Falling in love

Last week, IreneQ began a thought-provoking
post
with the statement, "I don’t believe in falling in love. I never have."
I assume that she means she disagrees with building a relationship on the phenomenon,
and on that I quite agree. She goes on to say:

I’ve seen it happen to other people. You spend lots of time with each other,
exchange stories, share deep thoughts, create memories, and if you’re unwary,
an emotional attachment begins to form. Before you know it, you’re in love.
For that reason I’ve always been very careful in all my interactions with people
of the opposite sex.…I want to choose the person I fall in love with.

In the comments on Saturday’s
post
, MCF asked:

Curt, do you agree with Irene about choosing? You and Mrs. Happy had a friendship
that led to clicking and something more, but if you were of different faiths
do you think you would have had the strength to do what she suggests, and
be stronger than "chemical impulses"?

My ninth-grade algebra teacher told me more than once, "Don’t ever go out
on a date with anyone you would never marry. If you go out on a date, you might
fall in love. And if you fall in love but can never get married, your troubles
are only beginning." Sunday school teachers and church youth leaders reinforced
that idea for me in many ways, so I knew that perhaps I could be friends with
girls who didn’t share my Christian faith, advocated the practice of
sex before marriage, commonly used double negatives in their speech, etc.,
but
that I
should never date them and put myself in danger of developing romantic feelings
for them. To do so would cause preventable heartbreak or soul-killing compromise,
both of which I can live quite happily without.

My first experience with "falling
in love" happened
in my sophomore year of high
school.
It took me
by surprise, because it happened immediately rather than gradually. Something
in this girl just made me want to be with her from the moment I met her. It
was exciting, tortuous, blissful, depressing, fun, and nauseating all at once.
I would have loved to go out with her, to be a couple and all that, except
that she adhered to what I consider a heretical religion.
I tried valiantly to demonstrate to her the error of her ways and the correctness
of mine, but it never really worked. I’m sure I went about things the wrong
way in that area. I was a frightfully immature, hormone-addled teenage boy,
after all.

Anyway, we both played clarinet in the school
band and we shared the same group of friends
(who took
a perverse
pleasure
in telling
me
my feelings
regarding
her were entirely
requited), so I had to endure close proximity to the object of my desire
for three full years.
It
was excruciating, but
it would
have
been
worse if
I had ever given in and spent some one-on-one time with her. As it happened,
though, I emerged from the experience with my soul and my chastity intact.

My relationship with Mrs. Happy developed
in an opposite fashion. Neither one of us felt any attraction at all to begin
with. I got to know her a little bit at church, then began eating lunch with
her in between classes at college. We were both glad just for the company.
As we spent more time together, we got to know each other more. We shared things
about ourselves and confided in each other. We became best friends. Then we
started feeling a physical attraction. After three years, we figured out that
we were really in love. There was no blinding flash or ecstatic moment in which
we suddenly understood the mysteries of the universe. There was no sweeping
anyone’s feet out from under them. There was just a steady build-up of mutual
discovery and experience that to this day hasn’t abated. I should note that
if our faiths had been incompatible, the lunches wouldn’t have happened. I
would not have asked, and she certainly wouldn’t have suggested.

At various times in my life, I have chosen not to allow the possibility of
falling
in
love with
various
women.
It happened
once
when
I
couldn’t prevent
it, but for the most part I "kept my head and guarded my heart," as Irene put
it. Conversely, I have allowed the possibility with several women, but I fell
in love with just one. There is definitely a unique chemistry between my wife
and me. I certainly didn’t choose to
fall in love with this wonderful woman I now share my life with, nor did she
choose
to fall
in love
with me,
but we did allow ourselves to open up a little. The result, as you can probably
guess, is a deeper love than I would have thought possible.

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