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JULY ISSUE

The Fallacy of Falling in Love: Is love a choice or a reaction independent of our control

Why do some women seem to fall in love with the wrong men, while others sail smoothly through their love lives? The way people interpret love, or even the way they fall in love, vastly ranges between different people and between the sexes. What is love to one is certainly not love to the other. This may explain why some people just cannot seem to get it right with their partner choices, while others make the "right" decision right off the bat.

Love can certainly be out of our own control, after all; you can easily fall in love with someone while knowing you are absolutely not compatible with that person. Some may call this "infatuation"; others call it "love". Some people have the ability to fall in love at first sight, while others need to know someone for a long time before these feelings start to grow.

Love is confusing, and the process of falling in love is so individual that nobody can claim it is purely "out of your control" or purely a "choice". For everyone there will be elements of both these processes involved when choosing a partner. There can definitely be an element of choice involved in any relationship, and there is no reason why, being the independent man or woman you are, you cannot have a hand in whether you choose to love someone or not. You may not be able to help falling in love with a person, but you surely can decide whether or not to enter in a relationship with them at all.

If you are experiencing a certain relationship or love pattern, and it is not exactly working for you (for example, you are a man falling in love with women that are out to take advantage of you, or you are a woman falling for the "bad boys"), you may not be able to control who you are attracted to, but you can control who you choose to spend your life (or a considerable amount of time) with.
Eventually, sharing common interests that are not necessarily time dependent will determine if your love and your relationship will stand the test of time. Being in your twenties and having a shared passion for parties is not exactly a common interest to write home about; millions of others will share that same passion with you. So there is no reason to choose this one person because they are fun to party with. If you are in your thirties and desperate for kids, marrying someone who wants the same may make you happy in the "baby-honeymoon stages", but once your child grows up and, God forbid, leaves the house, you are left with just your partner again. Hopefully by then you discover other common interests, but what if you don't?

As you can see, there are problems with both "out of control" love, and choosing the person to "love". Neither of them is a real kind of love; the first is perhaps better described as attraction or infatuation, the latter is based purely on certain characteristics that person has. Finding a combination of the two will maximize your potential for lasting love and a healthy long-term relationship. Attraction is important, but so are shared interests. Once the party years are over, do you still agree on other passions? Or will he be traveling rock climbing while you prefer to sit on a beach?

Finding the right partner is similar to finding the right employee for a particular job. You have certain needs and interests, and your significant other will have to match those somehow. You cannot change whom you fall in love with, just as much as you cannot change another person.

So how do you actually fall in love with the right person? Make a list of your must haves and can't stands, and think previous relationships here because you are bound to have learned many "can't stands" from those. These will help you get out of any potential cycle of choosing the wrong partner and alert you when warning signs pop up. In terms of must haves, take it literally: this list should not contain anything that would be nice to find in someone, but if you do not find it you could live without it. Your 'can't stands' should be longer than your must haves, and will eliminate many potential relationship partners. If your 'must haves' list is too long, you may end up further eliminating some people who have really great potential.

Now when you meet someone you can keep this list in mind, and just by being aware of what you are not looking for, you should more easily determine if someone could be right for you. This can also help not to develop an infatuation for the wrong person and potentially cause your self a lot of pain down the road. Eventually, you will find yourself that perfect combination of falling in love, and choosing the partner you will love and grow to love more as time passes by. Recognizing someone's positive attributes and matching them to what you are looking for will perhaps look like a "choice", but you may just find yourself falling in love with the person you "chose" as right for you.

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