Armin Zadeh, MD, Ph.D.

The Forgotten Art of Love

Can Love Last?

The age-old question revisited.

Posted Mar 28, 2018

Many if not most of us carry the romantic notion of finding ever-lasting love—we want to believe it exists. In this world of constant changes, the notion of something beautiful enduring is comforting and reaffirms our sense of purpose in life. Unfortunately, each break-up, or even a fight with our partner, may undermine our faith in the idea of eternal love. Many become disillusioned and even cynical about the prospect of lasting romantic relationships.

Armin Zadeh
Source: Armin Zadeh

So, can love last? Well, some clarifications first: we need to differentiate between love and relationships. Often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Love, more narrowly defined, refers to the phenomenon of strong affection which we generate in ourselves and share with others. Contrary to common perception, we have much control over the love we experience for others. Relationships, on the other hand, involve other persons and as such, introduce a variable which is susceptible to our influence but, ultimately, beyond our control. In other words, while we can experience ever-lasting love for somebody, an enduring romantic relationship is the result of at least two people keeping the flame alive—making it more unpredictable and harder to achieve.

Having said this, our thoughts, attitude, expectations, desires, and focus largely determine our ability to experience love and to be good partners in relationships. The ease of finding a focus on love much relates to how we define ourselves and our purpose in life. If we define ourselves by career, status, wealth, position, or appearance, chances are that we devote less loving attention to our partners. On the other hand, if we reach a state of self-acceptance, humility, appreciation for all life, and define ourselves as husband, wife, partner, friend, father, mother, etc., we make love our focus in life. While both scenarios don’t have to be mutual exclusive, our priorities matter tremendously.

Yes, love and our general outlook on life are very much connected. It is not coincidental that love is a central topic in spirituality. Once we become less self-centered, we develop a greater capacity to love. Our mind’s default state—without being pulled into concerns for food, sleep, shelter, sex, territory, etc., is one of benevolence towards others. These basic concerns have a strong influence on us and may easily dwarf any inclinations to be loving. Most of the time, we are not even aware of why these things weigh so heavily on us. Spending time with social media may be conducive to being loving if we genuinely convey our love to others but also may merely be an exercise in establishing or confirming social status driven by territorial instincts—distracting rather than promoting loving relationships.

The many matters of the world try to distract us all the time—and seemingly ever more so. Our society poses expectations and we try to comply to a large extent. How society defines success may not necessarily be good for our emotional wellbeing. Being closely connected via phones and internet provides an opportunity to maintain relationships but also may be the source of enormous diversion from achieving a meaningful outlook on life. The art of maintaining eternal love—be it for somebody special or for anything—is to keep a focus on love and to minimize the negative impact of the many activities we are drawn to every day of our lives.

Many believe the problem is just finding the right person. While, undoubtedly, there are better and less ideal matches, we often close ourselves to opportunities because of our pre-conceived ideas about our desired partner. If we expect certain looks, status, or beliefs, we don’t give ourselves the chance to discover the beauty in people who may not necessarily check all the boxes we created in our minds. Again, it circles back on our general perception of ourselves and life. If we are content with our life and with who we are, we will worry much less about how our choices are being regarded by others—this freedom, in turn, will open a whole array of opportunities for us.

The concept of mindfulness is so successful and powerful because it allows our mind to see how things really are and not through the lens of our expectations. The result is the liberation of our soul. Unfortunately, it is not easy to keep our thoughts out of living in each moment. Our mind tends to constantly wander off. With time we get better and better at just enjoying life and love. If two people focus on each other’s happiness instead of proving their value to themselves and the world, love and the relationship are destined to last. It happens every day.

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