Monday, June 25, 2007

The Curse of "Falling in Love"...

Let's face it, we all probably know someone that "falls" hard and fast for people. Who knows, that someone might even be you! ;) Whatever the case, is that experience actually love? Is "falling in love" truly "love" at all?

In the book I'm currently reading--The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck, M.D.--(which I've been "currently reading" for months now. Yep that's how I "read" books. Don't expect me to finish it. I don't like to set TOO high of goals for myself...HA!) I recently read a passage that I found REALLY interesting. It's in Section II of the book, and this section covers love (I just love talking about love...HA)! Anyways, there is a part in this section entitled "Falling in Love" that I found very interesting. Honestly, I'd never really given much thought to the actual experience of "falling in love" but I think Dr. Peck makes some very interesting points that I thought were worth sharing.

I guess you can say that after I read this passage I had a stronger belief in my philosophy that the dating/courting/engagement period should be a longer process than a few months before two individuals unite in marriage. I think you'll see what I mean when you read the following paragraphs I took from this text, but if not, simply consider the thought of going from a state of feeling lonely on a consistent basis to the sudden state of loneliness being lifted. That transition alone has such a powerful influence on the psyche that it can disillusion the mind for a matter of months alone! I would hate to look back on my marriage and think about how it all began as I was in a state of disillusionment! For example, consider the following thought process: "Gosh, I was so lonely before I met Sam, but now I always have someone to talk to! What an amazing feeling!" Why yes, yes it is a great feeling to go from being lonely to not anymore; however, simply having someone to always talk to is not reason enough to marry them, nor does the consistent conversation mean that the two individuals truly love one another.

I guess I just feel if you don't let the state of having fallen in love subside before the marriage takes place, there could be a rude awakening to happen once the "honeymoon phase" subsides...

[The following passages have been taken from pages 84-90 of M. Scott Peck's text "The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth"]

Of all the misconceptions about love the most powerful and pervasive is the belief that “falling in love” is love or at least one of the manifestations of love. It is a potent misconception, because falling in the love is subjectively experienced in a very powerful fashion as an experience of love. When a person falls in love what he or she certainly feels is “I love him” or “I love her.” But two problems are immediately apparent. The first is that the experience of falling in love is specifically a sex-linked erotic experience. We do not fall in love with our children even though we may love them very deeply. We do not fall in love with our friends of the same sex—unless we are homosexually oriented—even though we may care for them greatly. We fall in love only when we are consciously or unconsciously sexually motivated. The second problem is that the experience of falling in love is invariably temporary. No matter whom we fall in love with, we sooner or later fall out of love if the relationship continues long enough. This is not to say that we invariably cease loving the person with whom we fall in love. But it is to say that the feeling of ecstatic lovingness that characterizes the experience of falling love always passes. The honeymoon always ends. The bloom of romance always fades.

Some people…feel their boundaries to be protecting and comforting and find a sense of safety in their loneliness. But most of us feel our loneliness to be painful and yearn to escape from behind the walls of our individual identities to a condition in which we can be more unified with the world outside of ourselves. The experience of falling in love allows us this escape—temporarily. The essence of the phenomenon of falling in love is a sudden collapse of a section of an individual’s ego boundaries, permitting one to merge his or her identity with that of another person. The sudden release of oneself from oneself, the explosive pouring out of oneself into the beloved, and the dramatic surcease of loneliness accompanying this collapse of ego boundaries is experienced by most of us as ecstatic. We and our beloved are one! Loneliness is no more!

Assuming the reality of the definition of love with which we started, the experience of “falling in love” is not real love for the several reasons that follow.

Falling in love is not an act of will. It is not a conscious choice. No matter how open to or eager for it we may be, the experience may still elude us. Contrarily, the experience may capture us at times when we are definitely not seeking it, when it is inconvenient or undesirable.

Falling in love is not an extension of one’s limits or boundaries; it is a partial and temporary collapse of them. The extension of one’s limits requires effort; falling in love is effortless. Lazy and undisciplined individuals are as likely to fall in love as energetic and dedicated ones. Once the precious moment of falling in love has passed and the boundaries have snapped back into place, the individual may be disillusioned, but is usually none the larger for the experience. When limits are extended or stretched, however, they tend to stay stretched. Real love is a permanently self-enlarging experience. Falling in love is not.

Falling in love has little to do with purposively nurturing one’s spiritual development. If we have any purpose in mind when we fall in love it is to terminate our own loneliness and perhaps insure this result through marriage. Certainly we are not thinking of spiritual development. Indeed, after we have fallen in love and before we have fallen out of love again we fell that we have arrived, that the heights have been attained, that there is both no need and no possibility of going higher. We do not feel ourselves to be in any need of development; we are totally content to be where we are. Our spirit is at peace. Nor do we perceive our beloved as being in need of spiritual development. To the contrary, we perceive him or her as perfect, as having been perfected. If we see any faults in our beloved, we perceive them as insignificant—little quirks or darling eccentricities that only add color and charm.

If falling in love is not love, then what is it other than a temporary and partial collapse of ego boundaries? I do not know. But the sexual specificity of the phenomenon leads me to suspect that it is a genetically determined instinctual component of mating behavior. In other words, the temporary collapse of ego boundaries that constitutes falling in love is a stereotypic response of human beings to a configuration of internal sexual drives and external sexual stimuli, which serves to increase the probability of sexual pairing and bonding so as to enhance the survival of the species. Or to put it in another, rather crass way, falling in love is a trick that our genes pull on our otherwise perceptive mind to hoodwink or trap us into marriage…On the other hand, without this trick, this illusory and inevitably temporary (it would not be practical were it not temporary) regression to infantile merging and omnipotence, many of us who are happily or unhappily married today would have retreated in whole-hearted terror from the realism of the marriage vows.


jules said...

i LIKE this entry.

Anonymous said...

From Hollylovebug:
(It won't let me sign in to leave this comment)

Hmm. Makes me wonder if Mr. Peck has ever been in love before. heh. Sounds like an interesting book.

Jennifer said...

I agree that "falling in love" is different than "love." I do not, however, agree that you need to know each other for any set amount of time before marriage for that exact reason. It is very easy for you to say this, because you have never been married. I said the same thing before I made the committment to marry Lucas, but I was wrong. Love is a decision you make every day, over and over. It doesn't matter if you know someone two months or two decades before you marry them. Regardless of how well you know them, love is still a decision. Anyone who has had the experience of marriage knows this very well. Sure it could POSSIBLY be better if you know them longer, but it doesn't mean that it's necessarily essential or beneficial.

Sibusiso said...

this is so interesting, i honestly have enough to think about after this article.

Sibusiso said...

this is so interesting, i honestly have enough to think about after this article.

sculpturepainter said...

I believe in what has been said by Peck. I have had this experience over and over. When I was married, I wnet through the fsalling out of love experience and schose to love. My wife did not. When she fell out of love she said she didn;t love me, which was true. She also didn't know she needed to grow. Mariage is a spiritual union that requires many things like nurishment to ourselves and the other, date nights, working at love, working at affection, working at attraction. Lately I have been the victim of what Peck calls "the unequalibrium of the falling in love experience" No two people fall in love at the same time.