August 22nd, 2016 | Brianne Addison
Love: a beautiful word. A deep word, which carries weight. A word that is, all too often, thrown around without any real meaning. Love can take on many forms, to be in love, takes on fewer. To tell someone you are in love with them, or to have someone say they are in love with you, is a monumental moment and not to be taken lightly, least it become just another word lacking in significance.
How can you tell if you’re in love with someone? You might think the answer to this question is simple … you just … know. You enjoy being around them all the time, you have the same interests, you share the same goals, and all around you are as compatible as they come. While all of these factors can be important in a relationship, they do not necessarily determine love. Falling in love is, at its very core, the loss of ego. Loss of the ego is the clay which molds every other aspect of a giving relationship. Love is a commanding force, and to the ego, it is ominous. Love is threatening, love is painful, love is conflicting, but if ego is lost then these factors are merely a part of being in love, nothing more, nothing less. Being in love is a balancing act between kindness and neglectfulness, but the force of love, true love, is bound to make us feel apprehensive with giving into our ego.
Falling in love begins with finding your best friend. Cliché as this may sound, it is undoubtedly true. Relationships are like a well-made building in that they need a solid foundation. Yet, all too often, relationships are based solely on the one-dimensional “boyfriend” / “girlfriend” aspects, which negates the important building blocks to create a successful, long-term relationship. So fall in love with your best friend. Take time to know the person whom you feel such a strong emotion for.
Falling in love does not happen quickly for everyone. In fact, the most powerful love seems to happen after some time has passed, the longer the better; aged like a fine wine. You do not simply wake up one day and say to yourself, “I’m in love with this person”. It takes months, years even, to fall in love with someone else. Why? Because you are surrendering a part of yourself to another. I believe one can tell they are in love when they feel nervous about even telling their partner they love them; the phrase carries so much significance. To say “I love you” is one of the most difficult sentences to pronounce since, if truly meant, it renders one entirely vulnerable. Even after you’ve said it many times, and have had your partner say it back to you, it is still a rush to speak those three words, at least for a little while.
Some may think being in love means having the capacity to withstand one another all the time— sitting in the same room without speaking because you’re so in tune with one another— but that’s not always true. Feeling pure agitation towards your partner and wishing them to leave you alone is a sign of being in love. If this sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. However, being in love with someone does not mean that you never feel real anger, annoyance, or emotions of similar hostile merit towards the other person. You are human, they are human, you are both animals, and animals cannot cohabitate all the time. One still needs their own space since one is still an individual. If your partner gets on your nerves, good. Healthy fighting is important. Couples who never fight, who agree with everything for the sake of dodging an argument, unnerve me. Compromising your opinions all the time, simply because you are afraid of what fighting may do to your relationship, is not love in my book. The relationship was already rocky, to begin with, and love- true love- is as unmovable as mountains. Fighting, no matter how ugly it gets, cannot damage a strong relationship, because at the base of all the fighting is love, a force more formidable than any other.
Of course, there are times when it is absolutely necessary to evade bickering; that is also part of knowing you are in love. Forgoing your ego in order to actually hear what your partner is attempting to convey— and eventually wanting to forgo that ego because you know you might not always be right— is a sign of having fallen in love. You will not wish to argue, not because you’re afraid of a good fight, but because, at the end of the day, you truly do not want to hurt the other person; a purely selfless (egoless) act. If you can reach this point of giving and respect, then you have discovered a very big part of what it means to experience love.
You have fallen in love when you can see your partner as an individual, separate from your wants and needs, full of their own desires and personality, and you are able to respect that. You must be able to find beauty in the notion of individuality and not allow it to scare you into wanting or needing control. That will ensure compatibility with one another, not needing to agree upon everything, but celebrating the prospect of having someone with different interests and points of view; opening yourself up to learning instead of molding.
Personally, I think it would be rather boring if my boyfriend and I agreed upon everything and shared all of the same interests. Because of him, so many doors have opened for me, allowing new ways of thinking and perceiving the world to flood in.
C.S. Lewis, author of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe— among other, notable novels— made reference to William Blake’s poem, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in his theological dream vision, The Great Divorce. The quote from Blake’s poem is as follows, “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
Although the quote was meant as a portrayal of heaven and hell, is it not true that one feels infinite when they fall in love? Invincible, even? I believe these feelings of invincibility develop from having the doors to your mind unlocked by your partner. You wish to drink up all their knowledge, take in all that is different about them, because it can only aid the growth of your own soul.
To fall in love is to behold, for the first time, the different ways in which the world can work, an overwhelming notion, to be sure and it can take some time to renounce your ego. But falling in love is about relinquishing control of the ego, for when one is able to do so, one will behold the infinite power of love.
Falling in love is both a selfless and selfish act as it means you have fallen in love with yourself as well as your partner. One cannot even begin to dream of falling in love with someone if they have not first learned to love themselves, nor can they hope to give their partner the affection, dedication, and understanding they deserve until one has first allowed themselves all of these gifts. How do you know you’re in love? When you have watered your own roots first so that you may be strong enough to water and fertilize the roots of another. If your own stem withers and dies, you will rest easy knowing that the stem of your partner is strong and full of life, and that gives you the greatest happiness of all.
Most of the images used in this article are original pieces by the extraordinarily talented, Alex Gray.