According to Vocabulary.com, the phrase “falling in love” has been around since the 1500’s. Everytime you turn around, someone is falling into or out of love. Seems like songs are about just one thing: love, love, love, love, love, love.
Still no one can define love. Shakespeare took a pretty good stab at it. But even our most silver-tongued poets have tried…and failed.
When I was diagnosed with PTSD, my therapist reached down the DSM-V and read an excerpt. It said that PTSD has a numbing affect on the emotions. It may make it hard to feel love.
In one way, it was a profound relief to finally know why the phrase “falling in love” always made me queasy. On the other hand, it was good to finally know why I so intensely disliked that term. It’s hard to answer your family’s query, “Are you sure you’re in love with him?” when you just can’t feel.
But numbness or not, there’s one thing I can always feel: like.
Either I like you…or I don’t.
Like is not an emotion you have to work at. There’s no question. It either is…or isn’t. Easy-peasy. Someone can be an utter and complete a$$hole and still be “so damn likable.”
Unfortunately, no songs are written about like. Whitney Houston warbling, “And I, I, I…will always like you” just doesn’t have the same musical ring to it.
Percy Sledge singing…
I give you everything I’ve got (yeah)
Trying to hold on
To your precious like
Baby please don’t treat me bad
It just doesn’t work, musically or lyrically.
“But, Lenora!” I can hear you saying, “like comes and goes. Love is forever.”
No, no, no, no, no. It’s exactly the other way round.
I was supposedly “in love” twice before meeting Michael. I could feel it. One of the men was already married (no! nothing happened!) and one was a drunk (again, nothing happened; he propositioned; I said no). Put me in a room full of men and I’ll fall head-over-heels in love with the one alcoholic in the room. The chemistry palpable. As I wrote in NPD Survivor Seeks Alcoholic To Love:
The chemistry between him and me was electric. Sparks flew. Chemistry sizzled. He was the handsomest man I’d ever seen. And he was trying to kiss little ol’ me. I could barely breathe.
I was twenty-four and he was my first (ex) alcoholic love interest. From then on, the pattern repeated itself on auto-pilot. If I had chemistry with a guy…if sparks flew…he was always 1) a current or ex alcoholic, 2) middle-aged and 3) married.
I fell out of love (twice) just as fast as I fell into love (twice.) So apparently it wasn’t very deep or very agape. That heart-stopping, adrenalin-squirting feeling of being “in love” ended as soon as it began. In the case of the alcoholic I fell in love with, he single-handedly killed the feeling by being a two-timing lying wretch who publicly humiliated me.
But we’re still friends and I still get a bang out of him drunk PMing me because he’s so damn likable.
LIKE…that seems to me a much better, much stronger, incredibly stable emotion. The emotion of so-called love is transient. Nevermind the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” A bad case of PMS can wreak havoc with that lovin’ feeling. Who was it that came home to find his wife in the throes of PMS glaring at him with the words, “I so loath you.” A week later, she was his lovin’ woman again.
The emotion of love is at the mercy of the state of my stomach or which song I’m listening to. If you play our special wedding song…I feel it. But the moment passes with the next domestic drama or money crisis. Or Delly the Bichon helping herself to the contents of the kitten’s litterbox and strewing it around the house. (She has depraved tastes!)
But I always feel like. If I like you, that’s it. You’re liked. I don’t have to work at it. There’s nothing you can do, fair or foul, to get me to stop liking you.
You can be a complete and utter ass, and I’ll still like you. I may call you “that a$$hole” but I’ll still like you. I’ll go around moaning, “Why are they such an ass? They’re so damn likable!” (Disclaimer: Obviously, I’m not condoning being in relationships with likeable a$$holes or putting up with abuse. Hey! Work with me here! I’m just proving that like is more stable than love.)
It’s a vibes thing. Not dependent on the state of my digestion or even if you’re kind to me. That seems to me a much more stable basis for a long-term relationship.
When I met Michael, I was still in the throes of narcissistic abuse. I was angry and numb. But I liked him. I mean, I really, really, really liked him! But as he’s not an alcoholic (merely the son of an alcoholic), I didn’t have that heart-stopping “I’m so in love” feeling for him. Ever.
Every sling and every arrow that outrageous fortune (and some pretty pissed off people) could fling at us, has been flung. There’s been stress, illness, threats, ambulances, house troubles, money troubles and a hundred and one other things that wreak havoc with the emotion of love.
But the like is as palpable as ever. Looking at him, just makes me smile. If he grins that big toothless grin back at me, my smile gets bigger and a little wiggle happens. Nothing can change that. I just like the guy. So much. It’s not an emotion, per se, so the vicissitudes of life can’t touch it.
Happy or sad, comfortable or in pain, young or old…I’ll still like the guy. By some monstrously good fortune, he likes me back. I’ll never understand why.
More than that, I like his children. Always have, always will. Even when things got bad, the like never changed. Even when they were responding to the lies of Parental Alienation and being played like fiddles, I still liked them. If they hadn’t loved their daddy so much, they wouldn’t have cared so much and said the things they said. Nothing they say or do can make me stop liking all of them, for all time. So give up! I like you. Nothin’ you can do about it. 😉
With the divorce rate in the United States hanging around 50%, I propose that all those romantic songs and movies have taught us to build our relationships on quicksand: a transient emotion that might be love. Instead, I suggest we build it on something much more solid: Like.
Maybe Mr. Rogers was right all along. He didn’t tell the millions of children who watched Mr. Rogers Neighborhood that he loved them. He respected his audience too much to BS ’em like that. Kids can smell BS a mile away. Mr. Rogers would’ve lost his credibility with us if he’d blethered on about love.
He knew that. So what did Mr. Rogers say?
You’ve made this day a special day
by just your being you.
There’s no person in the whole world like you.
And I like you, just the way you are.
Falling in Like: Now that’s something you can build a lasting marriage on.