For me “love” is not a feeling but I’ll tell you what is. We live in a world that continuously affect our mindsets, influences our decisions, alters our motives and clearly muddle things up in some instances. The best lesson in life that offers clarity is “experience” ever heard of the phrase, experience is the best teacher? How about experience is the only teacher and you are the student.
For so long, I think my understanding of “love” has been miscalculated by various situations and scenarios, undoubtedly reading a lot of Mills and Boon and watching romantic movies did nothing but influence my ideologies on “love”. I hadn’t figured out why I felt butterflies in my tummy when I saw my primary school crush precisely at 9 years old or the sensational feeling almost like an “electric shiver” that ran through my body the first time he touched my head as a gesture of affection.
In a nutshell, that was my first ever experience of having a strong attraction for a boy. It was amazing in that I could not contain my excitement each time I saw him or heard his voice. All I felt was sweaty palms, increased heartbeats, wobbling stomach and worse of all a widely pasted grinned face. He was all I could think of and talk about; everyone knew I was into him. Although, I didn’t quite understand what it was I felt until much later, I knew this much, I liked the guy. I moved to the UK and it didn’t take me long to have another crush. To make matters worse, I was a daydreamer bordering on the obsessive.
I got into relationships with some dudes I didn’t find attractive. However, as time went on and we talked, laughed and shared moments, I got to like their personalities. I slowly began to develop feelings. I admit I said the “I love you” not because I meant or understood it but because that was the norm. It was what everybody said once you were in a committed relationship right? Despite all of the emotions the relationships still ended and we all moved on. I must admit though one of the relationships did hurt more than others. Slowly, my understanding on attraction and love began to form including how attraction is largely driven by emotions and how one’s views can be clouded by emotions.
Eventually with time and maturity I began to understand certain things. To start off, I experienced an intense attraction and short lived infatuation. All of these infatuations were made intense by the initial attraction I felt for the dudes to begin with. The more I thought about the feelings or why I liked them, the more I fed it and the more it grew. You all know whatever you feed, water or take care of in most cases will grow, take roots, take forms etc. To quit babbling, my experience with “love” was slowly being unravelled in my mind.
This is where am at with my understanding:
Attraction: Attraction in itself comes in different forms and it is experienced differently by all. However, all of the lovely sweet things I was experiencing with the dudes I liked and dated were mostly attraction that led to having feelings. This was even fuelled by the interaction, similarities, values and ideas we share. Obviously, the physical physique really does add a touch base to the whole thing. Needless to say, attraction is not love and love is not attraction. However, attraction is essential as it helps to aid closeness and intimacy. I also think that the longer the attraction the more it has potential to lead to “infatuation” and this is where it get interesting because infatuation can be closely linked or confused with “love”.
Infatuation: Infatuation itself I believe is stemmed from much more deeper attraction. It is the very foundation of some relationships and how far it went. When I think of infatuation I think of crushes, long term likes and equally obsession. Love is not obsessed, infatuation is. Think of it has having a new plant you constantly overfeed, over nurture basically over everything with it. Eventually, the plant will either not grow properly or wither away. In essence, infatuation has tendencies to overdo everything that can either make the other person feel suffocated or place unnecessary responsibilities on them again which can weigh anyone down mentally. Love on the other hand understands there is time for everything instead of constantly being obsessed, it understands the plant needs it own personal space and time to grow and be independent to an extent. Love is also selfless and intuitive in that when the plant needs it, it will know because it has taken time to study the plant etc. I think that “love” in general is less demanding, less needy and absolutely knows when to withdraw and reunite.
Love: What leads to love in a relationship and how do you know this is love? I think this will vary for each individual. Nonetheless, I know this much that love is not controlled by emotions rather our emotions are controlled by our feelings and our feelings sometimes control our judgments and actions. I think to “love” is influenced by a combination of factors but I do think “love” is a decision.
Unlike attraction, love is not instantaneous. I don’t believe people fall in love for the first time, I believe we grow to love and learn to based on life experiences, journey, moments, struggles and situations shared. Reading 1st Corinthian Ch 13 for the first time opened my eyes to a whole new different world and the meaning we all attach to “love”.
What is love when selfishness, injustice, unforgiveness, envy, malice and more abound even in relationships? Contrary to what we are told or see “love” carries a lot of responsibilities, accountabilities, demands, sacredness, trust, humility, knowledge and more. It is deeper than what meets the eye and it is the one thing I will not equate to feelings because I know my feelings are fleeting and are controlled by the desires of my heart. So when we say we want someone to love us we must first learn to show love to ourselves and others around us without expecting back. We must first practice it.
Unlike the movies and novels we read, we never get to share the reality of life with them. The reality of Cinderella living happily ever after yet the Prince can’t father a child? What if Snow White has an immune deficiency causing her to age a lot more?
Only through life experiences and situations will you and I understand what true “love” is. Yes, the understanding of this will become apparent once we find ourselves thinking less of our selfish needs and more of others. It will also become apparent when the butterflies are gone, the sweaty palms, daydreams etc are collecting dust instead reality takes over which challenges you and stretches you out of your comfort zone.
Yes, attraction can potentially be a base to develop feelings and for love to grow as sacrifices, true intentions and genuine concerns including intimacy (I’m not referring to sexual intimacy) begins to form and become the habit of both individuals. So next time you find yourself sweating palms, feeling shy… please know that this is nothing but attraction.
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