Love, Freely Chosen

A lot of emphasis is put on those in our society who feel “trapped” in relationships that lack the passion they once had.  This is all well and good, and romance and passion are important parts of any romantic relationship; but what about those couples trapped in relationships by the very passion we too often mistake for true love?  I think the situation of couples like this is much more serious because, more often than not, these couples don’t even realize they are “trapped”; they think they are “in love”.

We all know those couples that seem to break up every month and a half only to wind up back together within a week or two because they are just “so in love”.  The people who were so sure in one instant that they needed space suddenly realize, after an hour or two apart, that they “can’t live without each other”.  And isn’t that what love is—not being able to live without someone?

I think that’s what most people today think love is.  We think that love is just this intense and magical emotional connection that binds us together and we don’t really have a say in the matter.  “You can’t choose who you love,” we say.

I think this is a cheapened definition of love.  Of course there is a necessary emotional element to love, and you can’t (for the most part) choose whom you are attracted to.  You need chemistry.  You need passion.  But love is not made up of merely chemistry and passion alone.  This is because for love to be real love, it has to be freely chosen.

This is something we already know.  We don’t consider it a real act of love when a man marries a woman if he only does it because her father is threatening to kill him if he doesn’t.  This man would be acting out of fear and, because of his fear, he would not be free to make his own decision.

This seems like an extreme example, but we do the same thing when we become trapped in relationships by passion.  We may know when we are thinking clearly that a certain relationship is not good for us, but the fear of being without that feeling of closeness, of being without that romance or passion, is too much to handle.  So we tell ourselves we must be in love because we can’t imagine being happy without the other person.  But real love isn’t motivated by fear of the unknown or the uncomfortable.  Real love never coerces; it lets you decide for yourself.

This is something we ought to all be wary of.  Let’s not make the mistake of confusing intense passion with true love because, despite popular belief, they do not always go hand in hand.

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