Archive for January 22nd, 2006

January 22, 2006

The myth of love at first sight

by Rod Smith

Love requires knowledge and experience

Love at first sight is impossible. Love requires knowledge, time, maturity, conflict, fun, experience, mutual struggles, and a lot more together before authentic love can develop. People can know “at first sight” that love might develop. Such knowledge, in itself, is not love. Every “in love” couple knows they are still learning what love is and means. They know it requires a growth period of twenty, thirty, or even fifty years. Sadly, many couples give up on each other, and on love, before it has the time to mature into something exceptional. When they see it is very hard work, having hoped for something easier, sights are lowered and something approximating love develops, then boredom peaks, and even the divorce court can beckon. Sometimes an affair stands in the wings or a grave brings relief.

Authentic love is about effort, decisions, actions, attitudes, and commitment spread over many years.

Loving someone is about seeking his or her highest interests while, at the same time, not ignoring your own highest interests. It is impossible to love someone more than you love yourself. It is impossible to know someone more deeply and more intensely than you know yourself. Pseudo-love can masquerade as authentic love and, at first, feel very good. In its early stages, manipulation can be confused with caring, intimidation with a “watchful eye” and domination with “strong commitment.” These are the love’s poisons and distorted love follows. True love’s hallmark is freedom for both and a respected, acknowledged voice for each. Anything less is not love.

When a couple, say Anne and Bob, are both healthy people who develop a lasting and loving relationship, she is able to focus on him without losing or compromising herself. They don’t become each other nor are they glued together. Being apart does not mean falling apart or the undermining of the relationship; being together does not deny individuality. She’s decided to love him. Bob has decided to love Anne. It has nothing to do with the performance of either. The love lives inside each one for the other.

Anne and Bob focus on what they can give to each other without giving up themselves. They know a mature loving relationship is about total equality. They desire mutuality in every respect and both work very hard toward it. There is a palpable freedom between them and a team attitude even when they are involved in unrelated or separate activities. They inspire each other toward separate and shared goals. Neither is threatened by the other’s willingness to grow and achieve and both heartily applaud and encourage the success of the other.

They are willing to hear things from each other they would prefer not to hear. Neither changes what they think, feel, experience or believe to accommodate what they believe the other might prefer to hear. Truth is told with kindness. Anne and Bob share a sacred trust. Questions are born out of a desire to participate in each other’s lives and not from suspicion about each other’s activities. They know and often experience that love casts out fear.

Ann and Bob are faithful to each other because faithfulness builds healthy, sound friendships with all people. Ann is faithful to Bob because even if she did not know Bob, she’d be a faithful person. He is faithful to her because he already is a faithful man. In a sense, their faithfulness has nothing to do with each other.

An absolutely private world, holy territory, lies between them. They go to places together in this world that each has never been before. Here, they touch the heart of God through commitment, mutuality, freedom and respect. In this private place of communion, the depth they know in this sacred intimacy is never equaled with another or devalued or soiled through compromise with another. It is highly valued, a protected place for them both, and, like very expensive art, is defended, enjoyed and treasured by each of them.