A Four Letter Word and Self-Protection

“Why do people keep falling in and out of love, repeatedly?”

Several days ago, I had a conversation about what other 20-something girls must talk about these days; relationships. Frankly, it is not my favorite topic — partly because I don’t know if I have been involved romantically, or emotionally with anyone or anything these days (errrr, I think? Not really sure).

We talked about how stressful it can be when we choose to fall for someone, where there are some portions of our time, daily, that will be used to wonder how the “romantic partner” seemed to react over the romantic gestures or interaction we cast towards them. This friend of mine told me about this guy she had been talking to for the last several months, yet she was not really sure of the intention of this guy nor her own. That matter seems to take her into a lot of time wondering; why would she do this to herself? Why would she let this guy to make her wait, rubbing her face with uncertainty?

I must say, I cannot say much to her when she told me all those things — somehow I don’t think I was capable enough to say so many things to her because 1) I don’t think it’s fun that we wait for someone (I was totally on her side so I did not have counterargument, which allows me to just sit still, listening to her), 2) I don’t quite have any relatable experience as the one she currently experiences, 3) I was totally on her side (repetition, sorry).

Along the way home I kept wondering about what my friend had told me earlier. Yes, I was also confused (probably just as confused as my friend); why would she wait for that guy when she knows she doesn’t even feel comfortable with the waiting? Why would she invest her time and feeling to that guy (who probably doesn’t invest anything in return?). Why would she bother to think about someone who probably doesn’t think of her back?

Yes, why would she do that? Would I do the same if I were her?

The next day, during the lunch time I asked her “why do you choose to wait? I know it’s probably worth it that you fight for this guy, but what if there’s another person who’s willing to fight for you?”

“Well, it is a different scenario. But the fact that I need to wait for that person who’s willing to fight for me, is also a process of waiting. It’s just another kind of uncertainty that we have to deal with,” she said, “I just need to choose which one has less tendency to hurt me.”

DANG. It sort of hits me. I guess that is just the keyword- you tend to choose which way is less likely to hurt you. You protect yourself.


So probably, the answer to the first question I wrote above, is self-protection. People probably chose to fall in love with someone because they will get wonderful things out of the process of falling in love. But once things are going topsy-turvy, they chose to fall out of love, to cut the awful memories and probably to have the strength of moving on.

So in this case I probably have to disagree with Alain de Botton on his book On Love. No Alain, I don’t think being in love must always mean being in pain. Being in love, and out of love, means that we are just trying to find another way to protect ourselves. As you’re in love with someone, you will slowly think that person has become a part of you, so by I mean with self-protection is, to protect the partner who is involved in your relationship as well.

As I grow up, I began to understand that the process of being in love with someone should not be complicated. My mom once told me that the recipe of sticking with someone is as simple as trusting them. Give them your trust, make things easier for both of you -that’s what she said. It’s very simple to have a wonderful relationship with someone, as long as both parties could try making things work in a simplest way, because being in love means you put the process of simplification in the first place.

So, over a lunch break discussion, I learnt that it is probably okay to wait a little for the person you think is worth it. Because what we fear will hurt us could appear in so many different ways — we just have to choose which path seems more promising and efficient (time and feelings-wise).

“Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won’t find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one and decide that everything within it will somehow be free of our faults. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through our union with the beloved hope to maintain (against the evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in our species.” 
Alain de Botton, On Love

Originally published at heedandwalk.tumblr.com.