The Illusion of Being ‘in Love’

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This is going to raise a few eyebrows, or even set the house on fire! But here it is anyway… I no longer believe that merely “being in love” is a basis for any kind of serious, lasting, intimate relationship, despite the fact that to most people it seems otherwise. It has become increasingly clearer to me, especially in more recent years, that what we refer to as the experience of “being in love” (manifested so kitschly and predictably in “rom-com” movies and romantic novels) is largely based on purely chemical processes such as pheromones and hormones (which obviously play a key role in the necessary perpetuation of the species), coupled with any mutual needs of the moment (e.g., escaping from boredom or getting out of a dying/dead relationship, etc.), the state of superficial infatuation, possessing a bunch of neurotic inadequacies, trauma-bypassing and wishful thinking (which I will develop below). Those who are playing at being “in love” are, in fact, using each other to counteract a deep sense of loneliness, to counteract inner inadequacies and to justify hormonal secretions.

It is now my conclusion that the only sound basis for a lasting intimate relationship is a deep, abiding friendship coupled with an adventurous sexual bonding. Such a relationship between two mature, self-aware, conscious, freedom-loving people will be entirely free from the histrionics and drama on which the illusion of “being in love” so voraciously thrives. Such a relationship will utterly outlive that which merely involves the illusion of “being in love”. People fall out of love. Attractions wane. Hormones fade. But a deep, abiding friendship does just that — it abides through thick and thin, and, in the event of a separation, it can be picked up again where it left off, as if no separation had ever taken place. Those with a deep, abiding friendship can take being separated stoically on a temporary or even more lengthy basis without the kind of yearning desperation and immature moping displayed by those who think they are “in love”. In short, a deep, abiding friendship, between two mature, self-aware, conscious, freedom-loving people, coupled with an adventurous sexual bonding is the perfect recipe for a happy, intimate partnership, be it marriage or something similar.

Naturally, those who think of themselves as being “in love” will vigorously resist what I have said above. They will be chomping at the bit to justify their subjective experiences. Small wonder. For they have invested their entire imagination (and even pricey rings) in that “in love”-ness. But people’s subjective experiences will not impress me one iota. Being “in love” is like a drug to which most are addicted, and addicts will do or say anything to keep feeding the habit. I would no more take seriously the pleadings of a human which thinks s/he is “in love” than I would take seriously the pleadings of a junkie. People who think they are “in love” are simply junkies hooked on being “in love”. In other words, they are seriously deluded.

Actually, that notion of “being hooked” applies particularly to the drugs that your body secretes when someone takes your fancy as the object of your being in love-ness. Oxytocin and endorphins are addictive, and you don’t even have to buy them from some shady dealer in a bad part of town or get a prescription for them from your doctor. Self-produced drugs must be the cleverest invention ever — available on-tap when you heavily fancy some chick or guy! Just like with external drugs, one then becomes addicted to being “in love”. Admittedly, Oxytocin is secreted even in acts of close friendship, such as hugging, kissing, making love, etc. The difference is that one isn’t under any illusions about it and sees the secretion for what it is: a ‘donum superadditum’, rather than letting oneself be waylaid into an addictive, druggy experience, as if it was the be-all and end-all of the relationship.

