Originally I’d thought about discussing the balance between ‘flash’ and ‘substance’ when choosing a mate. Sure, flash is nice and it’s perfectly natural to desire physical attraction for our mate. And substance of character must be there since what we are talking about is being with a person for the long-term, not just doing an afternoon photo shoot. In fact it is, I believe, ‘substance’ than can grant or remove physical attraction either by its presence or absence. But as I began to gather my thoughts together a chilling reality came to mind.. “Does it really matter?”
I don’t mean, ‘Does it matter whether the person has substance or not?’ What I mean is, in the final analysis.. is it really possible to think we will sketch out the person we want, find them in a crowd and simply choose to have them for a mate? Cooperation on their part will be necessary and their ability to choose one way or the other is for the greater part out of our control. More to the point, just how much does our choice really have to do with things when it comes to falling in love? Do we really choose to fall in love with someone or does it simply ‘happen’?
At first I was tempted with some pretty easy answers to these questions until I began to see if they held up to the acid test of actual Life. Remember the old adage, “Love is blind.”? That phrase has endured for a reason. How many times have you tried to tell your best friend, “That guy/girl is no good for you, can’t you see that?” And they tell you, “Yah, I know. You’re right. I agree with you, he/she is a bad choice. But we just got engaged, isn’t that exciting?!” Hmm. Now I know we have choice and control, but if we don’t use it.. then I have to question whether it has any value when dealing with reality.
A mystery that’s puzzled me to no end is how it is that, seemingly from the very get-go, certain people have just seemingly ‘decided’ that I was the best thing since sliced bread despite the fact that I gave them no attention or treatment different than I’d give anyone else. Or, I will have that favorable disposition for someone who in no way earned or merited it. It isn’t based on physical attraction since I have given this ‘unmerited favor’ towards women I don’t find particularly attractive in the physical sense. Yet in my eyes they always enjoy my unmerited favor. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just simply ‘happened’.
On the other side of things, if love were simply a logical decision then it would seem to follow that if we could provide reasonable evidence to said person that we were indeed the person they were looking for then we would be able to sway their heart from ‘no spark’ to ‘spark’. If someone said they wanted “X, Y and Z.. with a little Q.” and lo and behold you were exactly an ‘X,Y,Z and Q’ kind of person then you’d be the man/woman for the job! But that’s not how love works. If that spark is not there for you then it usually doesn’t matter how good a case is presented, you know in your heart it just isn’t going to happen.
So back to the original issue.. do we really have a choice or do we just react when that spark shows itself? I’m inclined to believe our actions are the carrying out of what our final choice is. Yet, at the same time, I don’t think our choices are always in-sync with our desires. Seems strange, almost nutty. But looking back at some of the women I’ve gotten serious with, they didn’t fit the ‘sketch’ of the person I’d planned to choose, yet by my actions I still chose to see if it was possible to work it out. Deep down I desire certain qualities in a woman, yet have seen myself choose the opposite of those desires. I’m sure you’ve seen this in others if not even in your own experience.
So, is there anything we can do about this? The first thing that comes to mind is the idea that we make a list of the qualities we absolutely must have in a person and refuse to get involved with anyone who does not meet that ‘profile’. I guess that would eliminate the problem, along with the chance that perhaps you’d pass by the person you’d really be happiest with who is actually different than you’d imagined.. as many happy couples can attest to. (And all this is assuming you have the sheer will to turn away anyone with whom do feel ‘spark’ for.) You could stand there with your list, look out amongst the crowd, spot the person who finally does fit the ‘profile’ only to find.. perhaps you don’t fit -their- profile. And then repeat the process. Hmm. Yes, we do need to have criteria, but I don’t think this list idea is going to solve the issue of choice over ‘chemistry’.
A friend of mine told me the other day, “Man, some things just aren’t meant to be understood.” I have difficulty with that concept. I still don’t fully grasp to what degree our choice has to do with who we actually fall in love with, especially when you throw in the concept of destiny, if you believe in such a thing. I don’t fully grasp how my stereo pulls songs out of thin air from something called radio-waves either, yet that doesn’t preclude it from being understandable to mankind. So many times great couples have gotten together by circumstance or chance. It (love) had already happened before choice had anything to do with it. Some people do set out on a mission to find such and such in a mate and are happy with the results. Perhaps with time this will make sense. Until then I’ll just have to play referee between my head.. which says, “This is the person we’re looking for because it makes sense.” and my heart.. which says, “This one has my undying favor, just because.”
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.