Falling in Love is Easy

On a hot summer evening in Banff, Alberta, a man can fall in love twice walking Banff Avenue between Wolf and Buffalo Streets – three times on a Sunday.

A woman’s beauty, her curves, sparkling eyes, the flash of a sudden smile, can be for a man like a shooting star streaking across the night sky: an instantaneous moment of rapture and delight. But, it’s not really love.

A few weeks ago, I bought the 25th anniversary edition of M. Scott Peck’s classic treatise on love, psychology, and traditional values: The Road Less Travelled.  It is one of my all-time, top five, favourite books.  In it, Peck contrasts “cathexis” -falling in love – with real love.

Cathexis, he says, is the blissful feeling of unity one has with the beloved in the early stages of romantic attraction, explaining that it is likely nature’s way of bonding a pair, before the couple realizes what they’re really in for – a lifelong commitment  at the altar!  Peck says cathexis is the dropping of ego boundaries, similar to the utter trust a child has for his or her mother in the early years of childhood.

According to Peck, cathexis is effortless, and, while a necessary step to real love, he goes on to say that loving someone is a decision, a willful choice. Real love, he says, is a decision one makes to remain committed to the beloved well beyond time’s diminishment of physical beauty when hair greys, wrinkles deepen, and chronic faults and failings dilute the elixir of love.

On the contrary, Peck argues that real love is an effortful process of giving of one’s self to the other.  Self gift is the action of love and authenticity is the practice. In our culture, it seems easier to remove one’s clothes with a beloved, than it is to remove one’s projected persona, the mask we often hide behind. Being authentic with our beloved is frightening and takes courage.  There are things in our own selves that can cause us anxiety or shame that we don’t want the other to see, for fear we be rejected, criticized, and the relationship end.

But, if we are authentic in our love relationships, both people giving of themselves in bouts of courageous honesty (but not petty criticism), then the bond of love will grow.  Love is like a muscle, if we exercise it, it grows and brings life sustaining energy to both partners; if we don’t exercise authenticity, love withers and dies.  Therefore, real love is active.

If you find yourself out of love with your beloved, ask yourself: at which point did I stop loving the other? Then ask yourself a second important question: why did I stop giving of myself to the other?

Categories Blog Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Posted on September 30, 2014

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  1. by Celeste

    On October 7, 2014


  2. by stlhdsal

    On October 21, 2014

    Thanks Celeste! Good to see you here!

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