As men mature, gaining knowledge through being in relationships and having sex with ever-greater numbers of women, the way they experience love begins to change.
In a world of adult responsibilities, you as a man must be the most responsible of all. You are a leader to each woman who comes into your life, and that is the dynamic that would carry through if you were to end up getting married and having children. Any relationship you decide to get into, if it’s built to last, will have this established from the beginning.
The problem with being the driver of the car and not a passenger, is that you aren’t as free to observe the scenery and listen to the music. Your primary task is to drive, and only beyond that requirement can you enjoy brief glimpses of scenery, and let yourself get lost singing along to the radio. You might be able to do quite a lot of that, but your hand never leaves the wheel.
If the car’s brakes are failing, the turn signals don’t work, and you’re having to fight the wheel to keep the car going straight, you won’t have any time to enjoy the view or the radio, let alone the company riding with you.
But you will fight to keep the car going forward, as long as you can.
When we fall in love as adult men, the first rush we feel will be attraction. This is based on the woman’s physical looks, femininity, and the personality chemistry between us (which extends to sexual chemistry as well).
The greater this initial rush of attraction, the longer a man will potentially continue feeling butterflies and “love feelings” toward a specific woman. This is really the flood of dopamine and oxytocin, a combination of pleasurable reward and longterm bonding chemicals.
At the same time, as a man in control of himself who wants to maximize his experience in life, you will have to keep your hand on the wheel if you want to build a strong foundation for the relationship. You can’t lose yourself completely.
Some men resent this and get angry that they can never fully lose themselves in love, as they did when they were teenagers. But that is the burden of adulthood and responsibility. It can also be seen as a benefit to have the opportunity to be a leader. Every man has this instinct within himself, to provide for others and look out for their wellbeing.
So as a man in control of your relationship, can you ever feel “true love”?
There might be some women you meet who create a more overwhelming tidal wave of emotions and lust in you. Does this mean you “love them” more? Unfortunately, no. As any man who has cheated on his supermodel wife will tell you, the pure physical thrill of sleeping with the same woman diminishes over time, no matter how sexy she is.
But what you can feel is a bond. The knowledge that this woman is yours– your partner, your lover, and your responsibility. It won’t give you butterflies every day, but it will give you peace. And it might give you excitement and inspiration about the future.
Whether that is what you want in your life at any given time is completely up to you. For some, this is an extremely desirable life state. For others, they may want it, but not at that time. Or they thought they did and circumstances changed as time went on.
Waiting for the person that “sweeps you off your feet” is not realistic as a man, because that will be the relationship where nobody is driving the car, and it will be much likelier to end in a fiery crash. For stable longterm success, we must sacrifice some pure emotion in order to maintain steadiness and guidance.
But this actually frees us to choose how we want to live our life, rather than be a passive recipient of our life (in other words, a passenger). We are in the driver’s seat, and if something does not feel like the right fit or the right time, we are empowered to remain on our own path, driving at our own speed.
The experience of love, as we normally think of it, is emotion. There is the initial rush– the “falling in love.”
When these feelings wear off and the mere presence of our lover no longer provides us this strong chemical hit, we may wonder if we have fallen out of love. In fact, this is often the deeper state of bonding that you’ve entered.
Ironically, it is often amidst the tumult of a fight or breakup that we think we can feel love vibrantly again. This is because what we’re really feeling is the chemical emotion, which we associate with that person. It is also the fear of loss. In that sense, love can become like a black hole, a void, only strongly sensed by its absence. Ever heard that song, “Only know you love her when you let her go“?
We have a tendency to believe our love exists when it fills us with emotions, but when it is the stable sharing of life between two people, even and invisible, we often come to resent it. This tendency is an unfortunate one, because it causes us great confusion both during and after a relationship.
If there is any cure, it is to recognize that love can be a still foundation, silent and deep, not rearing its head to the surface every day. This does not mean you should settle for boredom and stagnation in your life. You still must find ways to continually stimulate your emotions while within a relationship. In terms of your partner, this will emerge from some minimal fights, playful jealousy, sexual novelty by experimenting or trying new things, and generally living two distinct lives, in order to provide contrast. Too much stability and comfort leads to an endless loop, a holding pattern of sorts.
But you can’t look exclusively to your romantic relationship to always be filling the void of excitement. If you don’t have it in any other aspect of your life, you will likely feel dissatisfied and bored in a comfortable, stable, longterm relationship. The extent to which you feel happiness within a relationship is largely determined by your emotions relating to everything in your life outside the relationship.
And if you do decide to break up with someone, you’ll likely feel stronger emotions for them than you ever have before. Is this true love? It’s hard to say, but it’s definitely a different kind of love than the stable, day-to-day bond that grows between people. Be aware during a breakup that the feelings stirred up aren’t necessarily the same as love for that person. They can also be fear, guilt, or regret.
The love that you share with someone, if you do really love them, is far deeper and more untouchable than the wild emotions of a breakup. Confusing these feelings for love actually dishonors the more sacred, deep bond that you have. Because more often than not, these feelings are negative, based on anger or loss. And love is a beautiful, positive aspect of being human.
In contrast, love is a silent and immovable connection. It doesn’t always mean that you’ll stay in a relationship with someone forever, but in some sense it is eternal. Love is the phenomenon of your soul wrapping itself around another, seeing it clearly, and imprinting. It is two souls leaving pieces of themselves in the other. It is an admiration and a kinship.
Pure love is unspeakable and beyond emotion. Ironically, that can be anticlimactic if you’re expecting love to always feel like a symphony of feelings. But it is actually experienced on a deeper level than what can be felt.
Unfortunately, the adult love that we as (often stoic) men will experience is not always conspicuous. It won’t smack us in the face every morning for the rest of our lives. But it can work for our lives. It will be an appreciation and a companionship. We still need to find thrills and uncertainty in our life to remain vibrant and inspired, but these are separate from our experience of love.
Whether the time is right in your life to desire and live in this stable state of love, is only up to you to decide. It seems to coincide well with the timing of having kids, so perhaps that can serve as your barometer. If you’re not planning to have kids any time soon, the hedonistic bachelor path will keep singing its seductive siren song.
Love may be the greatest thing in the world, but it will never be everything.
The rest is up to you.