I think it is pretty obvious that when it comes to love, most Americans have no idea what they’re doing. Dating to get to know someone and develop a relationship seems almost non-existent these days. Random hook-ups, friends with benefits, and “Netflix and chill” opportunities abound, while good, old-fashioned romance and relationships seem to be slipping away faster than the Kardashians’ last shred of dignity. People (both men and women) come back from these casual encounters bitter, insecure, and more resolved than ever to put a wall up and never let anyone in because “It’s not worth it”.
There are many thoughts as to why love is such a mess nowadays. But today I offer up one perspective in particular: our society hardly knows how to distinguish love from lust anymore. Movies and tv shows gratuitously show people “falling in love” at first sight, having a passionate sexual relationship for a few weeks or a month or so, and then soon enough, the relationship falls apart. Or, man and woman lock eyes, fall in love instantly, and live the proverbial “happily ever after” after having at least one passionate sexual encounter. We as a society all watch these things and think that this is the norm. We think that love is supposed to happen instantly: that we just meet someone by bumping into them at the grocery store, feel the sparks, and just know in that instant that this person is “The One”, our soulmate. Well, my food for thought for you is this: Hollywood is lying to you. The media presents the idea of love as a temporary high in which the sparks and the chemistry between two people wear off just about as quickly as they seemed to explode. Couple meets, falls in love and feels like they’ve finally met The One, has sex as soon as possible, and in a few months or a year or so, resolve that they don’t love each other anymore and that the other person is not The One after all. Why does it all seem so transient?
I posit that the “love” that the media so freely shows us day in and day out is nothing more than lust. Lust is seeing a person, thinking that they’re hot and sexually desiring them, and feeling any chemistry between you two, which is based on your assessment of how that other person looks. Let’s be real: a lot of us can create a whole fantasy relationship in our minds just based off of how a person looks and the image of them we created based on our own internal constructs of what we think would make us happy. I have definitely done that before. It happens all the time to people. But that doesn’t mean that it’s love. Lust is a slick manipulator that masquerades as the real thing time and time again.
So what does love look like then? It’s freeing your true love from a Nazi concentration camp, losing contact, and then being reunited 39 years later (see the full story on http://listverse.com/2014/05/16/10-inspiring-stories-of-true-love-from-the-holocaust/). It’s working for 14 years to have the hand of the woman of your dreams in marriage (see the story of Jacob and Rachel in Genesis chapter 29 in the Bible). It’s meeting in college, falling in love, and holding off on sex for 5 years until you get married (Google Elisabeth and Jim Elliot or read her book “Passion and Purity” for the whole story). Feel free to insert your own favorite tale of true love here. There are a lot of them!
Love isn’t just feeling the sparks, the chemistry, sexual passion, etc. with a person. It’s not just extreme emotion. Science has shown the the feeling of falling in “love” activates the dopamine in the human brain the same as getting high off of drugs does. True love takes time. It’s getting to know someone without rushing into the bedroom. It’s a deep connection based on mutual respect, affection, and knowledge of the other person. It’s self-sacrifice at times to make the other person happy. It’s commitment to the relationship no matter how the person is making you feel at the moment. It’s patience, giving of yourself, tenderness, the ability to trust the other person wholeheartedly and the freedom to be yourself in that love. True love is deeper than what the world tells us it is. And it is available everywhere and to everyone who opens their eyes to see it.