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To 'Love', and to be 'In Love'

Mr Poltroon


DISCLAIMER: All that I mention represent my views mixed with basic scientific theories floating around.

To 'Love', and to be 'In Love'

I believe these two to be different. One does not necessarily love those they are in love with, and one is not necessarily in love with those they love. Sound confusing? Allow me to elaborate.

To make this as clear as possible, let's take "romantic feelings" out of the equation.

Would you say you love your parents? Or that you are in love with them? Maybe both expressions work for you?
The way I see it, one (generally) loves their family, yet is not in love of them.
To be in love with someone is the sort of feeling you have towards a crush, that almost irrational slight obsession and redirection of your thoughts in their general direction. Perhaps your heart will beat faster, perhaps you will become slightly euphoric, perhaps you'll get embarrassed; all just by being near the person in question.

What I've just described most certainly does not apply towards your parents (unless you're into some really weird nukige). But you still love them, right? You act kind towards them, you are affectionate with them, you take their presence for granted and would sacrifice immensely for their sake.
Mayhap, this even applies to your friends? Friendship love. You see it all the time in manga, girls loving each other, but not being in love with each other. You care for your friends much like they care for you.
Finally, for all you older folk out there, if you're a parent: would you say you love your children, or that you are in love with them? Because if it's the latter, that would make you the worst kind of scum in the eyes of society.

Only when it comes to romance do these two things get interwoven together. Love is a complicated mess, which I will now attempt to arbitrarily classify in a way that makes sense to me.

All the previously mentioned situations represent love, yet they are different from falling "in love".
As you know, or should know, humans are animals, they are living beings whose purpose is to live. All animals, all plants and all living beings have that very same objective, and they evolve and adapt in order to make sure their species continues to live. One important thing about being a living being is our instinctual desire to reproduce. If we didn't reproduce, the species would go extinct - Giant Pandas are the resident experts on the topic.
In order to compel the race to reproduce, our body releases various hormones impelling us to do various things. Falling "in love" is one of these.
You'll find that often, the person you develop romantic feelings for, is not one that is particularly close to you. This is what I believe being "in love" is. When you develop feelings for a person, which serves as the selfish catalyst that leads to romance.
Having fallen in love, we humans do a bunch of silly things involving spending time with our pleasurable partner, which makes us happy (due to the hormones), and containing our sexual desires, which are also stimulated by the hormones. Probably not the most romantic way of looking at it, but "falling in love" is a mere boost towards romantic love, but I do not think it is romantic love itself. On the contrary, trying to resist this "in love" feeling is, quite literally, against our instincts. Thankfully, human beings are, for the most part, able to resist their instincts given that their conditions are favourable. If everyone ended up marrying their first love, society would be rather different than what it is right now.

Now then, I keep mentioning "romantic love", as if it weren't influenced by hormones. Really, you can say that just about anything is influenced by hormones and this is no exception. The usual situation will be for one to develop a romantic relationship with the one they fell in love with. In turn, this "in love" boost will eventually die down leaving you only with a person that you are intimate with, that you share your flaws with, that you care for... and your sexual partner. Sex is yet another source of rather pleasurable hormones, and one important for long-lasting relationships. After all, a proper relationship requires sacrifices, and most of us selfish humans wouldn't be all that interested in maintaining a relationship for little reward.
This is, of course, another of our instinct's plans. If a couple doesn't stay together and does not reproduce, then the whole "falling in love" business will end up having been useless.

All this said, let us surmise:

Because of our innate need to reproduce, we fall in love. Falling in love gives us a boost and creates an easy path that will lead to loving someone. Eventually, this boost dies down - at this point, a good couple would love each other as is (or else, divorce. Good lord, today's society...), with the help of sex. The pleasure sex provides creates hormones that increase our affection for our partner and that generally makes us interested in sex, connecting directly to our species' main goal: Children.

The way we look at it today, everybody wants to be with those they're in love with, and lose interest when the magic of "falling in love" dies down. I, however, firmly believe that people are able to love even those they are not in love with... provided the circumstances aren't dead set against you. The main example I wanted to tie this uncultured rant to is this relationship I saw in Ao Haru Ride...


I'll elucidate you right off the bat: I didn't like Ao Haru Ride as a story. This does not, however, mean that it was bad. In fact, it gave me enough food for thought to write this whole pointless blog post because of it.
In Ao Haru Ride, because both our protagonists fail to act on their feelings in a timely manner because "emotions", they, despite loving each other, end up entering a relationship with someone else. Spoilers ahead.

Futaba is our main protagonist, and she clearly falls in love with Kou in the first few chapters. This Kou fellow is the main love interest, who is also in love with Futaba, but who, due to circumstances and "emotions", rejects her advances. Seeing this, another boy, called Touma, felt bad for Futaba, and this kickstarted his feelings, leading him to fall in love with her. Eventually, Futaba, seeing Touma's dedication and depictions of love, enters a relationship with him and tries to love him back.
Given this scene, Kou, jealous, surpasses his "circumstances" and "emotions" and tries to win Futaba back. Futaba, on the other hand, doesn't want this. She is not aware of Kou's feelings and really wants to love Touma back - something I consider a most earnest and great wish. However, because that's just the way things are, Futaba is unable to love Touma whilst in love with someone else, and she wouldn't stop being in love so long as Kou didn't stop - and he had no intention of stopping.
Therefore, Futaba breaks up with Touma and gets together with Kou. Happy end.

