Have you had the maddening crush that one gets obsessed with, where nothing else seems to matter, and it takes over your whole life? When you are in that zone, do you dream of it becoming the sort of love that stays on and on, forever? The vision of perfection presented to us in our popular culture is that of a relationship that starts with the headiness and intoxication of the infatuation and mellow into a mature love is celebrated as the ideal way that we find and keep love.
We have movies with couples in their seventies and eighties, reminiscing of how they were these teeny boppers chasing each other through golden fields of wheat, dancing around trees, fighting forces that were opposed to their charmed love for each other, and all kinds of obstacles, till they finally get together in a full crescendo of passion, and stay with that high for years and years, facing everything life has to offer together, growing old together, and even in the mellowness of age, still finding passion for each other all the time.
In reality though, few relationships that start off on the high of the high school crush rarely mature as wished. Like much fruit juice that turns more easily sour and spoilt, the probability of early feelings of love souring in the face of the realities of life is often so much higher than the probability of such feelings growing and maturing into a mutually cherished love.
The realities we are talking about here are often grounded not in the feelings people may have for each other, but how they live with each other and what rules and regulations come up. The wooing period doesn’t necessarily talk about gender roles or social norms of what a commitment might look like or how the unit will function on an ongoing basis.
Once the relationship is firmed up, for most people, everything changes. Are these then very different emotions altogether? Is the headiness of falling and being in love just a temporary feeling designed to land the deal, so to say? Once the deal is done, do the parties in the relationship start to behave very much like their own families of origin, or take each other for granted? Are relationships that start with all that oxytocin high really doomed get disappointing over time? Is staying with feelings of love something quite different from falling in love?
Making a commitment on the basis of the feelings of being loved up may not necessarily live up to the dream of the perfect passionate love. Yet, generation after generation, the ones in the throes of such love will insist that theirs is different, and that they are really truly in love and will never change. Regrettably, most will find it is not so. The ones that do get to age well and get richer and deeper, like a good wine, have to work at it. Constantly. Love cannot be taken as a given. (The author is a counsellor with InnerSight)