Love is a choice, but you don’t just choose anyone or everyone
Just because it’s not a feeling doesn’t mean it’s unfocused
As requested by Alex
Anyone, everyone… only you
I told the guy I’m dating, early on, “relationships aren’t about magic. I could make it work with most anyone. I just don’t want to.”
He said, “yeah. You could replace me tomorrow.”
“No.” I said, “You are irreplaceable.”
Which probably was and still is confusing.
Love is a choice
Most of what we think of as “love” is bullshit. Most people treat love as something happens to them, or something they “are in.”
But love — good, healthy, mature love — is not being or feeling. It’s not motivation or inspiration or being swept away or overwhelmed.
Love is an act. It’s a decision. It’s deliberate. It’s external effort and energy every day. It’s choosing and committing. It’s doing.
It’s based on you, not them.
So you *can* love anyone
“By your definition of love, it seems like in theory it should be possible to love anyone.”
In theory, sure.
Just like anything else you choose and do.
You could eat most anything for lunch. You can walk or drive or fly most anywhere. You can spend the money you have however you want. You can do any number of things with your time. You could say anything.
And yeah, you could, in theory, love anyone.
But that doesn’t mean you *should* love anyone
Does this mean you should love everyone?
No. You can care for everyone’s wellbeing in a passive way, but you can’t actively invest in everyone.
Just like you don’t eat everything — at once, or even in general. You don’t say everything that pops into your head. You don’t do everything, go everywhere, think about everything. You don’t waste your money on hobbies you don’t have. You choose.
You make deliberate decisions on what to do, based on what you want.
And you choose who to love just as consciously.
How you choose
lol, I can tell you one thing for sure: it’s not how most people choose.
If you want good love, you don’t choose based on physical attractiveness. You don’t choose based on how they “make you feel.” You don’t choose based on a stupid set of interests and characteristics (“must love dogs,” “favorite food: lasagna.”)
I only want 2.5 things in a partner. In order:
- Emotional health and wellbeing — emotional security and stability, self-love, self-esteem, integrity, grit.
- Their intelligence
- Their friendship
If love is an act, then love is an investment of time and attention (our most valuable things in life.) And if love is an investment, then you love based on return.
Emotional health is the indicator of the ROI of love. If you dump love into an unstable person, you’re pouring it down the drain. But secure people are “easy” to love, give high rewards for reasonable effort, and love back readily.
If you want to be healthy, you choose healthy meals — and then eat them.
If you want a good career, you choose a good job — and then actually do good work.
And if you want a healthy relationship, you choose an emotionally-healthy partner, and afterwards focus on the work of loving them.
Because emotionally-healthy partners will put in effort and love right back. So pick someone who is a.) self-loving, b.) deserving of your love and c.) will return it and meet your needs.
Should you still love people that hurt/disrespect you?
No, not actively. Passively and from afar, maybe — you can wish the best for them and respect their decisions — but not in a way that’s intimate, vulnerable, or invested.
Is love fundamentally selfish?
“It seems like… you’re loving people selflessly and not for the sake of what you can get out of it.”
Yes and no.
Wanting a partner is probably always selfish in the same sense that every reason for wanting a child is selfish. Because your needs — or, at best, your desire to meet their theoretical ones — are all you have going in.
What matters more is what happens afterwards.
Viewing your partner, day to day, as someone to meet your needs is definitely selfish.
But wanting to serve their needs, day to day, is love.
So being in a good relationship — much like being a good parent — is selfless.
You choose a good person. And then you make the investment of love each and every day. And they do too. You get your needs met, by meeting theirs.