I have always felt quite strongly that love is a choice and not merely an emotion. There are emotions attached to love, of course, and that often accompany it; one can feel joy, safety, comfort, butterflies, attraction and so on. But those emotions themselves are separate from the entity of love, and love does not function the same.
What I think many individuals of our current generation fail to understand is that although emotions such as the ones previously listed often accompany love, so often do heartache, disappointment, frustration and sometimes even anger.
This makes sense if you stop and think about it. Although negative emotions only arise when we have cared for whatever or whoever is causing them. Without care, one wouldn’t feel disappointed or frustrated, they simply would not care. When you love someone, you care for them as well, and so when your loved spouse makes a mistake it is valid to feel negative.
We are all human and we all make mistakes that leave us in a position to ask forgiveness. This happens frequently, especially with young adults; we are all still learning. We are learning how to love, how to find ourselves and our purpose, our likes and dislikes, level of independence, and so on. We are swarmed with stressors, work and challenges while in this very transition.
I think oftentimes what generally happens when young adults nowadays enter relationships in this phase of their life, is that they wrongfully attribute unavoidable stressors to their girlfriend, boyfriend or partner. At the first sign of frustration, anger or disappointment, rather than get through it and put in the effort, the relationship ends.
What I hear most frequently is “I just fell out of love.” In my opinion, there is no such thing as falling out of love. Instead, this is a modern excuse to tie our boredom and discomfort to people, rather than the way of life. Love is a decision to keep caring for and supporting another person, one cannot “fall out” of deciding this. This is a way for one to avoid responsibility, basically saying it was out of their control and somehow escaped.
The positive emotions may have escaped; the excitement, eagerness, butterflies, adrenaline rush, leaving one feeling uncontrollably disinterested or bored, but love cannot escape because it’s a choice we make. It’s okay to make this decision for your reasons, of course, each person should pursue what makes them uniquely happy, but recognize it’s a decision you’re making.
I also want to be clear that I’m not suggesting one choose to continue loving someone else in every case of feeling negative emotions. The positive should always outweigh the negative and if a loved one is causing more mental distress than happiness, it is most likely the right decision to choose to stop loving someone or even if choosing to still love someone, choosing to leave the relationship and care from a distance.
I’m not trying to shame those who leave relationships and choose to stop caring and supporting someone because they are bored, either. Some people aren’t striving for marriage in the long-run, enjoying a more sporadic and changing lifestyle without the same level of attachment to someone else.
My understanding is that as humans, we need to feel cared for and supported. We need to feel secure and comforted, without the pressures of being excited all of the time and pleasurable to be around. We need to be loved even on our bad days, our grumpy moods, our ugly moments; and I just think that it’s sad that so many people now seem to choose to stop loving someone as soon as it gets tough, rather than pushing through it and strengthening the relationship.
My grandparents have been together for over sixty years and married for over fifty. My grandpa looks at my grandma, not completely infatuated and I’m sure there are no longer the same butterflies that accompanied him their first few months of dating all those years ago, but with care in his eyes and security in his heart.
I’ve met a lot of people, throughout my life, and never did I hear stories of divorced grandparents. Instead, I heard stories of grandparents who decided to get married two weeks into dating, and are now still together forty to fifty years later. I heard of magical first date stories with big bouquets of flowers and the excitement of hearing the knock on the door signaling the romantic endeavor was about to begin.
As a little girl, I didn’t witness this type of love firsthand. And the older I get, the more far out of reach it seems to become.
My parents divorced when I was five and I remember being the only one in my grade at that time to have divorced parents. It wasn’t common, at least from where I grew up. Now, I know more adult figures who are divorced than married.
According to Wilkinson & Finkbeiner Family Law Attorney’s study, which took place in 2020 and encompassed the effects of COVID-19, about 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce or separation. Furthermore, from that same study it was determined that a couple divorces every 13 seconds in the United States and that over a 40 year period, 67 percent of first marriages will end.
With all the technologies we have, the presence of hookup culture and the wrongful assumption that love is an emotion, it seems as though it is becoming harder to find relationships where both individuals choose to support each other even through the tougher and unlikeable times.
I’m one of those rare people who honestly believes you can love someone you don’t like at the moment and that love comes with waves of good and bad just like life as a whole.
Very few people I have encountered my age question the enduring love of their grandparents but yet are pleasantly surprised to hear of young adult relationships lasting three years or longer. Why is this?
I think it’s because love is often confused as an emotion rather than a choice. If we choose to accept love as a choice and embrace the occasional bad emotions with the great ones, a lot more strong and lasting relationships could be cultivated.
It’s not about always having butterflies in your stomach all of the time, but rather is chosen over and over again by the same person.