I Believe In Love
What has happened to Nicole? She is in love. In her mind, Dave is the most wonderful man she has ever met: he is perfect in every way, he will make the ideal husband, and she thinks about him day and night. The fact that Dave has had one solid job in the past year is trivial to Nicole. She’s happy, and she is convinced that she is going to be with Dave forever.
I believe in love when we meet someone whose physical characteristics and personal traits create enough electrical shock to trigger our love alert system. The bells go off, and we set in motion the process of getting to know the person. The first step may be sharing a hamburger or steak, depending on our budget, but our real interest is not in the food. We are on a quest to discover love: Could this warm, tingly feeling I have inside be the real thing?
If the tingles are stronger after the hamburger, we arrange for a few more together experiences, and before long the level of intensity has increased to the point where we find ourselves saying, “I think I’m in love.” We start talking about marriage because most agree that being in love is the necessary foundation for a good marriage.
At its peak, the experience is exhilarating. We are emotionally obsessed with each other, we go to sleep thinking of one another, rise with that person first on our minds, and long to be together. Spending time together is like dining in heaven. When we hold hands, it seems as if our blood flows together. We could kiss forever if we didn’t have to go to school or work.
The person in love has the illusion that her beloved is perfect. Her mother can see the flaws: and says, “Darling, have you considered he has been financially unsecured?” But she replies, “Oh, Mom, give me a break. He’s been trying and Dad gave him a higher paying job.” Her friends also can see the flaws but are not likely to tell her unless she asks, and chances are she won’t because he is perfect and what others think doesn’t matter.
Those of us who have been in love and out of love will likely agree that the experience does catapult us into emotional orbit unlike anything else we have experienced. It tends to disengage our reasoning abilities, and we often find ourselves doing and saying things that we would never have done in more sober moments. In fact, when we come down from the emotional obsession we often wonder why we did those things.
Dave and I are trying to still pursue the kind of love that is emotional by nature but not obsessional. It is a love that unites reason and emotion. It involves an act of the will and requires discipline, and it recognizes the need for personal growth. Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to genuinely be loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct.
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