Rationally Loving

Erin - Wallingford, Vermont
Entered on November 12, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: love
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Cozy in bed, anticipating sleep, I discussed love with the man I will marry. My head on his arm, I told him, thinking it romantic, that I loved him rationally.

“Well, that’s sad,” he replied, eyes closed.

“No, it’s not. I love you for all the right reasons.”

“Where’s the warm glow? Sounds like a checklist for compatibility.”

“What’s wrong with that? Don’t you have reasons for loving me?” I was getting upset.

“No, I love you totally irrationally.” His eyes remained closed.

“Well, I don’t. My intellect chooses you, not just my emotions.”

“Ah,” he sighed. “There’s no love in love!” And he kissed my cheek and fell asleep. It wasn’t meant to be insulting or confrontational; it was simply a statement of difference. He sees love as an irrational faith and prayer, deeper than characteristics and motivated by feeling. I look at love as one of the most important choices I can make, and I’m not about to forsake my intelligence in the matter.

It sounds cold, I know. Have I rationalized the love out of love? How did I become so rational?

I trace it to Philosophy 101. There I was confronted with an amazing thought—we are but a combination of genetics and conditioning, complex systems put into motion at birth. Perhaps true free choice is but an illusion! It was a terrifying idea until I realized it could be reassuring. Life, as chaotic as it seems, is actually systematically laid out, and if we could read the patterns, we would see how we come to make every choice.

Life was just like that children’s book my mother read to me. The journeying little girl came to a maze and asked her turtle, that could tell the future, whether she would make it through safely. The turtle replied, “yes.” So she ran. She ran through the maze taking turns at random, confident she would arrive in the right place.

Now I began confidently running through my maze. I experimented with the highs and lows of love. I even valued moments of despair for their educational value. I learned that falling in love isn’t enough. Despite Hollywood depictions, I don’t believe love can overcome everything. Values and spiritual beliefs will either bring people closer or tear them apart. I prefer not to choose between my identity and love. I don’t want to “suffer love” as Beatrice and Benedick did.

I believe in falling in love for rational reasons. I can list the qualities I admire about the man sleeping beside me that give me the confidence to allow my love to grow. This judiciousness doesn’t lessen my love. There is always a “why” to love, even if it comes down to just a biological attraction. I may be more self-aware about my loving, but that simply comes from my rational character. Ultimately, he and I are both honest when we say we are right for each other; we just have slightly different ways of looking at it.