I always assumed I would marry my high school sweetheart, but then I left him as soon as I turned 21. We started to have problems and I didn't think I could spend the rest of my life with him. I straddle the line between believing in true love (my parents are my best examples) and being very jaded about the whole thing (I've seen so many marriages end badly and have had so many of my own relationships blow up in my face.)
I used to be a big romantic. I was with the same person from age 14 to age 21. We wrote each other love letters and cried together and knew we wanted to be together forever. It was such an innocent, essential belief for us. He was a part of all of my yesterdays, so he should naturally be a part of all of my tomorrows. My parents met when my mom was 14. They've been together since. It wasn't unnatural to think the same would happen for me.
But, like I always say... I don't trust plans. I know a lot of people who had plans, and they ended badly. I've had plans that ended badly. Some VERY badly. I'd rather be carried on the wind as far as relationships go. I'm through drawing road maps only to have them become obsolete.
So what happens when you turn 31 and you're still single? I think you realistically give up on the idea that all love lasts forever. Sometimes love changes. Sometimes love goes away completely. Sometimes circumstances dictate what happens. I think you do the best you can. I think you try to enjoy yourself. I think you weigh everything more carefully. I think you end up thinking too much. I think this is all okay.
It truly is a different world than the one our parents grew up in. We have to understand that our love stories may not look like theirs. More importantly, we have to struggle to be okay with that.
And yes, I still believe in true love. I grew up in the protective shadow of true love and was raised to believe that anything is possible. I know it exists. I just didn't think it would be so elusive. It's one of those things I always assumed would just happen. In reality, the path to true love is long and winding. You question every decision you make along the way. But, as is true with any great adventure, I believe the reward at the end will be worth all the pain that came before it.
My parents' journey has been long and winding, too... they just make it look easy.
I guess the best we can do is be hopeful. I'm still on the path. In a way, we all are. Even the ones who think their journey is over often find themselves back out on the path long after they thought they had already found what they were looking for. I think we owe it to each other to understand that we've all taken different paths. We've all had dreams. We've all had plans that didn't pan out. Some of us have had storybook love stories. Some of us hate those people :)
In all seriousness, we need to respect each other's journeys. They're all important. They're all leading us to something. The thrill comes from figuring out what that something is and, once found, in treasuring the journey that led us there.