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Love is a choice, as well as a feeling? Who would agree with that statement?

(33 Posts)
Bananasinpyjamas1 Wed 11-May-16 00:13:45

I think that I do agree with that. My partner has dithered about for the last few years - trying to make up for it now, but it feels a bit late.

We had problems which knocked us, from the outside rather than between each other. Yet my partner decided to withdraw his love for a while. Which really hurt.

I think when you fall in love, at first it is giddy and passionate. After a while, as long as there is no abusiveness going on, then I think love is more of a choice, we have to decide to keep loving that person or see it crumble. We see our partners then in all their faults, but stick with them. That to me, is love.

What do you think? Do we give up too easily? Do we expect love to be because our partners make us happy all the time?

Offred Wed 11-May-16 00:51:33

In the words of massive attack "love, love is a verb. Love is a doing word"

Love that is just a feeling inside yourself is pointless. Love that you show to other people is what matters and I think yes, that part is a choice.

Offred Wed 11-May-16 00:53:12

But I think whether a relationship is worth continuing in has little to do with love. That is more about compatibility and commitment.

Canyouforgiveher Wed 11-May-16 01:00:21

completely agree. When I hear women on MN saying "he did xyx shit thing to me but I love him so much etc" I sometimes wonder what they think love is.

Love is reflexive/no holds barred/no matter what for your children - and even then they can push it beyond the limit.

but romantic love. To me it is entirely a choice. you might fancy the pants off someone who treats you like shit, you might even have a fling with him but you can choose not to love him - not to fall in love with him. People have way more control over their emotions than they think they have. unfortunately it is those who grew up in emotionally crap environments who are least likely to realise this.

Equally, if you loved someone for good solid reasons including falling in love and are married/committed , have children, neither of you have changed in fundamentals, and then one or other of you hits the doldrums then I think it is entirely possible to chose this relationship over other possible ones. but it would want to have been a really solid great relationship in its heyday.

Offred Wed 11-May-16 01:30:56

I'm not sure you have all that great an amount of control over your feelings but you certainly have control over your actions. You can choose to withdraw loving behaviours which express feelings you may have and to leave a relationship that is wrong if you feel love and this begins the process of the feeling of love dying because love is not real if it is not shown.

People who grow up in crap environments often don't believe you should or can leave or withdraw the actions/relationship if you still feel love.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Wed 11-May-16 23:17:50

Really interesting responses. Maybe love is the icing on top of the basics, trust between you, not taking each other for granted, caring for each other.

These all need to be worked on, they are choices. You can choose to care, choose to be a trustworthy person, choose to put an effort into passion and fun. If one stops, then the relationship dies.

I think this is what I mean with my DP. We are breaking up because he chose to withdraw the effort, but then blamed it on lack of feeling, and then incompatibility. Anything other than seeing it was his choice. Now he feels in love, that we are compatible. But I can't be with someone who is going to waver in the their choice all the time.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Wed 11-May-16 23:21:28

Like in this article in the Huffington Post

TheNaze73 Wed 11-May-16 23:25:50

For me, love is choosing to run through a brick wall for someone. Love is definitely a choice. Canyou is right about men & women who put up with relationships that to outsiders, seem a bit pony. That's lack of self respect & neediness not love

UmbongoUnchained Wed 11-May-16 23:29:44

I'm not sure. My love for my husband is definitely very physical and primal. I don't think I ever chose to fall in love with him it just happened and 5 years later I still can't look him in the eyes without getting butterflies.

UmbongoUnchained Wed 11-May-16 23:30:46

And also my daughter. My heart actually hurts when I think about her. But I think people feel things in different ways.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Wed 11-May-16 23:38:04

umbongo That sounds great!
*thenaze8 - agree about the neediness. My DP was married 13 years but neither of them were interested in each other, she liked that she could boss him around, and he liked feeling needed. They called it love at the time, but both say it wasn't now.

I guess if you are basing love on just feelings of pleasure or fulfilment, then you are putting a lot of stock in your partners ability to give you that? We are imperfect, sometimes boring, sometimes irritating though. How does pleasurable love see you through that?

