What is true love, and does it still exist?
As the divorce rate in America hovers around 50 percent, true love may seem like a fiction from a Hollywood film. One man determined to find the truth quit his job recently and set out on a quest across the country to document the power of modern love.
Nate Bagley's "Lovumentary Project" began in 2012 when he started recording podcasts of interviews with real couples for his website and later paired up with journalist Melissa Joy Kong, who shared the same thirst for answers. The two set out on a road trip in 2013 to find the greatest love stories of our time, interviewing more than 100 couples whose tear-jerking tales have been turned into podcast episodes, video footage and a forthcoming book.
“My hope was that through talking to these couples, some patterns would emerge ... or that I would at least get some pro tips on how to have a successful long-term relationship for myself down the road. I was not prepared for the world that I was about to discover, or amazing stories I was about to be exposed to,” Bagley wrote on Reddit about his project. “I've interviewed gay couples, straight couples, rich couples, poor couples, religious couples, atheist couples, couples who have been together for a short time, and couples who have been together for over 70 years. I've even interviewed couples in arranged marriages and polygamous couples."
Bagley also took some time to answer Reddit users' questions last Thursday, sharing some of the knowledge he gained about successful relationships.
Here are six pearls of wisdom he learned from real couples in America:
Make Memories Every Day
"The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection, or create a fun memory are the couples who shattered my perception of what was possible in a loving relationship."
Never Stop Growing
"I learned that a long-term relationship isn't about making you happy. It's about personal growth. To put it overly simply, the happiness that we all desire is a result of overcoming challenges and obstacles together and experiencing the thrills of victory and achievement."
Take 10 Seconds
"It's a matter of changing how we think. For example: Instead of asking, 'How was your day?' at the end of every day, try asking a question that proves you actually care about the answer. 'What made you laugh the hardest today?' or 'Was there a point today when you felt alone?' or 'What was your biggest personal victory today?'
"One couple made it a goal that whenever they kiss goodbye, their kiss will last longer than 10 seconds. They are committed to keeping that romantic passion alive in their relationship ... and all it takes is 10 seconds."
Argue Naked If It Helps
"A huge number of couples talked about how they didn't fight against each other. I mean, if you're in love, you should be playing for the same team. Your goal should be to resolve the issue, not to emerge victorious over the love of your life ... and let's be honest, you just feel guilty when you win anyway.
"Seriously. Don't be a jerk. Don't call names. Don't take jabs. Don't try to hurt the other person. Argue naked if it helps."
Love The Most
“One woman in Georgia gave some pretty amazing advice. She and her husband have been married for over 60 years, and after being asked what her best relationship advice would be, she paused and said ... 'Don't be afraid to be the one who loves the most.'"
"This quote from this interview was the exact moment that I experienced that feeling [of seeing what true love really looks like]:
"'At the end of Ty’s life, I want him to be able to say, "Terri was the greatest earthly blessing in my life -- the best thing that ever happened to me -- and that I’m a better man because of how she loved me." And that’s the goal that I live with every day. That’s how I want to love this man.'"
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Nate Bagley's name. It has been corrected.