What is Love? Sangeeta

Love is Respect: Sangeeta

I feel it the most when I’m at my lowest, because that’s when those people, who I feel that love from, are there for me…”

Relationship Status: Dating for a year and a half

What is love? 

I feel like it could be a lot of things. Instantly I always think about couples, but for me it’s respect and it could be with anybody in your life. 

When you ask me about love, I can’t just think of my boyfriend—I think of everyone that’s around me. And it’s harder to distinguish what love is, because me and my sister are super, super close and she has a son—and I don’t have kids—and I think we just got closer after he was born. That’s like the unconditional love—I tell myself, “You know if I don’t have anyone, I’ll have my sister and my parents.”

I’m fortunate to be around a lot of people who I feel love from: my family, my friends. I feel it the most when I’m at my lowest, because that’s when those people, who I feel that love from, are there for me and I just feel that at that time.

How did you know you loved your boyfriend?

I think there’s always a moment where you try to figure out that yes, this is the one. I’m trying to remember the day, I think it was just finally realizing it one day, when he just does little things for me, so I think one day I just realized I think I love this guy.

I was attracted to his easy-going nature, his sense of humour, and his openness. He’s not a difficult person to be around. It is my second long-term relationship. It’s been amazing!

What’s the difference between that one and this one? 

The last one just wasn’t a good relationship. There was no respect for methere was no respect for me as a person and there was a lot of emotional stress.

Was that one longer than this one? 

It was. It was 15 years. We were married. 

Did you learn a huge lesson from that?

When I started dating again, unfortunately I started going into meeting people with my head before my heart and I think that was the lesson, because I knew what I didn’t want in my life again.

You’ve were married for 15 years, so what do you think are the keys to a successful marriage?

It’s communication, 100% communication and respect for each other and encouragement for each other. Openness where you want to be there for the person but you also want to communicate your feelings, communicate what you want in your life with each other, and for you as an individual.

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Growing up how did you perceive love?

I saw it as anyone that is there for you, that encourages you in your life, that looks out for you. I guess with my parents, they weren’t strict, but even if they did put any restrictions on me, it’s because they loved me. As for my parents as a couple, they definitely set the right example of what love should be. They are so cute together now!

So you had a perception of love going into the marriage, but by the end of 15 years, when it didn’t work, did that skew or change your perception of love? 

Yes and no. I wasn’t in a rush to meet someone, because of thatbut I wasn’t skewed fully, because I had all those other people in my life who either were setting an example as a loving couple or were treating me well, I didn’t go through that “Oh I will never find love again.” Which is surprising for a lot of people.

I got married when I was a lot younger, so I think I thought I was in love and I probably wasn’t at the time. You think you love or you think because you’ve been with that person for so long you do love that person, but you actually don’t. I think I learned through the fact that he didn’t respect me as a person, that I was emotionally manipulated by him a lot, that I think I just realized that that’s 100% not love. If you love someone you wouldn’t do that to them.

So when did you realize it wasn’t love for you?

It’s funny because I think the realized a lot sooner, and I definitely realized halfway through my marriage but I didn’t want to believe it and then I knew around the tail end of my relationship last while that this is not love.

Being Indian, we were caught in that generation where we didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and it was bad to get divorced. I stayed for that long because I thought too many people were going to get hurt, but it ended up I was the only one getting hurt. But by the time that everything happened everyone was very supportive. I think at the end your family just wants you to be happy. 

Is there a difference between how your generation approaches relationships, versus my generation? 

I think so. I had to do the online thing this time because the chances of meeting a single 40+ year old guy at Starbucks was really low, so I kind did the online app thing. That is a huge difference in the way that we both grew up with. But I wouldn’t say it’s a negative experience, or anything.

So, how long did you wait until after your divorce to start dating again?

A year and a half, close to two years. You know why? It wasn’t just about what I wanted in a relationship, but what did I want in my life? After 15 years you never think about just yourself—you think about your partner, in-laws, the family that’s around you—you just never think about: “What do I want just for myself?” Right after the divorce, my cousin was like, “We’ve got to find you someone else.” But I needed to find out what I wanted for myself.

What is Love? Sangeeta

Did anything surprise you when you got back into dating? 

I’m not old fashioned, and I do offer on a first date to pay, but I did get turned off that I met many 40+ year old guys who didn’t even offer to pay on the first date. I was super shocked, like oh okay, “Is this what I’m in for?” I don’t know if it’s because they didn’t want to waste their time if it didn’t work out, but my boyfriend did! I always offered, I think it’s rude not to offer, but I was very shocked at how many of these guys were not even willing to pay for the very first drink. A few of them did, but a lot them didn’t. I may be generalizing, but you would think a 40 year old guy would have a little more sense and chivalry.

How was the experience like online dating?

I was not loving it. I think again, a lot of my friends did do the online websites back in the day, not apps, it was more Match.com type of stuff, but I kind of feel like there was still a difference because of my age. I found out that it was much harder to meet open-minded 40-year-old men, than a 20/30 year old. But that was my decision to meet someone closer to my age.

I just wanted someone around my age because of relatability, but it was very difficult, because once you get into that age group, generally people are set in their ways and it’s more difficult to find someone who is more flexible.

Do you think it’s easier building a relationship later in life versus when you were younger?

By 40 you have your routine, you have your life, and you don’t want too much change. So I think as an older couple there’s an adjustment. As you get older people are set in their ways and don’t like what they don’t like. You have to meet halfway and it’s hard to meet halfway at a certain age. In your 30s you’re still establishing your life, but in your 40s you kind of have everything going for you.

You’ve been married once would you be open to it again?

I’m not in a rush for it and neither is he, but I’m not ruling it out for sure. I still think if it were to happen, I would do it.  wouldn’t say no. The first marriage didn’t change my opinion about marriage.

Love is…? 

Love is Respect. Love is being there for someone, especially at a time when they need someone.

*photos provided by Sangeeta

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