How many great loves do we each get? A deep, passionate, all-consuming, heart-pounding love. I think it’s safe to say that generally people do not have lots of great loves within their life. The main reason being that if they did, if great loves grew on trees, then we would not lament about and romanticize the idea of “the love of our life” the way we do throughout the world. Songs, movies, literature, television, poetry, all mourn for or reminisce about the one that got away…the person they cannot forget…their soul mate…the one that no one else has ever measured up to…the person they did not realize was “the one” until it was too late and they were already gone, their muse, the one they can never have, the person they connected with like no other, etc. We cannot forget these people because they are rare. Having a great love is generally a once-in-a-lifetime (maybe twice if you’re really lucky) type of deal.
Onto my next curiosity. What are those characteristics and factors that determine if someone makes the cut as a great love in our life? What makes these people stand out to us initially, and then grip us enough so that we go forward to fall deeply in love with them? (Because of course even still, most of the people who catch our attention we still do not go so far as to madly fall in love with). And even further, what causes these people to remain in our hearts down the road and to have secured the spot as the love that truly stands out in our life?
I have given this topic a lot of thought as well as done some research and as a result have come up with my own theories in answers to these questions.
I would suspect that many factors are at play here as to why we fall deeply in love with someone and why they then remain ingrained in our hearts, all of the reasons interwoven. I have narrowed them down to the following:
- Specifics about the person we fall for (such as, their looks, smell, body movements, etc.)
- The circumstances of our initial meetings with this person
- How this person makes us feel inside
- Events that transpire between you and this person
- Uniqueness of the person we fall for
Now. To go into a bit of depth about each of these topics.
I would actually peg this as one of the most crucial elements that determines who we may or may not fall in love with. I believe a number of people whose paths we cross have the potential to be someone we could very possibly fall for. But timing is so much of what determines this. We likely never cross paths with many of these people at all. Wrong places at the wrong time. Two people could be a great match for one another but maybe one (or both) are distracted/emotionally involved with other people during the time they meet so the stars do not align. Possibly two people love one another deeply but an unavoidable deal breaker exists (strict opposing religions, one wants children and the other does not, completely opposite values or life paths). Maybe someone meets their great love but does not realize this until it’s too late. Then, with the passing of time, they realize an error was made in losing this person. SO much of great love, and its growth, success or failure, is about timing. And then of course, just because the timing works out and we do meet and fall for someone, this does not mean they will go on to secure a spot in our hearts as a “love of our life.” That is determined by many other factors which I will further muse about.
2. Specifics about the person we fall for.
Of course, the world boosts billions of different types of people. The majority of whom will never capture, much less, hold our attention. So what is it about the few who do? This depends on the eyes of the beholder. I suspect it’s a number of subtle nuanced factors that, when they mix together in our subconscious, cause this particular person to take hold in our heart. It’s likely a combination of things, such as: the way they look, how they dress, their body type, their smell, the way they literally move, their voice, how their laugh sounds, or maybe the way they smile, if characteristics this person possess remind us of someone we are/were close to, little gestures they make or endearing personality quirks about them, etc. James Brown sang, “Something in the way she moves, or looks my way, or calls my name…”
All of these different factors, all minute generally unconscious details but when they come together in just the right combination, cause our attention to be captured and held by that particular person.
3. The circumstances of your meeting.
I would argue that this can have an impact on how we go forward to feel for someone, as well as if we might fall in love with that person or not. If we meet someone in an exciting or unexpected way, this can make them more potent/intriguing/memorable to us in the long run. As opposed to meeting someone in a mundane or unmemorable way.
4. How this person makes us feel about ourselves.
It’s not just about how we feel for them. It’s about how this person makes us feel in regards to ourselves too. The person who makes you feel cherished…safe…loved…beautiful….accepted…joyful…inspired…someone you have fun with. This is someone you will love spending time with and will likely come to feel especially close to. Someone you are more likely to fall in love with.
5. The events that transpire between you and this person.
So many relationships are fairly mundane and not especially memorable. This of course does not indicate that they are less loving. But it does make them less potent, to some degree. Passion, excitement, interesting history, challenges, deep connection with that person, memorable shared experiences. These aspects are the glue that makes a relationship more powerful to us and gives it staying power within our hearts. And do not misunderstand me. I do not mean a dramatic or unhealthy relationship. But a higher investment in something (whether that investment is emotional, financial or time invested) increases its worth in our minds.
6. Uniqueness of the person we fall for.
Of course, each of us possess different positive and negative qualities. Our personalities come in ALL sorts of varieties. However the cold truth also stands that, while there is someone for everyone, there are also lots of dull, uninteresting, rude, socially inept, (you insert the bad adjective) people out there. Too many. Finding those people that truly are the key that fits to our lock is rare. Extraordinary people are just that, extraordinary. Sadly, so many people do not fit this bill. So if we stumble across someone who we realize is in fact, something different…unique…or special. Well, that person usually has staying power in our hearts and becomes fairly unforgettable.
7. And finally: Alternatives.
These help determine who the love of our life is/was. Who our alternatives are. Both before and afterwards. Therefore, sometimes it takes time after a relationship has already ended before we realize just how special it was.
If we date someone (regardless of length of relationship with them) but then never go on to meet anyone after the fact who we deem as being just as special/wonderful/memorable, then that person will likely remain within our hearts as one of our great loves. But if we fall in love with a person and move forward to find someone who we end up feeling stronger for and closer with, this can change the power of the previous relationship to us which we initially thought so powerful and deep. It all depends on our alternatives.
Plenty of people meet and just sort of float into a relationship with one another. Not so much out of a conscious and thoughtful choice but just because it works “well enough.” The reasons can be many for this sort of relationship slide-in occurring. This person is “good enough” and fits the bill for now. We receive sexual satisfaction from this person. We are lonely. On the rebound. We have been with this person long enough now that we have built a history with them, which makes us hesitant to end the relationship (time/emotions invested), even if we are not as into them as we know we should be. We fear letting go or starting over. The reasons are many and varied. However the truth is that we often stay in relationships that are good, good enough, decent or average. But they are not the ones that FILLED our heart to the brim. They aren’t the soul-mate, heart-rendering, passionate connection we either hope for, or have had once before. So many of us end up, on some level settling in the relationships we ultimately choose.
But yes, the most powerful relationships for us? Not the ones we just sort of fall into…or remain in out of habit…or the mundane ones. No. They are the ones that present challenge to us. Obstacle. The ones that made our hearts race. Relationships that took some sacrifice or effort. People that filled our hearts with excitement and romance.
In conclusion, I believe these are the different factors that determine not only how we fall in love, but how memorable or powerful a love will go on to be to us, within our life.