I was thinking about love tonight, and had so many thoughts I had to start writing them down just to open up more room in my head. This has happened before. Tonight’s entry clarifies and expands on that other one from one year ago. I reread the old one and was pleased at how the two entries complement each other. Taken together, I think the two of them explain fully my philosophy on love.
Here’s what I wrote tonight.
My theory on love
I have a theory about love that I formulated several years ago, and in the time that has elapsed since then I have only remained convinced of its strength. It sounds insufferably smug, I know, but I do believe it bears thinking about.
I believe that if you love someone for all the right reasons, and if he or she also loves for the right reasons, then your love is bound to be reciprocal.
In other words, I believe that if someone is right for you, then you will also be right for them. Whether this extends as far as believing that there is only one soulmate for each person, I haven’t yet determined, but I suspect it doesn’t. [See old entry for my thoughts on this.]
Anyway, given this theory, the question we now have to ask ourselves is, “What are the right reasons for loving someone?”
I don’t know if I can tell you that. I don’t know if I will ever be able to tell anyone that. But I can tell you some of the wrong reasons.
The wrong reasons
One. Falling in love because he fills a need in your life. For example, you have just moved to a new place and your friends are all far away, and you see him twice a week and he is an excellent conversationalist.
This is closely related to: falling in love because of convenience.
Two. Falling in love because of certain qualities you think he has. Say, he occasionally mentions symphony concerts he attended, and you build up a whole daydream about how he’s the sensitive, perceptive, music-lover type, and how you will buy season subscriptions and enjoy the concerts together.
We have all done this.
Later you will find out he was dragged there by his mother when he was eleven and forced to take violin lessons.
Or by a gorgeous ex who was also trying to mold him into the sensitive, perceptive, music-lover mold.
The above reason is particularly poignant when you are already in a relationship and believe you might be falling for someone else. “My boyfriend doesn’t like to go to the symphony, but X has mentioned several concerts! I should ditch the boyfriend and go with X!” (See above for why this is a wrong reason for pursuing a relationship with X.)
Three. Falling in love because he is unlike anyone else in your life and you are thrilled by the novelty. (See Two.)
Four. Falling in love because he is so intense and earnest and passionate. (See Three and Two.)
Five. Falling in love because you think he will change and drop his bad habits. (See Two.)
Six. Settling for someone because you “could do worse.” The proper attitude is: “Could I do better?” If the answer to that question is “yes” or anything even approaching “yes,” such as “maybe,” then that is a wrong reason for being with the person in question.
Of course, a big problem with this list is that almost everyone you will fall in love with will, at least at first, fall into at least one of these categories: he fills some need in your life, he is always nearby, he has certain qualities you like, he is unlike anyone else in your life, and he is so intense and passionate. The thing to watch out for is the disillusionment that comes with time, when you begin to make realizations such as the one about his mother dragging him to the symphony. As these illusions are peeled away, gradually, one of two things will happen. Either you will realize that he is no longer interesting, or you will realize with a little bit of resignation and casting-away of daydreams that even though he no longer seems like the answer to all your prayers, there is still something there that is strong and passionate and wonderful, that you can mesh with and hold on to for years to come. Now if it’s the first case, and the illusions were what made the man (in your eyes), you should drop him, as soon as you can. If it’s the second, there are still two possibilities for the future. One is that you can no longer be lovers, but you will have a dear friend for life. The other is that the future holds something a bit more than friendship for you two—
and I guess—
I have just figured out what are the right reasons for loving someone, whether as a friend or as a partner. So I take back what I said earlier, about never being able to explain it.
This, then, is the right reason for loving someone.
The right reason
even after you have lost all your illusions about this person’s perfect, noble, passionate nature–
even after you have discovered all his weird fussy icky habits and gotten grossed out by them–
instead of turning away, you resign yourself to the bad habits and the more human aspects of his character, and recognize him for what he is, and you still love him and want to be with him and take pleasure in his company–
and he fits with all the funny sticky-out and sticky-in bits on the edges of the puzzle piece that is you, until the two of you blend together into something much bigger and better than you were alone–
then you are truly in love for the right reasons.
[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]
love as a choice
for the most part i share your sentiments, lisa 🙂
i understand love as a choice. this is corroborated by evidence that neurotransmitters associated with passionate affection released into the bloodstream tend to decrease in intensity over time (meaning the emotional responses to “being in love” are only temporal and fade with time; i read this in an article this week)
love is a choice – to remain commited to the other while humanly possible, and to put their interests/well-being before your own. it is not necessarily the desire for or admiration of certain qualities of the other person, but perhaps instead a recognition that our desires ought not be the center of our lives – that it remains important for us to share that position with others
in other words – as we live and make our decisions, is it our love for ourselves that drives who we are or our affection for the object of our love instead?
i therefore dont think there is such thing as having a wrong reason to love, since love to me means being selfless – and i dont see any err in that notion. instead, a different way of posing the question is “is there a wrong reason to promote an individual to an exalted place in our lives?” and frankly, i think the answer is yes – for all of the reasons you’ve named and many others im sure. in an ideal world, perhaps we could all love each other. that would be nice, wouldnt it? 🙂