Thursday, April 4, 2019

Love is a Choice

So, this post is a little different. This one will be more of a personal essay as opposed to a more factual post because you know I love science and all. So, without further ado, here's Love is a Choice.

One day my cousin Jackie and I were laying on her bed talking about love and relationships. With questions like, what does it even really mean to be "in love"? My idea of love for a long time came from movies and TV shows that I used to watch when I was a kid.

After rewatching some of these shows and movies, I've come to discover my idea of love was actually extremely unhealthy. Like, Phoebe and Cole's love from Charmed. When I was younger, I used to think it was so romantic that Cole just wanted to be with Phoebe. He just didn't want to let her go even though she insisted that she didn't want to be with him anymore...several times. But in actuality, he was crazy and unhealthily obsessed with her.

Or, romantic comedies. They only show the chase, the infatuation, and the act of falling in love. For an hour and a half, they show both sides having a tug-of-war in their heads if they want to be with the other person or not and the finale usually shows them finally ending up choosing to be together. But, what happens after they get together? How do they keep the love alive?

With these revelations, how am I supposed to trust my idea of love when it comes from movies and TV shows, which don't even really portray (1) long-term love and/or (2) healthy love?  I know that I'm generalizing. Of course, there's probably some shows or movies that show this; I just didn't watch it or pay attention to it when I was younger because it wasn't as tumultuous as the ones that I idealized.

As biology majors, of course, we put hormones into consideration when we were discussing this thing we call "love." The feeling of love itself is pretty much all hormones - dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, etc.

But, just seeing love as hormones can be pretty discouraging considering they can level off anytime. So, how do you even keep a long-term relationship if you're just relying on a feeling that's the result of hormones? You don't.

During our discussion, Jackie said something so profoundly simple,"My roommate used to tell me all the time that love is a choice," which struck a chord with me because (1) it was comforting and (2) it's something I knew all along but didn't realize it.

Relationships are made up of choices. Like, choosing to give them a hug when you see them, choosing to actually listen to them when they're speaking, and doing something nice for them. All of these decisions are important. It's what shapes your relationship. The ultimate decision you need to make is if you're going to commit to this person or not.

The choices are tougher to make when your relationship is going through a rough patch. During these times, you might not even like your significant other. Are you going to choose to ignore them or communicate with them? Are you gonna choose to pull away or show up for them even though you're pissed? You have to choose if you're going to remember why you invested in this relationship and what you love about this person or if the issue is worth fixing or not. Are you willing to put out the effort to work out the issue?

In these times, your desire to be a partnership and a team has to be greater than your individual pride and ego. Of course, there are things that are worth standing your ground for, but how you choose to go about it means a lot, too. If they don't see your side of it and it's really important to you, are you willing to compromise or is it a dealbreaker for you?

Once you consciously realize that love is choice, your view of relationships is incredibly different than if you believed that love is about a feeling. You're much more mindful with your actions instead of reacting with a complete emotional drive.

If you're aware that love is a choice and want to learn how to not be so reactive, meditation helps a lot. I know this from personal experience because I was highly reactive and I started meditating to combat this issue specifically. And, it worked and it's great. 10/10 recommend.

In a healthy relationship, there are a couple of things that both of you guys need to choose to do:
  • Commit to each other.
  • Love each other as you guys are and don't try to change the other person.
  • Treat each other with kindness and respect.
  • Listen to each other.
  • Communicate with each other even with issues that you may be scared to discuss.
To conclude, I just want to throw out a disclaimer out there that I am not a relationship expert. This post was my perspective of love.

To learn more about Jackie - the person that I had this whole discussion with - read Growth Diary of a Harvard Alumnus.

I hope you guys liked this post and if you did, please share it with your friends on Facebook and/or Twitter. If you have any thoughts, comment down below.

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