Around this time last year, a number of big changes occurred in my life. My marriage of nine years was falling apart and I was facing some very tough decisions about how to proceed with my life. A very good friend of mine, to whom who I will refer as Ninja, told me I needed to follow my heart and find the thing that made me happy.
My happiness found me in the form of a friend I had not seen in several years. Spending time with this friend gave me a chance to look at my life from an outsider's view and see just how bad things had gotten.
One of the concepts I was trying to grasp was true love. True love and intimacy became the focus of my thoughts and I questioned just what those terms truly meant to me. The resulting answers were often painful and sometimes shocking because I had thought I had both of those things in my marriage, but it turns out that wasn't so.
I came to the conclusion that true love passes no judgement; it just IS. Things that have happened in the past remain in the past and have no bearing on the current situation other than to remind us of how we became the people we are now. Past experiences (things we've done, people we've known, etc.) shape us as we mature. We learn behaviors based on these experiences and use the learned behaviors to deal with other things down the road.
I was always under the impression that true love is having someone who cares about you and dotes on you and tries to provide all the comforts you need, but once I awoke from the fog of confusion in which I was living, I saw that what I had was someone who needed to always take care of others, whether those others needed taking care of or not. That is not love. That is oppression.
Intimacy, as I see it, is both parties being fully honest with each other in all aspects of their lives. It's revealing themselves in depth to a point where the only way they can continue is in a state of unconditional love. It's feeling naked and vulnerable yet trusting each other completely. Looking back, I would say that you can't have intimacy if you don't have true love.
So my final conclusion was that a good relationship is comprised of unconditional love and intimacy. Honesty, compassion, trust - these are all encompassed in those two things. Without these, there is no respect, no honor, no dignity... no relationship to speak of.
I'm happy to say that the friend who helped to clarify my vision is also now my significant other. Ours is a relationship based entirely on honesty, compassion, love and trust.