Human beings share this deep desire to be devoted to or to be loved by another. It may not be obvious. But we want to be acknowledged, appreciated, and approved. Perhaps wanting these things does not mean that one wants to be adored. But approval and acknowledgment do contain some level of fondness. Although we crave to love and to be loved, it seems like an impossible task to seek constant security from another person. There is a certain sense of insecurity that the person you endear to may no longer feel the same one day. Or s/he may depart in death. Is it possible instead to become love? How can we become love?
We find a person desirable due to their physical traits. These physical traits denote the health these potential partners can impart to our children. The attraction takes place in three stages. The first stage is lust, driven by men’s testosterone and women’s estrogen. It works the same way with animals. The second stage is when the brain releases a jumbo of chemicals from dopamine, adrenaline to norepinephrine. These chemicals make romance addictive. The last stage is when we form a sense of attachment to our partner.
We also tend to be attracted to those who look similar to us. They also carry a smell we think is healthy as it points to fertility. A person with a symmetrical face will win a lot more hearts than those whose face appears lopsided. Lastly, we also care a lot about Body Mass Index (BMI) when choosing partners.
Depending on Others for Love
Unfortunately, we are unaware of how our biological way of choosing partners comes together when we find someone attractive. We tend to think of lust and attachment as devotion and may even exaggerate the qualities of a person even when s/he does not have them as a reason for falling in love.
We are attached to our partners after the lust is over. Some call it love. There are couples who are romantically involved for their whole lives. But most couples are attached because they have become each other’s habit. Some couples argue later in their marriage. Others endure while their partners put them down habitually. Attachment is not only found in romance but also in other types of relationships.
Even if your love for your partner lasts a long time and is reciprocated, it could end abruptly as life is uncertain. If you have fallen for your partner due to his/her qualities such as kindness, and honesty, these traits could change as they grow. Worst still, if we are attracted to our partners because of a physical trait, we know that won’t last. We all age and deteriorate.
Become the Quality You Seek
Our minds can be complex when we are unaware. But when there is awareness, we can know what we are really seeking in our hearts. When we find someone desirable as a partner, we are usually seeking his or her health to produce strong children. Biology aside, we seek the qualities we think are in the person to love. We tend to prize qualities of intelligence, compassion, kindness, and humor in the person we love and place them on the pedestal.
If this desired person leaves us, we may feel we have lost the prized possession called love along with the desirable qualities encompassed by the other. The most important quality we find hardest to get from another is love itself. How can we ensure our life partner will continue to pay attention to us and love us?
But what if, the qualities we seek are in us all this time?
Consider this, if we seek unconditional love – a quality that doesn’t change, it is not possible to get it from another person. Just as how we look up to certain people – for example, Bill Gates, for his generosity, we need not depend on Gates for his quality of generosity to admire him. We can experience this quality of giving by being generous ourselves. Perhaps not to the extent that Gates is able to give, but based on our limits. Instead of admiring someone who is generous, we can give and experience his/her quality ourselves.
The same goes for becoming love. If it is the quality of this emotion we are seeking, we can simply seek it and produce it in ourselves without depending on another. We can learn to become love by reflecting on the qualities of love. It contains warmth in the heart, lightness, contentment, and joy. There is a sense of security being immersed in this emotion. We have all experienced it one way or another, without necessarily depending only on romance. Just as we think about the qualities of our beloved and how it uplifts our mood, we can think about love itself.
We do not try this practice because we believe that no one loves us. Rather, it is to recognize when we fall in love, it is the love itself and not the person who loves us that we are seeking. We have to be clear about which is which. Usually, we think it is the person whom we are seeking. But if your beloved person changes his/her qualities and loves you less, how would you feel? Would you want him or her to continue loving you? This shows us that love is actually what we are seeking and this person happens to give it to us in an affectionate manner.
We seek lust and companionship based on our survival instinct and tend to mix it up with the transcendental quality of love. There is this faint awareness in the human heart that love seems to be another quality apart from lust and attachment.
Perhaps love is really what we have always sought, instead of seeking someone who would give it to us. We have to have the clarity of mind that we are not confusing love with lust or attachment. Perhaps this is how we can love unconditionally.
Don’t Limit Yourself
We may have confused love with reproduction needs. In this way, we may have also limited ourselves to loving only one or a few people in our lives. That is not to say that unconditional love between two people or more does not exist, but they are rare, for a reason.
We may have the inkling that love might be much more powerful and unlimited than the kind of love we know. But how can we show affection for a vast number of people, when a majority of them could be irritating, demanding, or unreasonable?
Our limitations could be caused by the fact we depend on people to reciprocate our affection because we view this emotion as a commodity. What if we come from the position of remembering and feeling love’s quality often? Similar to when we think and remember the person we love to lift our hearts? Except remembering the qualities of love does not require a person to represent it.
In my own experience, being in love with love gives me magnanimity when others are negative towards me. It is a work in progress and it is an interesting and not a dull work for the mind.