My name is Charlotte (Larley, La, Lottie, Purple, Thunder Thighs (I have an ex boyfriend to thank for that one!)) Wilson. I don’t consider myself to be a writer, but I compose rock songs with lyrics attached, so I guess on some level, I must be!
I believe I am qualified to contribute to Project R, having experienced a fairly expansive spectrum of relationship-related emotion, from absolute despair to pure, undiluted, joyful love. I am grateful for the experience at both ends, as they made me who I am today and it’s all part of what this life has to offer.
I am in the process of creating a new human being at the moment, and so the music stuff is somewhat on pause, but if you would like to check out my past efforts, please do see my band’s soundcloud page: https://soundcloud.com/chilsonbones
1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? What constitutes a failed relationship? What about a successful one? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?
LL: “How often they suggest that past relationships are failures, rather than experiences that can offer both parties the gift of insight, as if because something was time-limited or brief or is no more, that it was not fulfilling or wonderful or an occasion to learn.”
CW: I’m inclined to agree with LL’s perspective on past relationships; they were all experiences that ultimately led me to an understanding of what I need from a partner and also what I wanted to give of myself. None of my past relationships, by very definition, were lifelong, but part of them all will be with me for my whole life, like little jewels in my personal crown of love.
* Number of jewels does not accurately reflect my personal number of past relationships… unless we’re counting the snogs!
2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship? Do you think there is something wrong with people who cannot or would not sustain long-term relationships?
CW: The majority of my past relationships were ended by me and I certainly did not consider myself a failure as I was ending them, but then I usually had the next one in my sights, like a line of man lily pads on a relationship pond (without ‘jumping’ on them until I was single, I hasten to add!). The shock came when I was dumped – I didn’t see it coming and the event changed me and my relationships forever. Ultimately for the better.
That experience took me a long time to get over, I can tell you. But, having crashed my car singing emphatically to ‘Perfect’, I took on Fairground Attraction’s advice and decided I only wanted to be in a relationship if it was right for me. This conclusion led to about 5 years of singledom that were equally glorious in their promiscuous, devil-may care, nature and horrendous in their moments of fear and self-doubt –
‘will I ever love again?’
‘have I lost my ability to love?’
‘what if what I’m looking for in a relationship simply doesn’t exist?’
‘what am I looking for anyway?’
I couldn’t commit, but did that make me strange or unnatural? I don’t think so; I felt more flawed when I was in the doomed relationship that set me off on down the single path in the first place. I believe you really do know if you’re in the wrong relationship, even whilst you’re in it, but that it takes strength to pull away if you’re in love or insecure. Thank goodness for me, I didn’t have to be strong to end it; he took that responsibility into his own hands and I am very, very grateful.
3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?
CW: Hmmm, tricky one for me to answer at the moment because, if I’m perfectly honest, the years since I met my husband have been the happiest of my life. But my goodness, I had some amazing fun in my single years. They gave me the space and freedom to pursue my own interests, develop incredible relationships with friends, make my own musical discoveries and best of all, said with unabashed corniness, find myself. I no longer felt that I had to compromise who I was to fit a man’s ideal type or expectations and it gave me the confidence to present myself to potential future partners with my own fully formed opinions and ideas for what I wanted for my future.
4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be ‘lacking’ something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?
CW: My romantic, ‘The Notebook’-loving self: surely I could never be as happy with anyone other than my husband. But then duh, I’m totally in love with my husband and I have him right here, so of COURSE I feel that way – I’d be getting divorced if I didn’t.
My realistic self: If I had met someone else who had similar life-aspirations as me and I had fallen in love with them and they had fallen in love with me… I could conceivably be as happy.
The thing is, having embraced the digital dating age, I practically downloaded my husband to personal specification. Armed with the aforementioned self-conviction and ever-present Fairground Attraction soundtrack, I joined a dating site:
6 foot or taller – tick (just)
Lives on the way to and from work, so I’ll actually get to see him – tick
Earns £££ and above – tick (he exaggerated, by the way)
Sense of humour demonstrated by picture of self wearing a pirate costume – tick
Does all of the above make my husband my soulmate? Of course not. But it made me predisposed to fall in love because it was likely from the offset that we were in a similar phase of life with common goals for both the immediate and distant future.
I sincerely wish for everyone to find someone as compatible to share their lives with as I feel my husband and I are together, if that is what they want from life. As a couple, we are more than just an antidote to loneliness; I look forward to seeing him every day, I enjoy talking to him, I fancy the pants off him and now it is painful to even think about the possibility of life without him… And I do believe that for each person, there are several versions of the above relationship available to find, if you’re honest with what you want from a relationship and what you’re willing to give in return.
5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself? What does self-love mean to you? To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?
CW: If everyone subscribed to the philosophy of having to love yourself before others can love you, I don’t believe any romantic relationship would exist. No one’s perfect and it’s often those who appear most self-assured that harbour the most self-doubt. The trick is to find someone who doesn’t nurture your insecurities or, even worse, use them against you.
Sadly, I have witnessed situations where self-doubt has led to destructive relationships – people convinced that they deserve anything less than mutual respect and enjoyment in each other. Hint: no one does. This situation is unfortunate and obviously less likely to happen to someone who is able to recognise that they should expect more. But perhaps there’s also an element of bad luck involved too – there’s no reason why someone who feels inadequate can’t find someone who makes them feel happy.
6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?
CW: For me personally, I wanted a husband, a home, a family. But I don’t for a second discount other’s ambitions and assume they are unfulfilled if they haven’t achieved my own objectives in life. OK, so the things that make me tick also happen to be the traditional and socially recognised milestones. But you know what, if I had become a rock star, perhaps I would have felt equally fulfilled in my life. I always felt it was either/or and that I had to do one or the other with all my passion and energy. Of course, I’ll never know. But I do know that I’m flippin’ lucky to have realised at least one of my life’s ambitions. Luck? Who knows – I did sign myself up to that dating site and it was I who ‘winked’ at my husband so I did create a fair bit of my own luck.
I say go forth – have a goal and pursue it with joyful anticipation. Fulfilment is surely about achieving what YOU want, whatever that may be.
7. On Interpersonal Skills. Are people in relationships simply better at ‘people skills’ than those who are not?
CW: Ooooh, interesting theory. But no. In my opinion, it’s all about finding the right person for your personality and lifestyle and aspirations. Or, if the case may be, actively not being in a relationship as a result. Perhaps if you’re not communicating those three things to yourself, it could make a relationship a bit tricky in the long term. Do these things need to be articulated to your partner? No, I don’t think so. We humans are mostly pretty instinctive and so if you’re not the chatty type, I don’t think there’s any need to panic.
8. On Project R. Do you think this a worthwhile project? In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of “relationships”? Feel free to add here any other thoughts you may have on the subject that was not covered by the above questions.
CW: Definitely a worthwile project. I am going to be so intrigued about other people’s take on the above questions. Life is quite a complicated thing when you add the human consciousness to the mix. Isn’t it wonderful to consider and share our personal interpretation of the whole adventure and see how others view it all from where they’re standing?