I never will be one. I don’t quite understand the sinews of a lover. As a matter of fact, I understand nothing of a lover. Why a person loves is beyond me. Why a person stays in love, is something I raise my eyebrow to, while others raise a toast. Why a person falls out of love baffles me more so. Let me look at love as I get to see it in this world (other-worldly love is a moot point). Does it cause even a ripple if I tell you that I was stupidly involved in the composition of an essay going with the title “What is love?” at a ridiculous age of 17? I hope I have grown out of my silliness.
Love, a decision:
Psychiatrists, psychologists, biologists and other-ists believe that love is this little state of confusion which precedes another little state where a man and woman wish to mate. Technically, one wouldn’t require love for that. A million men might want to “mate” with Carmen Electra without loving her (and the same might be for her). If mating = “mate”+procreate then we have a possible case … which just fell off. Sorry! No case.
Love, to me, is a decision. One has a (sub)conscious checklist of what one seeks in a partner (of any sex). It is unlikely that a woman who has “a decent man” on her list would fall in love with a foul mouthing, belching brute (unless if she had not put in enough thought into the need for that want). Would a man be attracted towards a confident and perhaps domineering woman if he would like a nice obedient young girl for his mate?
For centuries, Asians have been married off in the “arranged” marriage and have “loved” their spouse till one of them died (post-death, love seems irrelevant). It was purely a decision to “love” their spouse upon realising that they were getting married. Life in Asia has thrived and well for long to warrant a “correctness” of lifestyle or at least several facets of the same. I wonder how else can the correctness of a lifestyle be ascertained. A destructive or decaying lifestyle would eventually lead to the annihilation of the lifestyle and/or of the adopters. So given that such a lifestyle has worked and kept the Asian community thriving and well, love seems to have nearly always been a decision, whether post-marriage or whether as a checklist.
Love, in most cases, has succeeded a phase of being attracted to the other person. The reasons for being attracted are peculiar and quite characteristic of the individual mind. There are physical reasons, psychological reasons, financial reasons and others which influence a person’s “falling in love” act. Though people hate going into it, every person I have met (and tormented) have eventually been able to go down to the nuts and bolts of why they fell in love with a person. One friend of mine said that she would definitely not love a womaniser (which was one of her no-no’s) but if the the guy she fell in love with turned out to be a womaniser, she would accept it!! Isn’t all accepting a decision too? QED 🙂
Now there is that love which people say happens at first sight. That usually tends to be physical. Let us assume that it is not so. What attracted you to this person? Brains? But it is first sight! Depth? First sight! Ok ok ok. Define first sight. The first 10 hours of time spent with a person? First 10 minutes? Think about it. It might sound silly to waste time being so pedantic, but I believe it is vital to understand the working of our mind and whatever we wish to call our heart. Isn’t it always something tangible? If it is not so, and this love is spiritual or “just there” then I would wonder about why that love, soon transforms into the typical 2nd stage of this “Love” rigmarole?
2nd Stage of Love:
So you decide (oh! come on! humour me!) to love someone. Good for you. Congrats! Mazel Tov!
So you decide to stay in love too. Rats! I mean! Congrats (is congrats a condensation of congregation of rats?)!!
Every day you encounter… wait, I am speaking about the days after the initial euphoria… so, every day you encounter this person acting like, well, any other human being. This person has his own idiosyncrasies, littleness, humour, pain, whims, lows, anger and allergies. If you never tolerated hypocrisy, you wouldn’t take it from him either. But you decide to stay in love. This person forgets your birthday and you are cross. He thinks you are making too big an issue of it, and you, in all your ladyness are quick to remind him that he wasn’t like this when he was courting you (when will people learn!). He is quicker in enlisting all the reasons for the natural decay of memory (your nagging appears to be there as every odd numbered point and the end of his list has 5 “nags” in succession!). You want him to buy you jewellery and take you out to movies mostly because you think that is what lovers do for the other (I tend to think that ladies get to benefit more, materially).Things slowly transform into a “supposed to do” pattern and a lot of life is spent in the fear of being caught being not-lover-enough.
So every day you revisit this state of affairs and wonder why you believe that you are in love. Even if the problems don’t surface (highly unlikely, because you are living in this world and reality requires facing problems and tackling them), you slowly notice that the excitement is waning. The level of cheer is cheerlessly familiar and more a habit now. Things have become more about two people running a life together and doing the necessary chores. No, I am not being cynical. It seems to be the most popular story on the road and exceptions don’t maketh a story.
Then there are people who try to get the zing back into the relationship (which only re-enforces the point about love being a decision). I think that is a wise thing to do, given that you have already decided to love and then live that love. They try new things – define new phrases (quality time! ewwww!), get memberships in new clubs, go out more often, learn new languages together (“Oh! What is Mandarin for “I love you”? and Catalan?”. Personally, I think they should ban that phrase and demand of couples to invent new ways of communicating it!), do shopping, cook meals, go out on picnics etc. etc. etc.
