What Is Love?

What Is Love?A reader of this blog shared a Huffington Post article with me last week.

In it, author Sheryl Paul writes:

“We live under a massive cultural delusion about the nature of real love. Propagated by mainstream media, from the time you’re born you’re inundated with the belief that love is a feeling and that when you find “the one” you’ll sense it in your gut.”

And:

“We have mythologized love to such an extent that people are no longer prepared for the realities of long-term relationships. We are taught that it is good not to compromise, not to put up with anything we don’t like, not to sacrifice our own beliefs for anyone or anything. Yet compromise and sacrifice are the cornerstones of marital love.”

Isn’t it possible that the problem isn’t with the opposite sex, itself but rather your expectations of the opposite sex?

She quotes another author, Kate Kerrigan, in an essay she wrote called Marriage Myths, as saying that “the best thing you can bring to a marriage is not the feeling of ‘being in love’, but romance’s poor relation: tolerance.”

Paul, who works as a counselor, says that “it’s a crushing moment for couples when the infatuation drug wears off and they’re left to begin the real work of loving.”

This is all stuff you’ve read here before. I find it pretty much irrefutable.

But for those who want to refute it – for those who say you should never compromise – even though every happy couple in the world will let you know how much they compromise on a daily basis – what exactly are you hoping for in a partner?

And isn’t it possible that the problem isn’t with the opposite sex, itself but rather your expectations of the opposite sex?

In short, great relationships are understanding what you should compromise on. You DON’T compromise on character, integrity, kindness, devotion, and selflessness. You DO compromise on everything else.

Read the article here and let me know what you think I’m getting wrong. You always do. :)

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Happy Person

    Michael 17:

    1) Women are visual. We just don’t TALK about being visual. And our expectations are lower because most men don’t put as much effort into being visually appealing as women do. But believe me, if you look hot, we notice it. And respond.

    2) We women like to pursue. But we do it in a more subtle, passive way. We like to make you think that you’re the one doing the pursuing.

    :)

  2. 32
    Fiona

    Mia@31-I have been there in my 20s and I feel for you. In my view there are two types of men. Those who are commitment oriented and they usually do still settle down in their 20s (unless they are less than averagely attractive) and those that aren’t – catch them if you can in their 30s but you probably won’t. I would recommend that you keep going for the commitment oriented now no matter what it takes. At your age, I spent far too much time getting my heart broken by the Toms of this world and giving up for long periods of time and now I realise I will probably end up alone. You are too young to give up – get back out there!

  3. 33
    susan

    I like that comment Mia made ”they just don’t have to have me”. That about sums it up I reckon.
    There are lots of awesome guys out there, who think that women like us are awesome too – but there are some serious flaws with modern ‘dating”
    - the candyshop mentality that can go with casual dating and in particular online dating. always another cuter, smarter, etc. I was once date number 45 for a guy (he kept a list…). i saw him for a year, he broke my heart, moved on to date at least a dozen more and is now in love .
    - the concept of casual in the first place. my belief is that few people actually want casual. most want real relationship, but casual is the way it’s done these days. otherwise you risk scaring off the other person if you take the ”one at a time” approach
    - all these freaking rules. who does the pursuing. who does the flirting. who pays. should women be confident? coy? it does my head in!

  4. 34
    Mia

    Susan – I agree there are way too many rules, and some of them may get you a guy you wouldn’t even want, so I boiled it all down to a simple list to maximize the chance that I’m going to end up with someone right for me.

    One of the biggest things is dropping into conversation on first or second dates something kind of unusual about myself that would attract like-minded people but scare away guy I don’t want anyway, like how I once took a solo road trip across the country, sleeping in the car and very low budget, and met loads of people. That way, men who are turned off by this know immediately the type of girl I am – sort of adventurous and independent – and the many guys who do like that kind of girl get to know what makes me more unique.

    Also:
    a.) I don’t play hard to get, because men who fall for that are emotionally immature and once they get you they lose interest – better to just mirror, as Evan talks about, and actually have a full life so you’re not pretending to not be available; b.) accept dates with and spend time with multiple men at a time – though no need to hook up with them; c.) never mention commitment or what you’re looking for for the first two months or so, or refer to any past dating drama; d.) no sex for about 6 -8 weeks – I don’t like men who would judge me based on when I have sex, so I’m not going to wait some absurd amount of time, but this is a good time frame to assess their intentions and feel comfortable; d.) always give someone 2 dates even if you’re not initially attracted and they’re bald or short or whatever; e.) maybe after 5 dates, call maybe once, randomly, to assess whether they’re the type of guy that is freaked out by a woman, gasp, initiating contact. If they are, even after you’ve been out a number of times, that would turn me off because I don’t want someone who has such rigid ideas of male/female role

    Beyond that, sometimes I get a headache trying to process what all the rules are that I’m supposed to be doing, when all I really want to do is be the best version of myself.

