Love or In Love? Part 2 – The Balance
In Part 1, we discussed the difference between loving and being in love with someone. We saw that just loving someone had a noble, selfless, almost logical quality to it. Being in love had a more emotional and selfish quality – a person harbours a hope that they too can get – and be the source of – happiness.
But loving without falling in love isn’t necessarily ‘superior’ unless you aren’t already in a relationship, and have no intention of getting into one.
IF you do wish to pursue, are already in, or wish to save one, then you need to have a BALANCE of both. Here’s why.
To grow together, develop strong bonds, and build something creative, you need elements of selflessness. That lets you make rational decisions and give advice that would truly benefit the other person, unbiased by your own selfish concerns, ego and insecurities.
But you also need that strong desire to be together that transcends the logical, in order to be invested enough to brave trials, tribulations and sometimes each other’s crazy moods. For that, you need some of the emotional investment that comes from being in love.
Striving for BALANCE retains the best elements of each, while keeping their pitfalls at bay.
Most people have a fuzzy idea what they want in a loving relationship. But they most definitely don’t want this: being with someone who loves them only logically, without emotional investment.
You want the other person. But you also want them to want you the same way. While pure love might involve not expecting happiness for yourself in the relationship, that’s not what the other person would want too. They also WANT you to BE happy in a relationship with them.
On the other hand, emotional investment means that occasionally, hiccups pop up. The commonest is jealousy and insecurity.
No one wants a highly insecure lamprey. However the occasional pinch of jealousy is normal and shows that the relationship – and you – are being valued. It’s an old maxim that the worst thing you can experience from your partner is indifference. While that’s the norm in gaming theory during the chase, in a relationship is no place for games like that.
The Balance (some logic required):
I said a pinch of jealousy, because you don’t want the other extreme – irrational insecurity! Some signs of this are: Possessiveness, unfounded suspicions, baseless accusations, inability to sleep because of fear or anger, anxiety, thoughts of revenge.
Here’s how most people screw up:
1. The insecure person responds with some form of punishment, such as being cold and aloof, or even restraining their partner’s actions and words.
2. The other person doesn’t care, dismisses their partner’s feelings as weakness and sees no need to play a part or change anything.
The ideal outcome is a reinforced decision to value each other more, and become an even better person for them.
Here’s a key relationship principle:
Use anything potentially sensitive or negative as an opportunity to create strength and positivity in your relationship.
In this case, use bouts of jealousy as a tool to increase open communication. Be honest, don’t seethe inside. Your partner might be unaware of his actions, or he could give you a perspective you never considered before.
And when roles are reversed, be patient, and give reassurance. Also, if you care about the relationship and them, you must seriously listen and consider if your own actions, words, or even values, give adequate cause for concern on your partner’s part.
When the going gets tough, the unemotional get packing.
Here’s the problem with logic… it goes both ways.
Yes, logic lets you make unselfish decisions, purely for someone’s good when you love them.
But, it’s also possibly to stop loving someone completely based on logic.
It’s like doing a CBA, tallying up the cost of finances, effort, emotions, weakness, and so on, and then making a quick judgement that it’s working or not. Sometimes, the logical mind may sincerely decide that he or she was simply no good for the other person, and call it quits for ‘their own good’. The feelings of the other don’t come into the decision making process at all.
Here’s the thing. In a loving relationship, you cannot ignore or dismiss feelings. Yes, they may be irrational. Unfathomable even. But they have to be a part of your decision making equation.
Having an in love component gives relationships more resilience, to work things out, talk things over, seek professional counselling… all things which require work.
The Balance (some logic required):
Trying to make things work is a positive. But beware when you start making extreme sacrifices in order to stay in a relationship, especially in a toxic relationship with someone whose behaviours are emotionally draining.
Doing so may be a sign of co-dependency, a need to hang onto another person in order to feel loved or fulfilled, even if the price is toxicity.
What are the signs? When you bear with things that would have been unacceptable before the relationship. Abuse, addiction, outbursts of temper, unfaithfulness. Maybe you can’t seem to do anything right. When you try to work things out the blame is always on you, with no sign of self-reflection on their part. When you have to start to control everything you do from the ideas you have, the words you speak and even how you breathe, it’s time to deal with it.
A toxic relationship is one that requires lots of work, and often professional counselling, to work on the deep-seated issues that plague such relationships. While we don’t have time to discuss that here, I’ll say this: If being with someone is starting to affect your work, your zest for Life, or even safety, but the other person doesn’t see a need to change, reflect, or seek help, it’s time to think about getting out.
Dominance and Desire
Ah… sex! That which differentiates a loving relationship from friendship
(Note, I am aware of FBs and FWBs, but that’s not the type of ‘relationship’ that aligns with AA35’s values, so I will say no more than that I am aware it exists, and leave it at that.)
In Part 1, we saw that the desires to dominate and be dominated sexually are missing in love based on selfless ‘nobility’. Without them you lose that special chemical spark that fires up relationships. You don’t get them from logic.
Sure, the initial fire may fade in time, but you need it to start things off. As the relationship progresses, it can mature into something else that bonds. But without sex desires you’re just friends, really. We have that primal instinct – the need to unleash the animal with a partner.
The Balance (some logic required):
Beware if sex becomes too big a part of all your interactions, or more dangerous: when it’s the only positive in your relationship. Two people in love will want steamy sex, but only as one components of the relationship. When sex is the only driver in a relationship, two people may merely just be in lust with each other. The love vs in love debate doesn’t even come into the picture.
If lust is the main thing, cheating happens easily once the sex hormones rage less, and sex becomes less novel. Mature, genuine people realise it’s a part of the familiarity process. Others can’t or won’t, so they chase after that novelty high by seeking out a third party, sometimes even claiming to still love their partner.
Plan balance by scheduling quality time that has nothing to do with sex. Have conversations that don’t turn dirty. Derive happiness from doing something that delights them (non-sexually!) Get to know and have activities with their family and friends. See each other as real, feeling people. When you do have sex, make sure it’s not always just about the orgasm, but also the pampering and the cuddling and the words of affection. And underlying all this, plan your future with respect to your goals and dreams.
As that old song goes, love is a wonderful thing.
To be in love is a fantastic feeling. The idea of starting something wonderful between two people, to sustain, nourish and grow it. There is so much pleasure, strength and meaning you get when you experience emotions like hope and joy, that come with being in love. You become inspired and filled with a creative zest for Life.
The problem is imbalance, usually when the “in love” component far outweighs the “pure love” part. Strive for balance in a way that doesn’t cause damage to either of you. Consider if the reasons you entered a relationship still hold up during times of stress and unhappiness.
Being aware of negative emotions, relationship toxicity, and mistaking lust for love, are ways to do that. Dealing with this requires a combination of the logical (to identifying these) and the emotional and sensitive.
Finally, I should add the case for going for pure love only. When you have a great relationship you want to keep platonic, when they clearly want out, when the relationship is ending, if they have become physically involved with another person. Once any of these happen, the option is clearly out of your hands. If you value this other person in your Life still, do so without hoping for anything in return. That way pure, logical love lies.
That’s it for this topic for now! Next time we’ll go back to one of the fundamental tenets of AA35 again… Living a Full Life!