Have you ever freaked out when someone asked you if you’ve ever been in love? In a matter of 2.3 seconds you have to search your mind, heart, and soul to uncover what the heck is love and whether or not you ever experienced it. It’s such a loaded question... what really is love anyway? Being “in love” sounds like a state of trance, it’s so mysterious. The word “love” has everybody confused these days, and for good reason. The mixed messages we get about love are such a range!
Here are some phrases you’ve probably heard before about people who say they’re in love:
“I always want to be with my significant other, and I think about being together all the time”
“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to make my partner happy”
“I just feel so alive and euphoric when we are together”
“Thinking about my significant other brings a smile to my face”
“Life is incomplete without my significant other, nothing is the same”
Woah, those are strong and incredibly sweet statements! But do any of them signify real love? As much as we would like to break love down into a feeling, it doesn’t do it justice, and it simply isn’t true. Love is not a feeling, and thank goodness it’s not because our feelings fluctuate so easily, there is no security in them. Science, research, and personal testimonies from couples who remain happily together into their old age reveal that love is choice.
Science backs how attraction is driven by hormones from the first encounter through an entire relationship. We can thank dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin for the surge in energy, excitement, and rewarding feelings of being with a significant other. Could we use that logic to say that love is driven by hormones and that we have no control over it? Well, not really. An important key to this process is that your hormones won’t start firing unless your brain believes that the person you’re attracted to is a good match, or can give you something you’re craving. Whether you believe that person you’re attracted to is going to make you happy, be a caring partner, cater to your need for attention, or just be really great at pleasing your sexual desires, your belief about what they can provide is the spark that starts the fire. And if that’s true, you absolutely have a choice in who you’re attracted to because you can have control over your beliefs.
What does this mean for single people? You have a choice in who you choose to love. No more getting thrown into the mud with someone you’re attracted to, just because your heart races every time you think about him. Being single is the perfect time to write down a list of attributes you desire in a significant other and shape your beliefs about love to embrace those qualities. You can change your beliefs about what would make you satisfied in a relationship, and watch how your attraction to people changes!
What does this mean for people who are dating? Be aware that lust is not love. A relationship built purely on raging hormones cannot hold up forever. Give your relationship time to develop and put those truth goggles on to make the best decision for your well-being and your future. Science reveals that love really is blind, in the sense that when you believe that a person is a good match, you stop noticing anything that is contrary to that belief. If you think you have the perfect guy, you can be completely blind to the fact that he acts immaturely. Not a total deal breaker, but something to be aware of. Be mindful of these patterns and pursue the truth as honesty as you can.
What does this mean for the married couple? Keep those hormones flowing! Married couples can lose the spark by not continuously feeding their relationship the healthy way. Continue going on date nights, trying new activities together, writing love notes, kissing before leaving the home, and having sex. You made the ultimate choice by deciding to be with this person forever, so make the journey a fun one!