Abecedario Thu 12-May-16 00:09:32

This is going to make me sound quite cold but I definitely think of being with my DP as a conscious choice that I am making because we are compatible, because we want the same things and because I think that together we can have the life we both want. And I think to some extent I made that choice before the love part came into it. I love him very much, but it is because of those things I've listed, plus the fact he is a kind and good man, rather than any butterflies or feelings of head over heelsness. I am by no means blind to his faults and there was a point where it was like a conscious decision of 'ok I can live with this, because I also get this, this and this'.

I have been seeing a therapist the last year or so, and she's helped me realise how much some things from my childhood have affected me, particularly the death of my birth mother just hours after I was born, but there's other stuff too. I have attachment 'issues' basically - issues in inverted commas because it's not like they've overshadowed my life, but I think they have affected how I go about relationships.

I have only ever had that 'butterflies fireworks omg omg the ground has shifted beneath my feet' type feeling once. It was a real eyes meet across a crowded room, jolt of electricity, instant chemistry thing. I remember thinking if I could just take him home that night, that would be enough, because otherwise he'd be trouble. And I did, and he was, and it led to a very intense, amazing at times but also kind of awful because I hated feeling so out of control about my feelings and somebody else having so much control over me, relationship of about 6 months, then a lot of toing and froing for another 6. I don't know that it was love, infatuation maybe. He said he loved me, but didn't choose to act like someone in love or treat me with respect. It messed with my head for a long time but I'm kind of glad it happened if only to prove my cold dead heart was capable of it grin

Far prefer the kind of love that DP and I choose to build together now though, I feel warm and content at the thought of him rather than sick with nerves.

My love for my family - siblings, nephews and nieces, adoptive parents though we've sadly lost them now too, and my dog though - that just kind of is. Doesn't really feel like a choice. My brother for example, things went a bit weird and didn't see or really speak to him for a year or so, but still loved him, had a 'this is ridiculous' moment earlier this year and got in touch/ got together and the love and affection is there as much as ever. But I suppose family love is different.

And my dog, as I tell him when no one is listening (and of course he understands grin I love him more than all the world and everything in it. Did from the first day he wound up with me (and I didn't choose that either). It is of course my choose to look after, feed, walk, pay for his extensive vet bills and generally dote on him. Doesn't really feel like choice though, it's a responsibility and a commitment that I've made, and it's what you do for someone or someanimal that you love.

Abecedario Thu 12-May-16 00:11:53

*my choice to grrrr

lljkk Thu 12-May-16 08:18:41

I dunno, Love happens to you but what you do about it is the choice.
And very often, Love cannot conquer all. That's a silly myth.

HisNameWasPrinceAndHeWasFunky Thu 12-May-16 08:57:48

Like Offred I was coming here to say love is a verb.

I never knew Massive Attack sung about it though grin

HaveYouMetTed Thu 12-May-16 09:04:29

I don't think I would say love is a choice. I think it's there or it's not.

I do think relationships can be extremely hard work once the honeymoon period is over though. We've been through a period where DP, for various reasons, wasn't putting any effort into our relationship. I knew he loved me but it still nearly broke us. I'm glad it didn't

PoundingTheStreets Thu 12-May-16 14:41:14

I'd agree it's a verb. When I started my relationship with DP I had that whole heady, can't-think-straight feeling. TBH, while it was undeniably exciting and enjoyable, I didn't enjoy the feeling of vulnerability it gave me and the loss of control. I was quite relieved when that died back and I could take a look at the real person beyond the infatuation and make an informed choice on whether or not the relationship had a future. I knew the initial attraction meant we were sexually compatible, but it wasn't until I was able to view him clearly (and my behaviour in response to him) that I could say with any clarity that we were compatible intellectually, lifestyle wise, attitudes and values, etc.

My decision to be with him now is very much a choice. I evaluate it regularly. I would certainly walk away at the first hint of abuse and have taken steps to ensure that making that decision would never be clouded by any vulnerability to him. (I learned the hard way in a previous relationship.)

