Love has less to do with your feelings than you think; in fact, love is about what you do and not how you feel. It could be said that love is perfected when you do something loving despite how you feel.
In non-romantic relationships, we understand this perfectly. We can understand how you may not always have the warm fuzzies for your children, but you still feed and clothe them, still keep them safe and try to raise them well. You know your parents love you because they care for you (or know they don’t love you because they don’t, which is, unfortunately, the reality of some). You know your parents love you because they go to jobs they hate in order to provide for you, do what’s best for you instead of what they really want to do. Loving sacrifice is something that most people automatically assume into the role of parenting (though less so now than in times past).
Think about all of the friends and family members you love. Some of them irk your nerves, but you still deal with them. They borrow money you never get back or get an attitude and stop speaking to you for no apparent reason. When they go through hard times, we try to be there for them, even though the last thing we want to do is hear another woe is me story. No matter how much they frustrate and disappoint us, no matter how many people tell us to just let the relationship go, that they aren’t worth it, we keep loving them. Here, again, sacrificial love goes with the territory.
How, then, does love become all about me and how I feel when we discuss romantic love? How come, all of a sudden, I have to feel a certain way? I could say it’s because I’m not related to this person by blood, but I’m not related to my ne’er do well friend, either, and yet it doesn’t seem to be as hard to love her/him (action) even when I don’t feel like it.
Here’s the thing: with romantic love, their are these initial feelings involved they allow us to become attached to this person. These feelings are infatuation, mostly. They come about because of chemistry and mutual attraction. The way you look is attractive to me. All of that is great; it’s natural. But it’s not love.
Love is one of those tricky words that can be a noun or a verb. Love can be an idea (noun–like liberty). But when we talk about loving someone, we are talking about a verb, an action. As far as I know, love is not a state of being verb, which is a verb used when a noun or pronoun is not taking action but just is. No, love is an action verb; it’s something you do. So of course it irks me when people say they aren’t in love anymore; were you ever in love?
Love is a decision, a conscious decision that you have to make over and over. The feelings we like to think of as love ebb and flow. Peforming the actions of love can influence the feelings we think of as love if we are consistent in our actions. Just like our love for our children, family members, and friends, the love we have for the romantic partners we choose should be motivated by more than just feelings. We have a bond with this person that we have committed ourselves to growing and protecting. There are times when it’s easy, and times when it takes more effort. There are times when what our partner wants isn’t what they need. We have to love in a way that teaches, that shows affection, and that grows our bond.
Love is a commitment that you enter into by choice. It’s not something that overwhelms you and manhandles you how it wants to. We would love to believe that, because it makes us exempt when we are no longer happy with the person we chose to commit ourselves to; we can simply “fall out of love.” The whirlwind has passed and we are back to our senses. Meddlesome love, always making us fall in love with the wrong people and commit ourselves to bad relationships. It’s not my bad choice; I just can’t help it.
I don’t mean to sound condescending or rude. I think love is powerful. There isn’t a more powerful force in the world. But if the only love you have is the love you feel, that’s not going to be powerful enough to sustain any relationship. I love writing, but if I only wrote when I felt like inspired, when I had the warm fuzzies, I’d never finish a piece. I love writing, but it involves a lot of hard work. I sometimes wonder if it’s worth the effort. But just before I give up, the right sentence or phrase brings back that loving feeling. I can’t subsist on that feeling, though. Love isn’t the feeling; it’s what keeps us moving until the feeling comes round again.
Anyway, bottom line: Love is a decision, a choice. If I had to use a definition, I’d use the definition of poety: an outflowing of emotion recollected in tranquility. The feelings are a part of it, but love is so much more. It’s about commitment, action, and common purpose and goals.
That’s my two cents anyway. Leave yours in the comments section, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Romantic Love is a Myth. I Don’t Believe in it. Here is why… (kadja1.com)
- Friendship, timing key differences between US, Eastern European love (eurekalert.org)
- A call to illegalize romantic love in the Philippines (happyperdition.wordpress.com)
- What does love mean to you? (thebloggingpath.com)