02 March 2010

Lesson #14: Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice.

This post seems kind of appropriate in the wake of the Bachelor finale, which made me just feel cynical (and I wasn't even watching).  But those sorts of programs perpetuate a myth that's really damaging, as a whole.  That love is magical, two people are meant to be, that being in love is this incredible thing that words cannot describe, where birds fly around and daisies spring out of your poop.

Don't even get me started on the concept of Soulmates.

Love is amazing, but not in that way.

There are lots of feelings that can come into play when two people become close.  A lot of them are physical, like attraction, lust, infatuation, or that euphoria.  There's also a boost of confidence, a better sense of well-being, happiness.  At least, these are things I've felt - I'm sure it's different for everyone.  But the feelings that people most often associate with love, the emotions, are not the solid foundation of a good, healthy, adult relationship.  Love is built on trust, and on the choice to be with and honor that person, every day, in the choices you make and the actions you commit.

Doesn't sound quite so romantic, does it?

But this is important.  Feelings change.  I truly, truly believe that people can and should carry them, in some form, through a life-long relationship.  Someone should still lust after their spouse twenty years post-marriage.  Hearts should beat a little faster.  There should be euphoria.  But it changes.  It doesn't lesson, or become worse - it's just different.

If anything, I think it becomes better.  Because while it might be fun to be in that whirl-wind, bachelor/bachelorette romance, there's a deep satisfaction, a sense of fulfillment, that goes with knowing you share your life with someone who loves you, and makes the choice to love you.  The people in that relationship can trust, wholly, and grow together, because both are working toward the same thing.  And both know that the other is making choices in a way that will help the two of them.  They've become sometime better, together.  Not in a co-dependent way, but in a conscious, active way.  I'd take that any day over the bushels of roses, the flowy dress, and the fifteen carat diamond.  

And that's the amazing part.  The commitment to each other.  The trust, which is really, really hard sometimes.  The patience, which is even harder.

So this lesson has been about how my view of relationships has changed since I was a teenager.  I'm pretty happy about that.

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