  5. 35
    Tom

    There is an element of truth in what you advised Mia, Fiona. Although I’m not sure it’s as black and white as that; many commitment minded men really struggle with monogamy and many transient types, shall we say, would actually like a relationship but aren’t realistic in what they are hoping for, or lack the emotional tools to successfully navigate a real relationship.

    You shouldn’t give up either though – you’re still young and obviously intelligent so you’ve a lot to offer someone. I really hope you succeed!

  6. 36
    Laya

    If there was one thing that I learned in dating that has helped me appreciate the great relationship that I am in now is this…men who are relationship oriented act like they want a relationship. They call consistently, they ask to see you again as soon as possible, they make you a priority etc..pretty much from the beginning. In the past, my mistake in dating was that I often interpreted these available, relationship type behaviors as meaning that he was sub-par and was not my equal. He seemed too eager for “me,” and that meant I was of higher value then he was. It actually turned me off a bit especially if I knew objectively that I was better looking. See women are visual too. I know how horrible this all sounds.

    The reverse was true as well. If a guy was a bit unavailable…didn’t call right away or consistently, wasn’t always available, etc well then that meant to me that he was still deciding if I was his equal caliber. I was naturally more drawn and attracted to this guy. He was a challenge. It was only when I realized that men who are relationship oriented and available act accordingly. And men who don’t act this way are either not that into me (had to really set aside my pride) or are not relationship oriented. I gave relationship oriented men a chance and tried not to hold it against them when they acted like they wanted a relationship. I am now very happily in a relationship, which is heading toward marriage (my first at my age of 41 years old).

    Mia I am just wondering out loud if some men may sense how you are very interested in a relationship/marriage…that it could make them back away. Perhaps my suggestion would be as other posters have suggested to go for the relationship oriented men over the less available ones. I know it made a huge difference for me.

  7. 37
    Ruby

    Mia #36

    You say that you don’t play hard to get, but I wonder if you are giving too much too soon? I also find it odd that the man you were dating waited 9 weeks to tell you that he wasn’t looking for anything serious. Don’t think that playing hard to get is simply about “game-playing.” Think of it as a chance to step back and let the man come to you, to show you his true interest level and to give time for his feelings (and yours) to develop, and to not be too available too soon. Otherwise, it sounds like you are doing all the right things.

    Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. You’re still quite young. Not everyone finds their soulmate by the age of 28, and yours could be just around the corner…

  8. 38
    Selena

    @Layla #38

    Good post.

    Yes, relationship oriented men are the ones who want to see you more than once a week. They call you often to “check in”. They make plans to see you in advance, not the last minute. You don’t have to wonder whether they are into you or not, they are around showing you that they are.

  9. 39
    melie

    This article is right on. I saw my own mothers dispare at not having the relationship with my day, that society sells us. It convinced me that there is something amiss. I found the answer via counseling, and lots of reading about relationships, successful marriage. However, he didn’t do the same, and after 28 years of struggle the marriage ended. He sought many ways to fulfill his relationship needs outside the marriage instead of putting in the necessary work at home. Se la vie.

  10. 40
    Fiona

    Tom@37 – I am going to be 37 in 3 weeks and my biological clock is about to stop altogether so either it is make a desperate last dash for the finish line and probably end up unhappily married to someone that I don’t love heart and soul (and having loved like that once settling for someone I don’t feel that way about sounds a bit like a life sentence) or find something else to do instead of having kids.

    My point to Mia is that she can avoid getting into this situation if she keeps going now…I didn’t persevere enough at her age after disappointments. I wish I had!

    1. 40.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Fiona – Deep breath. Clear your head of incorrect, muddled absolutist thinking. Okay?

      I met my wife when she was 37. We were married when she turned 39. We had our first baby at 41. Our second will be two months before her 43rd birthday.

      There was no desperate last dash. There was no settling. There was just open, optimistic, trusting, consistent weekly dating. It’s not too late, but you have to let go of your negative story.

