27 July 2007

The Nature of Love, Part 1, Falling in Love

You meet someone for the first time. You immediately feel attracted. You're at your best witty, clean, as good as you will ever be. So is the other. Over time you find topics, activities, and friends of mutual interest. Everything seems right. It is right. You are in love.

You continue seeing each other, and your lives become more intertwined, and finally you decide to make it all official and form a lifetime bond based on love.

You would do anything for each other. Your emotions are incredibly intense. Your love knows no bounds.

In the book The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck devotes an entire section to the topic of Love. It's probably not what you think it is though.

He starts out by defining Love, then talks about what Love is not.

Many of us will be disappointed to know that it is not what we feel when we go through the scenario described above.

Here's what Peck says:
"Of all the misconceptions about love, the most powerful and pervasive is the belief that falling in love is love..."

He goes on to say that falling in love has two really important characteristics. First, there is a sexual attraction part of it; we don't fall in love with our children or our buddies, it has to be someone we are sexually attracted to. Second, invariably the feeling of being in love is temporary. The honeymoon ends. We stop idealizing our partner. This always happens. The "feeling" goes away.

I think that falling in love is a chemical and emotional response to the stimulus of being loved by another. Being the absolute center of their attention. It is amazingly powerful while it lasts. It's no wonder that when it ends, we break the relationship and move on to the next one.

Reality always intrudes on the unity of two people who have fallen in love. They begin to reassert themselves and do what it is that they need and want. They fall out of love. At this point, they either dissolve their ties, or they begin the work of real love.

In the graphic to the left, two people were on near parallel paths. They hooked up and "fell in love"--sharing their lives, goals, and hopes. What will happen when the honeymoon ends though? Will they continue on their previous sub-parallel courses or continue together in the same direction.

In many cases, maybe too many, the two people resume their original trajectories or perhaps something different, but, sadly, without the other.

It's Not Hopeless Though

If all couples lose that lovin' feeling, how do people stay together then? If falling out of love is inevitable, what can people do to stay together? What is love, if it's not that feeling? That is the subject of the Nature of Love, Part 2.

On to The Nature of Love, Part 2, Staying in Love >>>>>

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