The Boundless Limitations of Love

We live in a world where everything has an explanation. We attach meaning to everything our eyes can land on. And when we don’t understand something, we’ll find a way to do so. Why do we release the same endorphins when we sweat that we do when we’re having sex? No problem, there’s a science behind that. Why do we get butterflies in our stomachs when we’re falling in love? Easy, look it up on the internet. The whole word is at the tip of our fingers, right?

Wrong.

What happens when, as humans, we can’t rationalize something? We tear apart at each book and come up with the most absurd theories. Facts, facts, facts… we need more facts. But we keep reaching dead ends... or in this case, there are so many road paths to choose from that it becomes almost impossible to choose just one.

What I’m referring to here is love.  

So what happens? We have to choose a road, we can’t just leave this trip as unfinished business. So we start attaching emotions to this word. A word so fluid, it should have multiple words for each emotion attached to it. Yet, for a concept that really exists entirely in our heads, we have driven off the edge of the road and into the water to try to rationalize it. To try to come up with the science… no the math...formula behind it?

Is love something you acquire at first sight?

Or is it something that grows on you? Do you learn to love a person when you spend enough time with them?

A few days ago, I got into a debate with my friends over whether it was possible to fall in love with someone over time, or if it’s simply something you know instantly after meeting someone?

I remember saying that if the former were true that would mean you were only convincing yourself you liked that person because they liked you back. There is a law somewhere that says when one person is thoroughly smitten with the other, the other must unavoidably be smitten as well.

And if the latter were true, then it sounds as though the relationship wouldn't last very long. Without really knowing the qualities of that person, over time isn't the relationship inevitably bound to end?

It dawned on me that day that I was asking a question so entirely wrong on its conceptual level. On the first and most obvious level, I never asked how they might have individually fallen in love, if ever. I asked what is the way in which one should typically fall in love.

We hear stories of our teachers who met in the 6th grade after he accidentally banged her head with his guitar. He knew in that moment he was in love, and 23 years later they’re happily married.

Then there’s my parents. It took my dad an entire month to convince my mom to go out with him. She didn't even like him until the third date. But they still learned to love each other.

“If you don’t get butterflies in your stomach, then you’re not really in love” is what they tell you.

“If you don’t know it within the first hour, then it’s not real” is what has been ingrained in our minds.

People assume that I’m pessimistic when I say that for 17 years I thought I was never in love, because I didn't get that ‘falling on clouds sensation’ that I was so deceivingly convinced was going to happen at some point. My heart never tugged at me every time I ‘looked in the eyes of the one.’ So I couldn't be in love right?

Wrong.

The truth is that love is evolving like everything else in this world and has been molded over time in to so many different realities. There are people I love so deeply in this world for entirely different reasons. I love my sisters because of the kind of nakedness in our relationship that I could never acquire with anyone else I know. I love my friends for making enough room in their hearts to care for another person that isn't related to them. My parents for being the most selfless human beings I will ever come to know. And then there’s romantic love. How can so many of these feelings be summed up in one word: love.

When it comes to other words in the English language that we use to describe our feelings towards a person we can get so specific. Respect. Attraction. Inspiration. Humbleness. Comfort. Does loving someone entail all these qualities? Or perhaps none of them? So why don’t we say “I highly respect her” or “I feel comfortable around him” instead of a phrase so vague in its entirety, it can mean so many different things.

There are some things in life that just don’t have rules. Love is one of those things. Words. Words have less fluidity. Capitalize that. Put a punctuation after that. It makes it easier to understand, I guess. When one way is right, and the other is wrong. It seems impossible for us to just leave it at that, leave it at that one word: love. But there really is no better explanation than that.

Don’t be disappointed just yet. You can still have your Cinderella moment! But that’s not everyone’s story. You might end up the stepsister in Cinderella who meets her prince charming on Tinder and falls in love after a few dates and one too many drinks. There isn't one ‘aha!’ moment for every person. Sometimes it takes a few ‘aha!’ moments and a “well, he’s pretty insistent on taking me out, so let’s just get this over with” moment to end up falling in love. Maybe love is all about practicality for you, and you don’t care enough about the emotional attachment. In any case, love can be whatever you want it to be, in the most literal sense.

 

There are not only so many fish in the sea, there are so many ways to catch that fish. You can be straight up, and go right in with your hands. You can keep your distance and use a rod. You can throw it back in to the ocean, if you don’t feel like it’s right. You might even have to wait years before you learn to catch a fish.

 

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