Do you remember falling in love for the first time? Recall how quickly the feeling intoxicated you, basking in the sheer new glow that your new love showered over you. It’s as if the sky was suddenly bluer, the grass and the trees were greener, and flowers more lush. Everything around you seemed to come alive with more vibrance than ever before.
It’s like you took some sort of drug; you felt so high on life. As a matter of fact, according to Psychology Today, falling in love is a lot like smoking crack cocaine! Research conducted by anthropologist and relationship researcher, Dr. Helen Fisher found some outstanding results in her illuminating studies on how love affects our brain chemistry. According to her findings, feelings of love elicit exceptionally high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are the same chemical compounds activated during a cocaine-induced high. There is a clear euphoric effect both drugs and being in love exhibits in our bodies, as our bodies know very little the difference between an illegal substance and falling for your “one and only.” The stimulation is said to sharpen focus and allows one to feel as if they can conquer the world, do anything, and be anything.
The best thing about love versus crack cocaine is that the in-love-high tends to last much longer: weeks, months, and even up to two years! However, the danger comes when the high wears off. This is how divorce happens. The nostalgia and waves of euphoria the love-struck sap initially felt dissipates over time until it no longer exists, according to research. This is when we actually become conscious and are awoken to the reality of the decision we made.
Falling in love seems to take over quite rapidly as well. It’s like a fast acting virus that conquers our immune system; only love takes over every part of body, mind and soul. Once that initial puppy love phase has wasted away; we’re left with the hard reality as we wonder if we should stay or do we go? The Clash couldn’t have put it any better.
You might ask yourself: “What the heck was I thinking?” You might see your partner with a fresh set of eyes, as if you were blind before and can now see. You might either want to bolt out the door or bolt to the nearest jeweler to propose or to the nearest divorce lawyer if you’re already hitched.
Falling in love is the easy part; it’s staying in love that can often be the biggest challenge. This is because a relationship isn’t purely about feelings, it’s about compatibility, common interests, agreeable belief systems, and similarities or opposing views that doesn’t detract but enhances the relationship. You can be opposites. You don’t have to share the same beliefs; you don’t have to mirror each other and agree on every little thing. You can have differences in political views, religious ideals, and have different hobbies and interests, so as long as those differences or similarities don’t conflict with one another and both parties remain bipartisan about their views, meeting in the middle.
Often times differences especially regarding major life issues is what at first might attract you to a person, but ultimately it’s what may tear the two of you apart. You might think you can convince someone to go to church, but if that’s the most important thing to you and they’re not religious then you will eventually find this to be an issue. You might think you can convince a partner to not have kids because you don’t want any. But, eventually you realize that their minds are made up and they want kids while you don’t. These are big, big issues that may not seem all that big at first, not when both individuals are drugged up with so much love that they can’t see straight. It’s after it all wears off that we finally see if we are compatible.
Falling in love can happen fast, it’s quickly gratifying and it’s a whirlwind of emotions that take over us. However, have you ever grown to love someone? There is a big difference between falling in love and growing in love. I have experienced both and know both can be gratifying though falling in love feels better at first. Because when you fall in love it happens so much faster. Falling in love can be intoxicating and yes, drug like. But, when it wears off that’s when you’re faced with the biggest challenges.
You realize that you’re married to someone who’s not even close to being on the same page as you. Or you’ve spent years in a serious committed relationship only to find out that you’re not with someone that “gets” you. You’re with someone whose differences do not compliment yours, and you realize that they are not the yin to your yang.
When you grow to love someone it rarely ever begins with lust, passion or “love at first sight.” It’s not drug-like at all. It’s a walk on the beach with your best friend. It’s laughing, crying, and talking about anything and everything. It’s knowing that you are safe being yourself and, most importantly, that they understand or at the least accept you. Where you’re weak they are strong, and where you’re strong they rely on you to carry them.
When you grow in love you find that, as the days go by, your passion and love for the other person grows more and more. The way you see them changes for the better. You’re laughter increases as does your smile, and the feeling of euphoria gradually increases with every passing moment. It’s not like falling in love where you’re hit with a bolt of lightning and you’re on Cloud 9, you’re head over heels and it’s an incredible high that you don’t ever want to come off. You start on the ground, you begin at the soil and you fertilize, water and foster with sunlight. Gradually with time, nurture, care, real effort and work the love begins to grow. It starts as a seed and then it grows and then blossoms.
Falling in love, on the other hand, is like getting roses. Soon they die if you don’t transplant them into the right soil with the right nutrients or in a vase with water. Even then they don’t always take and usually do not live for very long. It doesn’t mean that there is a wrong way to love. There are many successful and happy couples that fell in love and are still together, while there are others such as myself who have had the love-struck feeling all too many times only to see that love fall flat. If I could choose again, I’d choose to grow in love rather than the fast, quick lightning-bolt type of “love at first sight.” Growing in love is a gradual, but satisfying and rewarding way to love someone without qualifications and superficial requirements. When it comes to love, I choose to grow and not fall.