Reflection on Love: Questioning What We Think We Know and Feel
What is love and why are we so afraid of it, yet want it so bad? Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to love and have that love returned, but we look for it in the wrong places or we make the mistake of trying to look for it. Love is not something that you can search for or go on a quest for. Love is something unexpected. It’s pleasant serendipity when we find love when we aren’t looking for it.
We are the most lonely when we are looking for love, and we look for love when we are the most lonely. Many people mistake a remedy for loneliness with love. It could be infatuation or a fleeted sense of loneliness, and in rare cases, it could actually be love. Why do we look for love when we are the loneliest? Does love really repair loneliness, or do we just expect it to?
First off, what is love? It’s relative to each person that it meets. There are different types of love that have to do with varying degrees of affection and infatuation, but is it even possible to define it? We know it when we feel it, or at least we think we do. Feelings, in general, are a phenomenon. It is hard to ever truly tell how we feel. We feel like we’re in love, but never know for sure because we could just be blinded by how things are going in life. For instance, two people could be in an unhealthy relationship, but neither person could want to end it. The two become comfortable with their unhappiness or assume that things will go back to the wonder of a newly sprouted relationship. They become complacent with where they are, whether the current situation is one they want to be in or not. Happiness itself is hard to tell when one is feeling it in the moment. Happiness is something that is noticed after it has dissipated, and all that’s left is a sense of apathy or sadness.
So, is love something we can define only after we’ve been in it? Maybe so, but then how could we ever tell if we are currently in love with someone? We can judge someone’s ability to help us achieve happiness and use that as justification for being in love. We can also use conversation and the simplistic enjoyment of spending time with someone as the justification for loving them. We can use the fact that simply being around a certain someone makes us better people as justification for loving them. We have all these factors that can play a part in justifying loving someone, but we cannot define love. Maybe love is just something that isn’t meant to be defined.
It doesn’t take someone who has been in love before to know that he or she is in love. The heart has a way of telling a person that the feelings for someone have developed past the sense of infatuation or a general likeness. The difference between love and infatuation is that when X person is infatuated with Y person, X person thinks Y person is perfect, without any flaws whatsoever. Love is understanding that someone has flaws and imperfections, even if those haven’t been identified yet, but still holding those unwavering feelings for them. It is then up to the person to be able to separate emotions and thoughts away from feelings. We can think we love someone and be happy with someone, but not actually love them. How is one to separate these three components of the human intellect and soul?
I have always believed in balance, and I always will. It is not like me to think it necessary to separate parts of the person, because that creates division and effectively hinders the ability to have balance. But for someone to be able to feel that he or she is truly in love, he needs to separate his heart from his mind and soul. The soul is where emotions come from, the mind is where rational thought comes from, and the heart is where feelings stem. Yes, this creates division, but the first step to balance is division.
One needs to be able to differentiate the three parts of the self in order to live in harmony with all three. In order to understand oneself better, the parts need to first be broken down and understood individually. Each person is different, and everyone already has an ability to perform one or two of the three components of the self at a high level. To “perform” is to be able to actively know and understand how one feels, thinks, or loves in the moments that require one to feel, think, or love. Analytically driven people are more likely to be able to think naturally, while a person who follows the heart are more likely to be able to love and/or feel naturally.
To love someone is to first know the self. People can say they love someone as much as they want, but actually loving and saying it are two completely different things. To actually love is to be able to vacate the notion or possibility that you think or feel that you love them and only be left with the heart. At that point, if the heart cries love, then it is love. Then it is okay to think and feel that you love someone. Why do we want it so bad, though, and yet are still so afraid of it? That’s simple. Here's why.
We want love so bad because it encompasses the three parts of the self. It allows us to use all of the self and share it with someone else and for them to do the same in return. Many people cannot fully enact the three parts of the self without being motivated or given the opportunity to do so. Sometimes people bring out the ability to enact the three parts in someone. Other times, people have had the ability the whole time but never the motivation.
We are afraid of love because when we enact all three parts of the self, we allow ourselves to be completely and utterly vulnerable with the person we love. We are more willing to tell them things about ourselves that we judge ourselves for and trust them not to judge us. We tell them our darkest secrets and trust them not to tell. We tell them our goals, dreams, ambitions, struggles, fantasies, and anything else that means anything to us. We give the people we love all the ammunition in the world to hurt us and trust them not to fire and blow us away.
We can’t go looking for love because we can’t be open and vulnerable with just anyone. We can try, and we can tell them all about ourselves, but there’s a difference between spewing off information about goals, dreams, ambitions, struggles, etc. and being an open book and letting your emotions of how each moment or dream or struggle has impacted us. When we look for love, we do nothing but put ourselves through more pain and more struggle. Looking for love significantly decreases the chances of falling in love and significantly increases the chances of becoming attached or infatuated with someone who doesn’t feel the same way.
When we are lonely, it’s instinct to want to find a cure for it. We want something to fill the void that is our loneliness. Love can cure our loneliness, but only when we actually love. We are loneliest when we look for love and when we look for love we are our loneliest. Just having someone around to talk to or be intimate with doesn’t cure loneliness. It can be counterproductive and actually strengthen the feeling of loneliness because if we spend time with someone and start spewing off information or being intimate with them, we either aren’t fulfilled or they don’t care. There is a very high possibility of both, as well.
1. Don't search for love; let it find you.
2. Guard your heart -- don't let just anyone in.
3. Love and infatuation are not the same.
4. Don't try to define love; feel it.
5. Trust in your heart, but don't just let your emotions steer you. Use your mind and soul, too.
6. Above all else, do not be afraid to put down your walls and love the right person.