  11. 41
    Elizabeth

    Susan@35–You hit the nail on the head. Too many rules, stipulations, and assumptions with dating. So many landmines. One can’t just simply be interested, and just call the next after a date and say “Hey, I really enjoyed meeting you”. Otherwise, they are labeled “too easy”. Who pursues who, who pays, bla bla bla. Such a shame, a woman, can’t just be appreciative and wear her damn heart on her sleeve. I have had men sit across from me, and say “Ok, what’s wrong with you, why are you single”?! You know…perhaps you just won the winning ticket! Why does a woman have to have any issues because she is merely “single”? Why can’t a woman just be a great catch, have it together, be loyal, a great confidant, and not have found her better half? Why? Why do men wait for the other shoe to drop. So mcuh cynicism out there…especially with on-line dating. People are on there – to supposedly meet that “special person”–yet there is such a stigma about being online. How ridiculous. You often hear and read in profiles…”I have never done this before”–sure, you haven’t. Nobody wants to admit they met someone online. Why? Being on some on-line dating website doesn’t make one a horrible person.

    Evan–why the stigma with on-line dating? Do men view women on-line as desperate? If a woman works all day, and doesn’t go out to bars and happy hour at all, what other ways or means does she have of possibly networking or meeting someone? I would love to know.

    Laya@38–I do agree, that one needs to assess certain behaviors–which set apart the men who are ready and truly into being in a relationship. However, there “needs” to be that degree of chemistry too…yes? How do you force yourself to hold someone’s hand, much less kiss them. It’s such a personal act. You seem to have met someone at 41…maybe there is hope for me at 44.

    Fiona–things could be worse. I am 44 yr olds…and single. What man will want to date or get serious with a woman my age? I have just accepted the idea of going solo from hereon. It is what it is. Whatever happens, happens for me. Don’t have any more expectations. No last dash for me. And as for children, that window of opportunity has closed up. Chalk it up to wasting valuable time in my early to mid-30′s – by dating men that were completely wrong for me.

    For Fiona@17–I fully agree. I recently went out on a date with a “very nice guy”–clearly he is interested and ready for a relationship. But I just couldn’t even bear to hold his hand. Didn’t want to get close at all. I need to be true to myself, and I can’t fake chemistry – or make a square peg fit in a round hole. can’t do it. Super nice guy-he just wasn’t attractive –to me. Not for me. Wish he was. oh well.

  12. 42
    Happy Person

    Fiona 42: And just because we women hardly ever get this message (not to contradict anything EMK is saying, because he really hates that :) )–it’s also OK if you don’t have children. It really, really, really is. There are lots and lots of joyful things to go around.

  13. 43
    SS

    Mia @31: I was you six years ago. 28 and never lacking for dates (okay, well, sometimes), but men didn’t want to commit.

    Honestly, you can’t control what they do. The only thing you can do is make a commitment to yourself that as soon as you get the message from them that they don’t want a commitment, RUN. Do not hang around being friends or keep dating. Just go. On to the next one.

    It’s very frustrating, I know, but don’t allow them to take up space in your head and your heart. And while you can’t find out immediately if they want a commitment or not, pay attention to their behavior over the course of your dating period. If by nine dates, he’s no different than he was at Date 3, that’s a big sign right there that he’s not looking for anything serious.

    There are men out there who do want to commit, but the only way we can find to them is to get the other guys out of the way as soon as we figure out the “relationship” is a dead end.

  14. 44
    Zaq

    So many women prepared to wait forever rather than miss out on ‘chemistry’ – SAD

  15. 45
    Fiona

    Evan@43 – at this stage I will happily at least try whatever might actually work. I have just met the cutest English guy in the city at my French language meetup group (I would say he drop dead gorgeous English speak – not sure where that fits on the US number rating scale) who was very keen to see me again which would be fine if he weren’t 8 years younger so next please. I don’t need to find drop dead gorgeous ( as I don’t think I am) but nor do I want an obese guy with serious dental issues.

    Elizabeth@44 – my pressure is all about the kids thing but one of my closest American friends got married for the second time at 44 to a Spanish architect who is the spitting image of Antonio Banderas. They had been together since she was 39, she couldn’t have kids and he chose to marry her instead of finding someone else and having kids so love can happen at any age although sadly children cannot.

    Happyperson@45 – Thanks. You are right. If it comes to it, I’ll cope somehow.

