Although highly enjoyable (at certain stages), falling in love is problematic. The first problem is who we can fall in love with. We can fall in love with anyone. A gay person when we are not gay (or maybe we are gay but the wrong gender). A married person who happens to be not married to us (or we could be the married person falling in love with someone other than our partner). An unsuitable person in terms of age, personality, lifestyle, or future goals. Or, worst of all, a person who doesn’t love us in return.
However, even if we fall in love with a gender-appropriate, sexual-orientation-appropriate, availability-appropriate, age-appropriate, life-goals-appropriate person then falling in love is still highly problematic because of the inherent dynamic of the process itself.
This leads to our second problem – the design of the falling in love mechanism. The mechanism of falling in love is designed to gain a thing which it is incapable of gaining. It seeks wholeness but inevitably leads to pain, fear, and failure. We need not give up on love, but we do need to understand it.
The nature of human consciousness is to seek completeness. It’s a good intention, but the nature of human consciousness is also to look for it in the wrong places. We have an instinctive drive which seeks wholeness in every way. At the physical level, it is perceived as joining with another, preferably, loved and desired body. Regardless of the shallow talk and jokes that people commonly exchange about sex, most people truly look for a deeper sense of connection and unity in their sexual relationships.
Need I tell you about the innumerable problems people have in this pursuit? If the body is fragmented and in need of another body to complete itself, the emotional body is even more fractured. The success of the venture to find emotional completeness is about as successful as the physical one. How can we approach the whole arena of love with a different understanding and thus a different outcome?
On a practical note, time helps with many things. It helps with infatuations that are going nowhere. Before long, bits of reality dismantle minor crushes and attractions. If it is a major but unconsummated falling in love, it may take a few years, but even an intense emotional attraction will generally succumb to the intrusions of life. For example, if one falls in love with a person who is involved with someone else and, after a few years, that person is still in the same relationship then even the most romantic person will generally accept their losses and move on. Sometimes, the so-called loved one has turned into a God in the mind of the in-love one who has attached their emotional barrenness to that person. The real person and the one in the mind of the love-stricken person become totally unrelated. Usually, however, time will bring about the dissolution of infatuations that go nowhere.
Not only does time dissolve infatuations that go nowhere, it also dissolves relationships once they are established. After a few good years, the stuff of life, the brokenness of people, the dissatisfaction people feel with what their mate was supposed to be, and the inability of couples to live harmoniously becomes painful enough that many couples break up at this point. Alternatively, they may stay together but live out the rest of their relationship in secret despair or outright rage. If all of this sounds rather depressing then we are ready to understand what makes love really work. Is there an alternative to abandoning relationships, secret despair, and the stress of conflict? Yes, indeed, there is, but it has little to do with falling in love and much to do with the development of true love.
Truly loving people are uncommon. They are as uncommon as awake people. Our success in learning about love will directly correlate to our level of happiness. It is certainly worth persevering with the learning process which involves a great deal of honesty, introspection, and forgiveness. Even if we are the only one in the relationship on that path, it doesn’t matter. We will still be blessed with our own happiness and isn’t that the bottom line of what we all want? Our first responsibility is to create a happy life for ourselves. If the other person in the relationship learns to also value love, honesty, and forgiveness then the relationship will transform, usually slowly, into a strong connection which is good for the couple and others alike.
Even though true love is very different to falling in love, we mustn’t stop the fall of falling in love. There’s a certain surrender to falling in love. We have to let go of something of ourselves to fall in love with another person. When it becomes clear that love is not maintainable under the same belief system that made us fall in love, we can reassess our course. After the fall of falling in love, there is a steep climb back up again but we can make sure that we are climbing in the right direction. And that makes all the difference.