What is love?
Around this time of the year, when people start thinking about the meaning of love, they usually have in mind only one kind of love, the kind that does not last. At the outset, romantic love is actually a temporary chemical imbalance that occurs when two strangers meet and are attracted to each other. And the reflection they see in their new mate’s eyes reveals an incomplete picture of who they are – only their best and most desirable qualities – creating powerful feelings and forward momentum.
Practically everyone craves this heightened feeling, and without it, most love relationships would never get off the ground. However, real love – mature and lasting love – is something different altogether.
When two people first meet, they are strangers not only to each other, but also to themselves. Through getting to know another person, we also get to know ourselves. It is only in relation to the other person that we truly learn who we are. Through their eyes, we begin to see a much more complete picture of ourselves. If we are lucky enough to have someone honest and brave to point them out, we become aware of our strengths and talents as well as our shortcomings. The best relationship helps us grow and makes us more humble.
When romantic love starts to fade, as it inevitably does, the differences that were on the back burner now come to the forefront and we can no longer ignore them. Couples who are able to struggle through this process learn to master vital relationship skills, which can lead them to a kind of love much more rich and deep than the giddy high they experienced early on. These skills include standing our ground without putting our partner down, fighting fairly (not to mention understanding that even the best couples fight now and then), and calming down when we get upset. Most importantly, we learn when to press on and when to let go.
Many people bail out from a relationship when romantic love fades because they are unable or unwilling to withstand the struggle that can ultimately lead to lasting and mature love. And often they mistake the restoration of chemical balance for falling out of love.
The difference between romantic love and mature love is crucial to understand if a relationship is to succeed, last, and thrive. Love is an active process of working through differences, not just an emotion. Love is an action, not only a feeling. Love is a decision you make every day.
Happy Valentines Day Sara