Equally delusory in this whole mix is the new age invention of “Twin Souls”. New age folks always have to try and give a spiritual spin to basic physical desires. For example, the pseudo-spiritual sayings, “You look like you need a chakra-releasing massage”, or “I feel a real connection with you”, or “I think we met in a past life” can all be translated as “I want to fuck the living daylights out of you”! In the same way, the process of “falling in love” in the new age world is known as “finding your Twin Soul”. Ignoring completely hormonal secretions, they imbue their opposite number with a spiritual twist making it seem as if two twinned souls, separated over aeons, are meeting up again in some kind of engineered cosmic collision. I do not deny that two people can be brought together supernaturally to further their growth and development, but I do not give that the nomenclature of “Twin Souls”. The reason that new age folks indulge in these fantasies is because the whole schtick of new ageism is based on covering up one’s deep psychological issues. This “spiritual bypassing” involves creating a flowery “enlightened” disguise behind which to hide one’s suppressed anger and undealt-with inner pain left over from childhood. So, one develops an exaggeratedly-quiet manner of speaking, immerses oneself in various methods of self-hypnosis meditation techniques (pain suppressants), makes oneself into some kind of coach or therapist (so that one always focuses on other people’s issues rather than one’s own), indulges in empty superstitions (such as burning sage to dispel evil presences which are really projections of one’s own inner pain), indulging exclusively in “positive thinking” and refuting anything uncomfortable as “negativity” which must be rejected, confusing being “blissed-out” with spiritual advancement, imagining one is “channelling” comforting messages from entities in other galaxies, and immersing oneself in the quest for a Twin-Soul. Whereas most non-new-age people will use religion, drugs, alcohol, television-watching, or “falling in love” to bypass unpleasant inner feelings, the strategies of new age folks are more numerous and more extreme. This is because new age folks are generally more damaged than others and thus have to develop more extreme strategies to bypass any conscious experience of that damage. It is all painfully obvious, once one can see through it. I say all this with the greatest compassion, because I understand the dynamics involved and deeply sympathise.

Maybe by now you will accuse me of being a killjoy or claim that I “must have been hurt in love” and am now displaying a defence mechanism. Truly, I come to write this little piece not out of spite or as a bitter reaction to my own experiences. These ideas have been forming in me for some time. When I first began to formulate the ideas that I have recorded in this little piece, I had no desire to stick my head over the parapet and get stoned to death by all the wannabe in-lovers! And while I have formed many different kinds of “connections” during my life, without a doubt the most fruitful and enjoyable have been those few involving (often inexplicable and unlikely) friendships rather than those in which our hormones ran hopelessly amok.

Maybe at this point you might ask me how I can explain the Romeo and Juliet phenomenon. Well, as I saw on a poster recently, “Romeo and Juliet is not a love story. It is a 3-day relationship between a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old that resulted in 6 deaths”. All that drama! All those histrionics! If one is deep-down screwed-up and one wants to have an intimate “in love” relationship, it will so often cause mayhem and end in tears or worse, because intense attraction awakens sleeping dragons embedded quietly in the heart. It is no exaggeration to say that the intensity of “in love-ness” one experiences in a predominantly hormone-driven relationship is directly commensurate with the size of the hole in one’s heart caused by abandonment in early life or dysfunctional mummy/daddy relationships in childhood. The desire to be “in love”, and all the turmoil which goes with it, is simply fulfilling the need to bypass dealing with those experiences of abandonment or the presence of mummy/daddy issues.

I believe that this neurotic experience of “being in love” is in great part caused by the inner longing to be subsumed by a relationship with a higher power. Human beings in their natural state are separated from the Divine and it leaves a hole which is waiting to be filled. At no time does that hole become more apparent than when some desirable creature walks into your life. But, at best, merely being “in love”, without the deep abiding friendship, is just a very poor substitute for relationship with the Divine, and it will thus always wane, or be found wanting, because it cannot ever supply what is truly needed at the very core of our being. Therefore, my advice is to drop any notion of the “in love” stuff — e.g., in a woman’s case thinking, “Someday my Prince will come” or, in a man’s case, having a saviour complex towards what he imagines are “damsels in distress”. Instead of all that malarkey, seek to improve your relationship with the Divine, develop your self-awareness, become conscious of how your mummy/daddy issues and early-life experiences (especially those involving abandonment or abuse) heavily influence (and thereby skew) your involvements with “in love” stuff, and then hope you can find someone with whom to have a drama-free, fun-filled, deep, abiding friendship, coupled with an adventurous sexual bonding. Not only will that save you from being ambushed by excessive secretions of oxytocin (and addiction to it), but that will be far closer to True Love than any twin-soul superstitions or flimsy “in love”-ness.

[The image accompanying this article is “Les Amants” (“The Lovers”, 1928), by the Belgian artist, René Magritte]

Text copyright © Alan Morrison, 2021
[The copyright on my works is only to protect them from any wanton plagiarism which could result in undesirable changes (as has actually happened!). Readers are free to reproduce my work, so long as it is in the same format and with the exact same content and its origin is acknowledged]

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