How to not fall in love.
I’m a romantic.
I like black and white pictures of pretty people kissing, lip-stick stained cigarettes and Saturday morning pillow talk.
So, if you’re reading this because you’re looking for an argument against love, you’ve stumbled into the wrong party. With that said, before you make your french exit… first tell me where I can get in touch with you. Just in case I ever change my mind on the matter.
Now, where were we?
So, while I can’t tell you how to not fall in love (well, I can, but I’m not sure I want to be that kind of writer)… I can share my thoughts on how you can go about loving more thoughtfully and perhaps, less painfully.
Let’s begin by dissecting the phrase all of us have heard a thousand times… falling in love.
Due to its overuse, it’s often times shrugged off as a bit cliche. However, upon closer scrutiny, it is obvious the phrase itself has given humanity a lovely gift.
It has taken a beautiful but terribly complicated and wildly ambiguous universal human experience… and it has made it tangible.
While all of us have experienced love to varying degrees, none of us are particularly grand at putting the feeling into words. So, some wickedly brilliant human decided the act could best be described as falling in love.
In addition to this, the phrase also doubles as a mini-instruction manual of sorts for how we can best approach this stunning yet oh so maddening act of developing deep emotions for another human being.
It both defines the feeling and offers up a formula, explaining to humanity the following truth… in order to fully love and be loved, we must be willing to fall.
It puts into words the great trade-off we must make when we choose to love someone else.
The falling represents what we as people have to sacrifice to experience that tiny four letter word that comes at the end of the phrase… love.
If we don’t have the courage to “fall” we don’t get the gift of loving and being loved.
It’s really that simple.
Yet, despite this simplicity, it is here where I believe the biggest hang-ups occur. It seems to be this great divide between falling and loving where people are stumbling.
When both myself and those around me fail at love, it’s usually because we’ve wanted the loving part without having to pay the price of falling. Instead of choosing to fall, to jump, to get vulnerable, to place ourselves at great risk of getting hurt… we’ve instead chosen to keep both feet on the ground.
And, while there’s nothing wrong with keeping both feet on the ground, don’t be so naive to think you can love with both feet on the ground.
It’s called falling in love for a reason.
Let’s revisit, for a moment, the title of this post… how to not fall in love.
People shy away from love, run from love, avoid love and try not to fall in love, not because they don’t want to love nor want to be loved, but because they’re scared to death of the pain that comes with loving.
So, to protect themselves, they hedge their bets…
They keep plan b in their back pocket.
They have their hook-ups on speed-dial for when a fight breaks loose.
They continue to text their exes.
They don’t commit to marriage because they don’t believe in the context of it.
(I’m guilty as fuck for this last one)
And, as a result, while they keep their hearts far out of harm’s way, they never experience a deeper, fuller more wholesome love that is extraordinarily possible if both parties let go of the death grip on their parachutes.
Which, brings us to the age old question offered up by the late great British poet, Alfred Tennyson…
Is it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all?
If it’s pain we are looking to avoid, I think there is more to be found in not loving than loving.
But, we don’t have to be morons in love.
With that said, I do think there is a way to love (while still falling) without exposing ourselves to excess pain and suffering.
First and foremost, I think we should try desperately to fall in love with ourselves before we attempted to fall in love with another person. It’s ironic but I’ve noticed those that have the most difficulty committing to loving someone else also have great difficulty in committing to loving themselves.
And, I believe this extends beyond intimate relationships. When we struggle with falling in love with ourselves and our partners, we struggle with truly falling in love with our friends and family.
Love is all encompassing in this way.
Additionally, I think we should be wary of falling for others who aren’t themselves looking to fall, too. As blunt as it sounds, both people have to jump off the fucking mountain and both people need to leave their parachutes at home for something as complicated as a relationship to have any chance at working.
When both people are willing to fall, something extraordinary happens –– love.
The ancient Chinese philosopher, Laozi, poetically summed up the fruits of this labor in the following line…
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
I think this begins and ends with falling. And, like so many people, I’m reminding myself daily to practice this courage with both myself and the beautiful humans in my life.
By Cole Schafer.
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