over time even while retaining their “self”.

But also: Everyone is unique. We can categorize everyone in various ways but…every person who you meet will vary in some way you don’t (at least) fully expect (hopefully for the better).

My ex-husband was a playboy and an alcoholic when I met him. He had been in a frat and was known for his stereotypical frat ways. We actually had an open relationship for a short while when we were dating as he refused to lie to me about his behavior, which I respected because then I knew I could at least partially trust him, but he also refused to stop. It didn’t work. I wanted monogamy.

…And then, as I’ve said, I got tired of it. I “yelled” at Mark and told him that he had to commit to me fully or I was done. A few months later I got tired of his drinking as well and told him to stop that or I’d also leave the relationship for that reason (as I poured his liquor collection down the kitchen sink bottle by bottle).

He had several long term “admirers” and they all hated me even if they pretended otherwise. But I was much too kind. I counseled one of them in a bathroom once at a bar and another woman overhearing the conversation in a stall thought I was Mark’s mistress and that this woman was his wife because I was so concerned and overly sympathetic that it was hard to interpret our conversation. *eye-roll* Ha!

And I meant it. All of it.

My ex-husband has been sober for ten years and as far as I know he’s never cheated. Honestly…I’d be truly surprised if he’s cheated.

Part of the reason why Mark doesn’t cheat? Because for him cheating or sleeping around in general was a form of self-hatred, a way to gain approval, and it was also about distancing himself from people. It was his faulty way of setting boundaries.

He doesn’t drink now (he’s been sober for ten years) because he wanted to stop. He hated being an alcoholic. He doesn’t sleep around now and he didn’t cheat in our marriage because he’s changed and grown as a person. Yet again, I respect him a lot. He’s tough.

Sometimes I think back to when I married Mark and about why I did it. And you know part of the reason why I did marry him was because he is authentic and I knew he was desperately trying to be a better version of himself and he was succeeding. And I loved him (I was also very in love) and I had hope that given his progress, personal strength and God’s help that perhaps there was a real possibility for being truly happy as a couple.

Ten years later (again he’s certainly sober and I doubt he’s cheated) and we’ve separated. As I’ve also said, I’m extremely glad we have kids together, but…looking at the overall picture these days I now recognize more how rare genuine true love is. It’s exceedingly rare.

I’m a huge fan of the idea that there are levels of love.

I think there’s a soulmate for everyone. A twin flame? A perfect other half anyhow. Philosophers, religions, artists etc. have theorized and written about this sort of love for centuries. And I think that that’s what people generally mean when they say “true love” but I could be wrong… At any rate, I think the chance of running into this “true love” in a lifetime is much less likely than we’d all like to think. Some religious people have theorized that Heaven is about dwelling with this person in God’s presence as one being and that who this person we unite with is is determined by how we live our life. Namely, Swedish theologian and scientist Emanuel Swedenborg. And of all the theories I’ve read about soulmates I think that that part of Swedenborg’s theory makes the most sense to me although I’m not a Swedenborgian and don’t agree with all aspects of his views on soulmates. But… *shrug* however it happens I do tend think we eventually have one perfect match (and I obviously believe in God and afterlife).

Then there are people who we love profoundly but aren’t our actual other half. Maybe this is what people think of when they reference “true love”? I bet there are plenty of really great marriages between people who are at this level of love together. I’m not sure I’d say this is “true love” but it’s probably close.

Then there people who have a…medium level of love? Either for one another or one partner has this sort of love. Wow that sounds awkward. Ha! But really… It’s…medium level love. The marriages or partnerships (or what have you) work at this level but they’re fraught with compatibility issues.

And finally there’s…low level love. It’s love but it’s not the sort of love that sustains a romantic relationship over time. Or if the relationship does last I’d bet the union is also based on compatibility in non-romantic ways, hard work and/or a good start.

Although Mark might disagree with me I think I had a deep love for him while his love was…not as deep. Still he’s been a good egg.

Maybe Mark and I are soulmates but not romantic ones. We “get” each other but because of our rocky start and underlying compatibility issues it’s evolved into a loyal friendship instead of marriage. We are not soulmates in the sense of being each other’s other half even if I hope to know him forever.

But anyway, if you’re reading this with lingering questions about love (I read some blogs and get the sense that people have such ponderings) I’d like to say: Don’t assume. Learn. Protect yourself in healthy ways. But, never assume. Watch, observe, be honest with yourself about all of it but don’t assume. And do be honest with yourself. We are all valuable and worth at least that much.

And all of that is both hopeful and utterly depressing. Right?

Things can be bliss or at least almost. Life can possibly be like that. But also, if we really do all have another half what does that mean given how life is otherwise? Will some of us find love while we live? Seems likely. Will some of us die before we do? Also seems very likely. And will we be held accountable and have to grow enough to be able to fully and entirely give ourselves to this one person somewhere at some time? And when we do will it be beyond amazing? Yes and that sounds like a return to the Garden of Eden. But also…it has huge implications about every other connection we make as well and therefore the meaning and fabric of life overall and the human experience. There’s bound to be pain. Misunderstanding. And if we’re fortunate and work at: Growth. Hopefully happiness. Love for others certainly should be our goal whether it’s romantic or platonic or familial or the sort of love we should have for other living beings in general: Agape.

(Wow, I’m rambling. Sorry.)

…I don’t want to think I’ll live the next 50+ years only working my way to my (romantic) soulmate. I’d like to hope for at least a better relationship than the one I had while I’m alive. But…as much as we control things there are so many things we don’t control. And I’m not going assume either way.

Just rambling. Sorry if this sounds preachy.