London, January 13th 2023
Another week, another country, another story … Travelling in heels and dragging a 21kg suitcase along is now my new normal. And I am loving the freedom, the serendipity and the fullness of life this phase is offering me. Ooooh the stories I will write!
Greetings from London!
As I am finishing this letter, I am waiting to board the train from Saint Pancras to Brussel. After 6 days of being here, I feel tired and recharged at the same time. This city is like a bubble that sucks you right in. Things move fast around here. Money and power are main drivers which makes this city a playground with many layers.
The main reason why I came to London was to spend time with my friends. Early morning walks followed by breakfast before 8am, lunches that require a 90 minute commute, sharing afternoon wine with strangers, after work cocktails … It’s all been part of the London experience.
Today I wanted to share notes on a conversation I had with a couple that has been together for 47 years and counting. Reflections on a conversation I had with my friend Eleanor and her parents. A conversation that took place on a random Tuesday evening, somewhere in London, sharing wine and tapas.
This story came to life because my friends convinced me to go on a dating app (#wheninlondon, right?). Now, I must admit, I have always felt some resistance towards datingapps. And in full transparency, I am scared of them.
I always had this idea that I would meet someone the “old school”- way. Or in my mind the "normal" way. My love story will be about two people who happened to be in the same place at the same time somewhere in the world.
So being part of the online dating community feels like I am settling. Am I giving-up on what I truly desire? Or am I afraid it will never happen? But since my friends challenged my idea of normal, I decided to keep an open mind and give it a go.
That evening with Eleanor and her parents, my newly curated profile somehow became a topic of conversation. And before we knew it, the four of us were talking about love, relationships, dating and marriage.
They have been together for 47 years and I wanted to know how.
Ele’s parents met when they were very young. It started as a summer love. She was 15. He was 17. After dating for about 15 years, they decided to get married. And nearly 5 decades later they reflected on what made them stay together, sharing their lessons with a stranger.
As a romantic and navigating the online dating scene, my concern is that people no longer believe in love. That people no longer want to take a stand for romance. Because in what world has ghosting become normal and therefore makes it ok?
My fear is that we are no longer willing to embrace discomfort through vulnerability and therefore miss out on one of the most powerful forces of nature: love. We live by expectations towards others without reflecting on what we, ourselves, bring to the table.
So whether you are single or in a relationship or going through divorce or are just very much confused like I am, I hope their thoughts bring some new perspectives. I hope they inspire you to think about how you show-up in relationships. Not just romantically.
I hope their reflections make you question the standards you set for others but equally for yourself. And lastly, I hope they help you understand that beauty often is found in the simplicity of things.
7 Lessons for Inspiration
I took notes during the conversation and was able to lock down 7 lessons. And I hope they can become guidelines for all of us on how we engage with one another. Whether it is at work, online or at home. Here it goes:
1. Being tolerant and understanding that what you do has an impact on the other.
2. Being polite and understanding that being married does not mean you can be less polite about things. It comes down to the simple things like saying 'good morning', 'please' and 'thank you'. Basically respecting the every day "niceness" as they put it.
3. Never take somebody for granted.
4. Know where you stand with each other, always. And if you don't know, ask for clarity.
5. Don't let money be a means for power games. Their advice is to always have 3 accounts: yours, theirs and ours.
6. Be very clear on your personal 'non-negotiables' versus 'nice-to-haves'. And make sure the other person knows about them.
7. Be very transparent towards one another so you don’t have to defend yourself when arguing.
I am well aware that there is so much to unpack. And maybe you find yourself asking "ok, but how"? If so, let me know. Happy to dig deeper with all of you. Because there is nothing more powerful then a good conversation with the intention to learn.
Curious to learn your thoughts on the above! So don't be shy to hit reply.
Ps If you want to receive my letters directly in your mailbox, you can register here