This entire turn of events depresses me. I dislike when a main character enters a relationship which just wont last. Totally not the kind of stuff I read manga for. I really hate how she spent most of the manga dating someone who is not the main love interest and the one she'll end up with.
Yet, it does bring something to the table I really admired, and those were Futaba's attempts at loving Touma back, even when she wasn't in love with him. People these days always seem to think that they should marry someone they're in love with and whatnot - when I'm a fervent believer that anyone is able to romantically love even those they aren't in love with. Still, even still, we're wired in such a way that we're rather likely to fall in love with those we attempt to love, anyway, so it's almost a moot point.
I believe that what Futaba tried to achieve is one of the most idealistic, selfless and admirable forms of love - though that's precisely why it doesn't happen often. It is, after all, much more convenient to just love those you are in love with

This is why historical romances interest me so. They're about loving the husband or wife that was arranged for you by your family and not by your hormones (who choose based on what amounts to a whim).


But then again... what the hell do I know about love?


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7 minutes ago, Kaguya said:

All I have is possessivness. It's kinda the same thing, right? 

I talked to you about Yanderes, didn't I? To me, possessiveness is also something connected with love. Mostly a male thing, you see it in a lot of animal societies.
In this case, though... The feeling that you want something you care for to be yours seems somewhat natural to me. Even though I hate some forms of possessiveness (will make a post about this at some point), people express their love differently, though mostly based on a variety of set patterns - and possessiveness is one of them.
That is to say, some will express love through intimacy, some through art, some through possession, and various combinations of various factors. 

From what I know about you, I'm sure your own convenience is probably the most important factor, though.

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This is quite an interesting post, it has given me material to possibly use in my story.

Also, random fun fact, you have exactly 1,111 likes.

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Regarding arranged marriages, which you tangentially brought up but which I was thinking about through the entire post, here is an excellent article by esteemed comedian Aziz Ansari on the topic of love today and how arranged marriages are probably actually not all they're vilified to be: http://time.com/aziz-ansari-modern-romance/. The last section, especially, is very relevant to most of your post. I think he has a whole book on the topic of "modern romance", but who has the time for that?

At any rate, I, at least, certainly wouldn't mind if someone set me up with a nice young lady...

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17 hours ago, Shikomizue said:

This is quite an interesting post, it has given me material to possibly use in my story.

Also, random fun fact, you have exactly 1,111 likes.

No I don't, but with your help, I can get 1,118 likes.

11 hours ago, Fred the Barber said:

Regarding arranged marriages, which you tangentially brought up but which I was thinking about through the entire post, here is an excellent article by esteemed comedian Aziz Ansari on the topic of love today and how arranged marriages are probably actually not all they're vilified to be: http://time.com/aziz-ansari-modern-romance/. The last section, especially, is very relevant to most of your post. I think he has a whole book on the topic of "modern romance", but who has the time for that?

At any rate, I, at least, certainly wouldn't mind if someone set me up with a nice young lady...

A nice read, yes. I most definitely think that while it is true that arranged marriages can go wrong, that's mostly for a couple of reasons:

  • We are in a modern society where media, values, culture and just about everything influences us into thinking that love is that initial infatuation that we feel - that "falling in love" is the important part. So, arranged marriages without any of that are clearly evil incarnate.
  • Historically, arranged marriages are also typically depicted as something bad because that's what makes for a good read. Who cares about the millions who turned out well? The hundreds who ended in tragedy are the interesting ones.
  • And even when they do end in tragedy, it's because we, humans with something philosophers like to call  'reason', fail to resist our instincts and immediately flock over to those we've fallen in love with. Despite what I've just said, falling in love with the wrong person is tragedy in of itself. That our body and brain would treat us so...
  • Assuming it has nothing to do with falling in love with someone else, failed arranged marriages occur when only one of the partners is interested in loving the other and devoting themselves. Eventually they'll feel unloved, tire themselves out, think that arranged marriages are literally Hitler, yada yada.
17 hours ago, Kaguya said:

Yeah. I don't feel right without a sense of mutual dependency on my relationships. Hm. 

Again, wanting to feel depended on, wanting to be the most important thing to a person, the only important thing, and wanting to rely on just one person. To me, all those are depictions of love. Now you'd just need to find a partner who values things similarly.

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1 hour ago, Naoe said:

This really is a complicated subject isn't it. What about when one never experiences these love emotions?

