Most of us have felt love before, or at least something that felt like love at the time: The butterflies. The sweaty palms. Hearts hammering in our chests. The kisses that make you feel like your feet are lifting off the ground. The fact that they’re the only person you want to talk to and you can’t get them off your mind no matter how hard you try.
Or, have we? Was that really love or just a chemical reaction in your body? Maybe what you initially considered to be love is actually more biological than Shakespeare would have you believe.
Whether you’re a hopeless romantic or a cynic, here are arguments for and against whether love is the real deal:
For: When you know, you know.
So many people have those stories about how they just knew the person they married was the person they were supposed to be with. They don’t have any tangible explanation for it. They felt it in their gut. It was how she looked in a chance moment. It was the first time they touched. And, for them, the evidence was unequivocal. The next steps were obvious: exclusivity, marriage, a lifetime. There was never any doubt because, for them, the feelings they had when they first met just developed into something deeper and greater the more they got to know their bae. It happened when they were fourteen or seventy-five years old. They felt something they’d never felt before, or again. It’s the reasoning behind the quote, “True love stories never end.”
Against: It fades, thus what we think as love is actually lust.
Unless you spend your whole life tilting from one new infatuation to the next, all of that butterflies and sweaty palm action eventually ends. Most of us will tire of jumping around and want to settle down with one person. That means you’ll lose out on that addictive rush with them, usually sometime around the time when you open the bathroom door and see your partner in there for the first time or when you start to see they have perfectly normal, but also super obnoxious habits. Like the dishes they put in the sink that never seem to end up in the dishwasher or the fact that they always seem to like to talk with their mouth open.
By this point, love is no longer what the movies make it out to be. All of that biological lovey-doviness is instead replaced by choice. There will be plenty of days over the course of a relationship when you won’t feel love or even like for your partner, and you’ll sadly never regain that blissful ignorance you had when you first started dating. The choice comes when you continue to wake up beside them everyday, when you remember their love language is words of affirmation and compliment them for taking out the garbage for the bajillionth time, even if you feel you might break every dish in the house if you hear them complain about Patty from work again. It’s when you choose to have and raise children with them, still work on conflict resolution tactics that you work out together or with the help of a couples therapist, and when you say to them, “I love you. I still choose you.”
Regardless of whether you believe love is a result of clever species-continuing biology or a choice, it happens to us all if we’re lucky. If you believe love isn’t all butterflies, you’ll be better prepared to accept the loss of that addictive high and move toward building conscious choices that encourage mutual respect instead.