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Dienye Hez Diri: Is Love a Feeling or a Decision?

Dienye Diri

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Growing up in the beautiful city of Aba, I had a girlfriend whom I loved so much. Although, I’ll admit, I didn’t know so much about love then. All I had was the feeling. That affectionate, passionate feeling. It was a profound, tender feeling of attachment that I didn’t have for any other person, at that point in my life. I understood love to be a feeling.

That girlfriend eventually moved on, married someone else. Despite all the feelings of love and affection we had for each other, she chose someone else. I have been in other relationships afterward, and now, I think I have a better understanding of what love really is.

Love is not just a feeling. No, it is not.

I recently met a friend who argued that love is a decision. And I have come across articles on the internet on this same issue. Many of them with reasons why they believe so. When my friend made his point and buttressed it with his reasons, I was inclined to lean toward his side of the argument. I asked myself several questions, one of which was: if love is a feeling, what happens when all the feeling is gone? Because there are sure too many times when we don’t feel like loving the object of our affection. I told myself my friend might just be right.

Again I told myself, love is not just a feeling. It is beyond that. I went home that day with a lot on my mind. After I arrived home, I went for a cold shower, as it helps clear my head. It was under that shower I made up my mind about what love really is. I felt better after that, and I made up my mind I was going to tell the world.

So here we are.

Is love, a feeling or a decision? I think it’s a mix of both. When people fall in love, they do just that – they fall. Falling in love does not require an effort. It is a passive act. You have this strong feeling drown you. You don’t have to force yourself to do anything. It comes naturally.

But a time comes when your head comes above water, when the feeling no longer has power over you. You’re no more “falling” in love. My friend would say, you’re standing in love at that point. Fully in control. When this happens, when you have the power, what do you choose then? To love or not to love.

Whether you choose to love or to not love, you make a decision. Many times when we say we love someone, it might be because of something. It might be because of their beauty, their smile, it might be the way they dress or their sense of humor. Truly, what we love about this person is how he/she makes us feel. That isn’t really what love is. That’s the “feeling” of love. In most cases, this feeling changes, weakens over time, and might eventually dissipate. In extremely unfortunate instances, that feeling never returns. Now what would happen if that aspect of what you love were gone, permanently? What if a loved one had an accident that immobilized them? Or a fire incident that scarred them, and made them lose their smile or their sense of humor. Would you still love them? Would you stop loving them? Decision time.

If the object of your love made you mad with something they did, would you still love them? Someone said love is a decision. A conscious choice to love is the decision to be kind, compassionate, affectionate and understanding towards someone. I agree. So, even though the things they were that made you love them in the first place were no longer there, your choice (decision) to love them, is what counts.

The feeling might not always be there, but we can always make the choice to love, or act with love. Imagine, for a second, that you decide to become a writer. That’s your decision. You make a commitment to it. You know what you have to do to become one. You need to read a lot, and you need to write, no matter how badly. Many times you will not feel like writing; you might have other (more interesting) activities lined up. You know if you want to write, you have to sacrifice those other activities just to write. It might not always be enjoyable, but you made the decision and you know you have to stick to it. That’s commitment.

Love is the same. It’s a choice (decision).

There are definitely times when you’d rather be selfish and act in an unloving manner. There are times also when you might not feel attracted to the object of your affection. There are many times when you’d rather just be alone, or just be with your friends than spend time with your loved one when they need you. In all these moments, you’ll make a decision. Do I choose to love or not? Once you answer this question, you know what you have just done. You have just made a decision.

If you look at love as a conscious decision, you’d want to love no matter the challenges.

But if love were only just a decision, why did you “feel” the way you felt on that first day? If love was just a decision, why did a teenage boy like me (who knew nothing about love) feel what I felt for my first love? Why did you feel like going back to that person after they broke your heart? If love was merely just a decision, you’d decide to leave, and not love again, and there’d be no problem. It’d be like you were both never together. Yes, relationships (being in love) require often that we make the decision to love or not (in certain circumstances).

But that subtle, underlying feeling of love precedes our decision to choose to love. Love is a more deeply embedded feeling. Personally, I think love is a feeling, and how we choose to act towards the object of our love is a decision. But that’s just what I think. Hence my earlier supposition that love is a mix of both. If today, regardless of what you feel, you decide to love someone. Your decision and resolve will be truly tested when hard times come, and you sit and think, and then realize you never really loved (felt anything for) them. If you really did feel something, you’d want to stay, you might not want to let go. Your feelings will tell you that you want to be with that person regardless.

