Falling in Love vs. Choosing to Love

May 16, 2012

The idea of “falling in love” has probably been popularized by the nature of experiences that have been justified by a feeling of “happiness.” Because the most immediately pleasurable part of a romantic/sexual relationship between two people is apparently infatuation, this passion has been equated with love or valued as the best part of a relationship. Consequently, the term “falling in love” insinuates a passive stance, so responsibility for one’s state of being in love is displaced—at the cost of deeper worth.

If love is defined by a fleeting passion, does the love then dissipate once infatuation ends? If you stick with the notion that passion defines “being in love”, love for another must at least diminish once the phase ends. Furthermore, if love is involuntary, it is no more significant than any psychological coincidence. This makes love devoid of any significant meaning. Humans are separated from animals greatly by free will and reason. If a rush of endorphins and oxytocin is love’s main factor, the whole thing is a charade. It’s little more than a biological event, a pleasurable chemical reaction which humans are prone to. No more meaningful than stepping on a nail and signals traveling from the nerves in the foot to the brain to be interpreted as pain.

If love has anything worth pursuing long-term, it must require more than lust or passion. It must necessitate a higher level of commitment, which is a choice. And it must consist of a choice to pursue something the person decides is of a value greater than emotional pleasure. It seems most reasonable that a couple together after many years, especially with many internal and external difficulties, have proven the most love for one another. But ironically, young love is the most fawned over. Looks like that says something about the priorities of people in this society.

Which definition of love is more valuable: an intersection of bliss and excitement you fall into, or a choice?


4 Responses to “Falling in Love vs. Choosing to Love”

  1. Daniel Says:

    I believe that we have misdefined the term “love.” Love seeks for the betterment of another, often at our own sacrifice. Love delights in other’s happiness and growth. When a passionate couple separates, their sadness isn’t from “love” but from their own selfish desire for their own lost pleasure. That initial chemical high that comes with infatuation is like any other high, and it produces a need for its continuation.

    I’ve been sick, near death. I was loved when I was disfigured, when I was afraid, and when I had nothing to give. That is real love, and it was not pleasurable. It was all pain. Love is a choice, and most choose not to make it.

    • I used to have a problem with the word “selfless” in describing love. It’s a misleading word in some cases, because it makes it sound as though the self doesn’t have worth and you should disregard it. Seemed to me if you pretend to not have a self you can’t love someone with it. But then I realized that’s not the meaning. The point is loving a person when you gain nothing from it is proof of love; its your demonstration of recognizing their worth. If you love someone and gain nothing, clearly you did it for desire for their well-being or you wouldn’t have done it.

      You probably hear “I’m sorry” when people hear about your experience, but I’m glad for you having real love. It’s rare.

  2. Joël Says:

    Right. This is something I realized at a very young age, then forgot later, and then remembered again. The sad thing is that most people do not understand this at all. And Hollywood doesn’t help! Exploring sexuality with this understanding should be at the root of all spiritual and religious endeavors. Even Jesus said, “If two make peace with each other in a single house, they will say to the mountain, ‘Move from here!’, and it will move.” But real peace is an active thing, not the artificial peace that arises out of the animal program of hormonal changes, which once it is done says “okay this babe is boring, where else can I plant my seed?”. Free love is slavery to animal instincts. Voluntary love is divine.

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