Thursday, December 12, 2013

Signs

I came across this on Facebook just now, and... I kind of felt the need to put a little input into it, just from the perspective of a 41 year old woman.

First off, these aren't signs that you are falling in love.  These are signs that you are attracted to him.  Love comes after, and it has nothing to do with these things.  Love is a choice.  You found a guy you were attracted to.  Good.  He turned out to be an awesome guy.  Even better.  You think (mostly) alike on all the important issues, you complement each other, you argue, but you make compromises, and you try to understand where the other is coming from.  You don't need to compromise on the big stuff, because you agree on that.  You can talk to each other about pretty much anything.  You share the important things.  You care about the well-being of each other.  You respect each other.  The more you get to know him, the better you like him.  The more amazing he is.  You like him despite his faults.  He likes you despite yours.  You can easily see yourself living your whole life together.  NOW you're falling in love.  And when he's not the only thing you think about anymore, when just the sound of his voice isn't enough to make you smile, when you no longer re-read his texts over and over, when you aren't constantly smiling every time you think of him, it doesn't matter, because those things weren't love.  Love is a choice.  Love is choosing to stick by someone you really like, and respect and admire for the rest of your life.  Love is a gift.  And it keeps giving and giving and giving, and it doesn't stop; not when you are mad, not when you are upset, or hurt or just not feeling it.  You choose to care about his well-being.  You choose to do special things for him.  You choose to ask him how his day was.  That is love.

Love is caring for the other person, even when you're angry.
It's important to make this kind of distinction, because later on in life, once you're married, you will come across other people you are attracted to.  Attraction is a natural thing, and not bad in itself.  It's what you do with it that is either good or bad. Eventually, the feelings of attraction WILL die out and this is also normal.  On the one hand, it's good to know that this doesn't mean you're not in love with the guy (or girl) you chose to marry anymore.  On the other hand it's also good to know that feeling attracted to someone new will likely only be temporary, and it certainly doesn't mean you are in love with them instead now. You cannot let pure feelings direct your life.  They come and they go, and they can't always be relied upon.

Love ISN'T just a feeling.  You DON'T just fall in and out of it, you grow into it, and it gets stronger and stronger, because you choose to work at it.  Love is a mutual thing.  You both care for each other.  When one person does not care, and desires to harm the other, then love is absent.

Learning to show restraint towards feelings while still single is important.  If you throw yourself into a relationship without restraint, how will you see the warning bells and avoid ending up in a serious relationship, hard to get out of, or married to the wrong person?  Practicing restraint while still single allows you to more easily ignore feelings of attraction to other people once you are married.  And, eventually, the feelings disappear.  Because they are temporary.  You're not in love with that other person who's not your spouse, despite whatever you may be feeling, because you choose to not act on it.  Because you've already chosen to love the one you're with, even when you don't feel it.  THAT is love.  You find someone you like, and you stick by them.  Loyal like a dog.  And you ignore the rest.

And it is this sticking by them, this constant caring for them, that eventually develops a much deeper sentiment than pure attraction ever will.  That genuine affection, that deep knowing exactly how the other is going to react to this or that situation, that depending on each other for this or that thing, the automatic falling into roles, the inside jokes, the gentle teasing, the making up after a fight, the making it work even when it seems it can't work anymore, and making it over the next hill.  Nothing compares to that deep sentiment of sharing a life together and choosing each other over everything else, even when the feelings weren't always there.  THAT is love.  And when you get to that point, that is when you know that you are still only starting to fall in love with this person you've been with for years.