I know that we all sometimes think back to our middle school days and long for the time when we thought that love was as simple as just telling the person you liked that their shoes were nice. In reality, it’s a whole lot more complicated than that. There are so many things we must unlearn about love. We’re not owed it, and we don’t deserve it just because we live another day. Love is a choice. If you don’t believe me, read on.
- Everyone is different. When I say this, it’s hard to convey the sheer scale of what I mean. Each person has an infinite array and nuances for how their experience. Variety in the way they express emotions, to each other and to themselves. Whatever we learn about ourselves in this life, we must always constantly learn how to adapt it to the people who enter our lives and adjust to the loss of those who go. It means that there are so many thousands of permutations of what love means that we will experience in our lifetime. We can’t control that. We can’t pretend that it will be a permanent thing that will always look the same or behave the same way. Love is a choice because it simply has to be in order to accommodate all these changes. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be worth it. Trust me.
- You need to ask for permission to love your partner. We can’t presume that circumstances or feelings haven’t changed. In relationships, it’s a great and healthy practice to have regular check-ins and safe words. Also, quiet time apart so that we can reflect. Emotions aren’t best served fresh, let me tell you. I barely know what I’m feeling in retrospect, in the cold light of day, let alone in the moment. It means that we need to constantly look our partners in the eye and ask if they’re ready for us, willing for us to occupy space with them. The answer won’t always be yes, and we have to appreciate that. Be grateful, don’t take them for granted. You will see that love is not just a criterion for living, it is earned every day in new ways.
- You have to give them permission to love you in return. This ensures that boundaries and equal partnerships are maintained in the relationship. No one suddenly emerges from the relationship with more emotional power than the other. It’s not just about sex, it’s about who has more experience. Or who shares more. Or who needs more time to work on themselves. You have to look inwards and know that you must work on loving yourself as well as loving other people. It’s a give and take, but it’s also muscle memory. A habit. I think that’s pretty perfect though. It’s more of a commitment than just a fated, unquestioning form of love that doesn’t evolve with you.
- Emotion isn’t permanent. We have to choose to love people again and again because we know that we change. Emotions change. Contexts change. It means that we respond in different ways, and that’s why real love change to account for that.
- No one owes you love. You have to deserve it, every day with your actions. If you only rubbed someone’s back so that they’d cook you dinner, unpack that gesture. It’s not love, that’s a transaction. Love isn’t a trend or a prediction, it’s faith and intentionality and honesty and courage.
- It changes with experience. No one is the same person that they were when they were 15. Mercifully. It means we’re bigger, well-rounded, and have more perspectives and maturity. We can love better, smarter, and more recklessly. We chose to put ourselves at risk because we learn that the world is cruel and hard and we need each other, however, we can get them.
- You have the power to choose a nicer form of love. I like to think that we do choose to love because it means that you can see that we make better choices in partners over time. We learn what we need and what we want in a partner. I think it’s wholesome and gratifying that we get better at giving our hearts to kinder people.
- Change your approach. Love lets you be flexible. You can branch out and meet new people and be open to all things. That’s the best thing. You become a more interesting person because of who you are in a relationship with. We can all learn so much from new experiences like polyamory or open relationships – as long as it’s consensual.
There are a few reasons why it’s so fulfilling to believe that we choose to love people in this world. It’s not an accident that we have no control over. We’re in charge of whether we’re single or taken.