Thursday, April 11, 2013

Falling in Love the Natural Way

Well, I've been single (more or less, but we won't go into that) for about 3 months now, and that means I've had plenty of time to think about falling in love.

I frequently list falling in love as one of my favorite pastimes, being one of the few benefits of being single. You are free to fall in love as often as you want, with no consequences except maybe some lack of sleep and/or productivity.

I'll admit I haven't been doing nearly as much falling in love as I would like, but that doesn't mean I can't pretend to be an expert on it! And what I am going to posit, with my superior knowledge backing me, is there are good ways of falling in love, and there are bad ways.

The bad way goes something like this. You meet online, already hoping you might have found your perfect match. You make a few snap judgments of each other, mostly based on photos, statistics, and writing style. If you haven't rejected each other within the first 10 seconds, you may exchange messages, wherein you try to wheedle facts and dealbreakers out of the other party. If you haven't yet found fault with each other, you meet in person. At this point, you may conclude that the other party is uglier than his/her pictures indicated, or that you can't stand the other's voice, or that his/her B.O. is just too overwhelming. If by some miracle, you still haven't been frightened off, you have the go-ahead to fall in love.

The bad way of approaching romance is a subtractive process, in which you start with lofty ideals and whittle them down to the point where you've either given up entirely or done the dreaded "settling."

The good way, on the other hand, starts with no expectations. You meet in a neutral environment, without even giving a thought to the notion that you may one day be in love. You don't have any romantic interest in each other. You may even find the other a little intimidating, or annoying, or unattractive. You go about your daily business, getting to know each other slowly over a period of weeks or months. You gradually learn each other's good traits and bad traits. You become friends. You learn even more of each other's good traits. At some point, you realize you have a genuine crush on the other, and the things you originally found intimidating, annoying, or unattractive, have transformed in your mind to – yes! – more good traits. But you don't let on. You continue going about your daily business, savoring every tiny interaction to your secret delight. You may continue like this for more weeks or more months, until, perhaps, the other disappears from your life, no harm, no foul. But perhaps, instead, one of you will one day make a move. And then, well, you've already fallen in love! After all that waiting, it's like Christmas!

The good way of falling in love is additive (addictive, too), starting with almost nothing and building up, good thing on top of good thing. It's not contrived, like online dating. It just sort of happens. And things that just sort of happen always feel more right, to me, than things I've struggled to achieve.

It may be counterproductive to set accidental love-falling as an goal, but I sincerely hope I'll keep it in mind the next time I'm tempted to rush things in my desperation to no longer be single.