Love (particularly the romantic variety) acts the same as a drug cocktail. Just like cocaine it is going to introduce you to a huge spike in dopamine and norepinephrine, just like Ketamine it is going to numb your pain, cause change in perception, and disassociate you from your conscious self. The result is a feeling of euphoria, energy, and intensified consciousness. On the negative side there can be intense feelings of withdrawal when love ends. The intense period where we produce everything that is needed to make the object of affection perfect only lasts a few weeks to two years. After that love-halo ends, love that lasts has to transcend merely biological processes and pass into social, psychological, and practical.
In my last post on The Philosophy of Love I discussed the four common philosophical, logical approaches to love as Union, as Robust Concern, as Valuation, and as System of Emotions. Across the philosophical models of love there are themes that can help to connect them and solve some of the weaknesses.
- At first Love is a hallucination.
- Ultimately, Love is a disassociation of Ego.
Try thinking of love not as the instigator of how you feel, but rather as a description of how you change under its influence. Your fantasies of the future, your decisions that favor the object of your affection, your drive to protect the magical feeling, your vulnerability with the object of your affection–these are not feelings that describe love, these are feelings that allow love to happen.
During the hallucination period, we make the decisions that establish our patterns and build the portions of our life that allow us to sustain ourselves in a state where the object of our affection is seen as an end unto themselves. We work to build a state where we share their emotions not because we have anything to gain, but because we are empowered by the connection. We work toward moving into the next state, the dissociation of our Ego as an act of Love. This brings us to, perhaps, the most important value brought by Love: the feeling of co-joy and timely support (compersion and loving kindness). Long lasting love means reaching a state where you no longer consider how the object of our affection reflects upon you.
Love is one part always remembering the best of our loved one (a dream of the past), one part always believing in their potential (a dream of the future), and one part allowing their presence and connection to be an excuse to ignore the rest of the world’s demands (a dream in the present).
Love is better than a drug because the more places it is applied, the more you can act in ways that are not driven by fear. Love becomes the practice of doing what is right for the moment and accepting the outcome. It may seem scary, but it becomes the rising tide that makes all of life richer, rather than comparing now to the peak hallucination.