Love is more than a Feeling
Valentine’s Day approaches, and with it, the mandate for romance writers everywhere to address the holiday of amore. So even though I am a pragmatist of the worst sort, I’ll give it a whirl and try and remain positive.
But first, questions.
Why, if true love is our ultimate goal and our reason for existence, have we decided one day to celebrate would suffice? Shouldn’t it be reversed? Instead, shouldn’t we be using February 14th to address our less-than-stellar emotions and thank our lucky stars the other 364 days we exist are saturated in love? Are we afraid to feel good more often?
I don’t have the answers, but with those imponderables out of the way, we can get to the good stuff. And doesn’t falling in love feel like the best stuff on earth? Joy fills your entire being, and nothing gets you down. Somehow being tired and overworked loses all meaning. Instead, you’re energized and alive for the first time, even when it’s your fifth, tenth, or hundredth time falling.
You always have time to check in, chat, or create scenarios with you showing up wherever they might be. It’s no problem driving twenty miles out of your way to bring snookums their favorite cup of coffee at work. You’ll get off the train two stops early so you can walk by their corner office and catch a glimpse. (None of this in a stalker way, with your respectful intentions. You’re in love!) They hang on your every word and find you so darn interesting!
They hang on your every word and find you so darn interesting!
Birdsong overrides the sound of traffic. Everything reminds you of your heart’s desire.
They hung the moon and stars and probably had something to do with harps, heaven, and angel song.
But as time passes, normality returns after the dopamine surge crests and recedes, and it’s not long before you notice things. The way he smacks his lips and picks his teeth after eating steak and potatoes when you’re a vegetarian. How she helps herself to the last beer when it’s your refrigerator. He forgets to text back with a heart emoji. She stops matching her bra and underwear on date night. He fails to hold the door for you, and grabbing it makes you tear a freshly manicured nail down to the quick to prevent getting smacked in the face.
We should probably stop there.
She... We can stop there. You get the point. The drop in the hormone level we conjured as love has been replaced with real life and routine. A fork in the road rises in front of you. You can embrace that you’ve moved into another phase in the relationship, one with the potential to be more profound and satisfying, or you start the downward spiral, slow or fast, towards breaking up.
It's just conditioning.
We’ve been tricked into believing that our “forever” - husband, wife, committed partner - was sent to bring out the best in us. It sounds better than the fact that the opposite is much closer to the truth.
You matched up very precisely, as you chose a person based on what I call “Your own level of fuckeduptedness.” (It’s a word. I made it.) Suppose you were raised to recognize your wholeness (we’re all whole at birth, but taking physical form fragments us for our specific journey. Experiences and other people often exacerbate this). In that case, you will choose someone who is also whole. Your relationship will undoubtedly be peaceful and pleasant, and your happiness will be as fleeting as anyone else’s.
A gold standard, but not typical.
What about the rest of us?
Generally speaking, we don’t identify as complete, so we seek the person who complements this mental state to “awaken,” if you will.
In effect, the “one” wasn’t picked so we can live in constant joy and incredulity but to poke at the parts that need growth, healing, and change. It’s a gift, but if you don’t know this and you continue to hold tight to the fairy tale ending, the relationship stagnates, turns resentful and cold, and likely will end in short or long-term separation.
Get ready to sweat.
Long-term relationships are a lot of work, and expecting them to be consistently happy further sets them up for failure. The narrative of the happily-ever-after is no longer serving humanity. Perhaps we could tweak it closer to “I’m willing to move towards health and wholeness beside you, through pain, trial, and upset by using forgiveness, compassion, and understanding. Because together, we’re stronger than apart.”
Life is a journey inviting us to unify with ourselves, so if you both still grow individually and as a couple, you’re nailing it within the confines of a long-term relationship. If you’re happy-ish to boot, you’re feeling the love more days than once per year.
Happy Valentine's Day! ♥️