Because these are not the same thing
Attraction is magic
I?ve been attracted to people for all kinds of reasons.
Maybe I liked their sense of humor, or the way they laughed. I liked the way they talked, or the way they though. Maybe I liked their demeanor, or overall energy, or the way they lit my cigarette. I?ve found people sexy because of the way they smelled, or their music, or motorcycles, or the way they did their work. I?ve admired their confidence, or their passion, or the way they carried themselves. Often, they just seemed to offer something I thought I need or want in that moment of my life. Maybe they showed me a good time.
But most often? Attraction is based on completely inexplicable reasons.
I just find myself attracted to someone ? sexually; platonically ? I am drawn to them for whatever reason, for however long, and for the most part, try as I may, I don?t control this initial attraction.
This is true for many of us.
The problem is, most of us sink too much importance in ?attraction? and, worse, we mix it up with ?actual love.?
And while we don?t control who we?re attracted to, we do, however, control where we invest ourselves ? time, energy, and emotion.
Love is a choice
Most of what we think of as ?love? is bullshit. Most people treat love as something happens to them, or something they ?are in.?
Most people treat ?love? the same way they do ?attraction? ? something over which they have no control. They fail to realize that real, adult relationship ? i.e., mature love ? requires energy and investment.
Love is decision and work, not ?magic.?
Love ? good, healthy, mature love ? is not being or feeling. It?s not motivation or inspiration or being swept away or overwhelmed.
Love is an act. It?s a decision. It?s deliberate. It?s external effort and energy every day. It?s choosing and committing. It?s doing.
It?s based on you, not them.
So can you love anyone?
One reader wrote,
?By your definition of love, it seems like in theory it should be possible to love anyone.?
In theory, sure.
Just like you can show compassion to anyone. Because love and compassion are very closely linked.
And I know we?re talking about a specific kind of love ? that is, romantic ? the basis is still very similar. While there does have to be a baseline of chemistry and connection to make that level and depth of investment worthwhile for, the point is: that investment is still a choice you either don?t make, or do.
Then *should* you love anyone?
Does this mean you should love everyone?
If we?re talking ?compassion,? then yes. Technically.
But because I know we?re talking romantically, then: no.
We can care for everyone?s wellbeing in a passive way, but we can?t actively invest the depth required of close relationships in everyone.
Just like you don?t eat everything ? at once, or even in general. You don?t say everything that pops into your head. You don?t do everything, go everywhere, think about everything. You don?t waste your money on hobbies you don?t have. You choose.
You make deliberate decisions on what to do, based on what you want.
And you choose who to love just as consciously.
How you choose
If you want good love, you don?t choose based on physical attractiveness. You don?t choose based on how they ?make you feel.? You don?t choose based superficial checklists (?must love dogs,? ?favorite food: lasagna.?)
If love is an act, then love is an investment of time and attention (our most valuable things in life.) And if love is an investment, then you love based on return.
Emotional health is the indicator of the ROI of love. If you dump love into an unstable person, you?re pouring it down the drain. But secure people are ?easy? to love, give high rewards for reasonable effort, and love back readily.
If you want to be healthy, you choose healthy meals ? and then eat them.
If you want a good career, you choose a good job ? and then actually do good work.
And if you want a healthy relationship, you choose an emotionally-healthy partner, and afterwards focus on the work of loving them.
Because emotionally-healthy partners will put in effort and love right back. So pick someone who is a.) self-loving, b.) deserving of your love and c.) will return it and meet your needs.
Should you still love people that hurt/disrespect you?
No, absolutely not.
Not actively, anyway. Passively and from afar, you can wish the best for them and respect their decisions. But you can?t love them in a way that?s intimate, vulnerable, or invested.
Love is a choice, and we only have so much time, attention and energy in our day. Make sure the ROI is where you want to be.
And when we?ve picked a target, we have to remember to reinvest all the time.