At heart, I'm a bit of a romantic. In part, I blame my father for this problem: Although my mother (a.k.a. his wife) died when I was young, he has never given up on her; he still talks about how she was the love of his life--and still talks about how some day they'll be reunited in heaven.* Which is all very touching--and believe me, I can sometimes still tear up when he gets talking about her. Nonetheless, I have gone through periods of thinking that such an intense undying love might also be a sign of mental illness.
And yet, all the recent years of failure to find the kind of connection I crave--on top of experiences, in my misspent youth, of finding something pretty close to what I'd imagined only to realize the emotions such a situation inspired inside me were so strong I couldn't bear them--has caused me to become jaded (if no less stubborn). I've come to be suspicious of my own youthful faith in true love, seeing it as a personal mythology that I needed to construct as a means of guiding me through life--the search for that kind of deep connection was a guiding light, driving me forward. But I eventually I came to think that the light was mostly an illusion, one that I followed into a dangerously dark alley. Which is to say that as much as false hope can help you get through some rough times, if you're a deeply thinking person (and I think you guys are), false hope--i.e. the belief in true love--can ultimately be more destructive and damaging than helpful.
I also find the arguments that some of my friends and acquaintances have made in favor of polyamory rationally compelling. Though I still think it'sludicrous for anyone to settle for Mr. Good Enough--to commit to spending the rest of your life with (and having kids with) someone you don't feel entirely excited about--I'm also somewhat partial to the now-popular notion that it's unrealistic to expect to find a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse who is your best friend, best lover, intellectual equal and life muse all wrapped up in one.
And yet ... I've never been able to completely give up on the whole true love idea. And every once in a while a good story comes along that makes me say, Hey! How about that? Like one that ran in the New York Times over the weekend, about high school sweethearts who met in seventh grade--when young Alan followed Ann all the way home from the first day of school, touched her steps like they were a good luck charm, and said to himself "I'll be back!" Though they dated when they were in twelfth grade, they broke up when Ann went to college and lived separate lives for many years, both getting married to other people and raising children with them ... until Alan's wife died. By that point, Ann was divorced from the man she'd been married to for nearly 30 years. Alan found Ann on Facebook--those crazy kids!--and they re-kindled things and now they are planning to live happily ever after.
So ... this kind of enduring emotion for a person, and the ability to reconnect just as powerfully 50 years later: Do you think it's evidence that true love exists?
Or are you saying to yourself
Hey, Ann's first marriage last a whole 30 years, which is pretty long; maybe this marriage won't last twice as long. True love, shrew muv ... ?
Or are you saying to yourself,
Maura, Maura, Maura: What you--and everyone else--in the world of single people should be asking yourself is not whether true love exists, but whether you want to be in a lifelong relationship. If so, decide that; find someone you are pretty excited about; commit not only to living together, but to communicating as honestly as you possible can with each other; commit, also, to reading and staying active and doing things that will make you happy, stimulated, engaged with life ... and go from there.