When you take read books about the science of love science and interpersonal psychology, you might feel powerlessly resigned to love whomever you’re drawn to, whether they’re what’s best for you or not. How is any person supposed to make a rational decision about anything with all these feelings and whatnot running through the veins? Take that, add to it the baggage from the past, and what you get is most relationships, which are comprised of two people who are trying to relate to each other, but who often end up crashing and burning behind the weight of misunderstanding, intolerance, and only partial acceptance of who they are personally.
When it comes to trying to maintain healthy relationships with others, we have to engage our brains, even though they’re all hopped up on dopamine and such. Conventional wisdom, readily available through love songs and television series, encourages us to throw all caution to the wind when it comes to love. No matter what the love song and hormones say, the truth of the matter is you always have a choice. You get to choose if you’ll continue down the road of attraction, or you will end the relationship once you realize it shouldn’t move forward. Another option is to put someone in the “friend zone”, which can be a little trickier. In any case, it’s vital that you do the hard work of discovering who you are, what you need, and what you can give to a relationship, before agreeing spending a substantial amount of time in a relationship with someone. There are many poor choices to be made in the fairytale world of romance, some of which you’ve likely made. The great thing is that you don’t have to keep making poor choices or choosing distraction or destruction. You can choose a healthy, kind, compatible partner who will want the best for you, as well the best for themselves, because they know that both of you at your best equates to a duo that has the power to make your corner of the world a more bearable and enjoyable place to live, simply because you’re there. But how can you know, early on, who’s a good choice and who’s a bad one?
The first thing we notice about someone is how they look. It’s our first point of interest in another person, and often determines if we make an effort to get to know them. There is a lot to be said about feeling physically drawn to the person you admire: it enhances the romantic factor of the relationship, and can potentially help the union maintain a certain newness. Likewise, many people will quickly skip over a person who has the potential to be their ideal mate, simply because of the looks they lack.
Preferences are preferences, and people should never be ridiculed for what they like, but we have to recognize that if we are too rigid about physical requirements, we could be sacrificing a wonderful mate at the altar of vanity. More often than not, physical attraction is what gets us through the door, but once we’re in, we have homework to do.
So, to answer the question, can you choose who you love? The answer is both yes and no. You can love someone, but that’s not the same as being compatible for a life long journey.
Share your insights
Have you ever loved someone but knew they were not the best for you in a long term relationship?