Have you ever been really attracted to someone who, over time, you discovered was a liar, or a cheat, or just toxic to be around?
Have you ever been in a relationship with this person and just couldn’t break it off because of this thought: ‘I can’t help it, I love them’?
Is that all there is to it - we love who we love and nothing else matters?
This begs the question: within romantic relationships what is love, exactly?
Is it a feeling?
Is it passion?
Is it a choice?
If you have been in a long-term committed relationship, you likely recognize love includes all of these things. In the next two parts of this series we will examine the role of passion and choice, but for today, let’s focus on the role of feelings.
‘You can’t help who you love’ - if love is just an emotion this is true. Emotions are triggered by what we experience through our 5 senses. They are triggered in the part of the brain that does not require conscious choice, and emotions can elicit passion. Attraction has this mysterious element to it. But, here is where the path between feelings and love separates…
Love requires something from us that feelings and passion do not.
Love requires a giving relationship. A giving relationship happens when there is trust, respect, and open communication. If we find ourselves only on the giving end, and rarely or never on the receiving end of these things, then we must ask ourselves - is this really love? Is what I feel all there is to it? Here is where you can choose - what does love really look like?
There are some things that love is not, and this is key!
Love is not controlling.
Love is not vengeful.
Love is not abusive.
Love is not selfish.
Why? Because love involves wanting the best for the other person. Love involves feelings, but in order for us to have a loving relationship, it requires actions. We find love in relationships that are characterized by mutual caring. So, is love a feeling? Yes, but that is just a small part of what love is - there is a lot more to it.
Next time...is romantic love all about passion ? If the passion is gone, is love gone?