A lot of people have ‘decided’ to love because of money, without that ‘feeling’ of love; and they have been burned. Many also have gone into marriages based on their decision to love, maybe because of looks. These marriages almost often end in divorces. These people only work on the decision, and try so much to convince themselves they can be with this person, regardless. But when tested, because there was never any feeling of love, they easily let go, and choose to move on. If love was only a choice, there would not be sadness or hurt or suicides (in the name of love) in the world. You’d only just decide to move on and not love anymore. We won’t feel so heartbroken when the other person decides to leave us.

When you fall in love, it’s a very precious gift you have received. The Creator made us relational beings, so he put that feeling in us that makes us yearn for and seek to be loved. We find love, then we decide to nurture this precious gift we’ve found. Think of love as a ceramic toy. It’ll be fine and last for you as long as you choose to nurture and protect it. Putting in mind that it is fragile, you’ll handle it with care. If you neglect its nature, and treat it without caution, you’ll break it.

Here’s to hoping that you find that someone that your heart desires; and when you find that someone, I hope you’ll decide to stay.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Dienye Diri is a content writer and nature lover; engineer, entrepreneur and fitness geek. He is a football fan and also enjoys cooking, listening to country music and likes engaging conversations. Follow his conversations at www.twitter.com/DiriDienyeHez

19 Comments

  1. Ada_ugo

    May 29, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    at the heart of the argument is the question – what is love?

  2. Funmi

    May 29, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Funny how this is happening to me now LOL.
    Love is a decision I believe.

    I’m in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend who I’m absolutely in love with. Yet, I find myself insanely attracted to this other guy. I don’t know him too well to say that I love his personality so the attraction to him is purely physical. He has charm and wit which I absolutely love!

    I feel like crap. My boyfriend and I have been celibate for almost a year cause we became Christians so decided to stop having sex, so I’ve been focused on building my relationship with God.

    Then I meet this guy and everything is going down the drain! He brings things I thought had died in me. Like I’m insanely attracted to him PHYSICALLY. I feel so horrible because as a Christian I hold myself to a much higher standard and feel like crap for even feeling this way! I’m distracted and losing focus on school, work, and most importantly God.

    Not to mention the fact that I LOVE my boyfriend, this I know. So why do I have this attraction for another guy? I kept telling myself that we could be friends as long as nothing happened between us. Until I mentioned it to my friend in church on Sunday and she told me the slippery slope I was purposely walking into. She gave me the much needed walking to I needed.

    I spoke to him and told him we won’t be communicating anymore. Also blocked him everywhere so no one is tempted to hit the other up. It’s been only 2 days and the attraction is still there. I’m really hoping that with time it’ll fade. But what can I do to speed up the process? Sigh. I need to get back in sync.

    But yeah, love is a DECISION. It’s that you choose to love the person even when it’s hard or it doesn’t come easy.

    • kike

      May 31, 2018 at 4:55 pm

      Firstly its a huge thing your a christian welcome to the family. Secondly now you have decided to follow God hmm its not goingmto be easy the devil knows your guy is far and cant tempt you with that so he brings this charmer lols like JOSEPH dear dont run fleeee, this kind,of attraction is strong and could last for a month or more but here is my advice to hold on,
      1 you have ddone well by blocking him, delete any access you have to him
      2. You should form a habit of telling God first he will help in ways you least expect
      3.for this time being avoid watching or reading anytin about romance this will quiet your hormones
      4. Feed yourself with the word of God specifically about purity and the benefits of avoiding premarital sex
      lastly remember that after overcomingmthis one he will try again so dear hold your head up and keep friends withnthe same values they a t as checkmates

  3. AdaAda

    May 29, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    wow. This is the most profound argument I’ve heard and I solely agree. Some people claim love is a mere choice. But it’s not. It’s both. Those feelings have to Be there to begin with. If the are not there to begin with, and you stay with the person just on a choice alone bases then that’s not love. As you said the feelings can’t be forced but must come naturally that you can’t help it . Also yes feelings come and go and that’s where choice comes in. To stay . The analogies you gave are brilliant. I am for expl passionate about history and music. But some days I’m not in the mood but if I put mind Over matter I can rekindle that passion because the passion was there to begin with.

    Thank you for this article. Sometimes when I say love isn’t merely a choice , champions of choice only make you seem shallow for saying feelings are involved as well.

  4. Zee

    May 29, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    Well for me, love is first a feeling and then a decision. A little of both.

