Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Kerry McLean: The first time I spotted my husband across a crowded dancefloor and his eyes met mine, it was like an electric shock jumped between us

Kerry and husband Ralph
Kerry and husband Ralph

By Kerry McLean

I've always been a little sceptical of love at first sight. Passion, ardour, chemistry, absolutely but real, true love springing unbidden when your eyeballs happen to rest on each other? I've never really thought it possible. In the far and distant past when I was a young slip of a thing, I once locked eyes across a crowded dancefloor with a handsome stranger with giraffe-like proportions. We didn't manage to speak to each other that night but years later found ourselves, by chance, working in the same office, became friends and many years later, to quote Jane Eyre, 'Reader, I married him'.

I have a very clear, detailed memory of the first time I spotted my husband and when his eyes met mine, it was like an electric shock jumped between us. But even then, as an overly romantic teenager, I would never have labelled it as love. Love, I believe, is like a good cup of tea - it needs time to brew.

Not that those first thunderbolts of attraction can't knock you for six and be life-changing. I've been reading just this week about a young couple who fell for each other while on holiday in Ibiza four years ago. Nothing extraordinary in that. The sun, sand and a wee glass or two of something bubbly can help Cupid's arrow fly faster and land harder than normal.

What was unusual with this story of romance is that the young woman only spoke English, the young man only spoke Italian but still they continued to not only date for the duration of their trip away on the party island but have managed to remain together ever since. A month after returning to their own countries, they realised that they had to be together, arranged to meet up on Ibiza once more and then took off as a couple, travelling the world.

After a few months globetrotting, they decided to set up home and set down roots. They initially stayed for two years with his family in southern Italy, in the beautiful city of Naples, a stone's throw from the crystal clear, deep blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea before moving to the slightly less glamorous, landlocked Wolverhampton in the West Midlands where her family are based.

Both can now have a passable conversation in the other's mother tongue but for the first few years they had to get by using a home-made sign language that they had devised, along with help from a translation app on their mobile phones making this a truly modern love story and one that, while not convincing me of love at first sight, certainly shows how strong an initial attraction can be, even when there are no shared words to back it up.

I have a friend who understands that initial attraction more than most. Cara and I have been pals for 20 years or more and in all that time she has never, by choice, had a relationship last longer than a year. She's a gorgeous, witty, wonderful girl but while, unlike me, she believes in love at first sight she's also as adamant about the fact that love doesn't have to be a one-off or a long-term thing.

She has always adored that feeling of a new romance - holding hands for the first time, feeling the butterflies in your stomach take flight and staying up all night to gaze into each other's eyes - and hates it when, as she sees it, a relationship becomes dull and predictable, when emotions change from bubbling over to simmering along nicely.

That normally happens around the 12 months mark in a relationship which is when she normally issues a 'Dear John' missive to her current beau.

Personally, I believe there's a lot to be said for the calmer, less dramatic life that a long term relationship brings. You couldn't pay me to swap the deep emotions of a long lasting relationship for those dizzying first pangs of passion.

True love, for me, is something that can only come through time, when you've spent months or even years with each other, come through good and bad events, witnessed the best and worst of your other half, but still can't imagine life without them.

Belfast Telegraph


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