A recent topic of conversation among my circle of friends as we progress deeper into our mid to late twenties, is this idea of whether or not there is a difference between falling in love and being in love. This conversation is usually sparked by the announcement of another person we know getting engaged, and at this time and place in my life it’s a question that never seems to be satisfied.
To give you some background on my personal romantic history, I’ve been in what I consider to be 5 serious relationships throughout the course of my life. I am 27 years old. How I define serious is not by length of time I was with the person, but rather the depth of emotion I felt for them as well as the mutual connection we both expressed and shared over that time. These were people who changed me and I in turn also changed them.
I would consider myself one of those people that can become totally enthralled with the process of falling in love. The “honeymoon phase” as many refer to it, is one of the best parts of getting to know and spend time with someone. The longing, the infatuation, the idea that this person is this glowing, flawless can do no harm and everything they touch either melts or turns to gold entity, is admittedly wonderful. But over the years and the longer and deeper you go with someone, I’ve been wondering if it is possible to continue to experience your relationship the same way you did when you first started out with it?
Most people I ask about this immediately respond “No, of course not.” In my head I catch myself thinking, “But why not?” Being someone who believes in only the best parts of people and tends to nurture those aspects to grow and thrive in any way I can, I’ve tended to love in that exact same way. I’ve always believed that the “magic spark,” that intoxicating admiration, that flawlessness and newness can and should be maintained. I used to measure the mark of a successful and happy relationship as one where it only grew stronger with time. Recently, however, my feelings on all of this have definitely started to shift.
I’ve realized that all the stuff I talk about up top, the stomach flips, the heart racing, the idealization and admiration you most likely fabricate and sometimes misplace, that is part of falling in love. If love is blind, falling in love with someone is the part where you are hazy. You see only the things you want to see and experience only the things that will feed this disposition when you are in this state. It’s part chemical reaction and part circumstance.
After considering the idea that all of this could indeed be tied to scientific study, I decided to look into it further and found numerous bodies of work floating around that note the chemical effects of falling in love (equated with the high you get from being on drugs) usually fades 3-4 years into most relationships. Talk about an eye opener.
Being in love then is not the opposite- but it’s the part of the relationship where those involved see more clearly. You may lose the element of surprise or those pangs of separation anxiety, and yes those initial experiences begin to settle, but that’s not necessarily a negative thing. With the gift of sight, you are also given another gift- the power to choose. Suddenly all the cards and options are on the table and it’s your move to make.
Perhaps the reason I’m so preoccupied with this question at this point in my life is also part chemical reaction and part circumstance, reaction to the social situations I see playing out around me and the circumstance I find myself in in trying to differentiate whether or not it’s possible to fall in love with someone and stay in love with them in just the same way.
I’ve been asking more and more people around me whether or not they believe then that love is ultimately a choice- that is do we get to choose who we love or do you believe that love chooses you? One of my closest friends who has been married for over 20 years left me with this:
“Of course we do. But we don’t do it alone.”
I guess I still have a lot to learn.
- Chemical reaction (sephorasp.wordpress.com)
- I am a Moron and Can’t Help It! (earthzebra.com)
- Chemical Reaction: One Minute Read (aniladhami.wordpress.com)
- Femme 911: “Beware of the Oxytocin Monster” (ladulcefrap.wordpress.com)
- Dev falls in Love (mscotton.wordpress.com)
- It’s Great To Reach For The Stars (carolsblog.co)
- The right person (singleneverafter.wordpress.com)
- You’re single and you will die horribly and alone (rickssoapbox.wordpress.com)
- The Memory of Flowers (ignorethebird.com)
- Stay In Love And Melt Into Each Other’s Arms (carolsblog.co)