Falling in Love is like Falling Asleep

falling in love
is like
falling asleep

 

  • You can help it along (intentionally or unintentionally)

You may not feel particularly tired, but if you lie still on a comfortable bed with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room, there is a very good chance that after a while you will fall asleep. If you want to fall asleep, then you will be well served by doing these things. If you do not want to fall asleep, then it would be rather foolhardy to do these things.

Similarly, you don’t have to be completely smitten with someone to fall in love with them. If the conditions are right for falling in love, then it should come as no surprise that people fall in love, even if that was not their goal. If a young man and a young woman start spending lots of time together, conversing and sharing their intimate thoughts and feelings with each other, then it would not be unusual for them to fall in love. If two people are courting, they can “assist” the process of falling in love, by buying each other gifts, writing romantic notes, holding hands, etc. On the other hand, two people who are not in a position to marry each other should avoid these types of things.

  • but you can’t force it.

Sometimes, though, despite all your attempts to fall asleep, you just can’t seem to do it. You’ve set the conditions properly, but you’re still awake. Maybe it’s a medical problem, maybe you had too much caffeine, maybe your mind is too preoccupied. Whatever it is, in spite of your desire to fall asleep, your body isn’t letting it happen.

While love is a choice, and you can always choose to love someone, you can’t make them love you back. And you might find that despite all your efforts, loving them is a challenge. Differences in personalities, interests, maturity, etc., may present significant barriers to falling in love.

  • You can push it away

You can avoid falling asleep. It might even be unintentional. You’re engrossed in a movie or something on TV, something you’re reading, or a project you’re working on. If you had gone to bed hours ago, you would be asleep now, but because you have been preoccupied with something else, you’re still awake. Or, even if you are sleepy, you can force yourself to stay awake (for a while, at least). You can drink some coffee, listen to loud music, go for a jog, etc. It might get progressively harder to stay awake, but you can increase your efforts, and usually keep sleep at bay for much longer than normal.

Same thing with falling in love. You can avoid it by being preoccupied with other matters, or you can recognize the signs and take intentional steps to prevent it.

  • but you can’t always avoid it.

Try as you might to stay awake, eventually your body is going to give in to exhaustion. Even in the midst of a situation totally unconducive to sleep, if you are tired enough, you will fall asleep at some point, like it or not.

Here, perhaps, the parallel is weakest. I don’t know that there are any situations where you absolutely cannot resist falling in love. The similarity exists though, because there are times when the natural process just happens, sometimes before you even realize it. You weren’t looking for love, or expecting to fall in love, but you meet someone seemingly irresistible, and BAM!, you fall in love. Maybe you even tried to avoid it, but the attraction was just too strong to resist for long.

I don’t think that there is one “right way” to fall in love. There is nothing inherently superior about instant mutual attraction versus an intentional process. There are times when romance should be avoided or delayed, but it can also be a sign of immaturity to resist or put off a relationship (due to fear or unreasonable expectations).  The key is to be obedient to God and use wisdom in the choices we make.

The phrase “falling in love” is somewhat problematic in itself, as it implies chance or accident, and feeds into the false perception of love as being equivalent to romantic feelings. In a sense, “falling in love” is a code-phrase for “the emergence of romantic feelings.” I’m not sure it’s necessary to reject it as a false or worldly concept, but we should seek to imbue it with more meaning and convey a full understanding of what love is.

Sleeping arrangements

What happens when an unmarried Christian couple (boyfriend and girlfriend) want to go on a trip together? Is it okay to stay in a hotel? Do they need to book separate rooms, or can they share a room?

