This work is about love. Now, don’t go all romantic on me. I’m going to be clinical. Too often love is thought of only emotionally, but that doesn’t explain it, or our behaviour. I’m going to be rational.
I’m also going to be specific about what love I’m talking about. I’m not going into love of God, or family, or your favourite pet or teddy bear. I’m talking about the intimate emotional relationship between two people.
Love and spirituality can be closely connected. Eastern philosophy often combines the two, and religion and love have similar language – ecstasy, passion, etc. I feel this is because both come from a deep emotional centre within the mind.
Where did love come from? Well, if you don’t accept evolution, I suggest you skip this bit. Man is said to have become man because of a unique pelvis which allowed him to walk erect. But what would be the upshot of this?
FACE TO FACE
It meant that mating became natural and comfortable face to face. And for the first time a species had regular, intimate closeness as the norm. I’m convinced love came from this process, and from here, what we class as humanity followed.
Emotional togetherness birthed other emotions such as joy, jealousy, grief. And most importantly, an impulse towards another individual assisted in our thoughts moving away from instinct. In a way, this is even expressed in Genesis, with man and woman as one in a garden (nature), until temptation came and Adam had his Fall.
Love has not always been expressed as it is today. For much of history it was seen as functional, and mainly for procreation. This was due, I think, to a mind-set in which survival was uppermost. Only when society organized itself to improve survival did the view change.
It is first popularly expressed with Shakespeare, with Romeo and Juliet placing love above duty to family or society. For the first time it becomes expressed as all-encompassing and all-consuming.
Today, love seems to have changed once more. We tend to be infatuated by the personal and lifestyle. And all too often, this places love as a choice alongside career or personal politics. A fast society also demands immediate gratification. This does not allow time for love to blossom.
But what, exactly, is love? Well, I think, in order to explain it, we must realize it doesn’t exist. Now, I know many will be appalled by this, but read on. To me, love is two things: infatuation and deep companionship.
When love first blossoms it is physical and sexual – hormones are in overdrive. And it is this I class as infatuation. Eventually, this goes, and it is replaced by the deep companionship I speak of – and in many ways, this is the most powerful of the two in the long run.
I make this separation for an important reason. All too often, when infatuation wanes, people can mistakenly think they are falling out of love, when what is really happening is a transition. If we realized this, maybe there wouldn’t be quite so many separations.
Of course, in the short term, infatuation for someone can overpower deep companionship, and it is here that the affair occurs. Yet often, I see that it is the failure of trust that leads to separation. Perhaps we shouldn’t automatically class the affair as a ‘separation’ matter. It is simply a misunderstanding of what love is, and is not.