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“You can’t help who you love” - is that all there is to it? - Part 2




In our world today, many people tend to latch on to catch phrases that sound good, but if we ask enough questions we may find there’s more to reality than what these catch phrases can hold. Here are some common ones:

  • “Everything happens for a reason.” - Everything??

  • “That’s your truth, not my truth.” - Is truth really that subjective or individualistic?? Then how do we detect falsehood?

The common phrase we have been addressing is this: “You can’t help who you love”.

In our last post we suggested that this should lead us to ask some questions to see if there is more to romantic love than what this common phrase holds:

Is love 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. It includes choice because over time feelings do fluctuate and sometimes those feelings do not feel like ‘love’. Passion can also fluctuate, sometimes even translating into passionate frustration or anger, which doesn’t ‘feel’ like love. You may have heard the term, “a crime of passion”. Extreme examples of this have led to individuals murdering their spouse in a fit of rage. That begs the question, how can a person do such a thing to someone they love?! Maybe passion and love are not equal after all.

Research reveals there are two kinds of passion: harmonious passion and obsessive passion(1). Harmonious passion recognizes the value something has to one’s life, but is also aware of the conscious choice involved in pursuing that thing for which one is passionate. Obsessive passion blurs the line, no longer feeling in control over the choice. Obsessive passion is compulsive and lacking self-control. When directed toward a person, is that really love?



Love involves wanting the best for the other person, whereas passion is focused on how the other makes us feel. Therefore, the expression of passion toward a person is not the same as the expression of love toward another person. Here is a definition of ideal love worth considering in our pursuit of a fuller grasp on all that love entails:


Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)


In our next article, we will address the final question about love...is love a choice? Are there limits to that choice?


(1) https://selfdeterminationtheory.org/SDT/documents/2008_Vallerand_CanPsych.pdf

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