Home' Aurora : Aurora February 2015 Contents 14
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
This process is fabulous as a kick-starter. It
gets things going for us individually and for
our species. It is sad, and often tragic, when
it leads to sex and no further.
When a relationship moves beyond love-
at-first-stimulation, the meaning of love
develops into something more fulfilling.
Or it should. Starting with “I love you...
for making me feel so good, so special, so
wonderful”, we are designed to progress
ultimately to “I love you...because you are
you” – not just because of what you do to
me and for me, but simply because you are
lovable in yourself. The object of my love is
truly you, not me. I love you for your sake,
A deliberate act of the will, a deliberate
choice (and constantly renewed
“choices”), builds on and outstrips natural,
spontaneous, uncontrolled attraction.
There is more of the latter at first, more of
the former as the relationship flourishes.
Sadly, it seems that those who don’t know
love beyond the “falling in love” phase
also “fall out of love” when the attraction
and the feeling wanes or disappears. If love
is a feeling, I no longer love you when the
feeling goes. Sad !
“But, cheer up me! I will fall in love again.
Someone else will trigger the chemicals and
I will love them forever...until the feeling
goes again !...But cheer up still...”
The biological sciences trace this “love is
a feeling” aspect of love. It hits hard
in puberty with the hormones. We
discover (mostly) the attraction of the
The usual adolescent responses are well
documented : obsession with the object of
desire; inability to focus on other matters,
even those more important and pressing;
tunnel vision, resulting in greatly reduced
awareness of other people and things;
behaviours concentrated on engaging
with the loved one, including behaviour
completely out of character and often
foolhardy and dangerous.
People “in love” have been known to
st arve, expend themselves physically (such
as walking extreme distances), waste
fortunes, lose friends and so on, under the
influence of their hormone hit. Hormones
gone! “Why was I such a fool...again?”
The old saying, “Marry in haste; repent at
leisure!” and the song lyrics, “Falling in love
with love is falling for make-believe” come
to mind. Some people “love being in love”
and can’t get beyond the intensity of that
early stage to something more wonder-full.
As fantastic as it is, the first stage has to be
acknowledged as frankly adolescent and
narcissistic, and needs to progress for true
love to flourish and bring fulfilment.
Though who would want to leave the
passion behind? It is beautiful in the most
mature and truly loving and well-
Long-term commit ted relationships have to
be wary of the hormone hit engendered
by someone who is not one’s partner.
Whereas the experience is appropriate
and wonderful for the unattached, it can
be devastating for committed and
The hormone hit has to be appreciated
for what it is – and is not – especially by
those who have made love’s commitment .
Attraction, without the decision to be
uniquely faithful and loving to one’s partner
in every circumstance (as promised in
wedding vows), can lead to betrayal of love
– to a decision to betray. Like love, betrayal
is a decision.
Mature adults in well-established, fulfilling
relationships sometimes hand themselves
over to the tyranny of those hormones
and their adolescent, narcissistic drives,
insensitive and indifferent to the impact on
self and others. We’ve seen it in
The desire to “feel young again” is
sometimes touted by those who have
traded the joy of true love in an attempt
to reclaim the self-focused adolescent
Under the influence of “love” hormones
it is hard for both young and old to judge
wisely and well. Really, though, who would
want to forfeit the wonders of faithful love,
once experienced, for vaporous pleasures ?
Blessed are those couples who say, “I love
you” to each other, truly meaning “you”,
Blessed are those couples who joyfully,
willingly, decide to love each other faithfully.
Blessed are those who choose lifelong
mutual love, and experience at the same
time the thrill and the passion of being
madly in love. There should be more of it.
Regular contributor Michael O’Connor of fers
a richer under standing of ‘tr ue love’ than
that provoked by the hear t-fest that is St
“Love is a decision”. Recently when checking
out a website I was taken by this heading.
I was actually taken back to the eighties
when assisting couples preparing for
marriage. “ Love is a decision” was the
message we wanted to impart to
The ar ticle displayed a poster which
expanded the theme : The world says :
“Love is a feeling”. God says: “Love is
Three decades later the truth of this is
much more real.
Poetry aside for the moment, the “feeling”
of love can be explained and tracked by
science. Sexual attraction is built into our
biology, firstly, no doubt, for the sake of the
species – to keep the human race going by
Sexual attraction and sexual pleasure are
there to ensure that sperm and ovum
Biologically, sex isn’t there for our pleasure.
Pleasure is there to entice us to have sex.
Without the pleasure, there might be
little inclination to engage in the energetic
and somewhat involved manoeuvring
required – especially when couples would
be dispassionately considering if they really
wanted the nine-month (and life-
The use of contraception – the pursuit of
the pleasure without the progeny – might
indicate how precarious our species’ future
would be without nature’s provision of
sexual attraction and pleasure.
The feeling of attraction that propels us
towards sex is in our nature, and a
Because of its intensity some call their
experience of attraction “being in love”
or even think it is “love” itself. It is
common use of the words, but for many
it is inadequate.
Probably for all of us when we first “fall
in love” and say “I love you”, we are really
saying, “I love feeling like this.” “ I love you”
can, at this early stage, merely mean “I love
you...making me feel so good!” The focus
is really on me – my feelings. Being in love
can be purely self indulgent .
The “you” in “I love you” could be anyone
who makes me feel so good. The “you” is
a s timulus for those feel-good chemicals
released in my body by a natural process
in my makeup.
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