I am pleased to say that I have no desire to walk away from him. And I would cross continents and walk over hot coals for him if he needed me. He is one of the most decent men I know and totally on my level. Hence my choice to stay with him. The longer we are together, the deeper that bond becomes. Should he become disabled or whatever, I would not walk away, because of that deepened bond. That too, is a choice.

It's only my opinion, but I don't think unconditional love has any place in an adult romantic relationship. Those relationships absolutely should be conditional - on decency, respect, fulfilment and support, as well as other more negotiable deal-breakers agreed between the parties.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Sat 14-May-16 00:44:09

Pounding that sounds like a wonderful relationship. And proves that choice needn't be just cold and unfeeling, more of an eyes open decision, and a willingness to actually work on the relationship because it has the right ingredients for you.

Haveyou - I'm glad you are still together. But it sounded like your partner did make a choice, to not bother, for quite a while and he should be very lucky that despite being let down, you chose to keep trying. I hope that he appreciates you now and has learned to buck himself up!

MarkRuffaloCrumble Sat 14-May-16 01:06:12

Pounding It's only my opinion, but I don't think unconditional love has any place in an adult romantic relationship. Those relationships absolutely should be conditional - on decency, respect, fulfilment and support, as well as other more negotiable deal-breakers agreed between the parties.

I agree totally with this. My DP was upset when I first broached this idea with him, that actually I choose everyday to be with him and that if he does something disrespectful or hurtful I can choose not to be with him. I am not tied to him regardless.

I truly believe this attitude will continue to give our relationship the edge as we both make the effort to love each other as a verb. I don't mean that I would bail at the first sign of an argument, we have had our share of those but that if there was an ongoing feeling that he wasn't considering me and that I wasn't getting what I need from him, that I am not beholden to him because of some vow or sunk costs fallacy.

Canyouforgiveher Sat 14-May-16 01:17:04

I agree totally with this. My DP was upset when I first broached this idea with him, that actually I choose everyday to be with him and that if he does something disrespectful or hurtful I can choose not to be with him. I am not tied to him regardless.

this reminds me of very early Julian Barnes book I read (30 years ago now) in which the hero is listing the reasons he loves his wife and number 4 (maybe) is
"because when i asked her if she would love me no matter what, she laughed out loud"

dollytrix Sat 14-May-16 07:50:22

Great thread.
I've been pondering over my relationship with DP for around 6months now. I used to be a great believer in fairytale type love, I was brought up on the concept of it by my mother, who has always struggled in romantic relationships. But what you've said now makes a LOT of sense.

I haven't been doing a lot of loving over these past few months and perhaps it's time I tried a little more. I also agree with Pounding that choice love is much more real than the heavy and hazy feelings of the first time you 'fall in love' with someone.

Im going to be watching this thread with interest!

Bananasinpyjamas1 Sun 15-May-16 20:51:57

I truly believe this attitude will continue to give our relationship the edge as we both make the effort to love each other as a verb. That is true, if we see love as something that we have to consciously keep at, like a verb, then it is not something outside of us that we have no control over.

So if we feel giddy and emotional about someone who is no good for us, we can decide to withdraw our love and leave.

dollytrix I too used to be a bit unrealistic and fairytale like. I hope I haven't become too cynical!

My partner, who I'm seriously considering leaving, does love me a lot I think. More than his previous wife, their relationship was based on need and she admits not to loving him really too. Yet he chose to do more loving things for her than for me, as in provide better, spend more time with, look after more, respect more. So why I think we are probably finished is that his love doesn't really mean much, unless he chooses to actively do more caring and loving things. If that makes sense!

CauliflowerBalti Sun 15-May-16 20:59:34

I agree that love is a choice. Any talk of butterflies, jolts and electricity - that is lust, not love. It can last 5 minutes, 5 years or a lifetime if you're lucky. It can come and go. It's the force that draws people together. Love is what stops them spinning apart again. And romantic, non-familial love takes work.

AHellOfABird Sun 15-May-16 22:09:24

Every day is a choice to stay with your partner. Of course, most days it's not a choice that gets thought about! But absolutely, love is a choice.

AyeAmarok Sun 15-May-16 22:12:43

I agree with it, although in a slightly different way.

I think when people have affairs they choose to let themselves fall in love with the other person.

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