In the past, I mixed up the term “falling in love” with the word “love.”
For me, any romantic experience used to fall under the label of love. My quest for an appropriate definition of love is ongoing, but now I can at least form an idea of what it is. And I was wrong before—falling in love with someone is different than loving someone.
I have fallen in love many times (oh so many times), but I’ve loved only once.
Falling in love can be defined this way:
Suppose you’re walking and you suddenly fall. The next step (regardless of how long it takes to happen) is to get back up. When we fall in love, we likely get up from it—this is known as “falling out of love.”
The reason for the fall and the rise is the ego. When we fall in love, our ego is involved in one way or another. To put it differently, falling in love is usually associated with flings, infatuations, destructive relationships, or sexual relationships. Our ego is chief operator in each of these situations. Even infatuations or sex-centric relationships that are meant to make us feel good are often ego-based—because craving the other person is at the heart of those relationships.
We all know that whatever the ego creates eventually ceases, including emotions and thoughts. When the ego stops operating, we fall out of love. In other words, when we stop craving the other, when we no longer need them, or when they don’t meet our expectations, we rise from the fall.
This gets tricky because falling in love and loving are very similar at the beginning. But what shows the real nature of our love is what happens after the euphoria passes away. This is when falling in love and loving diverge.
Loving is the opposite of the ego. Behold the majesty of the word “love.” Notice how it stands on its own without any added verbs. Love can be defined this way:
It’s a constant, stable state without falling or rising. Love just is.
I can’t help but believe that this type of love rarely happens in our lifetime. There are very few people who can tame our ego and put it at bay.
We’ve all heard the quote, “Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them.” True love for me is the opposite of this saying. We know that we love someone when we can live with them and we can live without them. There’s something about love that overcomes distance and space. There’s something about it that it allows us to put the other person’s happiness above our own.
Love isn’t generated by the ego. It knows no anger, no grudges, no revenge. It knows patience, kindness, compromise. And beautifully enough, all of the qualities that we possess when we love someone are natural. Just like motherhood is an instinct, love is also an instinct. We don’t have to force ourselves to compromise or be patient; it comes genuinely.
When we love, we feel an astounding sense of safety. We allow this person to challenge us, to help us give birth to the best version of ourselves. And this evokes a happiness that we can’t easily measure.
Love means going back to being children. We don’t focus on what the mind generates, rather we focus on what the experience brings about. Like a child enjoying outdoor play, we relish our lover without minding the past or the future. When we love, time stops. Clocks break, calendars close, and the earth appears to stop spinning.
There is no fleeting euphoria when we love. Each day becomes euphoric.
When we love, we can’t help but want to be with the person we love. Not because we need them or are attached to them, but simply because we’re curious. We’re curious to know what genuine love has in store. We’re curious to experience what love—away from desire or needing—feels like.
Although we don’t mind the absence of the person we love, we choose their presence. This is what differentiates loving from falling in love. When we fall in love, the getting up usually means walking away. Something somewhere calls us to leave. But when we love, we choose not to leave.
Love is a series of leaps of faith. We jump, knowing that not doing so will leave us with pain and regret. And with every leap, we trust that we will not fall.
Author: Elyane Youssef