Tag Archives: temptation

Open your Heart

A dear friend sent me a link to an interesting TED talk on love and relationships given by Mandy Len Catron. The theme of love and relationships had already been playing on my mind.

After watching the clip, I confessed to my friend that I long to share intimacy and affection with someone of the male variety. I quickly added that I’m just feeling impatient and that I should simply be present.

My friend replied: “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a special connection with a man. What you mustn’t do is ever make yourself feel bad because that want is there. It’s human nature.” It was nice to read her words.

Mandy Len Catron’s TED talk came about because Mandy, in the midst of a breakup, turned to science to better understand love. While researching the workings of the heart, Mandy discovered a study undertaken by psychologist Arthur Aron 20 years ago.

The study involved having two strangers ask and answer a series of 36 questions designed to make the participants fall in love. Six months later, the participants were married.

One evening, Mandy described Arthur Aron’s study to a university acquaintance. He proposed that they put the questions to the test. And they promptly fell in love!

Mandy went on to write an article about her experience for The New York Times. Since then, she has received endless calls and emails from people who all want to know one thing: Are Mandy and her university acquaintance still together? And the answer is that they are.

This may seem like the happy ending that we’re all hoping for. But what Mandy learned from this incredible experience is that there is no happy ending. There is no ending.

Falling in love is the easy part. The challenge lies in the decision to continue loving each other through the good and the difficult times. The hard part is to allow yourself be vulnerable and to give your heart to someone who may or may not choose to love you back.

These are the parts of love that many single people forget about when we crave a relationship. We want the smiles and the glances, the cuddles and the kisses, the electricity of attraction and the rush of romance.

However, closeness with a partner can really trigger you and bring all your issues to the surface. The choice then is to succumb to the temptation to close your heart and retreat (or defend) or you can deal with these issues and expand, both as a human being and as a couple.

It’s exciting and scary to open your heart to another human being. Being loved can make you feel blissful and secure one moment and out of control the next.

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Today, I told another friend about all of this. She excitedly suggested that we ask one another the 36 questions. “Imagine if we fell in love,” she laughed.

My friend and I answered all 36 of Arthur Aron’s questions. The questions encouraged us to share our life stories, embarrassing incidents, favourite memories, fears, problems and dreams. We were also invited to tell each other what we liked about one another.

Did we fall in love? I can honestly say that my heart was bursting by the end of the exercise. In truth, my friend and I already love one another.

However, this exercise highlighted how much we have in common and how much we value our friendship. Being let into my friend’s life in this way deepened my love for her. Answering these questions also reminded me of how far I’ve come, how great my life is and how wonderful I am.

How do a series of questions make people fall in love? I believe that these questions inspire you to share yourself with another human being openly and honestly. This vulnerability allows someone to get to know the real you. And this can greatly speed up the falling in love process.

I’d definitely recommend completing this exercise, preferably with someone dishy. It may just make you fall in love – with your friend, your partner, or an attractive stranger. It may also make you fall in love with your journey, with your life, and with you, the real you.

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Ex-communication: unexpected message from an ex

This blog was created out of heart-break. Things had ended badly with an ex and, though I knew deep down that it was for the best, it didn’t stop the hurt and disappointment. After a number of horrifically depressing, grief-ridden days, I couldn’t stick the pain any longer. So I took out a notepad and started to write. It was then that I decided to turn this awful experience into something positive. And so, out of hardship, and after a considerable amount of pushing, a beautiful blog was born.

And out of this blog, I’ve been granted many marvellous things. I’ve rediscovered my passion for writing. I’ve received encouragement, praise and support from friends and family, and even from wonderful strangers with whom I never would have come into contact without this blog. My life feels fuller. I’ve realised that I don’t need a man to make me whole. And I most certainly don’t need a man who’s going to use and disrespect me.

Time really is the greatest healer. I hadn’t had any contact from my ex for almost a month. I know they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder but sometimes, luckily, it just makes it wander. Even though he still has something belonging to a cousin of mine, I’d been feeling too weak and too raw to ask him to return it. I knew if we had contact, and especially if I saw him, I wouldn’t be able to resist his charms.