  16. 46
    Karl R

    Fiona said: (#48)
    “at this stage I will happily at least try whatever might actually work.”

    Whatever might actually work … except dating the cute guy who was keen to see you again.

    You can’t just say you’ll try whatever might work. You actually have to try whatever might work.

    Fiona said: (#48)
    “my pressure is all about the kids thing”
    Elizabeth said: (#44)
    “And as for children, that window of opportunity has closed up.”

    My sister adopted her first at the age of 41 and her second at the age of 44.

    Elizabeth asked: (#44)
    “I am 44 yr olds…and single. What man will want to date or get serious with a woman my age?”

    I find your question absurd. My fiancée was older than you when we first met. So were several other women I dated.

    Elizabeth asked: (#44)
    “why the stigma with on-line dating?”

    What stigma? The stigma faded away years ago.

    Zaq said: (#47)
    “So many women prepared to wait forever rather than miss out on ‘chemistry’ – SAD”

    It’s a valid choice. As long as they accept the potential consequences of that choice, I have no problem with it.

    It only bothers me when they don’t accept the potential consequences, then complain incessantly about never finding anyone.

  17. 47
    Tom

    @Zaq
    I actually fully appreciate the frustration these women feel. Could you date a woman that you weren’t really attracted to? I certainly couldn’t.

    @Fiona,
    Evan is so right; your positive posts are so much more endearing than when the negativity sneaks in.

  18. 48
    Ruby

    Elizabeth #44

    “I have had men sit across from me, and say “Ok, what’s wrong with you, why are you single”?! You know…perhaps you just won the winning ticket! Why does a woman have to have any issues because she is merely “single”?”

    If these men are single, what is “wrong” with them? If they are divorced, why aren’t they still married?

    Online dating has become so common-place, especially among older singles, that I don’t see any stigma attached to it anymore.

    “I am 44 yr olds…and single. What man will want to date or get serious with a woman my age?”

    I’m in my early fifties, and recently started dating a wonderful man around my age. Neither of us has ever been married, and we are both pretty well-adjusted. We both want a serious relationship. I admit that it’s taken me a long time to find him, but if he stays as great as he seems to be, it will be worth the wait.

    I also disagree with the notion that you have to date people you are not physically attracted to. My guy is quite attractive!

  19. 49
    Selena

    Zaq #47
    “So many women prepared to wait forever rather than miss out on ‘chemistry’ – SAD”

    The word ‘chemistry’ is used on this blog as a synonym for sexual attraction. Initial sexual attraction.

    To me, chemistry is personality compatibility. That “click” you feel when you’ve been talking a lot, that hard-to-define something you feel towards some people, and not others. It’s that sense you “get” each other. And that comes with spending time together, not just looking at each other for 5-15 min. Which is why *I* think if one finds someone likeable, it’s in their best interest to be willing to get to know that person a bit more even if the initial sexual attraction isn’t very high. Chemistry develops. So can sexual attraction.

    But there needs to be some small spark to fan. If a woman doesn’t want to kiss, or even hold hands with the man she has been spending time with…well, sometimes if it’s not there, it’s never going to be there.

    I believe women who decide to forgo sexual attraction, and especially chemistry as I define it, just to be married end up having the sadder lives. The real deal is being able to distinguish between infatuation and chemistry. That can be a process.

  20. 50
    Margaret

    @ Ruby #51: I am in my early 50s, too, and want to find a man around my own age that I am attracted to. You give me hope!

    @ Selens # 52, you are right on!

  21. 51
    Mia

    Elizabeth – On one hand it’s easy to wonder why one is single and strive to make positive changes about their approach. On the other, it’s clearly not a fair system based on merit. I know four fat girls (who also have those loudmouthed, annoying, grating personalities) who are engaged to decent men who aren’t fat.

    I have a very ugly friend who is about as unfeminine as a woman can be, who is fun but has one of those loudmouthed grating personalities that often turn people off, and she got married at a pretty young age to a decent guy. I have a friend who was a 22 year old virgin with a boring personality and abolutely no breasts – just straight as a board – who found some guy and got married pretty young too. And just look around at the majority women who are married – overweight, nagging, dull. Men don’t want thin, pretty, independent, easygoing women – myself and my friends who are like that are always single, and the women who are dogs, materialistic and nagging are happilly married and don’t go through half the pain we are going through. So I roll my eyes sometimes when people talk about something being wrong with someone single – even though I’ll admit I second guess myself a lot, I stop secondguessing, briefly, when I stop to look around at just how many losers find love.

