It’s still a shock that these words form part of my vocabulary, but on 9th March, my boyfriend proposed to me. He booked us into Kandaya, a luxury resort in the Philippines, and proposed to me by candlelight on the beach. Champagne, white sand and starlight. Playing the song I always hoped he would. How the bloody hell did I ever get so lucky?
As surprised as I was, the feather-light feeling resonates more with being offered a job you were quietly confident about, and still being completely and utterly surprised about getting. Of course we are going to get married. I knew that from the very beginning. I just didn’t allow myself to believe I could be so fortunate. That finding ‘the one’ could be as easy as drunkenly bumping into someone at a festival.
I’ve naturally spent the hours since Joe’s beautiful proposal reflecting over our 3 years together. He came into my life and made it shine, made me shine. Why should anyone settle for anything less when it comes to being with someone forever? Because I honestly believe the perfect person is out there for absolutely everyone. And if you waste time obsessively searching, or settling for second best, you’ll simply never find them.
I’ve had my share of turbulent relationships. I thought that’s what love meant; a kind of angry obsessive passion that steals away your energy. A fire that burns right through you leaving charred black scars, only to be filled with the same flames that caused them. Sure, you can love someone this way, but can you marry them? Devoting your life to someone demands a rock-solid foundation, not one of molten lava.
So, how do I know he’s ‘the one’? He makes me feel special. I never knew it was possible to learn to love yourself through the eyes of another. I don’t need to hide under makeup for him, and yet he still makes me want to look my best every day. He makes me feel safe. Safe enough to risk marrying. Safe enough to risk going travelling with and spending every day (hour) together. Safe enough to risk telling him my deepest fears and weirdest secrets, safe enough to risk being entirely me. Safe enough to risk thinking there are no risks with him. Which, of course, there aren’t and never will be. A relationship should give you the energy to face the world, not pose as a daily challenge.
I’ve come to appreciate that passion in a relationship doesn’t stem from heated arguments, it simmers gently in the background because of a concentrated interest in each other’s wellbeing. We never pick fights. We miss each other at any given moment we’re not together. We wave to each other from across the platform when our separate trains arrive. We go for nights out on our own. We make time for each other’s friends. We laugh hysterically every single day. We sing duets while washing the dishes. I tell him what to wear and he cooks me dinner. And when I fall asleep in the taxi, he carefully carries me to bed.
At first I found it hard to get my head around this strange new feeling of dependency. I have always made a point of living my life very much on my own terms, and he was the same. In the early stages of our relationship, we refused to accept we were a couple, despite talking every day and spending the entire weekend together for almost 6 months before we admitted defeat. Some sort of other-worldly magnetism had been irreversibly activated. What struck me most, was how very easily I said goodbye to my old life and welcomed everything about my new one with him. I couldn’t help it, everything else quickly came second to him, purely because I loved him.
I’m not saying that every relationship should look like mine. But without pressure, it should be able to turn into something effortless. Something you both understand and accept to be true. Something that, however it looks to other people, makes you happy simply because it exists without cause. Something that was just always meant to be there, completely beyond all control and reasoning. Natural, raw and self-assured.
The beauty of the whole thing, and the very reason I know it’s right, is that I didn’t sacrifice myself for him, or he for me. Combined, something clicked and we created new-improved versions of ourselves. I went from unemployed and unsure of everything to living in London and writing for a living. I dared to believe in myself, and my dreams started to come true one by one. His best friends became mine, and mine his. Our relationship brought people together, and our lives connected so seamlessly its hard to imagine how they ever existed before.
Best of all, I accidentally found him. I wasn’t searching for love, it just happened. Maybe I’m just one of the lucky ones, but mostly I want people to know that the love you see in films does exist. For everyone. If it’s possible to be that happy, it’s always worth the risk. Worth waiting for and fighting for. Have faith in chance and the everyday connections we have with the world, and, like that, love will find its way to you too.