Friday, September 23, 2011

Week 6: In and Out of Love

Scripture to reflect upon for Singles Saturday: 1 Timothy 6:6
"Godliness with contentment is great gain."

Let’s just get one thing straight: Love changes.

You hear it all the time: “I just don’t love him (her) anymore. We fell out of love.” Fell out of love?

The problem the world faces is this idea that love is supposed to always be passionate, roaring with animal attraction and steamy romance. Yawn. I’m tired just thinking about it.

Stop living in the delusional glitzy Hollywood world where love equals passion, or vice versa. The reality is that passion fizzles, and when it does, so does the “love” you once felt…because it wasn’t real.

Real love means you can stand to be around each other when it’s not steamy and the passion subsides and all that’s left is just the real you. Face to face you still like each other. You don’t mind that he picks his teeth after eating. You don’t mind that she applies her lipstick at the table. Those little quirky things don’t matter. But if you fell in love because of the passion, those quirks will one day irk you beyond belief. Those teeny tiny things they do will drive you to the brink of insanity. They will cause riffs and heated arguments, and the next thing you know, you’re telling your friends, “We fell out of love.”

The relationship I have with Jared is one of the best anyone could ever ask for. When you are truly in love, the little things don’t seem to be so big anymore. You realize that peace is better, and they are more than an idiosyncrasy. You see their worth in their character and how they treat others, specifically you! When you jump into a steamy romance, you allow no room for emotional engagement. It’s purely physical, and that leads to nowhere quick.

Love has a course to take. Psychologists will try to tell you that the stages of love begin with romantic feelings, then progresses to physical attraction and then emotional attachment. I, on the other hand, find that incredibly unhealthy and think they have it all backwards.

I think what’s most important is to be emotionally attached to someone first. That means creating a friendship. Getting to know one another. Creating a bond. Now some will argue that once that takes place they can’t move past the idea of “dating their friend.” Who better to date? A stranger? Really?!

A lot of women say, “I couldn’t imagine kissing him. It would be like kissing my brother.” I thought the same thing of Jared. We were friends and I thought he was a bit awkward and geeky, totally not my type at all. I remember after he initially asked me out, I began to imagine kissing him and I nearly gagged. I just couldn’t see it working out well.

Our friendship intensified on our first date. We were able to communicate without being watched by co-workers and customers listening in. After hours and hours of wonderful conversation, I began establishing some romantic feelings towards him because I was becoming emotionally connected. At the end of the date, we didn’t sit and make out until the sun came up like most people do. He walked me out, got me a cab, opened the cab door and I gave him a sweet peck on the lips, thanked him for a great night and was on my way home.

On the ride home, which was about a twenty minute cab ride, I didn’t get all googly about what had just happened. I didn’t start putting all these expectations on it, either, by beginning to plan the wedding and pick out bridesmaids. I liked the guy. He was super sweet and generous. He was thoughtful and considerate. I had never had a date like that before. It would have been easy for me to fall head over heels right away, and a lot of people do after that first night, not based on anything solid, but merely on physical attraction.

If someone were to ask you how your first date went with someone, the first thing to come up would be, “He was so gorgeous! I couldn’t believe how good looking he is.” Bam. You’re done.

Being physically attracted to someone is important, but too many times that’s all we look for. Instead of finding out who they are, what they are all about, what they believe and why, we jump right to the looks department. Looks fade. Trust me. And when looks fade, guess what? So does your love for that person.

So the first stage of love needs to be friendship. You have to develop a genuine “affection” first. This will begin to build that emotional attachment. I found that Jared’s character made him incredibly gorgeous. I didn’t quite see him that way until after I got to know him better. And although I wasn’t entirely sure if I was physically attracted to him in the beginning, I knew that he was a great guy and I wasn’t going to let that hinder me from having a good relationship anymore.

Most people get involved too quickly into physical relationships. They skip right over friendship and start getting busy. There’s a total lack of communication going on here, and that kind of relationship will never end pleasantly, as I discussed in a previous blog, Save Yourself. Once all that physical attraction begins to wear off you’re left with nothing else to hang onto. You find yourself awkwardly trying to find things in common, or to talk about, and it leaves you incredibly dry and wasted. The “love” you felt was raging hormones. It was lust. And so many people get the two confused. When you confuse lust for love, you’re always going to end up getting hurt, because lust fades and always try to quench its thirsty spirit.

After the physicality of the relationship wears off (I pray after you’re married, mind you), you may find yourself going to bed without even kissing each other goodnight. It has nothing to do with how you feel about the person, you’ve just become content and satisfied. That’s when the good life begins. That’s when comfort and joy settles in. That’s when you truly begin to look at things and say, “My life is great.”

Jared and I have a pretty routine life, and we’re pretty happy about it. After Tavin goes to bed for the night, we go upstairs and settle in for the night. We sit and read, or watch TV, but most of the time we find ourselves discussing our day, politics, God, Frasier, science, football…anything! To some this may seem boring, but to us it’s heaven on earth. We live for those moments.

Don’t you enjoy hanging out with your best friend, just sitting around talking? I love it. And Jared is my best friend. I can tell him anything and know that I’m safe. I am forever in the presence of my best friend, laughing, joking, confiding, and comforting. All the things a good friend should do.

If you’re looking for a sizzling romance that lasts forever, you are going to be sadly searching for a long, long, LONG time. It doesn’t exist. Romance, yes. Sizzling, no. And to me, romance is contentment and pure satisfaction with where you are at all times.

ACTION PLAN: Rethink love. Rethink how relationships evolve. Stop looking at the world as your influence on how to be in love. When you enter a new relationship, look at it as a new friendship instead of a blossoming romance. Once you do that, you won’t have to force romance to happen, it will just come naturally.

GO FURTHER: I’ve said it before and I can’t stress it enough: save yourself. Be faithful to yourself. Have respect for yourself. The temptation to leap into a physical relationship is everywhere, but you are stronger than that. God gave you a spirit of “power, love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

FACT: Lust will never turn into love, and it will always disappoint you in the long run.

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