  22. 52
    Zaq

    @Tom
    “I actually fully appreciate the frustration these women feel. Could you date a woman that you weren’t really attracted to? I certainly couldn’t”

    No of course. The distinction here is that you are a MAN. Evan speaks of letting go of some requirements and find someone that you still have chemistry with.
    This makes no sense at all for most men, who as Mia just pointed out, WILL set the bar pretty low on physical attractiveness.

    But with women, attraction is not just about physical appearance. It also depends on a males status, income, intelligence, height, charisma etc etc.
    If you wait for someone to hit the sweet spot of all these factors, you will probably be waiting forever.
    Compromise on some of the factors will increase your odds.

    Fiona has set the bar high, and appears unwilling to lower it – convinced that she can still get the high value mate, but may be not in time to have a child.

    However women do not seem to factor in that their value to the opposite sex just keeps falling with age.
    To paraphrase a female journalist on turning 40. ” Its impossible to find the guy who ticks all the boxes. I finally looked for that guy who had been pursuing me relentlessly for years. He had just got married to a much younger woman.”

  23. 53
    Fiona

    Karl@49 Of course I want to date the cute 29 year old. Who wouldn’t? It’s flattering- I suspect however that it would be a very high risk choice at this stage. As for adoption, I admire people who do it but I am afraid I am not that selfless.

    Mia@49 – other people are married and some of them aren’t that attractive. So what? It seems to me to a huge leap from making that observation to concluding that men do not like thin, pretty, independent, easygoing women…it suggests that the only women that get married are fat, ugly, needy with psychological disorders… I know plenty of married women and not one like that! Stop comparing yourself to married people. It’s not going to help you.

  24. 54
    kenley

    How dare fat and ugly women get married. Don’t they know only pretty, thin women deserve love and marriage? I guess they didn’t get the memo.

    Mia perhaps you haven’t worked on yourself as much as you say you have. You seem to have a lot of disdain for people YOU have decided are not worthy of love and marriage — fat women, ugly women, boring women. You come across as superior, angry, bitter, and not so nice. Perhaps the men you date are picking up on that vibe. What those women have isn’t blocking you from getting what you want, so why are you even focused on them? Moreover, the idea that you can’t find a man because you are pretty, thin and nice is a little hard to believe.

  25. 55
    Ruby

    Mia #54

    I’m finding your post quite mean-spirited and insulting. I don’t find a big difference in how attractive my married friends are versus my single ones. I also don’t describe my “friends” as “very ugly,” “boring,” “no breasts” (who cares?), “grating” or “losers,” or begrudge them their happy marriages.

    It’s possible that your less-attractive friends hooked up with the first decent guy they found because they were concerned that they would be less competitive in the dating world than more attractive women…or maybe, despite their physical flaws, they understand what it means to be a good friend, and their boyfriends appreciated that.

    As mentioned, dating is not a meritocracy, but I do think that kindness and positivity are helpful qualities to cultivate if you’re looking for a good man. They’re also good qualities to cultivate if you want to have friends in general.

  26. 56
    P

    Argh. I say it again…ARGH. This type of topic has come up so many times on this blog and it always has the same result: Rational people saying one thing and the religious saying another. In this case, the religion is “chemistry.”

    I won’t muddy the waters by talking about some of the arguments being put forth that women look at things like status, money, intelligence, and so forth as the majority of the arguments here have a slant towards that “chemistry” people so often refer to which is basically biological mating instincts. The “other factors” are generally a tag-along, with the “chemistry” component being “required” by many to initiate a relationship, and the other factors being secondary selectors. I’m just going to talk about that first “chemistry” component. The one that the media portrays as “love” and that our society has placed forth as the ultimate goal to find in everlasting form (along with other things that are romanticized in sexual form that “go along” with this).

    That irresistable urge…that desire to be with that person in every aspect. You can’t get close enough…if you could you would crawl inside them. This person is so wonderful! He can do no wrong or if he does its just an odd fluke and he certainly didn’t mean it. I can’t keep my hands off him. I want to have his children! So on, and so forth. I just KNOW he’s the one for me and we will be happy and fulfilled forever. This is amazing!