Well, to start with, if you never experience them there's probably something wrong: it could be with you or with your circumstances. Allow me to elaborate:

  • You only fall in love if the conditions allow it. The conditions in question tend to be as follows: if you're in a particularly happy time of your life or if you're just plain satisfied, then your body believes you're in a good time to procreate. Another alternative, I'd say, is the exact opposite - when you're in a period of great strife. You require emotional support and somebody who'll provide it. Have you ever heard of the "Suspension Bridge Effect"? It is an effect where one misunderstands what their feelings mean - that is to say, you attribute the hormones your body releases to the wrong cause. The example of this Suspension Bridge Effect is that a woman and a man, standing in a perilous bridge, attribute the release of adrenaline and other chemicals to the presence of their partner, and not to the danger of the bridge.
  • For this situation, let us assume that you're heterosexual. Now imagine that you live in an environment where you typically you only interact with men - under these circumstances you are predisposed to not fall in love. On the other hand, if you were to find a woman, it wouldn't be exactly wrong to compare your circumstances to those of a dog in heat. That's hyperbolic, of course, but you are conditioned to fall in love with a female, and therefore, it wouldn't be wrong to assume you would, given the opportunity.
  • Finally, much like you can be an heterosexual, you may be someone who simply isn't interested in intercourse. I understand that the way I put it, it almost seems like your sexuality is directly connected to the feeling of falling in love - I conjecture that this isn't true. After all, the hormone releases connected to sexual pleasure are mostly different from the ones connected to falling in love. Still, if you, as a human, are not predisposed to engage in procreation, the emotions of being in love are as useless as you are to the species as a whole, from a biological standpoint.
  • If, as I mentioned previously, some sort of genetic defect leads you to be uninterested in sex (which goes against instinct), some genetic defect may lead you to lack the necessary hormones or to fail to react to the specific stimuli that would lead to falling in love (which also goes against instinct, in that there's less one mechanism that would lead to reproduction). By this I mean that even if all the circumstances are right, and all the planets are aligned, you may simply fail to react and be completely unable to fall in love.

In summary I highlighted four main points:
You need to find a potential partner appropriate to your own sexuality, you may need to be willing to have sex, you must be able to fall in love, and you need to be in the right frame of mind for it, too.

Of course, I'm not an expert in love (I'm just an expert in cherry-picking situations which favour my arguments), or the science behind it, but, going from what we know about falling in love, we should be able to formulate some hypothesis as I just did. This is what I think, and perhaps someone knows better or can disprove my ideas on the topic.


In a tangential topic, I don't quite know how it works, but given how inbreeding leads to genetic defects, maybe falling in love with close family is harder for some reason? Maybe the smell does not provoke your brain to release the appropriate hormones or something?


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I see. The only thing is I can't handle rejections. So even if I fall in love. I can't do anything about it. Oh and yes I prefer the opposite sex.

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27 minutes ago, Naoe said:

I see. The only thing is I can't handle rejections. So even if I fall in love. I can't do anything about it. Oh and yes I prefer the opposite sex.

Not being able to do anything about falling in love is something I consider a very important topic and that I'll elaborate on, at some point.

There are also those who simply don't act even if they fall in love, like me, due to fear of rejection or some other reason.

Speaking of rejection, I don't see how it could possibly benefit reproduction, so, thinking about it further, it may instead be connected with some other emotions. I haven't really thought of any way to explain rejection and the many reactions people have to them, so for now, I'll just suck it up to emotions.

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I think rejection has to do with physical things like appearance and personality. For example,  a woman wants a man to be fit and strong, or a man wants a slim, and beautiful woman. If a person isn't like that then they just look for someone who is. Hopefully that made since.

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Wow, modern people not completely bashing and demonizing arranged marriage, and even implying that it might just work at times...?! Oh, how times have changed. I can remember all the endless arguments I've had with people regarding this subject. It makes me happy to see that not everyone is willing to dismiss arranged marriage as a barbaric, out of date method that never has and never will work.

Needless to say, I'm a strong believer in arranged marriages. Not only do I think they work, I dare say they're just outright better and healthier for a long term relationship than the standard date>girlfriend>marry-after-a-few-years formula we have going on right now. Most people just don't know how normal arranged marriages work. Just like the guy's father in the article, who dismissed the first two girls he met and settled for the third, you're not "forced" to accept who you're arranged with.  If things really don't work out, then you can always divorce.

Another thing the article mentions is patience, which imo is really undervalued these days in relationships. Especially in the later stages, it's even more important than love, since at that point you've been long enough to start questioning if you actually like your partner (unless you're exceptionally blind).  It's the real test, to prove that you're willing to put up with your partner after all the spicy time is done.

But enough from me, after all this is all based on my own personal observations- like many of you I don't have much real experience with romantic relationships. All I can do is hope that, when the time comes, I'll find a nice partner I'm willing to put up with :sachi:

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About the manga you mentioned, that's adolescent love I guess, and people quickly grow out of it and learn to have better relationships.

About this thing of "it isn't necessary to be together with someone you aren't 'in love' with", you should check out Erich Fromm's "The art of love" (I think that's the English name), where he points out that in the past it was traditional to have arranged marriages in hopes that both partners learned to love and live together with each other, even if the crush of falling in love wasn't present.

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