Is Love a Decision or a Feeling?

How do you know that your partner is right for you?       

Jigsaw pieces in the shape of a question markI’m often asked what seems to be a very simple question…‘How do you know when you meet Mr Right?’ Or ‘How do I know that I am with the right person?’

Though the question seems simple enough or straight forward, the answer isn’t. Why so? Well did you know that every relationship has a cycle…! And depending where you and your partner are in the relationship cycle potentially determines how you feel and whether or not you are likely to question if your partner is your partner for life, that is the right person for you.

The Early Stages

In the beginning or early stages of a relationship it’s easy to feel as if you have ‘fallen in love’. Think about those early days! You feel totally consumed by your love and the feelings that you have for your partner! Think about how you behave. You anticipate their calls, crave their touch, and either don’t notice their idiosyncrasies or alternatively find those idiosyncrasies cute!

In essence that first stage of falling in love is in hindsight easy. It just seems to happen. And while there’s lots of palpitations, anticipating the next time you spend time together it feels very natural and the connection spontaneous and loving. Looking back you didn’t have TO DO anything.

Isn’t it fascinating then that this stage is referred to as falling’ in love? As if some unnatural force blew you away!

And then consider the language people often use in these early stages of love, I was swept of my feet.’ Or bowled over!’

What picture does that conjure in your mind? Being hit with a gust of wind that literally causes you to lose your footing? That something just happened TO YOU while you were quietly minding your own business?

Looked at this way, ‘falling in love’ or the first stages of love is a relatively passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few months or years of being together, this euphoria or stage of love fades. What few couples realise is that that’s to be expected. It’s the natural cycle of EVERY relationship!

Then What?

It’s what accompanies the next stage that matters. For the behaviours that accompany the next stage of a relationship are what determine how deeply you feel connected and how secure you feel in your relationship.

Typically what happens over time is the small gestures of love dwindle. Phone calls for no reason at all fade; touch when it happens is not always welcome and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, once considered cute, now drive you insane!

While the symptoms of this next stage vary from one relationship to another the experiences are the same. There’s a recognition or awareness that things are now very different from when you were first dating. And while those initial differences are rationalised or for some expected, you may become aware that the relationship seems perhaps less romantic or perhaps less connected than it was in those early days of dating.

As the years roll on it’s at this point, that you and/or your partner are likely to question the strength and longevity of the relationship and ask at least covertly, Where has the love gone?’ or Am I with the right person?’ And in comparing what you feel was the euphoria of the love you once had, you may believe that the love has gone…desire that old experience again and look to fulfil it with someone else. And it’s at this stage if some intervention doesn’t take place that relationships breakdown or lose their lustre.

Love is More than Just a Feeling!

So what’s the answer? To return to the original question, the key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person per se it’s about learning how to love yourself and the person you’re with! While you can apply some filters to be more discerning in your search for love, it’s important to appreciate that in those early stages of love, ‘love is blind’… And if that is the case how can you navigate through that period of ‘headless love’ into a mature and everlasting love relationship?

So often I hear people blaming their partners for their unhappiness and looking externally for fulfilment. And that can mean extramarital affairs or distractions in many shapes and sizes, infidelity being the most common. That said working late, getting absorbed in hobbies, turning to TV for pleasure, or drinking in excess are in many ways all forms of infidelity.

The answer to your relationship bliss and overall happiness lies with you! It doesn’t lie outside your relationship. It lies in the conscious desire to work on the relationship to ensure that your connection deepens over time rather than dwindles. That your love is nurtured and developed.

Until you appreciate that for love to grow one has to first love oneself and then WORK ON the relationship that you have –with that love. So it’s foremost a result of an inner experience and choice first.

This doesn’t mean that should you leave your relationship you couldn’t fall in love with someone else, and experience again the early stages of love. You potentially could. And TEMPORARILY you may feel great. However over time, with no conscious commitment – given a new love, you’d find yourself in the similar situation a few years on.

The crux of the matter is this!

‘The key to succeeding in a Relationship is not finding the right person; it’s learning to love the Person you’ve found’.

SUSTAINING and DEEPENING  love and commitment is not a passive or spontaneous experience. You have to work on it day in and day out. It takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it demandsWISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make it work.’ So don’t make the mistake of thinking this is not so!

‘Love is NOT a mystery! It’s a conscious choice’. And just as there are physical Laws of the Universe (such as gravity), there are also Laws for Relationships. If you know how to apply these laws, the results are predictable.

I read somewhere that Love is a decision. Not just a feeling!’ And I think that this is such wise wisdom!

Just think about, the Universe determines who walks into your life. Your part is to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let GO!

So what are you going to do differently today…to rekindle the fire in your relationship or to show your partner how much you care? It takes conscious work to keep a relationship on fire, but the results are certainly worth the effort.

My next post is about looking at values and how these affect the way we show up in our relationships….so sign up to get my regular tips as to how you can get your relationship from sagging to bragging! Or grow from good to great!

And remember to have fun!

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  1. says

    I met “the one” 5 years ago today! (just realised as I wrote this!) it was just an instant amazing connection, I had had this experience before although as I had already had 3 relationships, I was getting better and better at picking the one for me!

    For me love is a feeling, that then requires you to make plenty of decisions haha! There are of course plenty of ways we need to keep communicating and we are always learning and growing as a couple, but now that I have met “the one” I do believe that it is worth looking for the perfect match and then hanging on tight!

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