Love as a Product of Learning

Perhaps the purest of all forms.

There’s something beautiful about someone taking the time to learn you — Not for manipulative purposes, but from a sincere desire to understand and relate. When a person really wants to discover you, explore your being, and find out how your heart has made its way through the world, it sets the foundation for authentic connection. If and when the relationship evolves, you feel more confident in knowing that the real you is seen, and loved.

Maybe I need to loosen up and be less skeptical. Because I just don’t think you can truly love a person or even know that you’d like to be seriously involved with them until you’ve gotten to know who they are. Without this progression, it may be lust, or some other profound surface-level attraction, but I believe that’s all it can be. Perhaps we’re drawn to someone’s ambition, the way that they carry themselves, their laugh, warmth or financial status. We sometimes mistake that allure for something deeper. To love someone without studying their nuances, detangling who they are and the process by which they came to be that person seems illogical to me. How can we love someone that we don’t really know?

Dr. Robert Epstein says that if you think you love someone right away, you’re in love with an idealized version of that person, or, you’re just ‘in love with love.’ This happens. Often, we’re in love with a feeling — butterflies, longing and passion. Being desired can be intoxicating. Who gives this to us matters little in these situations. We just relish the idea and willfully submit to its power. Suddenly, love for the feeling is confused with love for the person to whom it is attached.

Learning who someone is as an individual, not just as an object of desire requires genuine intrigue. It goes beyond finding them aesthetically pleasing or fun to hang out with. There is value demonstrated in pursuing a person on levels deeper than apparent and acknowledging that the parts of them living there, matter.

This takes time, which is why many prefer to skip that step and get straight to the action. While I tend to consider the learning to be the best part. There are so many intricacies to be found in this phase. The unraveling of another soul is such a fascinating process. In discovering more about another, you can also find little pieces of yourself. The closeness that two people experience when each actually knows who the other is only makes the subsequent action that much more gratifying.

The evolution of love in this manner is so rare. Relationships just fizzle once the novelty has worn off because we don’t know each other. There isn’t a strong enough tie to hold us together. Or, there is contrived attentiveness that is impossible to sustain once one or both parties have gotten what they want out of the situation.

There are many different motivators for pursuing romantic relationships. The most common of which is probably lust. Often, lust involves getting to know a person mostly as a means to an end. This is where manipulation can come into play. In these instances, people will actually take the time to learn all about you, but only to make you feel and believe certain things so that you’ll behave in a desired manner. Intent makes all the difference.

Loneliness is another common motivator. There is simply a void that could be filled by just about anyone — Whomever is willing. So, getting to know the person doesn’t matter. We just want a partner to satisfy our desire for companionship.

I’m not the girl who swoons at empty sweet nothings. Shout-out to that girl, though. I often wish I could be as free, hopeful and vulnerable as you. I’m the one who’s unimpressed, sometimes annoyed by it all. The concept is simple. Give me substance or give me truth. There’s no need to pretend or tell me the things you think I’d like to hear. Just allow me to make an informed decision about the manner in which I’d like to proceed.

All I ask is that before you say you love me or request a role of significance in my life, understand who I am so that you can mean it. Ask questions. Observe. Take an interest in my interests. I’ll do the same in return. What a person enjoys will tell you a great deal about them. Let’s have open, honest discussion about topics of substance.

When someone sees all of you — your best, your worst, the embarrassing and the ordinary — and still chooses you, it says something. I can surrender to that fairytale.

Inevitably, some will use what they’ve learned against you. They’ll use it to hurt you, or possibly learn something that they don’t like and decide to move on. Such is life. I’m not for everyone. Everyone is not for me. Trust that I’ve been rendered exhausted by the process. But I’d rather take that chance than the one that leads to baseless, halfhearted relationships.

There is a place for inconsequential engagement. I just don’t believe that it exists within love.

Author of the critically acclaimed book on women and relationship status, “Single That.”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store