Is Love a Choice?

“Why did you choose to be with him?” is the question that led me to ponder the nature of love.

You cannot deny that euphoric feeling you get every time you see the one you are attracted to. The butterflies in your stomach, the racing heart and red cheeks. Falling for someone seems to happen spontaneously, uncontrollably and naturally. We may fall, like it or not, for some of the dumbest reasons. You do not get to decide how you feel and whether you feel this kind of attraction towards someone or not; so, love is not a choice. Or is it?

Sometimes it feels like we have no choice. Our emotions get the best of us, and the pull is so strong that we stay in unhealthy relationships despite being aware of the toxicity. Yet, we cannot seem to make ourselves leave. Feeling helpless, we may choose to stick it out with our partner who lies or cheats, and somehow, we open our hearts once again only to get hurt again.

We may feel that we don’t have a choice, but we always do.

Love cannot be controlled, curated, or switched on or off. But if you have been in a long-term relationship, you know that feelings are fleeting even when the relationship isn’t so toxic. The feelings you get in the honeymoon phase, or at the very start of the relationship, are just temporary. Most relationships fail when this period comes to an end because things aren’t as effortless as they were in the beginning. Once your feelings change, the shades that were blinding your vision disappear. You fall out of love for the same reasons you fell for them, simply because you see them in a different way or perhaps because someone’s endearing stubbornness became refusal to compromise.

Sustaining love over the years doesn’t just happen. Life gets in the way. The relationship gets so tempered by stress that sometimes that initial rush seems long gone. Once the lovey-dovey feeling vanishes, all you are left with is the commitment you once made.

You need to choose to stay in love, because it takes commitment. In most cases, it is through sacrifice and effort that the relationship evolves.

Choose To Stay

Although we did not choose to be attracted to that particular someone, we can choose to stay with them. We can choose to see the good in our partner every day and ignore the the petty, irritating small things. Sometimes we have to look at the big picture, rather than be fixated on something as silly as them forgetting to take out the garbage or leave the cap off the toothpaste.

Choosing to stay with someone is refusing to allow yourself to see perfection in anyone else.

When things are bad, choose to open the communication, choose to identify what broke and how to fix it, and choose to recreate something worth falling in love with. Don’t choose to walk away because those are the times we get to choose to love. The weeks or months when we feel so far from where we started, when we couldn’t get enough of each other, is the time for communication and effort. We need to grit our teeth and dig in our heels, especially when calling it quits seems easier.

Conflicts don’t have to be battles where blood is shed and all we are left with is ashes. We have to keep in mind that handling our issues well can be ultimately helpful.

As Rita Templeton said,

“Treat a wound properly — no matter how deep or life-threatening — and it builds scar tissue and heals stronger than before. Ignore it, and infection will seep throughout the body like poison. Sometimes addressing an issue hurts worse than the issue itself, but like the wound, it has to hurt if it’s to heal. And it won’t hurt forever.”

Remember the Reasons

It’s easy for us to focus too much on what we are not getting from our partners, rather than to find a way to work on it in such a way that it suits both. When couples take their relationships for granted, they forget why they fell in love. They forget the dreams they had and the plans they made. They forget their promises and commitments. The state of their relationship is based on personal happiness, rather than doing what is best for the both of them.

Another important choice we can make is to choose to remember the reasons why we committed to this person. We chose our life partners for a reason. We choose to love them through the rough parts because we keep that reason in mind.

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” – Sam Keen

It’s normal to have second thoughts when things fall apart. The comfort we find in our partners allows us to unload on them all of our insecurities, fears, vulnerabilities and the parts we wouldn’t dare show anyone else. So it’s not always going to be pretty, but the ugliness is a part of intimacy, and intimacy keeps us strong. It’s important to keep in mind that we all have flaws and quirks and are weird in some ways. Accepting those differences is part loving them.

Choose to be with a person who is committed to choosing you, to finding something to love even on the ugliest days.

Our relationship will not always be pleasant and there will be times for serious discussions and disagreement. There will be trying times and even bad times that we will need to work through together. The key to surviving these times is to remember to be respectful during communication, acknowledge our commitment, and work through whatever is at hand together. Reminding ourselves of why we chose to love them in the first place really helps during times of conflict.

You made a choice. You don’t have to always feel in love.

Some days you wake up to the person who once disappointed you, and you still have breakfast with them and choose to be kind to them. Choosing to be with someone based on how you feel about them may have dire consequences.

A relationship built on feelings will most likely not last, as it has a very shaky foundation.

Love is all about choices. Every single choice we make, no matter what it is about, has the opportunity to be made from a state of love. We can choose to see the good, ignore the petty, look for what we could do for our partner, and remember why we love our partner. Choosing to put in the effort to do these things is what love looks like, and with that work comes the wonderful reward of staying in love.

Love is a feeling, but being and staying with someone is a choice.

Back to the question.

As someone who feels very deeply, I crave human connection. It’s the inexplicable feeling I get from talking to him that provides me with comfort. I am interested in every aspect in his life. I want to learn more about him, explore with him and share my life experiences with him.

Why did I choose to be with him? Because he’s the person I would be willing to overlook the petty, irritating small things he does. Because even when the shit hits the fan, I would not be looking for the way out. I would still choose to work it out and love him regardless.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. sanat says:

    This article is on point! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jhward220 says:

    I have written a couple, very much the same thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jillb4nafter says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I chose to stay even when it was clear that we both were very imperfect. I don’t regret my choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Manoj Mehra says:

    Nice post. To keep a relationship alive you must be loyal towards your partner. In case of any conflict, conversation is the best way to solve problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymole says:

    I once received a card from a girlfriend, it read “Love is a choice, it’s a decision to care forever.” This was decades ago, and of course, I quickly lost touch with her. But that card’s words have stuck with me the whole time.

    Liked by 1 person

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