Let's talk about love

Ivy’s recent post on 27 dresses has led me once again to ruminate on how love is portrayed in popular culture (books, film, drama serials…).

My feelings towards romance had always been conflicted. On one hand, I longed to experience being swept up in the giddy emotion of being ‘in love’. On the other hand, I feared the irrationality of being in love. Having been infatuated a number of times, I knew too well how easy it is to forget reason when the heart is beating wild.

From reflecting on my own as well as other people’s experiences, I quickly gathered that romance is very shallow. The overwhelming feeling of well-being, excitement and joy that one experiences with that special someone… the accelerated heartbeat, the shyness, all that… denote attraction. But it’s amazing how many times one can experience those things… with different people! Is that love?

If we all took raised heartrates, sleepless nights, day-dreaming about someone etc to be signs of true love, it is little wonder that so many of us are confused about relationships. There are people who have felt that they were in love with more than one person at the same time. I highly suspect the reason is because these poor souls take infatuation at its face value and mistakenly label it as love.

It is inevitable that we will encounter other people that give us 好感, and who may elicit feelings of warmth and admiration. Such phenomenon is normal, even a natural part of being human. But if we don’t safeguard our hearts, these preliminary sparks could easily become something more ominous that threaten to destroy us. The worst we can do is to cheapen the value of our hearts by failing to distinguish between admiration/infatuation and love and just give our hearts away to anyone who stirs loving emotions in us.

Feelings of love may be a part of love, but they could just as well exist without love. These wonderful and exciting feelings have a tendency to run their course and fizzle out as quickly as they began. If we acknowledge them for what they are and take action to safeguard ourselves, infatuations aren’t necessarily harmful. But if we jump to the conclusion that ‘this is loooove’, we will only end up confusing ourselves and perhaps even make hasty commitments we are not ready to make. Such is the path to regret in love.

LOVE is so much more than romance. You don’t ‘fall’ into love. Love is embracing someone with your whole heart, a choice that can be very hard at times. Love is when you choose to open up one another’s hearts in faith and trust and share each other’s burdens. Love means dealing with painful issues of insecurities, jealousies, psychological and emotional scars together. Love means extending your horizon of care to each other’s families and friends rather than keeping yourselves closed off in your own world. Love is making mistakes, getting hurt, but still choosing to forgive and to keep loving.

Such love is a very tall order. If you don’t choose your partner wisely, it may be impossible for you to experience such love, no matter how much you desire to. Why? Because as much as love is a choice, I believe it cannot be engineered in a vacuum. So don’t let yourself be fooled into a relationship everytime you get infatuated, please. Learn to recognize infatuation and don’t choose to love until you’re sure.

Regret may be too late.

***********

There was an exercise I did since I was in my teens everytime I had a crush on a guy. I would secretly evaluate him to see how compatible we were and in the process, I’d learn more about what really mattered to me.

Here are some qualities (in different people) I’ve been attracted to in the past:

– Eloquence
– Leadership ability
– Musical and/or artistic talent
– Sporting ability
– Keen intelligence
– Drive to improve self
– Vulnerability/ being ‘lost’
– ‘Mysterious’ deep personality
– Handsome (to me)

Because I am attracted to a wide variety of qualities, I’ve had many crushes in my life. But every one of my crushes ended when I realized they did not have some other quality that was important to me.

These are the qualities I realized were important to me in a partner:

– Responsibility (in work as well as family)
– Must give me feeling of security
– Maturity (must be able to lead and counsel me)
– Must value family above work
– Filial son
– Must be someone I can see as a great husband and father

Eventually, through many of my own trials, I summed up the qualities of my future husband in just one trait – MUST LOVE GOD above everything. Because I came to believe that as long as he loves God from the bottom of his heart (and must really love me too of course!), the rest will fall in place.

If you haven’t started thinking about love, I suggest you do. Cos once you’re caught in the sticky web of infatuation, it’s very difficult to think. *wink*

2 Comments

  1. haha i went for the interpersonal relationship class, and the kinda love u talked about seems like the very committed kinda love, not the passionate love.. haha and i wanna mention statistics has shown that the more religious the couple are, the less likely they will divorce… considering the 50% divorce rate in this age… it is really great :P

  2. Yep! Passionate love, or Eros, is usually what is portrayed or fantasized about! But yet most people conflate passionate love with committed love (i.e. they think that passionate love will automatically yield committed love) which isn’t true. That’s why couple can ‘fall out of love’. So sad when married couples get divorced for that reason… some after less than a year of marriage!

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