Once upon a time, I dated a man we’ll call Brad.
Brad came to me with excitement one day. “Let’s do these 36 questions posted by the New York Times,” he said. ”They’re supposed to create deep intimacy between two people.”
Being the highly emotional creature I am, I was in.
The researchers who designed the questions claimed they would make two people fall in love. They started light and simple and slowly became more profound.
So Brad and I gave them a shot. And though the questions helped us understand each other on a deeper level and even shed some tears, we did not fall in love.
It perplexed me; when we broke up, I thought back to the questions. It felt like he peered into my soul, took a look around, and decided it wasn’t for him, leaving me behind thinking, “Wait… I don’t share that stuff with just anyone!”
But that was two years ago. And though we did not fall in love, I’ve had many men to make up for him. Seven to be exact. Seven men that, at the respective times, claimed to love me until the end.
So why, then, am I just with one man? Why is it that the guy I call my boyfriend prevailed over the others?
Well, obviously, each failed relationship had its own unique defects.
Maybe a better question is, Why can I believe the love that is offered to me this time?
Loving is a unique ability only humans can create awareness around. It’s an art because we can improve upon the skill, sort of like a craft.
As the author Gary Chapman stated, “Falling in love is easy. Staying in love, that’s the challenge.”
But to even consider staying in love, we have to make a choice: At the low points, in the time of doubt, will we keep choosing love? And are we willing to do so even if the person may not choose us one day?
The uncertainties in love are scary.
How can we know someone will make a great partner? Father? Bingo teammate well into retirement?
How can we know we won’t be betrayed? Our hearts not crushed? Our love not taken advantage of?
And the answer is plain and fucking simple: We don’t.
We don’t know how our lives will play out, and that runs true, especially when it comes to love.
But just because we can’t be certain doesn’t mean we can’t try.
Loving is a choice. You find a person that makes your heart flutter and whose company you thoroughly enjoy. You understand each other; you could see yourself growing old with them.
So you choose them; you choose a life with them. But it won’t be the only time you’ll have to choose them.
Because the doubt will creep in. They’ll eventually hurt or disappoint you.
And the choice really comes down to your capabilities and willingness of working through the inevitable low points, because being with them surpasses everything else.
I hear my current boyfriend’s words trickle out of his mouth: “I love you, and I want to be with you forever.”
But how do I know his words of forever are true? I don’t. But I can trust that he’s choosing me, and that’s the biggest part of this equation.
He chooses me. I choose him. That equals, I hope, lasting love.
We have open and honest communication, regularly checking in on one another. We both have the ability to speak our emotions, fears, and appreciations of one another. We acknowledge the hard times will come, but we’re certain we have what it takes to get through them.
And all of this wrapped up into a package, our love seems like it will withstand time more than passion and lust ever would.
But all because we are both making a choice.
Recently, I came across a Ted Talk spoken by a woman that did a questionnaire with a man that led them to fall in love. That woman, Mandy Len Catron, wrote the initial article that made famous those 36 questions Brad and I asked each other.
Readers wanted to understand the magic of Catron’s relationship’s success; everyone wanted to know if the two were still together.
But Catron was wary of answering because the success of their relationship wasn’t based on 36 questions designed for creating love.
The success of their relationship hung on one main thing: a choice.
The two chose to love each other.
Just like Brad and I chose not to.
Just like my current boyfriend and I choose to.
Sure, love is a bit more nuanced. But lasting love, I believe, is not.
You’ll never find a perfect person who won’t disappoint. Every single relationship is going to have its lows.
And then those lows come, you’ll have to make a choice.
In the end, that’s the secret to lasting love.