What makes us fall in love?
Is it the way we see ourselves reflected in their eyes? Or the way we think they're really the grand prize?
It’s a serious question, and even now I'm still no better at telling which couple will last and who will fade away. How some love affairs can turn out so right, get better, grow onwards and upwards, and others just be disastrous.
Is it timing, desire, desperation, fate, optimism, wishful thinking, destiny, chemistry, a witches’ brew of all the above plus a bit of Oh What The Hell They’re Available thrown in? What makes me adore my husband but – as far as you know – not yours? What makes you look across a crowded room and go Ooooh and Yumm and Yowza but makes your best friend think Nahhhhh and Huhhh and You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me? I think it’s fascinating, this falling-in-love-thing, especially when it works. When the person you live with is also your best friend, best critic, greatest confidante. And the reason you’re with them isn’t because it’s too laborious to get a divorce but because they honestly present you with the best version of yourself.
Or they don’t. Like so many women Marilyn Monroe wanted to be loved not as a joke or a body or a hair color, but as a full human being. In Arthur Miller’s eyes she thought he saw the best of her, the total sum of her parts. But he saw only what he wanted to see: an angelic creature that looked up to him unashamedly, a child-bride of adoration. He wanted perfection. She wanted the warmth of a safe sanctuary. Several people told her that Miller was the coldest man they’d ever known. No woman, not even a living breathing electric light, can melt ice.
But sometimes it's not really love, is it? It's more...that the bad, the wrong, the lousy can look so damn appealing. We can change them, we know we can! Sure they're horrible to other women, but other women aren't me! We are the moths and they are the flame and we mistake that burning sensation for something more eloquent. Something eternal and gorgeous and true. But bad stays bad. And moths keep beating at the door, the firelight, wings broken, fragile and impossible to stop.
Albert Einstein (who knew he was also a genius of relationships?) said this: Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably both are disappointed.
Do we all do this, whoever we are? Is it inevitable, and is he right? - JC