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The Love Delusion

0 Heart it! Clare Marie Frost 7
October 10, 2018
Clare Marie Frost
0 Heart it! 7

On why true love isn’t blind. A matter close to my heart.

Due to recent events, leading up to and culminating in the break down of my latest relationship, and I feel it’s worth mentioning, the only healthy romantic relationship I’ve ever experienced, I found myself reflecting on my current understanding of love.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had what I thought was a fairly realistic (some may call it pessimistic) perception of love and relationships, most likely stemming from being an only child to unmarried parents, of whom were separated by the time I turned four. Although my family situation was perhaps a little out of the ordinary, and a little less stable than some, I largely grew up in a loving, caring environment, with the added bonus of having a good grounding for the potential complexities of family relationships!

I was an only child, yet for much of my upbringing I was surrounded by what felt like a larger than usual immediate family, consisting of two similarly aged stepbrothers, a step-father, a step-mother and quite some years later, my half-brother was born.

Point being, I don’t remember ever making the assumption that love equated to “happily ever after”.

Furthermore, what became clearer to me over the years of reflecting on my own experiences as well as observing the experiences of others, was that the feelings of immense happiness which we relate to the beginning stages of love, often manifested into feelings of attachment, jealousy and resentment, replacing those feelings of ‘happiness’ over time. The relationship would eventually become so devoid of genuine happiness, that its very foundations would crumble and the cycle of searching for happiness through true love, perseveres.

It is worth addressing here, that when we place all our hopes and dreams of being happy in the goal and experience of finding someone to share our life with, we’re also placing unrealistic and unhealthy expectations onto another. We sometimes do this so intently, that it’s almost as if we live our lives on hold, and become a half-living being, our mind firmly placed in the future and in constant search for a partner, for someone who will ensure our emotional happiness.

true love as a feeling

I’ve always been under the impression (or delusion?) that true love, stemmed from a feeling.

A feeling of deep affection towards another being, the feeling of falling in love,the feeling which is expressed to no end through music, theatre, film, and art, the feeling when you just, well, know.

That must be true love, right?

Although I’ve never considered myself a hopeless romantic, and my realistic and practical approach to life intercepted most attempts of romance by others, I also never doubted the existence of true love, as the undeniable bond between two people connected in a way we may never fully understand.

However, as previously mentioned, I wasn’t ignorant to the idea that love, however fabulous, wasn’t always lasting. In fact, somewhere along the way, I seem to have adopted the belief that true love equates to heartbreak, having noted myself saying on numerous occasions;

“I’d rather fall in love and be heartbroken a million times,
than never fall in love.”

Alarm bells anyone!?

This idea of love being connected to a source of pain as great as heartbreak, yet being a desirable feeling to strive for none the less, delivers a very telling message about how some of us may view love, and how our behaviour towards love might be verging on unhealthy and addictive.

Alain de Botton, a British-Swiss philosopher, acknowledges this in his article Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person.

“We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.”

At the deepest level of our being, we feel the need to belong and to be accepted as we are, to love and be loved. It’s no wonder then, that when we ‘fall in love’, the object of our affection is considered a manifestation of perfection, devoid of all flaws. This is where the old, well-known phrase ‘love is blind’ comes into play, otherwise commonly known as the honeymoon phase. As we grow out of this phase, our love goggles, once firmly in place, start sliding down our nose, exposing a more realistic, less idealistic version of our loved one. Those intense feelings of affection and attraction we once felt, are often replaced with those of disappointment, anger, jealousy, possessiveness, resentment and even hate, as our partner struggles to measure up to our expectations.

During this time many relationships fall apart, while many others hang on by a thread, it’s counterparts of which, constantly struggle to live up to expectations, and sometimes for many years. This is where the love we once felt is often lost, where the love goggles no longer work and love is no longer blind. A place where individuals are exposed and vulnerable, wishing only to be loved for who they are, not for who they are expected to be.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the point at which many of us are rejected, when the parts of ourselves initially hidden or disguised, become the forefront of focus, revealing our personality more completely. Accepting the complex layers of our personality is one thing for ourselves, but to fully accept another being, with all their intricacies, is quite another.

