Exhilarated by the dive, I like it when my heart pounds so fast and strong that I can feel it in my chest and hear it in my ears. I enjoy the hope that swells inside, and I look forward to discovering what promise the relationship may hold. I don’t stop to think about what I am doing, but instead choose to feel my way along, not knowing if it will last but trusting to gain something worthwhile from the experience, giving of myself what I can and hoping for my affections to be returned. Sometimes I have been rewarded, and other times not. Sometimes I have been disappointed and hurt. Sometimes, regrettably, I have done the disappointing and hurting. Yet, through it all, I have continued to approach relationships in the same way, head first, without hesitation, hoping each time to find the relationship from which a lasting love would grow.
I have been in love more than once. Although at times I have been heartbroken, I have few regrets about these failed relationships because each of them, from high school infatuations to relationships of my adulthood, has fulfilled a special need in my life at the time, helping me to discover more about myself and improving my understanding of intimacy and commitment. For me, each relationship has been another step in the journey to a more meaningful capacity to truly love someone. I have learned much along the way.
I have learned that love is like a diamond, hard and durable, yet if handled carelessly, can cleave into worthless fragments. A relationship must be cared for and nourished if it is to remain whole. Care and nourishment may take many forms, like sending love letters, bringing home flowers, or planning romantic evenings together. Care and nourishment can also be simple, like speaking from one’s heart and telling the other of the love that is inspired within you. I have learned that love involves risk, and it is only after taking risk and finding that no harm will come that a deeper love can grow. I have learned that love involves work. It brings with it challenges and compromises, and it sometimes brings tears, but with the desire to carry out one’s commitment with passion and persistence, it is work worth doing and even more love is the reward. Above all, I think the most valuable lesson I have learned is that love cannot go unexpressed. Signs of love must be demonstrated and words of love must be spoken if love is to continuously flow with vigor. It is this lesson that has brought me to write this book.