Love Is A Decision, Not An Accident: Why We're Going About Love All Wrong
I never really bought the idea of "finding love." It’s closely tied with the idea of love at first sight. You meet someone and you fall in love, hence finding the love. Yet, I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard anyone say they fell in love at first sight. Sure, on TV and in movies, it happens all the time, but have you ever heard anyone tell you that they personally fell in love at a first glance? And if that person has, was it still love three years later?
There clearly are people that believe themselves to be in love at first sight, or at least claim to be; however, it rarely ends up working out. Yes, people fall in and out of love all the time, but that’s only because people believe that love is something to be found – a tangible thing that exists as an entity on its own. That it’s something that can be lost just as easily as it was found.
This is such a sad definition of love. How can true love, something that is supposed to be the most beautiful, most perfect thing in the world, be so faulty? This definition of love makes love fickle and therefore imperfect. Logically, this can’t be the correct definition. Love can’t both be the most beautiful, and if the ancient Greek philosophers were right, therefore perfect thing in the world and simultaneously be flawed. Our definition of love is contradictory and, for this reason, wrong. We’ve been going about romantic love all wrong since the day romantic love was invented.
This is probably where we should start. How is it that romantic love didn’t always exist? It certainly isn’t because romantic love naturally existed, but people simply couldn’t find a word for it. And it wasn’t that people were never able to "find" it. No. It didn’t exist until the day that we invented it, until the day that we created it. Love was never and is never found; it is only created. Love doesn’t exist unless we allow it to exist.
A few hundred years back (and even much more recently than that) marriage was basically a transferal of property – it was a strategic play that ensured your family's wealth or, at the very least, decreased the likelihood of your family starving to death. Marriage back then was a necessity – you needed to partner up to survive the world and you needed to follow whatever religion was forced upon you, which, of course, required you to get married, procreate and give birth to future followers. Not until people doubled their life expectancy and raised their standard of living did they decide that there should be more to marriage than just a business transaction.
This all seems foreign to us because love does feel like the most natural thing in the world – it feels like nature itself. I’d argue that love is the most natural thing in the world. As animals, living creatures, we are capable of loving. However, romantically loving is a whole different story. Romantic love is love with a twist. What’s the twist? The twist is all that our consciousness does to change the way that we perceive what we are experiencing. Our minds have either evolved or grown accustomed to the concept of romantic love.
Maybe it’s because we see it throughout our lives everywhere we look, in every crevice of pop culture. Maybe it’s because our minds now understand that romantic love is the highest possible level of perfection that one could ever achieve – something that combines the purity of love with the raw passion of physical sexuality. Or maybe it’s because we know that it’s achievable. We know that our minds can create it and make us feel it and because we know how great it feels, we yearn to experience it constantly.
Just because romantic love exists only in our minds doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. In fact, it’s just as real as anything else that we experience. We experience the outside world through our senses and emotions. Likewise, we experience love through our senses and emotions. There is no difference between what we experience as real and what we would experience were we to be hallucinating – in fact, that’s what love basically is: a hallucination. And it’s the best damn hallucination people could hope to never rid themselves of.
You don’t find love, you hallucinate it – you create it in your mind. So guess how you keep the love alive? By continuing to hallucinate. You don’t allow your mind to stop loving. This is easy early on when we have less information about a person and fewer memories with them. Great memories and thoughts will continue to keep the illusion of romantic love alive, but bad experiences, bad thoughts and bad memories will make you incapable of seeing that person under the same light, and therefore incapable of loving them.
Of course, our minds can do just about anything. The problem is controlling them. You can make yourself continue believing that you are in love, but how easy or difficult that will be depends on how easy or difficult your relationship makes it for you. The best of relationships are those that function well and only require each individual putting his or her ego aside and focusing on the needs of the other.
The less than great relationships have a lot of problems that result in unhappy memories, which will affect thoughts and decision-making. A lot of which we perceive is out of our control. Mix that in with the fact that people make poor decisions from time to time and aren’t infallible creatures, you get romantic relationships that die out.
It’s rather quite tricky because although our definition of romantic love encompasses perfection, we, as creatures, are inherently flawed. Therefore, whenever we find ourselves in love, the love itself will also be flawed. It will never reach that perfect state. That is why if we want to stay in love, we have to aim for that perfect loving relationship regardless of how many times we fail.
We have to understand that the ideal love doesn’t exist, but refuse to settle for anything less. As long as we understand that we don’t find love, but that we create it we can always make love work. Love is a decision, not an accident. Choose to love and then refuse to let it slip away.