  5. didi

    May 29, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    What you had for her was attraction not love,your hormones were at work.chemistry that is your body doing jim jim lols, is not love this is what we call feelings,crush,infatuation,they are very strong and intense but short-lived LOVE is a decision but much more its peaceful long-lasting selfless, patient,giving undoubtful,satisfying,steadfast etc time is the best revealer of true love. Love first chooses us if not we would choose differently maybe someone much more taller or smarter but suddenly something called LOVE binds you to someone you never imagine would be your true love. In a nutshell LOVE HAPPENS

  6. nnenne

    May 29, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    A think it’s a mixture of both.
    But you have to love yourself first before you can love another person.
    I guess people decide to leave their once loved ones, not because they don’t love them anymore but because staying is too much for them to handle or because their partner is not reciprocating their love by truly working with them to tweak whatsoever that is of concern to them. They may appologize,but refuse to change the situation. So, they leave ,heart broken. Some will never truly love again after that.
    Some may stay due to commitment like children but loose themselves due to heart break.
    Guess everyone is different and know how much they can handle.

    But love should be felt by all involved! Both should be selfless, protective of their love, listening and tweaking, not taking each other for granted and finally forgiving.

  7. T

    May 30, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Love is a feeling, Sacrifice is a decision

  8. T

    May 30, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Love is a feeling, sacrifice is a decision

  9. JoeyOJ

    May 30, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Nice piece,though I would like to say that feelings should not be above conscious decision.

  10. chika

    May 30, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    it is a decision..

  11. Golden

    May 30, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Love is a decision to seeking the highest good of another person, without any motive of personal gain.

  12. T

    May 30, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    Love is a feeling, sacrifice is a decision

  13. Aare farmland

    May 31, 2018 at 12:02 am

    I will with @nnenne that it is a mixture. Love is sometimes described as an emotion, when you see someone you love, you mind or thinking is affected, I think that is the feelings working. The feelings overpower what you were doing before. On the other hand, We are humans who want to communicate with others or share experience with others. Love is an unconscious decision to mark someone as the special one who you want to share those experiences with. Even if you feel it, you are also making a decision, to constantly want to hang out with this person and not be alone for life or for the next few months.

  14. UZOAMAKA UGOCHUKWU

    May 31, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Sister Funmi- stay strong abeg- the lord is your strength.

    Please remind yourself that “you LOVE your boyfriend and he should remind himself that he LOVES you always”,
    Biko, you two should kindly schedule a trip real quick- meet half way or the full way if you want to save cost.
    TALK TO EACH OTHER DAILY!!!

    I won’t be friends with a man that I’m attracted to because the devil is very patient, feelings are real and CONJI na bastard.

    E go be Sister Funmi- you have my paryers!

  15. Amaka.

    May 31, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Love is truly a feeling and a decision. The two goes together. Its a mixture that makes love perfect.

  16. Raveee

    June 1, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Love is a choice. You choose to either love a person or not. You choose to either stick with them or not especially once those butterflies are dead after the first few months of being together.

  17. Apple

    June 4, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    Kudos to the writer of this article, not many actually know Wat love entails, a lot of people have this conception that love is a mere feeling or love is just a decision. For me the writer is right it’s a mix of both feeling and decision. If it were just a decision I would have decided not to love my lover anymore for so many reasons, but it’s beyond deciding to avoid him, not to call him, not to think of him, because at the end of the day the feelings overwhelms u and u don’t know how to let it go. I’ve known my lover for 9years and we’ve dating for 3yrs now and my feelings have not changed towards him, where there days I got pissed off, tired, annoyed, hurt? Yes there were, but I guess I had to decide to hold on knowing that it could only be love else it wouldn’t have been possible. I agree with T as well “sacrifice is a decision” My lover decided to stay with me even when I messed up, even when I hurt him, even when I pretended I didn’t care, he decided to love me still…. Love for me has to be both or it’s not true love

  18. Apple

    June 4, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    Love comes like a feeling but it’s way beyond just dat its even way beyond u deciding. It’s a part of nature. Love is part of who we are, the world was made from Love (God Himself), that’s why u love the air Wen it’s cool, u love the trees Wen they whistle, u love that person just at the first meeting, u lOve that child at the first glance. A mother doesn’t decide to love her child love overtakes her even before she realizes it, she decides to make sacrifices for her child but often times Wen the child hurts or disappoint her and she decides to turn her back on the child she still won’t be able to forget or entirely let go. Deeper than feelings and decisions love is part of our makeup,its in our DNA. No wonder it comes softly and naturally.

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