All this for mating? Naah! The -ists got it all wrong.
I think man inherently is not comfortable being alone. Some fella (or was it Jeanette Winterson) said that a person will go to any extent to keep himself from having to live in loneliness. I tend to agree with him (her). People enjoy a good life and would like to bring that in with the least overhead (not all of us can be sheiks with a harem!). What is a good life is a personal measure and hence, one’s love also tends to be a subjective choice, and a choice it is; hence a decision.
Rarely does a “spiritual” or “just there” love escape the rigours of the 2nd stage. Its origin might have been mystical but its life on earth is surely made of houses, bank balances and food on the table. People still want exclusivity (god save me from that one) and complete allegiance whether right or wrong. Life becomes a dichotomy of “our love” and “the world”. Life really isn’t that. It functions as a mix of everything but I shall withold my opinion of the same.
So, whatever the start, love does roll into the mundane after a point (the toppling point). This is true about nearly everything on earth, but I shall cover that in another post. So love seems to be this lure into a stabilising monotony of living and managing life in its secure state (I have known people breaking up because the guy decided to go join a startup and brought in enormous amounts of instability or the woman taking on a high pressure job which paid but rarely left any time for the emotional security of the family. Replace man for woman and I think you might still have such problems).
So love is not something that is eternal – not the commonly found strains of this microbe! Hence, I am not interested in something that is ephemeral and quite a pain to manage.
Falling out of love:
And then people tire and break-up. Not all, but there seems to be a steady rise in the per capita breakup rate. People are either treating love casually or are more narrowly focused on a single entity (self, money, career, etc.). Either way, one can only break out of love with a decision, if they got into it as a decision. If you are going to give me an analogy of a disease occuring on its own but being eliminated by the decision of taking medicines, then I would ask you to choose between considering love a disease or a decision. People talk so much about unconditional love, but it seems to be a conditioned decision to be unconditional in love. It really seems to be some rose-tinged dream cloud when people talk about unconditional love while have ziltch clue about the conditioning they have gone through. People who unconditionally love cannot choose and cannot surely fall out of it. If you choose to unconditionally love one person, there is a set of reasons why you chose this person (and not another) and they are perhaps a superset of what this person satisified as your desirable conditions to be met. So where is the unconditionality!? And why is it that you want unconditional love? Because you are ready to give it? Firstly, I don’t believe that is as simple as you think it is and secondly, why hold that as a condition for giving your unconditional love?
So what’s the big deal?
If we are comfortable accepting love as a decision, we will be less in pain when wondering over any or all of the following questions:
- Why did I fall in love?
- How did I fall in love?
- Why am I in this relationship?
- Why am I not happy in here?
- Why does my state of being depend so much on this one person?
- Would I behave the same way if it were someone else doing what this person just did to me?
- Why should I work on this relationship?
- Why do I want to run away?
If you believe that your “love” is not a decision then what do you think it is? Why don’t you love your neighbour? Or your colleague too? If this person you love, was a pauper on the streets who looked like Shrek, would you still love him? But would you have spoken to him in the first place? Is love for you being compassionate towards someone? Feeling sorry for them?
Then comes the major confusion between love and what to do with it. The most common strategy is to get married. What if the person is already married? What if the person cannot marry you? What if the person doesn’t believe in marriage? What if the person doesn’t want to marry you? Does your love fade? Does your love lose meaning? Is it still not a decision?
Think about it.
Or else, just enjoy the state of being in love! I for one cannot love as it is simply not in me to dedicate myself to one person completely. Firstly, the person has to be worth it all (and other than the Goddess, I know of perhaps just one other person who is worth it) and secondly, I haven’t enjoyed the entire world yet to lock myself up with this person (so I am left only with the Goddess!). I always feel love is a state of inner transformation which doesn’t require anything to be revealed or established (as it would anyway do so of its own sheer power). Such a powerful state of being is not for the common person to handle. Once in that state, the banal practices of the world do not hold glitter to me and expecting me to resort to such means (“Please say you love me”, “You should pamper me”, “I don’t want you talking to any woman”) is destroying that state (not a decision but an event whenafter I start looking for what was once there and often live in the memory of love, which is not love, please). In love there is a oneness that transcends all pettiness, but doesn’t destroy the individuality of a person.
Every man, whether he has ever been in love or not, has an opinion about love. That is the major difference between love and differential calculus. Given this profound catchment of opinions, it is but natural to demand to know what is it that I think is love. I might (and that might never happen) write a post about what I think of love and what is it that I have come to realise as a true state of loving.
So love either doesn’t exist for me, or exists in a form which you refuse to recognise! 🙂