The Lock and the Key


Ever since my first big, grand love skidded to an abrupt halt a few years ago, I’ve been fascinated in learning, and understanding, the theory of love.

I’ve read a number of books and philosophers who claim to theorise the art of love; such as my absolute favourite, Roland Barthes, and his ‘successor’, Alain de Botton. I exchanged views and engaged in deep conversations with men and women alike on the topics of love and relationships, some of which I found intriguing.

For instance, the Moroccan once told me that the key to a lasting relationship is compatibility in three aspects: emotional, intellectual, and sexual. This sounds about right, although for most practicing Muslims the last one would prove rather tricky to test out (although I hold that sexual compatibility doesn’t always have to be sex – physical attraction or sexual appeal would do too). Yet surprisingly, as I later figured out with the exact same person, compatibility in all three aspects doesn’t guarantee an overall compatibility either.

Another theory that I hear a lot is that a woman should be with someone who loves her more than she loves him.

This is a rather interesting one. I fell in love with someone who loved me, more than I did, only to find that he changed his mind a few years later. Then I was recently in a relationship with a person who, not only is almost perfect in all aspects, but genuinely loves me. Often more than I deserve.

But I’ve come to learn that all things must be reciprocal. For a relationship to work, both parties must strive to make it work.

It does not do for one side to try and try while the other one hardly bothers. Even if the love isn’t equal, it still takes equal effort and determination. While being with someone who loves you more does provide you with a sense of emotional security and stability, not to mention an ego boost; if you are unable to reciprocate it equally, it will plague you with guilt, which is definitely not the key to a long-lasting relationship.

So what is?

My current relationship has made me come up with a theory: in order to have a long-lasting, fulfilling relationship, the key is to find the right key to your lock.

I know this sounds cheesy, but hear me out:

Imagine you’re trying to open a locked door. In order to open the lock, you would need the right key. You have a bunch of keys of all shapes and sizes with you. Some could be eliminated right from the start, because one look at the key and you know it’s the wrong one. But some of the keys look awfully similar. It is only after you try them one by one that you realise they’re not the same – some are more rigged at the cuts, or have an additional shoulder, or are simply not the right size. Of course, some keys are just slightly crooked or rougher, and after a while, and perhaps with some difficulty, they may be adjusted to work. But then you try out the key, and the lock clicks open easily. Just like that.

I believe that’s the same with finding a partner. We are all wired differently; and so your needs, demands, and wishes would be different from others. You might meet a number of people in life – some of them you would know right from the start are not meant for you, while some others may seem like they’re potentially the ‘one’, until you spend more time interacting with and getting to know them, and you realise that something’s not exactly right, or that it’s simply not meant to be.

But when you find the right person, it just ‘clicks’.

On my first meeting with my partner, we spent 7 hours straight talking over coffee and dinner, and we didn’t stop talking since. It difficult to explain why without blabbering at length, but the more I got to know my partner, the more I fall in love with him and the surer I am about being with him. He treats me the way I want to be treated, he loves me the way I want to be loved. On the other hand, I’m also committed to give back equally–or at least try to. And the chemistry, the compatibility, the commitment? Check, check, check.

The funny thing is, the other day, my partner mentioned that he must share similar qualities with my former partner of two years. While they are two completely different people from very different backgrounds and cultures, what drew me to them were the specific qualities that they both have which I desire but did not find in other people. It doesn’t mean that the others were less decent or not good enough. They would be the perfect fit for someone else.

They were just not the right key for me. 

And I think I’m content with this theory for now. 🙂

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