This Valentine’s day, make the choice to love someone

Christopher Walker, Editor - in - Chief

From birth, Americans are instilled with the belief that love is the strongest emotion we can possibly feel, an instinctive desire so great it is bound to conquer all. We are told when we meet the right person, we will fall head-over-heels and never stop feeling that way.

This overtly simple view of love is misleading, at best, and it is seriously harmful to mature relationships.

Despite what Hollywood, literature and corporations that rely on Valentine’s day income will tell you, love is a choice. Infatuation and lust are not.

How we perceive someone sexually and how attractive we find them is largely out of our control. We don’t make a conscious choice about whom we find desirable. Therefore, puppy-love, the romantic feelings felt in the first stage of a relationship, is also an emotion largely out of the conscious mind’s sphere of influence.

That first initial stage, where our partner can do no wrong, where his or her flaws are skimmed over and not given a second thought, has very little to do with reality or conscious choice.

However, that is not love; it is infatuation, an obsession with an unrealistic portrait. Love is about making a conscious choice to accept a partner for who he or she is, a conscious choice to put his or her needs before yours.

Love at first sight is a ridiculous concept sold to us by those who can profit from the belief.

If the warped, Hollywood version of love is to be believed, a couple lacking butterflies in their stomachs are no longer madly in love. Sometimes, it might feel as if during rough times, less love is present than in those first few months.

Infatuation and lust are often mistaken for love, and when those two begin to taper off, the relationship really begins. Ask anyone who has passed the period of puppy love in their relationship: staying together and loving each other in spite of differences can be hard work.

You can still lust after your partner years down the road, but it’s important to note the distinction between these two lesser instincts and the more thoughtful and emotionally deep choice of love.

Just because you are no longer blindly infatuated with your partner does not mean you are not still deeply in love. Too many college students, in their first real relationships, think something is wrong when the puppy-love stage ends. Nothing is wrong; it’s perfectly natural.