When we talk about love in a new relationship we often use the term 'falling in love' and it's a bit of a misnomer. Falling implies a drastic ending to the process, possibly resulting in a gruesome death or grotesque injury. To be fair that's occasionally true, but we'll try not to dwell on that.
As I was out walking today, grinning like an idiot because my head is kind of in the clouds these days, it occurred to me that the implication of falling in love is that (somewhere along the line) we know exactly when it becomes love, and that it doesn't go past that line. Is there a switch? What's the defining moment where you say, "Eureka - I've found it," and happily begin plotting a nefarious future with your partner in crime?
The reality of love is more that you continue falling for a really long time. I'd have to say that the day you stop falling into love is the day you start falling out of it. The longer we go on with a partner, the more we learn about them. We're not always going to like everything we learn, and it would be beyond tedious if we did, but we can only hope that the things we learn keep turning us on, rather than off.
The one recognizable point might be when we realize we can't imagine a life without the other person in it. We can feel this way about friends, too, but certain differences are obvious...like sex. Still, that point of true friendship is a bit of a key, I think. I've had relationships where I wasn't friends with the person I was in love with, though, and that's probably the reason the relationship didn't work. To be honest, I'm not sure I ever had a partner where they were my best friend at the time the relationship was going on - there was too much competition and combativeness, with a power struggle thrown in to really make things entertaining. I've had friends turn into lovers where the friendship disappeared, and I've had lovers turn into friends when the romance disappeared.
Well, I want the whole package now. I might actually get it, too, considering the whole 'head in the clouds' thing, but that's neither here nor there when it comes to this post. We're not really talking specifically about my love life, but rather an idea and understanding about the true nature of loving someone. A question has arisen in my mind, and as always it must be explored and answered. I'm kind of like a terrier that way - I just can't leave things alone once I sink my teeth into them. Throw in the corpses of relationships-past and we're stuck with a pretty gross image, but I still want my answers.
I'd say we don't really fall in love, but maybe drift into it and sometimes through it. The further we go toward the middle, the denser it gets, but if we're just passing through a portion of it we never really get the whole effect. It would be nice if we could always travel the longest distance through it, because it would be enough to keep a relationship going for a lifetime. Then there are the relationships that aren't on a linear projection at all, and veer sharply in one direction or another - like when a person cheats on a partner. They might have been swimming along nicely when suddenly one of them needs an ego boost that collides with a pretty, flirtatious face, or a handsomely formed bicep.
Let's go back to the part with the infatuation stuff. When we're young, and sometimes we never rid ourselves of this behaviour, we often cherish our rose-coloured glasses to the point of idiocy. The person you're mad about slammed their car into another one because the other driver ticked them off? Hey, no problem! They were just having an off day. Your crush is someone you met at the bar and they're considered a regular there? Oh, that's okay. Once they settle down all that will change. [Please note that I am holding up a very large sarcasm sign with flashing neon and a strobe light.] Apparently we all look pretty through pink lenses.
Often that infatuation stage is what we call 'falling in love' and it does imply that we haven't reach the love part yet. How true that is! You don't actually know the other person beyond your own perception of them. You haven't been slapped out of your delusions yet. It's very easy to pretend everything is perfect, because that's how we really want it to be. On the other hand some of us prefer a cold shower of reality as soon as humanly possible. It's a lot less painful in the end. We don't necessarily decide to end a relationship because of the reality, but at least we know what we're getting into.
Maybe you're wondering why this is important to me, which is a fair question. It's not simply that I'm facing these things at the moment, but also that I'd really like to make sure I don't screw things up in the future. I've made plenty of mistakes, and certainly have no trouble owning up to that, but if I don't look for my own answers as to why that happened...well...like history I am doomed to repeat it.