Emotional Fitness

Harness the power of emotion to deepen your love with your partner, become more successful at work, and more

Is Love a Choice?

Make choices that will make both of your lives better.

Whereas I do believe that all behavior is a choice, some emotions--like love--are not. We may fall, like it or not, for some of the dumbest reasons, but love, as the poets say, can be blind.

Scientists believe love is a DNA thing, where body chemistries connect through pheromones and such. A doctor once told me that love is all biochemistry, and we have no choice in it. Sometimes the pull is so strong, we stay in relationships that are unhealthy, and even though we know it, we can't seem to make ourselves leave.

This is why we may choose to stick it out with a partner who is not all that nice to us. He or she could lie, cheat, or steal from us, and somehow or another, we will once again open our hearts, perhaps only to get hurt again. It seems like we are living that old saying, "The devil you know is better than the one you don't." We may feel that we haven't got a choice, but we always do.

There are times when you can't really trust your emotions. Reality has to take its rightful place when you are considering whether to continue a potentially abusive relationship. You should think twice, recall your past with this person, and get some counseling if you think that any part of your relationship is unhealthy.

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Love can direct us to make decisions that we know are not right. At certain stages in our lives, if our parents or friends tell us that he or she isn't the right person for us, we simply ignore the unwanted advice and let romantic love take over. Not an uncommon or horrible decision, but when the relationship sours and you hear the voices of all the naysayers in your head, it's hard to avoid beating yourself up.

As adults, we need to give ourselves the chance to get to really know a person before making a commitment. Once we have made that commitment, we need to honor it, but if the relationship becomes a portal for negative outbursts, addiction, or abuse, it's time to reevaluate and consider getting help or moving on.

And yes, many times, things can be fixed or at least improved upon. Your partner may be venting some old inner pain or may be feeling the pressure of life to the extent where he or she inappropriately takes it out on you. Once past hurts are brought up and dealt with, many couples can rediscover their love and once again move forward.

I believe in love, but I also know that life can sometimes get in the way and we don't always make the right choices. If this has happened to you, please don't let it go unchecked. Look deeply into yourself, your relationship, and your loved one's eyes and truly see where the two of you are as a couple.

Together you can make choices that will make both of your lives better.

 

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Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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