How do you tell if you’ve ever been in love or never experienced it? Even though falling in love with someone is an intangible experience, the vast majority of people believe that there is no question whatsoever in their minds about whether or not it occurs. If you’re wondering if you’re in love, the answer’s “no.”
I’m sure love is possible. However, I find it somewhat puzzling that we consider falling in love the most desirable experience a human being can have. I think falling in love requires matching one’s predetermined criteria or preferences. This is a decision that is made. The early phase of partner selection is what I affectionately refer to as the “terminator glasses” phase. This is because, during this stage, we examine the characteristics of a potential mate and compare them to our individual preferences.
On the evening of December 31st (many years ago), I went to a bar to meet up with some friends there, since we were going to be celebrating the evening there. While standing at the door with my friend, I caught my first glimpse of HER. I did a fast terminator scan:
Height: close to a meter and a half. MATCH. Physique: not too slim, and not too buff. MATCH. Hair: It is blonde, not ridiculously extravagant in the style of Lagertha Lothbrok (Vikings). MATCH. The complexion is a soft pale color. MATCH. Lips: Plump. MATCH. Smile: Oh my gosh. MATCH. Dreamy brown eyes that are incredibly expressive and have long, thick lashes. MATCH! Taking a humble and unassuming stance in the approach. MATCH. This person is most likely of Scandinavian descent. MATCH.
The certified Scandinavian was permitted to advance to the second half of phase one, which entailed interaction, while the terminator glasses were still securely fastened on my face. Because of this, every word spoken, every look given, and every action taken is analyzed through the lens of the terminator glasses. Any incompatibility in our dynamic can hasten the end of our relationship. This is frequently the aspect of any potential relationship.
During this stage, there is a tiny leeway for forgiveness, especially if the individual has their program set to find a “long-term companion.” In addition to this, this phase of the process is also my favorite because it consists of the activities that I enjoy doing the most. I think it is a game that both of us are aware we are playing but that we refuse to recognize as actually existing. When both players adhere to the same ruleset, quitting the game at any point is entirely risk-free and doesn’t affect their standing in the competition. If this is not the case, phone numbers are acquired, followed by a few comfortable chats. And depending on how weak one is, welcomed dates followed by wanted kisses might result!
Stage two, sometimes known as “the rose-colored glasses phase,” is a risky period typically not addressed with caution by either candidate. This phase is exceedingly perilous. There is a chance that bombs with warnings of “relationship doom” may be dropped in front of one’s eyes while also being disregarded, depending on how severe stage one was. Everything emerges and can always be made to operate in some capacity. Despite my pessimism, I find this stage undeniably more thrilling than the terminator phase, even though it is tinged with anxiety over the possibility that it may all be over soon.
It is possible for the words “I love you” to slip out of one’s mouth too soon, landing on the other person like a ball on a roulette table. The risks are considerable, but there is a possibility that you will advance to the third round if you are successful. Or not. It is difficult to determine what stage three should be called. And to tell you the truth, I have no idea what to name it because, by the time you get the words “will you marry me?” out of my mouth, I’m unsure whether to make my way to the green exit sign hanging above the fire escape.
In my experience, once I reach stage three, I typically conclude that Mrs. Perfect is just like the rest of us. She finds it difficult to accept me exactly as I am and instead makes an effort to point out the areas where I could improve (even though I am typically not very receptive to her suggestions for improvement). I can’t help but wonder why. This, of course, does not convince me to alter my behavior but instead causes me to become more firmly rooted in it (and resent her in the process). Love and commitment are exchanged for anxiety and dependence in this scenario. Most people rush for the exit as soon as the light turns green, but some decide to stay and fight it out to the very end.
At this juncture, individuals frequently declare that they have “lost their romantic feelings” for one another. I believe that they have never really been in love with one another and that this has always been the case. In the soundtrack of one of my all-time favorite movies, “Moulin Rouge,” there is a line that goes, “The greatest thing you can ever learn is merely to love, and be loved in return.” I feel that this is what both of us understand to be the essence of what it means to be in love. Nevertheless, being loved in return suggests that there is a prerequisite before you can love someone else entirely. Therefore, “romantic love” refers to a form of conditional love. It is referred to as “unrequited love” or even “desperate” when the two people involved solely feel romantic feelings in one direction.
What if love, true love, is nothing more than simply loving one another? What if I told you that the sole condition for genuine love is that it be free from constraints? And within that, real love can only imply a complete acceptance of the person, both in the form that they currently occupy and in the state that they currently do not occupy.