Falling in love is something that so many people have experienced, but remains a sensation that’s almost impossible to put your finger on. Despite endless songs, plays, TV shows, poems, and pretty much every art form ever trying to describe what falling in love is really like, it’s still not exactly clear how you fall in love.
“Falling for a partner and falling in love with a partner are two different things,” Dr. Jenn Mann, author of The Relationship Fix, tells Bustle. “The myth is that love is all about attraction, fun, and sex. But being in love is more complex and mature than all of that. Those things are only a small part of the big love picture.”
Falling in love involves a lot of feelings, emotions, urges, and sometimes it feels like it totally changes your entire brain chemistry. But when you fall in love, when you actually go through the process, is it something that “happens” to you whether you like it or not, or is it something that you’re actively choosing. As much as we act like it’s the mysterious power, it may be that it’s actually a conscious decision — at least, in part. Here’s what relationship experts had to say about whether falling in love is a choice or not.
Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, Relationship Therapist
“I believe that falling in love is sort of a choice. As long as all the correct elements are there, then it’s a bit of a leap/choice by the individual. I think that the partner needs to be an appropriate match (whatever that means for you) and that there needs to be a good dose of chemistry. After that, it’s a bit of a choice to move forward and decide you want to try and leap into this relationship. Just because one is getting on board and deciding to move ahead, doesn’t mean that it will definitely work out of course. But one does need to give themselves the go-ahead and make it happen!”
Chris Armstrong, Relationship Coach
“There is a difference between being in love and loving someone — let’s acknowledge this first and foremost. We can fall ‘in love’ very quickly. Being in love is about the physical connection we make with someone, sprinkled in with what limited intellectual and emotional connection we’ve made with them. In this, we can be in love without much choice of the matter. That undeniable chemistry is swift and it feels unbelievable. Loving someone, and being loved in return for that matter, is more about the physical, intellectual, and emotional intimacy that comes from deciding to get to know someone more, investing in the potential for a connection. What this means is that choosing to invest is a choice but loving someone is not.”
Bridgette Hall, Matchmaker
“Falling in love is a feeling, but staying in love is a choice and a commitment. Being in love is fun, romantic and thrilling but maintaining a loving relationship can take a lot of work and compromise. If something little or small goes wrong in a relationship, it is easy to write it off and say that it is over, but love & relationships will always take work. It is a choice to see the good in your partner every day rather than to focus on negative things that bother you, and a choice to stay committed through the less than romantic moments. You can also choose to remember the reasons why you love your partner. It is easy to focus on what you are not getting out of a relationship — but a healthier way to deal is to focus on what you could be doing for your partner, rather than focusing on what they are not doing for you — your partner should complement you but not complete you. Try not to expect something from your significant other that you aren’t willing to do yourself.”
Karenna Alexander, Matchmaker And Dating Coach
“Yes and no. I think sometimes we have no intention of falling in love with someone, and it just happens. I see this with clients who meet a guy and fall slowly. Initially they thought the guy was not their type, but then they fall for him because he is so good to them. These clients didn’t choose to fall in love, it just happened. It couldn’t be helped. Other times, I do think people decide that they are going to find love. They may have had some blocks in the past — some fears — and so they choose to work on those blocks and fears so they can find love. In that scenario, it IS a choice. They are choosing to open themselves up and put themselves out there and are open to what comes along.”
Susan Trombetti, Matchmaker
“Falling in love is a choice without a doubt. Sometimes, as a matchmaker, when people come to me, they automatically meet people on their own right after. Some would say it’s the power of intention, but I would say it’s a choice. Your light is on at this point because you have decided this is what you are going to do and it has become a priority. So many people date online, and what they don’t realize, is that they are in an endless loop. They don’t get off the merry go round, and don’t realize the right person is in front of them. Sometimes you miss love because it isn’t the priority. If you have a New Year’s resolution, it’s a goal. You can’t meet your goals if you don’t identify it and the steps you might take to achieve.”
Laura Bilotta, Dating Coach And Matchmaker
“Falling in love is definitely a choice. You have to let your guard down and be vulnerable in order to fall in love so by not doing that then you are choosing to not fall in love. As well as if you don’t allow yourself to get to know someone than you’re also choosing to not fall in love. Of course we can always fall in love without fully realizing it but that generally happens when we’re already in a relationship.”
Falling in love can feel like it’s totally out of your hands but experts seem to agree that — at least to an extent — there’s a choice involved. It’s more proof that being in the right frame of mind can make all the difference when approaching a relationship, because somewhere along the way you are making a choice.