Some events recently caused this piece to come back to me. It was on facebook before. Still relevant (I think)
What is love? What is the emotional state that one experience either with someone or something that can only be summed up in the statement “I love you/that”? Some people came up with the classification of various kinds of love that exist. Others struggle to define it. My dictionary gives eleven different interpretation of it, but I am concerned here with the love between two humans of opposite sex, which makes them acts in ways they would not normally do. Of all the definitions of love I’ve seen or come up with, two seems to pretty sum up this kind of love: “Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired” and “Love is the ache/itch that makes other aches/itches becomes unimportant; and it can only be cured when you are with him/her.”
King Solomon, arguably the wisest man that ever lived, listed “the way of a man with a maiden” (Prov. 30:9) as one of the four things he knew not. The mechanism and chemistry that goes into the process of “falling in love” is so intricate that it can and has confounded the wisest of mankind whether studied remotely or in situ. That is why countless number of definitions and love poems abound, each trying to define the inherently indefinable. Alluding physical simile to something abstract can only lead to incomplete definition, even if millions of words are used, leaving the artist, poet, songwriter or anyone in love trying to express his/herself feckless. I will not fall into the same pit of trying to define the ineffable, what it means to “be in love”, but believe the above two definitions approximate the closest the indefinable.
But can the nature of love be gleamed from its various definitions? Can we somehow lessen the rate at and level to which love unfortunately depreciates amongst couples? Can we somehow perceive from the observations of philosophers, writers, statesmen etc. the reason why men and women behave the way the do when love is at play? I believe the answer to these questions is yes. With countless centuries of observation, experimentation and documentation in diverse fields of social sciences, physical sciences and arts has the present level of civilization achieved. This was also done to “Love”, most of it now condensed into definitions, quotations, poems and songs. These therefore present a veritable field of stored knowledge of what love was, is and is supposed to be.
However, since love is a very private affair, individual interpretations and contextual application must be taken into consideration before one can find appropriate answers to the above questions. It would be foolhardy for anyone to assume otherwise. Nevertheless, as with things that are simultaneously universal and personal, there seem to be quotes that apply to almost everyone in most cultures and can thus be said to be “Universal Law of Love”. Since brevity is the soul of wit as posited by Shakespeare, I have tried to condense the laws into three statements that I shall share forthwith.
“Love is a decision; not an emotion”. This statement essentially asserts that “falling in love” is not an accidental occurrence but a decision either at the conscious or subconscious level by an individual to commit to loving someone else. Right from a precocious age, human start forming a list of the qualities and attributes their ideal partner would be – a love list. A line is added, modified or deleted over the years as we grow through influences by the outside world through stories (especially told by someone we trust and respect), movies, advert, our own observation of neighbours, friends and family and experiences. By early teen, everyone has an idea of how their ideal love mate should look like, his/her likes and dislikes, the way he talks etc (which is why some people tend to “fall” for people of certain physical characteristics). As we go through life, we find ourselves attracted to people with many of the qualities on our love list, seldom one. It is almost impossible to find someone that possesses everything on our love list. Here is the point where love is a decision: everyone sets their own threshold of items on the love list which once reached, the other party becomes the object of our affection. We determine the level to which we will lower our standards. Once we find someone whose qualities reach this threshold, we begin to fixate on him/her. We forgive them all the other qualities they do not have; we focus on the qualities they possess. “We are in love”. Whether or not they reciprocate is another issue; unrequited love forms a huge part of love-land. (Qualities as used here could be negative or positive)
“Men discriminate base on beauty; women discriminate base on power”. Every adult knows men are visually stimulated; the majority of pornography consumers are men. Listening to men describe females they interact with either in school, workplace or religious places, you will hear a rich vocabulary of adjectives and nicknames expended to describe the female anatomy. Men have treated women with disdain from time immemorial for reasons that bother on appearance. It is then funny when men whine when ladies leave them for men with more power than them. The power might be physical, a carryover from the day when physical might determine how powerful a man is, or it might be wealth, the present measure of a man’s power. Gradually, women are discriminating based on knowledge as we move towards a knowledge-based economy. Oftentimes we find a man who had spent a fortune both in affection and in money (say for her education) for a woman who closely approximates his ideal partner according to his love list lamenting that the lady leaves him for someone who is more wealthy or knowledgeable, forgetting that he almost on a daily basis discriminate against other ladies because of their subjective beauty. It is also common place to see a lady complain about a man who she had heavily invested emotionally in, jilting her for someone who is younger more beautiful, forgetting that she had spawned the lovesick man who was not as muscular or wealthy as the guy dumping her. In both situations, one cannot but agree that “All is fair in love and war”.
These laws seems too simplistic to define all the mechanisms of love and I fully agree. However, I believe that they are a start and please feel free to add yours. A caveat though: get ready for the harsh criticisms and blind disapproval of you and your ideas as this article will generate for me.
Goes back to his reading of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”
Inspired to write this by OIO’s piece “Marriage and other things – A critical look” http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150155852011218
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