Falling in Love versus Being in Love and Genuinely Loving Another


Falling in Love versus Being in Love and Genuinely Loving Another

The “in-love-ness” of romantic love is an inherently unstable and temporary experience. It does not represent a stable stage of consciousness—it does not represent an earned and more or less permanent and durable plateau type level or capacity in terms of the development of the individual as a conscious being and in terms of his or her personhood and moral/conscientious development and level of functioning and “being.

Rather, “falling in love” represents a very temporary and flimsy and easily shaken sensation, an unearned state of consciousness—a temporary, brief, and unstable state (as opposed to a more durable and enduring and more or less permanent stage of development of one’s being or consciousness).

The “in-love” limerant mind tends to be a very emotional and reactive mind—i.e. not a lot of integrity/integration, not very internally stable and reliable, not very capable of following through and or delivering on anything promised in this state—let alone the ability to actually follow through psychologically and emotionally on the promise of maintaining and continuing this state—i.e., “I love you so much and I always will” or “I am so in love with you and I want to marry you and do this forever.”

The “in-love” mind—the mind under the influence of limerance, infatuation, romantic or automatic love—is a mind that wants to promise itself (because it just feels so euphoric and intoxicatingly blissful and it only servesto heighten the level of intoxication to overpromise itself) to feel like this and be in this state—yet because in the mass of men and women this level of consciousness represents only a temporary agitation or state of consciousness (instead of a more permanent stage of consciousness or level of being), it can’t legitimately promise or be capable of delivering on any promises made under the influence of this feeling (this temporary agitation of one’s mind or increase in one’s level of pseudo-being or pseudo-self).

As most people are now living their lives, there is a lie built into every promise—and that is that they can know now how they are going to feel about any given thing on any given tomorrow and what they are going to do about it. People simply cannot know this if they are living their lives as reactive beings and at the level of feelings—which most people are.

Creative beings—masters of living—can know how they are going to feel about a thing at any time in the future, because creative beings actively create their own feelings, instead of passively and reactively experiencing them or trying to use and manipulate others into helping make them feel this way or that way.

Until you can create, determine, and modify your own inner emotional states, you cannot create your own future. And until you can create your own future, you cannot predict your future. And until you can predict your future, you cannot reliably promise anything truthfully about it—you cannot truthfully always promise to show up always the same or nearly the same; you cannot promise consistency.

(freely adapted and elaborated on from Neale Donald Walsch’s “Conversations with God, Book 3,” pp. 211-217.)

Most of us cannot promise love—to either love another or to perpetually feel love and adoration and goodwill for another. Thus our commitment to love another is inherently untruthful for the simple fact that we cannot promise feelings, only actions.  And most of us cannot even promise actions, because our actions are so fused to our feelings—so dependent upon how we feel.  We don’t act.  We re-act.  We don’t author our own actions, life does it for us.  We are what Frankl referred to as playthings of circumstance.

Until something inside us comes to life and starts making choices to the contrary of what just what “feels” right in the moment.  Until we develop some real functional space between stimulus and response and are able to get outside of our own emotional reactions, we will always end up being emotionally hijacked by this or that pleasure or aversion, this or that attraction or revulsion.

How New Taste Is Acquired – something I played around with that Rainer Maria Rilke wrote

Long must you suffer, and hard,
not knowing why, not knowing what,
until suddenly, from all
the harsh and bitter fruit
you’ve been forced to chew
and digest, a new taste
is born into you.

And from that moment on
you will forever take to
what is unpleasant
welcome and love
what is strange.

And no one,
not even God,
will ever be able
to talk you out of it.

We think that integrity or being true to ourselves or “keeping it real” means acting in alignment with our feelings or acting out on our feelings. In other words, if we feel this way, then we need to act in accordance with how we feel, because that means we’re being true.

But to truly be an adult means to set aside such childish ways and allow something else to inform and guide our behavior and our actions. And that something is a combination of perspective and principles—two things that are larger than our self and larger than the disorder and flux of our moment to moment feelings. Feelings are reactions. The vast majority don’t create our feelings but allow our feelings to create and direct us, push us into doing or saying this or that in spite of ourselves—our wiser and larger self, our neocortex-based self, what’s best and strongest and most courageous in us. Most of us are living more or less reactive lives. When we’re cold, we take steps to get warm; when we’re hungry, we seek food; when we have a headache, we reach for the Ibuprofen; when we’re angry, we seek to vent our anger; when we feel open and loving, we seek ways to let those feelings out. Most of us have very little patience and practice very little impulse-control. We tend to reach automatically for the immediate gratification or the immediate symptom- or tension-relief without any hesitation. It’s just what we naturally do. After all, we are not born with self-discipline and wisdom and self-control. We’re born feral and impulsive. And we’re naturally creatures that seek to experience pleasure and avoid pain. Living reactively, being playthings of circumstance, having the environment have more control over us than we have over ourselves, is our lot.

