Can People Fall out of Love?
A friend of mine doesn’t believe people fall out of love. Instead, he says that to stop loving is a choice. He maintains that people consciously choose to no longer feel affection for each other. I have no idea if he’s right or not, but the idea is at least worth exploring.
First, falling in love is believed to be a biological event - the process causes actual changes in the brain and involves limerance. This is the period that initiates falling in love, in which your partner is all you think of. He or she seems perfect, and your starry-eyed gaze is a reflection of the adoration you feel.
But limerance is so powerful that it can only last two or three years. The end of this period brings a change to the relationship. In most cases, you still love and are in love, but that previous level of euphoria no longer exists. You begin to notice that your partner isn’t perfect. This is the point at which some relationships end because people often mistake the lapse of passion brought about by limerance as a falling out of love.
In reality, the absence of limerance can allow a relationship to become strong and stable; once the passion is gone, a couple is able to move forward building a life together. This can only happen, however, if both partners are committed. Seen from this angle, you might say that staying in love is a willful occurrence, especially in light of the many temptations out there.
Events Beyond Our Control
This concept is hard for me to wrap my head around. I know that falling in love is an event you can’t control, so how can falling out of love be manageable? When I met my boyfriend, for instance, I fell head over heels before I even knew him. I know this sounds ridiculous, but something about him drew me in. I wanted to spend time with him, talk to him and get to know his likes and dislikes. And I felt all of this after meeting him just twice.
I don’t know if he and I are still in that period of limerance. I have my doubts because I absolutely see flaws in him. He says and does things on a regular basis that get on my nerves. But I love him now just as much as before. The thing is that I don’t consciously make a decision each day to stay in love. My feelings are just part of me, like an arm or a leg.
Knowing all of this, I wonder if people stop loving each other because the thrill of limerance is so intoxicating. I know from falling in love myself that it is the headiest feeling in the world, like the high of a drug, I imagine. Indeed, some people have likened this feeling to that produced by cocaine. It only stands to reason, therefore, that once the high is gone, some would want to find ways to re-produce it. Thus are those who fall in love on nearly chronic bases. As long as the giddiness lasts, they’re happy. Once it’s gone, however, they’re left looking for the next “love” source.
After reading all of this, I’ve decided my friend was partially right when he said falling out of love is a conscious decision. But rather than fall out of love, I think these people actually fall out of limerance. And once that’s gone, they choose to leave the relationship in search of something better.