    Its also the biggest practical joke ever played on human beings. You’re on drugs…literally. And wow, you’d do anything to keep this feeling. The only problem is…you won’t. This literally is a drug-induced effect which evolved for one singular purpose: To overcome any averson towards a person and drive you to conceive a child. That’s it…there’s no other purpose to it. Even more amusing is the fact that this urge evolved in such a way that it goes away after a period of time…that period of time averaging as just long enough to conceive, have a child and begin the rearing process. Then, you might feel something towards this person, but not the same “chemistry” as your brain has become used to the stimulus…and when someone else creates a new stimulus (different scent, visual cues, and so forth) the effect starts over…with that DIFFERENT person. This is how we ended up being genetically diverse enough as a species to survive as long as we have.

    Here’s what people have a really hard time understanding: That instinct evolved at a time when our brains were more primitive. Our intellectual and emotional states were of a much lesser state than they are now. As these primitive beings, we didn’t think far into the future and were reacting more like animals would. This instinct DOES NOT CARE about YOU as an intelligent, emotional creature. It doesn’t care about your emotional well-being. It doesn’t care about having someone around supportively for a lifetime. It doesn’t care at all about any of that and nor does it maintain even a bit of consideration about it. All it cares about is the SPECIES and driving you to have offspring in a way conducive to the survival of the species in a primitive environment. That’s it. In addition, it DOES NOT drive you to mate with someone for life. That would be unbeneficial to the way our species operates on a biological level. This instinct wants you to have children…and to mix biological material as much as possible. This goes for women as well although at a slower rate than with men by necessity.

    Because of its primitive basis, this “chemistry” instinct reacts only to cues that made perfect sense in primitive times. Immunological cues derived from scent. Certain appearances (such as symmetry) which were indicators of genetic health, and so on. It does NOT account for a changing world where such things mean less than they used to, or mean different things. It does NOT consider your long-term happiness, contentness, or emotions. Why? Because it didn’t evolve directly connected to a creature with higher cognitive abilities or deeper psychological ability. Those came later and ended up ON TOP of this structure.

    Human beings DID figure this out over time…which is why you see a great deal of literature from ages past warning of the danger in trusting this instinct for anything other than sex. Somewhere along the way, in recent times, we decided that this instinct was at the core of our relationship formation, even though it in and of itself is self-defeating in this purpose.

    As intelligent, emotional creatures (intertwined), somewhere along the way we need to decide what we want in life. If you’re someone who desires a stable partnership in life, then utilizing “chemistry” as a selecting mechanism for this quest is basically playing a losing game. You’re making your selection based upon sex…and that’s basically it. There’s no way around that. And, you’re making your selection based upon something that will fail you as it fades away.

    Someone above mentioned that they cannot initiate a relationship unless they had that “chemistry” or “spark.” Okay…then I ask you what you do when that “chemistry” or “spark” fades? You can’t kiss someone or sleep with someone unless you feel that…so when it fades, eventually you’re in the same situation as you are with someone who you never had with initially. Somehow things will be different then? Wait…you mean, when that does fade you can replace it with desire derived from your higher cognitive ability and emotions when its not driven by a dopamine cascade in your brain? You can? If so…why could you not do that with someone once you got to know them and they fit you on the same emotional and mental levels without that initial drug high? I know…I know…its “just different.” But you won’t be able to tell me why. I’ll tell you…its because you made a choice. You DECIDED somewhere along the line to put chemistry in the driver’s seat instead of your un-drug-addled mind. Or maybe you’re one of those people who thinks that “chemistry” WILL last forever…even though biologically (if you’re normal) it evolved NOT to do that. I know…you’re “special” and with the “right person” this will happen to YOU.

    Maybe you simply believe that as the “chemistry” fades you’ll develop something else with this person on a more emotional/mental and rational level. Well…it doesn’t seem to work that way very often in this society now does it? Divorce rates are through the roof and I’m sorry, everyone is not an abuser or horrible person. People come through my office door ALL THE TIME talking about how they just “fell out of love.” When looked at on a deeper level…there was never any love involved there at all. It was simply that as the “chemistry” faded they began to see the other person normally and rationally. This person is no longer perfect for them…plus, they put all their faith in “chemistry” and now…now they “lost” something so therefore something is terribly wrong with this relationship. Answer this: Is it better to have something and lose it or to never have it at all but have something else in its place? It seems to be, based on my research, people react MUCH more negatively to something that they had that “goes away” than they do to something they didn’t have.

    Its just disappointing to see so many people who love having choice and determinism in their lives using THAT as a rallying cry for GIVING UP rational choice in their lives and utilizing primitive instincts to make choices for life, when those instincts are completely unsuited for the job in modern life.

