The Joys and Perils of Love

in #love7 years ago

Love is risky. Love is beautiful. Love keeps you up at night but also helps you sleep when you need to. It’s paradoxical – being rational and emotional all at once. And the feels. It feels so good. The reciprocated affection, the longing in your eyes, the companionship, friendship, and the sex! Love fueled sex is in a totally separate phenomenological category than love-less sex. Sometimes people wonder: is love available to everyone? Or only a select few? We have to find out for ourselves. That's the challenge facing all humans who have that deep down desire to true human connection intermingled with romantic love.

But what is romantic love? A common answer is that love is a feeling. But I think it is a grave mistake to reduce love to the shallow depths of mere feeling. For one, no feeling is a mere feeling – feelings are always intertwined with thoughts, beliefs, hopes, dreams, plans, imagination, memory, and everything else. Love digs deeply into our brains.

Is true love rare? Hard to say. True love cannot be measured. It cannot be seen. We all know cases where a couple claims to be madly in love with each other but we have the suspicion that they are deeply unhappy. And yet even though scientists cannot build a "love-meter" that detects "true love" in the way we can build "gold-meters" and test for "true gold" - love is real insofar as it is a mental reality. It dominates our mental dynamics when we are both in love and looking for love.

Love is an inherently risky enterprise. You open yourself up fully to another human being. You expose old wounds. Old memories. Trauma. Everything gets opened in the process of direct honesty as you attempt to really get to know someone. You put yourself out there.

Who says “I love you” first? Will it be reciprocated? How will they react? And when they return the three words – oh my how that feels! Love can happen slowly. It can happen fast. It can sweep you off your feet like an avalanche if you’re not careful. But when it hits you finally it is all encompassing. It takes over your mind – shaping your thoughts, your feelings, your energy, your desires.

There are many types of love. Some love is monogamous and exclusive. Some is polyamorous and more flexible. For some jealousy is an emotion that rules everything. Others barely feel it and if they do feel it they cope with it a lot better.

Love is fickle. Love fades and hence is the ultimate risk. We risk heartache and crying and emotional intensity unlike any other. The passion that once burned so bright has now turned to contempt. We engage in endless cycles of nagging, argument, and stonewalling. How do we keep the love alive? Hugs, kisses, affection, sex, thoughtfulness, kindness – they all go a long way but it’s often not enough.

Love sometimes just ends. Love hurts. Love is tough. The knots in your stomach – that sinking feeling when things are over. The psychic pain is just as real as physical pain – perhaps more real in fact than physical pain. Physical pain heals. But the emotional trauma of a relationship can linger for years.

Is the pain worth it in the end? In my opinion? Yes. There’s an old cliche: better to have love and lost than never have loved at all.

Some cliches end up being more true than the most insightful prose. And yes I think it’s absolutely true. The risk of love is outweighed by the sheer joy. You never plan for heartache - you just appreciate the blissful moments together when they happen. But overtime those blissful moments become less and less frequent and are replaced by more and more negative moments. It happens – such is life - sometimes we don't truly get to know someone until we live with them.

But what would life be without love?

Chances are there is going to be pain along the way. A common form of love is to form an agreement that your partner, and your partner alone, is going to fulfill all your emotional, physical, and sexual needs for the rest of your life. There is an inherent risk to that style of love because if your relationship ends, which it likely will, there will be pain.

Every time you go through a cycle of getting together, splitting up, getting together, splitting up, etc., there will be pain. But there will also be pleasure. A lot of joyful pleasure in the company of your loved one(s). The human brain is an odd mush of different programs that don't all fit together in a cohesive fashion.

The end result is far from rational. Yet love is what dominates our culture, our novels, movies, and gossip. It is the great stimulator of creativity for humans. It has driven people to do some really crazy things. But also some amazing things. In my opinion the joy outweighs the peril.


Losing a love can be the worst feeling ever, yet falling in love can be the best.

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