What does it mean to love? One possible answer would be that love is an extreme preference. People often say “I love chocolate”. What they mean when they say that is that they really like chocolate; that they would prefer chocolate rather than a lot of things. How does that kind of love play out in relationships.
Before I go into an analysis I will try to see more clearly what it is I am looking for. The love I am attempting to understand is not the love of objects. It is not the love that changes. It is the love that is supposed to be the ground of a marriage. The love that God is supposed to have for us.
Does the love that is an extreme form of liking fit the bill? Is that all love then is? A mere quantity of liking? What happens when one’s like changes? In fact doesn’t preference change throughout the day? In the morning I prefer coffee and cereal but as the day progresses I prefer more savory foods.
So what is love? I think love is acceptance. It is to see beyond the mere appearance of a person and see yourself in them. See that the same emotions that drive your foibles drive their foibles. To see that when they shout or get angry they are experiencing the same internal phenomena as you do when you shout or get angry. It doesn’t matter what triggers the internal phenomena – that is what makes us different – it just matters that we share the same internal phenomena. Love is seeing this and accepting the external behaviors as a result.
What determines who we fall in love with? To a large extent I believe that is determined by the acceptance we receive from the other and the acceptance we can give. And that is largely determined by how close are external behavior is. By how understandable we find the other.
People are not at all confusing – or rather what we mean by claiming to be confused by other people is that they experience internal phenomena in response to external phenomena that is different to ours. For example with anger – I may experience anger at being disturbed whilst reading but not at Simon Cowell being obnoxious on Britain’s got talent. To my mother who experiences anger in response to Simon but not in response to being disturbed I am confusing and to me she is confusing.
But that’s a silly usage of the word confusing!