What is love? Where does it come from? Where does it go when it is over? How do we fall in love? Why do we fall in love?
For years and years I have been pondering these questions. The concept of love, how it feels and what is does with us, has always been one of the major topics people deal with. It is discussed at almost every adolescent party, we hear it in the songs we listen to, we feel it in the films we watch, we think about it before we fall asleep. So naturally, I have also spent a lot of time mulling over the meaning of love.
One of the things that strike me most about love and about being in love in particular, is that we seem to be unable to explain why we are in love with this or that person. I once tried to explain a friend why I had fallen in love with someone. I said things like ‘this person really thinks a lot’ or ‘this person is able to express their own emotions and to accept other people’s emotions’. But whatever I said, I could not convince her that those things I described made this person special and that that was why I had fallen in love with them. She just said: ‘But there are lots of other people who are able to express their emotions and lots of people who like to ponder over big questions; that does not make this person special. So why are you in love with them then?’. That was a really good and valid question and I could not answer it, not right away at least.
After a few weeks of ruminating over her question, there was only one answer that I could come up with; the things that I described as reasons for liking that person where not necessarily special. What made those things special is that that person did those them. Does that not sound an awful lot like a circular argument? I like this about that person, because that person does that –> I like this person, because I like them. That was not an answer to the question why I liked that person, but at the same time it actually was. Because it really did matter that it was especially this person who had those personality traits and not some random other person who happened to also have those traits.
Think about it; does the person you love really have some sort of characteristics that make them special, characteristics no one else you know has? I know that for me this was not the case. I knew a lot of people who were able to express their emotions and did so readily. I also had quite a few people in my life that liked to ponder big, philosophical questions. I even knew one or two people who were able to really accept emotions of others. I even knew a few people who had all those characteristics combined. However, I was not in love with all those people. I was only in love with one of them. So apparently, I was not in love with that particular person for their characteristics.
Oftentimes, people speak about having a certain type of person they typically fall for. However, in light of the above reasoning, that seems to be a bit of a strange concept. The ‘type’ people describe often is a person with some specific set of physical (sometimes also personality) characteristics. But would you really fall in love with someone for those traits? To me it seems to be the other way around a lot of the times; people fall in love with someone despite that person not necessarily being their type. So then my question is: can we actually know what kind of person we fall in love with?
I do not think so. I think we just fall in love, full stop. There is no knowing who we will fall in love with, why we are in love with them or why we stop being in love with them. When we think we know why we are in love, I think we are just really backtracking our steps in time starting from the point we stumbled over the edge of the cliff and fell. We think that by backtracking our steps we will know why we eventually stumbled. But basically, we stumbled just because we did. Basically we love one another, just because we do. Is that not the most beautiful reason? Could there be anything else that is so stable, so sure, so true that we can accept it as ‘a reason’ for falling in love? There might be no reason to begin with. Love is because love is.