This guy, despite warnings from loved ones and even from the logical part of my own mind, had a huge effect on me. I enjoyed his company. He was fun and open and vivacious. He was also dangerous and damaged and destructive. But I cared about him. I adored his eyes and his infectious sense of humour. I loved his smile, the way his lips drew back and his dimples deepened. I had started to fall for him. I was always there for him. I helped him and listened to his problems. And then, just like that, he was gone.

He still visited me in my dreams. Constantly. Like I needed to process what had happened and how I was feeling because I hadn’t had the chance to do it in person. I was slowly coming to the conclusion that he just wasn’t good for me and that I was better off without him. Once I got past his dark curls and sparkling green eyes, his immaturity, insecurity and selfishness became visible. When I looked back on how he treated me, I could very clearly see that he hadn’t cared about me as much as I had cared about him. All I’d longed for was a better life for this lost boy who hadn’t grown up. And I genuinely still want that for him. But, even though I still care, I now care more about myself. I recognise that I was putting myself in harm’s way every time I allowed him back into my life. I was too attached. And each time he cut me off, it hurt that bit more.

This heart-breaking episode has shown me so much about what love is and what it definitely isn’t. Ever since I took my first step on this remarkable new journey, I’ve been shown that the most rewarding type of love is the love you give yourself. In my experience, no sooner are you taught a lesson, than you’re tested on it. If our education system is anything to go by, why else do we learn?

So, you can probably guess what happened next. A month after this beguiling and utterly confusing man disappeared from my life, I received a message from him. I opened it with dread and an irritating remnant of hope. He told me that he had noticed that I’d removed him as a friend on Facebook, which he said was “acceptable, considering my behaviour”. He wished me all the best in my future and signed off using his full name. He had always been dramatic. This was probably the fifth time he’d bestowed me with such a final sentiment. He definitely knew his way around those heart-strings! Tears crept behind my eyes, ready to leap out at any moment. I couldn’t help this initial, very physical reaction. But something within me had shifted ever so slightly. Every other time, I’d fallen for his mind-games and engaged him in conversation until he inevitably said something much like the following: I just want to say that you’re an amazing woman. You deserve the best things in life. And bam! He was back! You’d swear we were the over-the-top leading characters in the latest Nicholas Sparks’ romance! This time, however, I simply replied: “Thanks, you too. By the way, my cousin wants his Sopranos box-set back. You can drop it over to him any time.” And that is that. I’m putting all this behind me, once and for all, and I don’t even have to see him. Why torture myself unnecessarily?

Sudden contact from this exhausting ex momentarily robbed me of the serenity I’d recently been enjoying. That familiar see-saw of emotions resurfaced all too easily. I feel sad about the loss of someone I genuinely cared for. But I know now that I was never really helping him, I was merely another of his distractions. And I most definitely wasn’t helping myself. Since we’ve ended it (for the last time, honest!), I’ve had extraordinary insights into the crisscrossed highways of my mind and how I’ve been negotiating them. I recognise that it wasn’t even the loss of him that hurt so badly, it was more the belief that my life lacked something without him. I felt empty and I had nothing to distract myself from that. A surprising sense of gratitude swept over me. I now thank my ex for forcing me to wake up. Because, without him, this blog would never have come into being.

I sat with my feelings until I had a clear picture of what was going on for me. And then I smoothed on a soothing balm prepared by my loved ones in the form of a laugh-a-minute lunch with my family and numerous indignant and reassuring text messages from my closest friends. And then, as my spirits were rising, I found myself drifting towards nature.

I left the iPod at home and walked with my stillness. There was something surreal, something magical about this quiet evening. Frost spread across the grass like icing. Sheep huddled in silence. I stopped and really looked at one of these creatures. It was big and solid and woolly, with a face that reminded me of nursery rhymes. I wondered what it would feel like to hug it. Suddenly, a large flock of birds swooped overhead, dotting the pink and navy sky with black. Dark trees stood stoically against the sunset. A sense of calm washed over me. I breathed in all this beauty and peace and breathed out the heart-break.

I have finally released him.

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Click here for or a list of tips on how to survive heart-break.