Love In An Instant.

Photobucket via

I saw this photo on Pinterest the other day, and my initial reaction was to say “Awwww, that’s so cute.” But then I continued to think about it, and realized that it actually kind of problematizes the concept of love in a big way.

Perhaps I’m reading too far into it, but when I look at this photo I think of the notion of “love at first sight,” which in and of itself has always seemed very silly to me. I feel that so much of what constitutes real love is shared experience, so to say that falling in love should be instant removes experience and sharing from the equation entirely. You can’t know someone inside and out (for better or worse) instantly, so in determining whether or not you love someone, all you initially have to base your assertion of love off of is what they tell you of themselves (which can be unreliable), their appearance (which has less to do with love than with libido), and your own feelings in that moment (which are also unreliable). Not a very informed opinion, to say the least.

So love is supposed to be unconditional, right? But how can you be so sure that you love someone when you haven’t seen the negative/unattractive parts of them that test the very unconditionality of your love? Could you truly love someone without knowing about the skeletons in their closet, about their glaring flaws and bad habits? In an instant, it’s possible you could overlook something about a person that you would never be able to abide otherwise, something that might ultimately be a deal-breaker. You would never know unless you knew them.

And I think that’s what bothers me the most about this photo: it treats love very reductively. Love is an incredibly complex concept/idea/feeling that can’t be simply boiled down to attraction or inflammation of emotions or instantaneous self-assurance that this person is “the One.” To attempt to do so blights the otherwise beautiful face of love.

Love, in its essence, is rooted in trust, commitment, shared experience, and knowledge and understanding of the other and of oneself, none of which are things that happen instantly. It takes time to build a love that isn’t wobbly and on the verge of crumbling from poor infrastructure. As Americans, we tend to be impatient for the things we desire and want them instantly, even love. I wonder what’s so wrong with taking it slow, letting small units of time measurement build up and bolster love, slowly but surely, until it’s unshakeable. We have so much time; why do we need it instantly?

13 responses to “Love In An Instant.

  1. I tooootally agree. I actually don’t even see how it’s possible. I need to trust someone completely to say these things and feel these things and that certainly doesn’t happen in an instant.

  2. So true! Unfortunately, the part of us that wants instant love often overrides the part of us that is able to assess our true compatibility with another.

  3. So lovely. I like what you’re saying/doing here. Especially in reference to your 24 before 24 list in the sidebar there. I’ve always felt that love was about doing and being, like that old saying, the antithesis (in a way) to the love at first sight idea “you can’t truly love another until you truly love yourself.”
    I’d go one step further, though, and say that it is by loving that you love. By loving life, by loving yourself, by loving another. That’s why I’m drawn to your 24 before 24 list. Love takes practice, and that list seems like the best primer ever.
    Thanks for your insight and creativity, neighbor!

  4. ps, let’s start a quilting/book club.

  5. I also believe that any relationship involves a shared experience, whether two may be enemies, lovers, friends, etc., and love at first sight is only Lust at first sight. A girl after my own heart 🙂

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  8. Amen!
    we want everything in an instant; mac & cheese, coffee, mashed potatoes etc.
    Falling in love in an instant doesn’t sound enjoyable to me at all…You’re not reading to far into that photo, I agree with you 100% Now if we want to capture our love in an instant, then yes, polariods are great (;

  9. On a fundamental level, I agree with your observations on falling in love ‘instantly’ via love at first sight. But what if we looked at the word ‘instant’ in a different context? Because that moment you actually do fall in love is, in a sense instaneous. Sometimes you understand something or someone over time, but when it hits you how you feel about them, it is in an instant. Falling in love shouldn’t be mulled over with questions of uncertainty. There’s no “he loves me. He loves me not” about it. That’s not love. Instead, when you realize the truth of that love, it does have a way of feeling like you’ve been hit by a ton of bricks.

    But again, I feel you 100% on the love at first sight situation….uuuunnnnless the guy was lugging groceries on his shoulders to carry for an old lady across the street on his way to volunteer at an inner city youth center after his 9-5pm workday, only to travel first thing in the morning next day to Greece for a conference he took part in organizing for climate control.

    Yeah, other than that. 😀

    • You make a really good point here – I knew my husband for a long time before I knew that it was love. We were best friends for years (still are), but when we got together there was an instant when all my feelings for him kind of clarified themselves, and suddenly I was sure that I loved him and that he felt the same. It was a weird thing though, because it was instantaneaous but at the same time it felt like it had always been there…

      But anyway, I agree with the point of the post – ‘love at first sight’ is a concept that is glamourised in films and stories. It’s not really a real thing. Shared experience and getting to know someone is a much better basis for a lasting relationship.

  10. Don’t worry too much about “reading into” things. Even if the creator had no intention for people to see the things they see in their work, that doesn’t mean others aren’t thinking the same things. (It’s a very English teacher thing to say but I think it was necessary)

    • skippingstones

      So true about reading into things. For me, that is the beauty of art – you create something and then throw it out into the world for others to interpret. It would be a pretty boring world if everyone saw it the same way.

      As far as instant love, I agree that you should get to know the other person. That is the practical and prudent way to approach love, and it is something that experience has taught me is necessary.

      That said, love is not always practical. It is possible to have just met someone and to fall “instantly” in love – or at least it feels like love. I haven’t experienced that, but have certainly met people that I felt an instant connection to, with whom I’ve had an instant rapport.

      Biologically speaking, our bodies are programmed to seek a mate – be attracted to another – based on pheromones and appearance. We are programmed to survive as a species, without regard to the practicalities of our preferences (like does he have a job, would he carry groceries across the street for an old lady). Luckily, we are able to (most of us) override those urges and make better decisions than our bodies would like us to.

  11. I agree with your post and with the comments. I think many times people confuse that first rush of feelings with love. Love is about trust and understanding, and learning to meld and share yourself with another person, which is sometimes work. When my husband I first met we spoke different languages and came from different cultures. There was definitely an initial attraction, and something that made us want to try and speak each others languages, but we had to literally “work” to understand each other.

    But then one day I looked at him and I saw our future. I saw us having children and growing old together. I knew it may not be easy, but I saw someone in front of me that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It was instant, but I don’t know if it was love. One of the Spanish ways of saying “I love you” is te quero, “I want you”, and that is what we said to each other. Fifteen years on I know I love him, and we tell each other every day, in words, in looks, and in our actions.

    Of course he is the guy above, “lugging groceries on his shoulders to carry for an old lady across the street…” 🙂 just kidding!

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