The following is a speech I gave as part of Western New England's 2017 Public Speaking Contest. I had my friend Erin record it!
Love is a choice.
As a twenty-something feverishly, desperately searching for my life partner, this is something I’ve heard from more than a few adults who feel I’m silly for spending so much time and effort on the pursuit so early in my life.
On the surface, it’s a nice sentiment. It’s a way of saying that love is not always about warm fuzzy feelings and romantic nights out. It’s about fights. It’s about yelling, and temptation, and periods of time where you just can’t stand your partner. And you choose to fight through.
But again and again I hear people tell me that love is not about feeling. It’s a choice. Love is a choice.
And that is a nice notion, but it is false. Incredibly, unequivocally false.
Love is not a choice. Love is something far greater than a simple choice. What to get on your pizza is a choice. Procrastinating on your work is a choice. Being with someone for your life’s journey, your triumphs and sorrow, your best and your worst days, could never be so pedestrian as a simple choice.
Put simply, if love is a choice, then it doesn’t matter who I am with. If love is all about choice—all about making the decision to act in a loving way no matter the circumstances—then I can take the next stranger I find on the street and propose today. I can be with them and make the choice to love them every day and probably be miserable but I will love. Because “love isn’t about feeling. Love is a choice.”
Now, I am not so naïve as to believe that love is not about choice at all. The choice to be loving and kind and to persevere when times get tough is a beautiful thing. It is evidence of loving someone. To stick with someone when you are not feeling in-love and to choose to forgive them and continue on even when you are at your wit’s end is evidence that you love someone.
Love is not a choice. Choice is evidence of love. It cannot be defined or simplified or encompassed or properly understood but it can be observed. You do not love someone because you choose to act in a loving way. You choose to act in a loving way because you love someone.
To love someone is beyond just making mechanical choices to be kind to them. It is about attraction, it is about romance, it is about hurting when they hurt and being happy when they are happy. It is about waking up and knowing that your life is better because you have them—because they are uniquely special and irreplaceable to you. None of these are choices to be made. You cannot choose to feel a certain way about someone. These are all evidence of loving someone.
I think that love is something far greater than a feeling, or a choice, or whatever mundane thing we try to use to encompass it. It is more than any one thing that makes an eye catching blog post or self-help book. It is something that ignores time and distance. It appears in the strangest places, and does not appear in some places where we think it simply must.
Love is about choice. Love is about feeling. It is about attraction and romance and sex and commitment and sleepless nights and heartbreak and gritty, bitter fights. All of these are evidence that love is taking place. And love is something that is far greater than any of these.
A future in which love is reduced to a series of mechanical choices that are made without joy or fulfillment or spontaneity is not a future that I want for myself and my partner. That is not the love I believe in. The love I believe in transcends human understanding. It succeeds not because of our human nature but in spite of it. Love is the greatest thing we are capable of as human beings, and it is my one true goal for my time on this earth.
So please continue to tell me that love is a choice. I’ll choose not to believe you.