Relationships

Love at First Sight?

Such love is possible, but not in the way you might think.

Posted Feb 14, 2011

What is love? The question itself is deceptive, because there are many forms of love. There is the love between a husband and wife, the love between parents and their children, and the love between friends (and the love I have for Arsenal and the Kansas City Chiefs). On Valentine's Day, the focus is on the romantic variety of love. And dopamine is relevant to this in a way, as at certain stages of a romantic relationship this chemical is produced in response to the one we are attracted to and perhaps even love. But I'm interested in the aspect or form of love that lasts, and clearly the dopamine experience, the rush of emotions in all of their intensity, does not last in the same intense form. This is probably a good thing, it might fry the brain!

What is at the root of long-lasting romantic love? There are many things, I would suggest, but chief among them is the understanding and practice of love as a genuine inner readiness and longing to secure the good of the other person. If I have this sort of love for my spouse, then I make sacrifices for them. I value, desire, and work for their good, sometimes at the expense of what I want or perceive myself to need.

This is very difficult at times, because our selfishness gets in the way. But in the long run it is worth it. If we sacrificially love in this manner, we can have both a deep sense of fulfillment and the joy of seeing someone else flourish in part because of how we've loved them in both word and deed. This form of love is not the only element of romantic love, but I believe it is an essential element for this form of love to last a lifetime. And we can have this sort of love at first sight, because we can approach the other person with their good in mind from the outset of any relationship.

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