By Kevin R. Betts
In a recent CNN article, columnist Stephanie Dolgoff attempted to describe the reasons why she had fallen in (and out) of love with each of her intimate partners since the age of sixteen. For me, the most interesting part of this article was that the author was able to identify these reasons. It seems that many people think that love is something that just happens. Can one have reasons for love? Should one have reasons for love?
Although many laypersons may be unaware of the reasons they fell in love with their past and present partners, reasons do exist. Robert Solomon attempted to capture some of these reasons in a 2002 article entitled, “Reasons for Love” (I borrowed the title). One unsurprising reason is attraction. Although looks in and of themselves may not sustain love over time, they produce a willingness to consider the possibility of being in love with another. Rationalization may also lead to love. When we consider the possibility of falling in love, we may justify the positive emotions we experience with our beloved with reasons for those emotions. These reasons may or may not be accurate; rather, it is the perception that reasons exist that matters. Love in and of itself may also be a reason for love. Solomon (2002) describes a common movie scene in which the protagonist makes a list with two columns. In the left column, he writes down all the reasons to leave his lover. In the right column, he writes, “I love her!” Simply feeling that one is in love may be reason to continue loving someone. One may also fall in love because of properties of the beloved. Properties may include things like attractiveness as described above, but they may also include things like a sense of humor, wit, or charm. Or more commonly, some combination of features may lead to love.
In this brief post, I only covered a subset of the reasons for love identified by Solomon (2002). What is interesting to me is not the specific reasons why love comes to fruition, but rather that reasons exist. For those of you in serious relationships, why do you love your partner? Can you identify the reasons for your love or do you “just know” you love them?