Rejected, we feel heart-broken, a physical attribute to an emotional response. The feeling of intense reciprocated love we once felt is now gone, and with it, so is our hope for being understood to the highest degree and being accepted despite our shortcomings.

We have lost a chance at love, and perhaps not for the first time.

Once we recover from heartbreak (assuming we do), our insecurities surrounding our experiences and ideas of love, lie dormant, usually resurfacing during a potential new chance at love. And so the cycle of searching for love continues.

And mostly that’s because, what I’ve been describing, is not true love.

Some better words to describe what we might actually be feeling whilst believing we’re in love, are; attachment, attraction, lust, and infatuation, which are to do with the different hormones being released in our brain.

When we feel like we’re in love, we don’t tend to differentiate between each of those feelings mentioned and love. In fact, the whole experience of ‘falling in love’ is such a whirlwind of delight, that it’s no wonder we confuse our feelings, and end up in unhealthy, or even toxic relationships, while still believing ourselves to be in love. We are so blinded by the feeling of being in love, that we fail to recognise the reality of our possessive lust-fuelled nature. We often become overbearing and demanding, displaying feelings of ownership, under the guise of love.

For those interested in the brain chemistry behind all this, Harvard University published an interesting article on the science behind lust, attraction and companionship, in which, the author discusses the noticeable effects that dopamine has on us;

“Dopamine, for instance, is the hormone responsible for the vast majority of the brain’s reward pathway — and that means controlling both the good and the bad. We experience surges of dopamine for our virtues and our vices. In fact, the dopamine pathway is particularly well studied when it comes to addiction. The same regions that light up when we’re feeling attraction light up when drug addicts take cocaine and when we binge eat sweets. In a way, attraction is much like an addiction to another human being. Similarly, the same brain regions light up when we become addicted to material goods as when we become emotionally dependent on our partners. And addicts going into withdrawal are not unlike love-struck people craving the company of someone they cannot see.”

So, if what we always thought to be love, isn’t, what is?

Diving head first into this and willing to discover a few home truths, I realised;

true love has nothing to do, with being in love.

It’s no wonder then, that so many of us struggle to find true love when we’re all so intent on finding and being in love, which, by its very nature, was never meant to last forever. Like any addiction, we become controlled by this ‘in love’ feeling, and once we’re no longer getting large enough hits, the desire for more kicks in, and often results in the outward search for something better i.e. leaving our current partner, for an idealistic non-existent version of love.

None of this is to say, that the deep affection we feel towards someone whilst ‘in love’, is bad or shouldn’t be felt, for it is not only an intrinsic part of our makeup but also one of the most sublime of all the human experiences.

Therefore, we need not deny or starve ourselves of the experience and feelings we associate with love, but rather;

through cultivating a greater self-awareness, perhaps we can recognise the feeling of being in love, as the possible gateway to what could be, an eventual experience of true love.

This leads us to our next question;

What is true love?

what if true love is a choice?

The intention behind writing this post is to express my personal insights and realisations, in the hope to help process and better understand my own experiences of love, not to restrict it to yet another limitation, or to make any final conclusions for that matter.

Neither is the intention to undermine the beauty there is to be found in the act of falling in love, nor to disregard any experiences of love, whether they be my own or others. The main objective, true of all my writing, is to self-investigate — dig past conditioned beliefs and uproot the truth — my own truth that is, not necessarily anyone else’s.

I have not set out to dismiss love, only to identify that we may have mistaken the feeling of falling in love, for true love. Our highly romantic culture has conditioned us to believe that love is a feeling, an often fleeting one at that, and one which is fickle in nature.

Could it be so that through our constant search for a feeling love, we are missing out on a love far greater and even more meaningful?

a love rooted in choice, willingness and compromise in an endeavour to understand and fully accept another human being.

What if true love isn’t blind?

rather an all-seeing love which acknowledges every part of a person and says yes to them all.

Are we even ready for this kind of love? Or are we content in our delusion, chasing the fantasy of a perfect love?

To the reader, I would like to firmly clarify that this post is not meant to deal with issues of abuse or abusive relationships of any kind. There is never a legitimate excuse for abusive behaviour, so please bear this in mind while reading.

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0 Heart it! Clare Marie Frost 7
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