    Someone above also mentioned that being with someone without “chemistry” is like being with a roommate. I’ll assume this means a roommate that you’re also close friends with for the sake of not completely dehumanizing anyone on the planet you don’t have chemistry with. Hmm…hey, guess what? You are going to spend 99% of your time with ANYONE, chemistry or not, being their friend and roommate. That attitude I heard is just a PRIME indicator of relationship failure. That expectation of magic that somehow transcends things.

    Yet another person said something about if love (REAL love) was a choice we could love anyone. Hey…what is wrong with that??? I actually think that’s one of our strongest traits…that we CAN love anyone if we choose to. Our minds are the strongest thing we have going for us. The reason people don’t love just anyone is that on some level, based on their psychology, they choose NOT to.

    So many people do not want responsibility for their own lives…they just want to rely on something that gives them no choice in their eyes, and yet is systematically programmed to fail them. Hmm…this appears to be a really good definition of being irrational or insane. It never ceases to amaze me how people actually act surprised at their outcomes when doing this…even though its done it to them REPEATEDLY. Even though there are endless examples of it from everyone around them.

    I honestly wish people would wake up and realize that the biggest gift they have to give and to receive is that choice of love. That conscious decision to stick with someone, not because you are drugged into it, but because you MADE that choice to stand by someone for REAL reasons. Not because of simple chemically induced feelings that have no real basis. That isn’t SETTLING by any long shot. SETTLING to me is the whole concept of giving up your rational, REAL emotional and intellectual being and wandering through life looking for a drug high instead of REAL emotional connections with people who care about you (and you, them) for more than just the high you give them. That’s what it means to ACTUALLY like someone on a higher level.

  27. 57
    Helen

    kenley: “How dare fat and ugly women get married. Don’t they know only pretty, thin women deserve love and marriage? I guess they didn’t get the memo.”

    As a married woman, I give you high fives. :D Rock on.

    Seriously, you and Fiona are right. Mia’s attitude in #54 to us “dogs” and “losers” is, um, pretty amazing. I would suggest to Mia: the only person who loses by making constant comparisons is yourself. It causes you distress, and resentment does reveal itself and harm relationships no matter how hard you may try to hide it. So you need to let go of that uber-judgmental attitude for your own sake. Men simply do not like to hear women cat about other women.

    Tom’s comment in #50 was absolutely right – and Fiona wasn’t even criticizing other women. Negativity is not endearing, and catty negativity is a complete turnoff.

  28. 59
    Selena

    You slogged through the whole rant?

  29. 60
    Helen

    Evan: I wish I could give an amen, but cannot in this case, although P’s comments are always intelligent and thought-provoking, and although hub and I could be poster-children for the points she (he?) raises.

    The reason I can’t give an amen is that, today, people enter into relationships for very different reasons than those that drove our ancestors to enter relationships. There is no reason to presuppose that our needs and values are the same as theirs. Historically, mating with one other person or forming a clan has largely been driven by the fact that this is a more sustainable method of raising children: whether to boost the overall population in a new settlement, to marry off for political ties, or to carry on the family farm/business.

    Today, particularly in the western world, we no longer have the same needs. The global population stands at over 7 billion. There is far less need for humans as a species to procreate to prevent extinction, even locally. Marriage for political unities is becoming far less common; even Wils married the gorgeous commoner Kate. Far fewer children are staying in the same line of trade as their parents, and are moving ever farther from home.

    Given these demographic changes, it makes perfect sense that reasons for entering (and exiting) relationships changes as well. If people don’t want children (there are several posters here who fit that), why should they not choose a mate based on compatibility, which partly has to do with physical, mental, or emotional chemistry? We have the luxury to do that today. That is what our ancestors have afforded us. I don’t think moral labels should be slapped here and there, given that, as a species, this is what we collectively have evolved to at this point in time.

    I also don’t believe that every type of chemistry fades with time. In my own relationship, none of those three types have faded; some of them have grown, along with appreciation.

    Yes, you can consciously choose to love someone. But it helps to understand that the CONTEXT of doing so is so completely different from what it was just a generation ago, let alone ten generations; and therefore it doesn’t seem right to point the finger and shame anyone for not doing things the old-fashioned way (which hub and I did, but not because we’re morally superior). New types of relationships are being tried; new arrangements. We’re all feeling our way around. It’s quite an interesting time in history.

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