It’s the lot we’re born into.

And it’s the lot we must grow out of if we are to ever learn how to truly love. Or how to live more mindfully. Or how to become more truly alive.

If we can’t, we doom ourselves and those around us. Because our quality of life will only be as good as and as stable as our next emotion—and our capacity to control and lure certain emotions while discouraging and warding off others.

And so essentially we’ll always live on edge, in fear of being overwhelmed, in fear of the next bad feelings. We’ll live as very anxious and flighty and erratic creatures who are unable to commit and to endure. And we’ll unwittingly teach others to do the same—that will be the real message we send to them, that will be the real legacy of our time in this world—modeling for others how also to be reactive, impulsive, erratic beings; how also to be playthings of circumstance—and moreover how to deny and rationalize this and live numb to it.

What’s the alternative to this—to a life of reactivity? Simple. It’s a life of principle and perspective.

But of course it’s not simple—it’s one of the hardest things in the world to do—to gain perspective and sustain it, to live a less fearful and reactive and impulsive and chaotic life and instead lead a more centered and principled and focused and self-disciplined life. To lead a life of less denial and disorder. Most of us need some sort of catastrophe to wake us up and get us to stop wasting our lives in some blind pleasure grab. We need the cancer scare, or heart attack, or plane crash to break through the thick crust of denial and mindlessness and fear. We need to be overwhelmed by a fear far greater than any of the others fears that are currently running and sabotaging our lives.

Almond Trees in Full Bloom” – Rilke

(The most we can accomplish here is to know ourselves fully in our earthly presence)

I marvel at you always, you blessed ones,—at your demeanor
the way you bear the transient jewels of our vanishing with such eternal ease.

For if we only knew how to blossom, we would race out beyond
all lesser dangers to be safe in the single great one.

What most of us need is to be scared straight. And more than that, we need to be scared absolutely shitless—scared bullshitless, scared so that we’re freedfrom our self-deception, denial, projection, and other defensive bullshit. And we need to learn how to do this continually and over and over again for ourselves until we lock in the change—until we get the message and not just the pain. We need the ever-present threat or possibility of imminent death to shake us to our senses.

You can depend upon it, sir, that when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” – Samuel Johnson

And again, once we get the brush with death or some great loss, we need to then get busy locking in the change, and not wasting the gift we’ve been given.  We need to not put off till tomorrow to start living in alignment with what we’ve just glimpsed and been shown to be true.

“The sole means now for the saving of the beings of the planet Earth would be to implant again into their presences a new organ of such properties that every one of these unfortunates during the process of existence should constantly sense and be cognizant of the inevitability of his own death as well as the death of everyone upon whom his eyes or attention rests. Only such a sensation and such a cognizance can now destroy the egoism completely crystallized in them.” – G.I. Gurdjieff

We need to make the awareness of our own and others’ mortality a constant in our way of looking out on and making sense of the world. If we’re not seeing others and ourselves as brief, fragile, perishible, vanishing beings, then we won’t be as apt to love them. Instead we’ll be more likely to take them for granted, to treat them capriciously, to act self-protectively, selfishly, with less integrity and perspective, to be more reactive and emotional, more petty and resentful, and less principled; and to live as though life goes on forever.

“Look at how he abused me and beat me,
how he threw me down and robbed me.”
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.

“Look at how he abused me and beat me,
how he threw me down and robbed me.”
Abandon such thoughts, and live in love.

In this world
hate has never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law (the Way),
ancient and inexhaustible.

You too shall pass away.
Knowing this, how can you quarrel?

– Buddha

Look at how my parents abused me and neglected me and didn’t love me. Look at how my parents abandoned me. Now I can’t trust any man (or any woman, or anyone). Now I have to push others away before they get too close to me. Now I have to leave others before they leave me. Now I have to continually test others to see if they can be trusted, to see if they’ll love me. Now I need to continually create chaos in my relationships because I’m still reverberating from all of the damage that was done to me by my ex- or by my parents, et cetera.

Live in such a way, and we live in hate. We live in fear and distrust. We live for ourselves. Though we may tell the one we’re with that we love him or her, really we don’t; we’re just waiting for the other shoe to fall and for him or her to leave us, to disappoint us, to abandon us, to hurt us.

And so long as we think that life goes on forever, we’re apt to keep on living like this—to keep on testing others, pushing others away out of fear and distrust.

