I have met this other fur on FA who has become my first ever crush (albeit online). We’ve been sending notes to one another for nearly 3 months now, and have written to each other about just about everything, from our hobbies and interests, to our dreams and fears, to our values in life (which is where we have the most similarities). We’ve even written to one another about how we could compromise on the sexual side of it all, given he’s gay and I’m asexual. And, even though we haven’t met in the face yet, he is local (which is why I watched him in the first place) and we’re hoping to meet one another once I get my Uni studies out of the way. Just being able to write to him and read what he’s written back has been bliss!
Now, I've always been under the impression that “love is a force of nature” and that, I'd be better off letting love find me rather than waste time trying to find it. And, I've been happy thinking that way about love ever since.
Yet, after listening to what someone said on TV, I was lead to reading a few web articles which said that love was actually a “choice,” and that we as people set ourselves on our own paths to find someone we would like to fall in love with, in turn choosing to love that person. I find it really uncomfortable to think that the fact I have a crush in this guy is merely a choice of mine.
Yes, I chose to watch him on FA. Yes, I chose to respond to his journal post. Yes, we chose to be open to one another about how we felt. And yes, I chose to bring up the idea of us meeting each other. All of those things are conscious decisions I know I have made either by myself or alongside him. But that feeling inside of me, that warmth and happiness I get whenever I think about him or read one of his notes to me, that desire to get close to him and be by his side... that can't be a choice! Surely not?!
And on top of that, I use the idea that love is a force of nature to justify there being no wrong in same-sex relationships, in that no one would choose to be gay or a lesbian because, as far as I was concerned, no one can choose who they fall in love with. I believed in this even more when I started to get the crush on this guy since I actually define myself as demi-heteroromantic. Whilst I had no ambition to go and find someone to have a crush on, I was for certain that when that time came around, it would be with a woman (I have been attracted to people in the past, the vast, VAST majority of which were women, but not once have I ever been aroused by someone of either gender, nor have I become unable to push the thought of them out of my mind). So, even if I was subconsciously on the hunt for someone to be with, I certainly wasn't looking for that person to be male.
With that said, I am open to it being a man since I'm a very keen believer of Sigmund Freud's theory of innate bisexuality (although I'd prefer to refer of this as innate bi-romanticism seeing as we asexuals think of sexual attraction and romantic attraction as separate things). His theory was that we're all born bisexual and that whilst most of us become monosexual as we grow up, that little bit of bi sticks with us for life. So I have no problem with my first crush being on a man, I'm just a little surprised.
The point I’m trying to make here is that I don’t want to believe I’m getting a crush on him by choice because I never chose to look for someone to have a crush on, let alone someone of the same sex.
I suppose what I'm looking for here is an opinion more than a piece of advice, even though it does disturb me to think that the fact I have a crush on him might be a choice and not an instinct. I don’t know whether or not love at first sight exists, but I was pretty sure up until now that love was beyond our control. I think I’ve got enough ‘evidence’ to say that love isn’t a choice, but perhaps I’m missing something here and it hasn’t clicked in my brain yet.
What do you think? Is love something that happens to us as part of nature, or do we choose to love someone?
* * *
An excellent question. Before I provide my opinion, let’s define some things so that there is no confusion because it sounds like you’re combining a few different sides to attraction.
First, let’s not confuse romantic choice with sexual proclivities—that is, there’s a big difference between saying love is a choice and homo- or heterosexuality is a choice. Homosexuality is not a choice. You know that, but I just want to be clear here.
Second, asexual people aren’t the only ones who believe romantic and sexual attraction are two different things; they definitely are two different things. There are, of course, people who would say that “falling in love” is a biochemical reaction produced after getting a high from making love to someone. That’s pretty clinical, though, and I reject it.
One can say that, given enough exposure to someone, you can fall in love slowly over time. Just the other night I went to see the musical Fiddler on the Roof. In it, there’s a song in which Tevye asks his wife, Golde, whom he married per an arrangement between their families, if she loves him after 25 years together. After a few minutes of singing, she admits, “I suppose I do.” They have grown to love each other.
An old saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” I, on the other hand, believe that as you get to know someone—really know someone—it can lead to love. Many a romantic movie comedy begins with a man and a woman who despise each other being thrown together by some crazy situation that leads them to see into each other’s hearts and fall in love (I give you just about any Jennifer Aniston or Sandra Bullock film).
Love can come from choice, and it can come from exposure over time. And, yes, sometimes there is such a thing as love at first sight, but usually that is just infatuation and fascination that can crumble to pieces once you get to know the other person. If you don’t mind another analogy, I think the Disney film Enchanted does a good job on that one. At the beginning of the movie, Giselle falls instantly in love with Prince Edward in a hyper-romanticized scenario that is played to be deliberately ridiculous. Then, Giselle is tossed into our world and runs into Robert. They aren’t in love at first, but getting to know each other, they fall in true love and Giselle realizes that Edward really isn’t the person she needs in her life.
On the other paw, people can fall in love—even be in love for years—and then fall out of love (hence today’s divorce rate). That they divorce doesn’t mean their initial love wasn’t genuine, but many times people, as they say, grow apart, become much different over time, and are no longer a match (I still tear up when Neil Diamond and Babs sing “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore”).
As you likely know, Papabear gets many letters about love and the search for true love. I typically advise them to do what they can to increase their chances of finding the right person by interacting with people out in the real world pursuing hobbies and other activities. Sometimes, too, an initial match can be made online (though 100% virtual relationships are far from ideal), which is what you have done. You have found someone who shares a lot of your same interests and qualities, and now you are ready for the next step: meeting them in person.
There is nothing wrong with this approach at all. It doesn’t mean you are artificially manufacturing a feeling of love; it means you have optimized your chances of finding someone whom you can love.
The next test is to actually be with that person. At that point, you might discover that you really don’t click; or, hopefully, you will see that the real-life person is just as good or even better than you imagined online. Your heart will swell and you will be in love.
Am I confusing you? Let me put it this way: the people on TV are wrong. Love isn’t an ON/OFF switch that you decide to flick or not. You can, however, choose to alter your behavior in ways that increase your chances of finding people you could fall in love with. That never guarantees love, but it is the best thing to do, and that’s what you’ve done. You found someone and the two of you clicked and then you fell—or are falling—in love. You could just as easily have met the same guy and no chemistry happened.
What pushes us over that edge from merely liking someone to loving him or her? There are a lot of things that attract people: good looks, money, power, cultural similarities. But none of those things leads to real love. In fact, sometimes people scratch their heads and look at a couple and think, “What do they see in each other?” “He’s terrible for her!” “She’s a no-good bum!” But they love each other anyway. Sometimes, love has no reason. It hits you out of the blue when you least expect it, as Dean Martin once sang, “When the sun hits your eye like big pizza pie, that’s amore!” Sometimes, love at first sight does lead to something special.
Real love happens when you are able to connect to the other person emotionally, when you see past the surface and feel their heart. It is, frankly, a spiritual experience. Two souls connecting. That can happen in an instant, or it can take 25 years. There’s no telling. It is beyond our control That’s what makes love so cray-cray amazing :-D
Don’t listen to TV. They call it the Boob Tube for a reason.
Wishing you love,
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.