Love is intoxicating. Falling head over heels in love will make your soul sing, it is a spiritual experience, a wonderful mystery of life. We want it to last forever, though are not the most beautiful things in life so often the most short-lived? 'The brightest light burns for the shortest time.'
The strongest and perhaps the strangest of emotions, it can bring absolute elation and utter despair in equal measures. When we admit we have fallen in love, we are at our most vulnerable, opening our hearts and souls to one person; we take a risk. Many of us fall in love then get married to make the commitment a legal and very public declaration. And yet one in two marriages will end in divorce showing that 'I will love you forever' doesn't always last, but then forever is a long time. Heartbreak hurts so how do we know when it is not just a blind infatuation or a crush - what is 'true love'?
Falling in love is one thing, falling for your best friend's wife can pose quite a problem. How we deal with the sometimes devastating and so often uncontrollable feelings that come upon us so intensely says a lot about who we are, and yet this unruly emotion can make the most logical of people into fools. Do we run headlong into the feeling or hold back until we're sure? Eric Clapton certainly never held back.
This is for anyone who has ever fallen madly in love and the story of the very public love triangle between Beatle George Harrison, his then wife Pattie Boyd and his best friend, Eric Clapton.
George, Eric and Layla
We've all heard the song Layla by Eric Clapton. It's a well-played classic now yet few of us know the real life events that inspired the song which goes:
"Like a fool, I fell in love with you, turned my whole world upside down.
Let's make the best of the situation, before I finally go insane.
Please don't say we'll never find a way, and tell me all my love's in vain."
In her best-selling book, 'Wonderful Today', Pattie Boyd said, "He played me the most powerful, moving song I had ever heard. It was Layla, about a man who falls hopelessly in love with a woman who loves him but is unavailable. He played it to me, all the while watching intently for my reaction. My first thought was: 'Oh God, everyone's going to know this is about me.'
When Clapton wrote 'Layla' for her she realised at once the intensity of his infatuation for her. Is there anything more romantic or meaningful than a song that has been written just for you? We all need to believe there is someone out there with those feelings and for such devotion to be so lovingly weaved into a song that will last forever, that is something else.
"Do you want to see me crawl across the floor to you?
Do you want to hear me beg you to take me back?
I'd gladly do it because
I don't want to fade away.
Give me one more day, please.
I don't want to fade away.
In your heart I want to stay."
Writing a song is one way of expressing ourselves. Obsessive love has induced many a crime of passion and sent others to their graves feeling they simply cannot live without their soul mate in their life. Passionate love is as irrational as it is all-consuming. When we fall in love, we experience such a euphoria that is addictive, making us desire and crave more. We never want that feeling to end. Add a strong attraction, a real affection, passion and sexual desire into the mix and there can be fireworks!
The trap of this irrational falling in love experience is that we can often fall for someone who is just not right for us on many levels. We may feel a strong, primal urge, but ultimately if we cannot connect on an intellectual or a spiritual level with that person, or if we lose respect for them for whatever reason, the affair may be doomed to be sadly short lived.
The end of the affair
Unrequited love or the end of a love affair can be very painful. It is like bereavement in many ways. The way we express our emotions ranges from person to person. Those with creative temperaments can feel a need to express their innermost feelings in order to better understand the complexity of their feelings. Some write poetry or songs, others paint or sculpt. I will never forget the striking and dramatic abstract oil painting that a friend's mother had created from her divorce - it was anger and regret and sorrow in paint form on canvas.
To know that we have affected someone so deeply, that we have moved them and both felt such a strong connection goes further than any frivolous attraction, flirtation or lustful wanting. To fall in love with someone who falls for you is to surrender yourselves to one another completely and, perhaps even more disconcertingly, we don't always have control over who we fall in love with or when. Perhaps it is that being so out of control that makes it all the more compelling. It is not an act one is ever able to plan or control completely.
Every love affair is different as we are all unique and the healthiest loving relationships are two-way streets of give-and-take in equal measures, with honesty and empathy, forgiveness and compassion, and an acceptance that nothing in this life is perfect.
The most enduring of relationships are those that do not consist of the endless obsessive style longing, but the truly loving couples who have a mutual respect for each other and who remain good friends. Isn't that real love?