But death—the deeply felt possibility of our own and others—can wake us from this dreadful circuit where we’re either choosing the people just like those who first hurt and abused us, or where we’re picking decent people but we’re so wounded and full of suspicion, that we’re continually sabotaging the relationship and pushing the other person away.

Until we wake up and realize that life doesn’t go on forever, that life is short, that this is all we get, that death is certain—until we wake up and get this at an emotional and intellectual level—we’ll just go on blindly living out the consequences of our past and what other did to us and have made us into—fearful, frightened, flinchy, skittish, nervous, distrustful beings.  We’ll just prefer that a river of self-imposed misery run through our life, because that is less frightening than facing and dealing with than the massive amount of pain and trauma that we’re not facing and that we’re afraid to deal with for fear that it might completely overwhelm us or undo us, cause us an uncontrollable nervous breakdown or panic attacks.

All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” – James Thurber

Until we get the message that life doesn’t go on forever and that this isn’t a dress rehearsal, then we’ll just be human beings that, because we were never shown love and warmth and appropriate consequences and sound virtues/disciplines, will always behave erratically and self-protectively, undermining any present good fortune or love or happiness that life may bring our way.

“Death is our eternal companion, it is always to our left, at an arm’s length. How can anyone feel so important when we know that death is stalking us. The thing to do when you’re feeling impatient or overwhelmed is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that your companion is there watching you. The issue of our death is never pressed far enough by most of us. Death is the only wise adviser that we have. And if pressed far enough, it forces us to change—and fast.

“We have to learn to remind ourselves again and again that death is the hunter, and that it is always to our left. We have to ask death’s advice and drop the cursed pettiness that belongs to those who live their lives as if death will never tap them.

“If we don’t, our lives will just be chaos.

“A person of real knowledge knows that his death is stalking him and that it won’t give him time to cling to anything. Thus it is with this awareness of his death, that a person with some real perspective sets his life in a very wise and strategic order, and chooses what is always strategically the best. He performs everything he has to with verve and efficiency.

“Life for a warrior, for a man of knowledge, is an exercise in strategy.

“Without the awareness of death everything is ordinary, trivial. It is only because death is stalking us that the world is an unfathomable mystery.

“You have so little time and no time for crap. What a wonderfully wretched state to be in! The best in us always comes out when our back is against the wall, when we feel the sword dangling overhead. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”  

– Carlos Castaneda

Death is what can help us heal from our past and take our life to the next level.  Death is what can help us get more sincere and serious about living our life with greater integrity (integration), honesty, courage and real love.  Knowing that one day all of this will be over, that one day there will be no more tomorrows, no more possibility of loving and being loved, no more possibility of being hurt, no more possibility of healing—deeply and honestly knowing all of this is what can help us get more serious about facing up to what happened to us and whatever is running us (even sabotaging and ruining us) instead of running from it and thus letting it continue to run our lives.

Masters of living are those who have chosen only love—in every instance, at every moment, in every circumstance.

Those who are truly on the path are those who are committed to increasing and expanding their ability to choose love in more and more instances, at more and more moments, and with much less respect to difficulty or consequences to themselves.

Reactive beings cannot reliably choose to love—or much of anything for that matter. Their feelings and actions are chosen—or determined—for them by external pressures not inner reserves and capacities. Reactive beings typically do not know why they’re doing what they’re doing, they just follow their fears and desires—and usually quite erratically and usually in spite of themselves. To know and not to act is not to know at all. And reactive beings are by definition those poor souls who know the better way but lack the willpower and inner capacity to choose it; and so they are forced to follow what is worse in them and act out on compulsively on their feelings.

A master of living—a truly creative being—is one who creates a high level of similarity or consistency intentionally. A reactive being depends on it to be created for him or her. And a student or a beginner creates it intermittently, oftentimes without necessarily intending to.

A master of living is a person who quite literally knows what he is doing. And why he is doing it.

People operating below the level of self-mastery often know neither.

Creative beings know that life is about creating the highest quality giving and sharing, not the highest quality getting. They know that life is not for-getting, but for-giving.

(freely adapted and elaborated on from Neale Donald Walsch’s “Conversations with God, Book 3,” pp. 211-217.)


About John

I am a married, 46-year old, Midwesterner, with four children. My primary interest is in leading a very examined and decent and Loving life; my interests that are related to this and that feed into this include (and are not limited to) -- psychology, philosophy, poetry, critical thinking, photography, soccer, tennis, chess, bridge.
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3 Responses to Falling in Love versus Being in Love and Genuinely Loving Another

  1. Aishatu says:

    Is it just me or was this title extremely misleading……………………..

  2. Pingback: The Marriage Box. (Relationships Are About What We Put Into Them, Not What We Get Out of Them) | What Is Real True Love?

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