The Lie About Falling in Love

A recent New York Times piece told us we could fall in love with anyone. But it left out a few important caveats.

“To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” 

That’s the title of an online article going around from The New York Times. I’d repeatedly seen this title pop up in my Facebook NewsFeed, and as I do with most titles that sound unrealistic, I ignored it. But last week when someone asked me for my thoughts on the article, I read it for the first time.

In short, the author describes an interaction she had with a gentlemen that led them to fall in love with each other. The interaction was based on the research of Arthur Aron, who succeeded in making two strangers fall in love in his laboratory, using a series of 36 questions. The author concludes that falling in love is something you can create, and in a sense, control—with the right environment, of course.

So, is it possible that love isn’t as complicated a we make it? Can two people really create an environment that fosters true love?

Real love is a commitment, it’s not something we fall into by mistake.

Yes and No. Here’s why:

Feeling Intimate Isn’t the Same As Really Being Intimate

The article talks about creating “intimacy” by going through a list of 36 questions. I don’t doubt that answering 36 personal questions feels intimate. But just because you feel close to someone, that doesn’t mean you actually are. True intimacy isn’t just a feeling—it’s an ongoing experience. It’s a constant give-and-take. It’s two people who have committed to seeing the other person for who they really are—on good days and on bad days.

Just because you feel intimacy, that doesn’t mean you actually have intimacy, because true intimacy requires an intermingling of lives—hearts, souls and minds.

So many times in a relationship, we chase after false intimacy, whether by going too deep too fast with someone emotionally, physically or even spiritually. But true intimacy takes time, takes choice and takes commitment, because it has roots that run deeper and deeper with each passing day.

Just because you’re attracted to someone doesn’t mean they’re good for you.

I definitely agree that healthy relationships start with some level of attraction, but just because you have attraction doesn’t mean everything else in the relationship lines up.

Here’s the thing: desires can’t always be trusted. Just minutes before writing this article, my own desires were leading me astray. I’ve been really working on eating healthier foods, but the ice cream in my fridge was calling my name. Sometimes, you have to say no to your desires and instead say yes to what you know is for your best.

According to the New York Times article, by creating an atmosphere that fosters chemistry, two people can create a strong attraction and therefore fall in love. But how long will it take us to realize that attraction isn’t everything?

Attraction is a good first step, but it’s just the first step. Because sometimes in life, we attract or are attracted to healthy relationships. But other times, we’re drawn to things that aren’t so good for us. And often, our desires can lead us astray. But the healthier we become as individuals, the healthier the relationships we’re drawn to. 

It’s important not to let our desires lead the way in relationships, but instead, to balance them with what we know is best for us.

Even though love starts with a feeling, it doesn’t end there. 

One thing that’s deeper than feelings are choices. And eventually, real love has to move into something more significant.

Attraction is a good first step, but it’s just the first step. Often, our desires can lead us astray.

There are so many components of choice when it comes to creating a healthy and meaningful relationship—from the initial choices of knowing yourself, to working on becoming your best self, to the choice of entering into a relationship that’s good for you, to the choice of committing to love.

Real love is a commitment, it’s not something we fall into by mistake. Instead, it’s something we choose, and continue to choose, for the rest of our lives. Like the old D.C. Talk song says, “Love is a verb.”

So often “falling in love” is described as a one-dimensional feeling or experience. But it’s a definition that falls flat, because it fails to take into consideration the deeper aspects of will, choice and wisdom involved in finding love.

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As much as I appreciate the romantic story described by the author of The New York Times post “To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This,” I think it’s terribly misleading, because it offers a formula for falling in love, without an accurate definition of what it really means to fall in love.

Love is so much more than chemistry exchanged between two people at a bar.

Love is deep. Love is commitment. Love is selfless. Love is costly. Love is life-giving. And ultimately, love is a choice. Because maybe anyone can “fall in love,” but more meaningful then that is when we choose to stay in love.

This article was originally posted at truelovedates.com

Top Comments

Elise Amyx

9

Elise Amyx commented…

I'm confused because the thing I loved about the New York Times article is that it makes the exact point you're making, that love isn't a feeling but a choice. The author ends with "Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be." I think that's a very Christian message. It's about being intentional and choosing to love every day. It totally rides against the fate/first-date-proposal mentality. I found the Times piece extremely encouraging because it shows that there are many people you can fall in love with, not just your one soul mate. It's not meant to be a comprehensive article on the theology of dating, but I think you may have overlooked how the article is actually compatible with a Christian view dating in many ways.

Leah Davenport

6

Leah Davenport commented…

Seconding Elise's comment here, I too found the NYT piece a beautiful and intriguing look at how love is an active choice, not something you can arbitrarily manufacture. Several media outlets covering the piece tried to replicate the experiment by having two strangers answer the 36 questions together. No surprise, the participants said they didn't feel in love after a mere two hour interrogation. The point of the NYT article was to outline the importance of being authentic and vulnerable when offering and receiving love. This response, while it presents sound Christian dating advice, feels artificially contrarian.

6 Comments

Leah Davenport

6

Leah Davenport commented…

Seconding Elise's comment here, I too found the NYT piece a beautiful and intriguing look at how love is an active choice, not something you can arbitrarily manufacture. Several media outlets covering the piece tried to replicate the experiment by having two strangers answer the 36 questions together. No surprise, the participants said they didn't feel in love after a mere two hour interrogation. The point of the NYT article was to outline the importance of being authentic and vulnerable when offering and receiving love. This response, while it presents sound Christian dating advice, feels artificially contrarian.

Marilyn Mizenko

1

Marilyn Mizenko commented…

I wonder if the author read the partner piece that outlined the questions used in the experiment. If someone was that vulnerable with me and I with them, I definitely think that a foundation would be built where love could be fostered.

Nathan DuBois

1

Nathan DuBois commented…

The ladies comments are right. The author bashes an article, and then make the articles own points as rebuttal. I think they never actually read it. Here is an excerpt...

."But what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner matters to me because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him.

I wondered what would come of our interaction. If nothing else, I thought it would make a good story. But I see now that the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known."

Andrea Karan

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Andrea Karan commented…

I am sick of hearing this over and over. I grew up as a christian girl, and people, pastors, leaders, are always addressing the intimacy problem. They say that if you get close to someone in any way, you can have a "false" idea of intimacy and make love more complicated than it really is. Over the years, (now I'm 30) I can tell the difference between that false intimacy and love. I think this message is more than ok for teenagers, but for adults, it just doesn't make the cut. Sorry, but I think human beings can be responsible for their own feelings and sometimes, couples that have a one night stand end up marrying. So, really who knows? Who are christians or non christians to address or tell what love between persons should or shouldn't be? I think everyone has the relationship they want to have and it is none of our business. I'm just spilling my mind here. I think intimacy is built over time. Of course you don't have the same intimacy when you have been in a relationship for a month than for six years. Please, just live and let live. And stop making people overanalyze their actions. Thank you.

Gabriela Marinho

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Gabriela Marinho commented…

I believe the true love is born in the soul of the people. I would like to share a special agenda about the relationships from the spiritual perspective. Because the relationships constitute stronger ties than we can see. They are relationships that are determined before we are born. http://goo.gl/uEJFxE

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