In my opinion, there are two issues to be considered:

1. The issue of “appropriateness” versus “impropriety.”

2. The issue of temptation.

As a Christian, it’s a given that sexual acts (including, but not limited to, intercourse) are reserved for marriage. Engaging in such acts is sinful for those who are unmarried. There are also behaviors that are not necessarily wrong, but may result in being tempted towards behavior that would be wrong. For example, sleeping in the same bed, while not a sin itself, would open the door for lots of temptation, and put “forbidden fruit” within easy grasp, making it easy to succumb to temptation. Therefore sleeping in the same bed is a bad idea because of the issue of temptation. Also, even if two individuals were entirely confident in their ability to resist temptation, most people would agree that it would be inappropriate, in the same way that co-habitation prior to marriage is inappropriate. Even in the absence of any sexual behavior, sharing a bed is a very intimate arrangement, and that type of intimacy should probably be reserved for those who are married.

Sleeping in separate beds in the same room provides less opportunity for temptation, but still may allow for too much temptation to be a good choice. Particularly if there is no sofa or loveseat in the room, it would be quite easy to start out with the two individuals sitting on top of one bed talking or watching TV, and then the one invididual never makes it over to his/her own bed, which puts them right back into the problem described above. Most would agree that sharing a bedroom is inappropriate, just as sharing the same bed is inappropriate.

With separate sleeping quarters, one of the individuals must leave to “go to bed,” which greatly reduces the temptation that results from sharing the same sleeping quarters. From a temptation standpoint, my opinion is that separate rooms are called for. This could be separate bedrooms at the home of friends or family, a separate room in a hotel suite, or separate individual rooms in a hotel. In my view there is not a substantial difference between a separate room divided by a doorway and a separate room down the hall. There should be no more temptation or opportunity for temptation than spending time together normally at one individual’s house or apartment.

Online "dating" (a male perspective)

A while back, out of boredom and curiousity, I posted a profile at several online dating sites (match.com, cupid.com, true.com, etc; there are a bunch). Here is what I can tell you from my experience. Some of these will sound like superficial generalizations, so bear with me.

(in no particular order)

  • The number of Christians is small. Some will check the “Christian” box by “default” because they aren’t Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim, and they believe in God; but they aren’t necessarily born-again. In the “what they’re looking for” category, if they leave religion Open/Any/All, it tells you they don’t really understand the Christian concept of being unequally yoked. Even if they are true Christians, someone who was raised on Catholic or ELCA doctrine is not likely to see eye-to-eye with me on a lot of issues. The number of people who have a faith that is truly compatible with mine is very low.
  • There are quite a few women who are divorced and/or have children. In a way, this reflects reality, but I think the percentages are higher for online dating sites. I think single mothers or divorcees are more likely to use an online dating site than someone who has never been married. That may not be true, but that’s my impression. This is not to say that you should automatically rule out someone who has been married before or had children out of wedlock, but it’s not the ideal situation.
  • If they haven’t been married and don’t have kids, they’re likely to be overweight and/or unattractive. I don’t say this to be mean or superficial, and I realize it’s a generalization; it’s simply my observation of a trend that I saw. It seems to me that the people who are most likely to use online dating sites are those who have been unsuccessful in meeting someone via the “normal” means. Often, that means those who have had failed relationships, or those who are not found to be attractive (or don’t consider themselves attractive to others). Again, this is not to say that you should rule out someone who isn’t a knockout. It’s inner beauty that really counts, and someone’s inner beauty can influence how you view the exterior “package.” However, I do believe that physical attraction, though a minor consideration, is important. I also believe that a measure of physical compatibility is important. All other things equal, a 6-foot supermodel is probably not the best match for me. On the other hand, I prefer to marry someone who I can carry across the threshold; so I either need to really start working out, or find someone who weighs less than I do.
  • To actually have a conversation with someone, most sites require you to purchase a subscription. They usually filter out email addresses, IM accounts, web sites, etc, and some are more aggressive than others at censoring profiles to eliminate any description of how to contact you outside of their system.
  • You are likely to cultivate interest from people who don’t interest you. This makes me feel kind of bad when someone tries to contact me or let me know they are interested in learning more about me, and I either ignore them or let them know that I’m not interested. It’s one thing to get to know someone, but since it’s a dating site, I don’t want to get someone’s hopes up when I suspect they’re not what I’m looking for.

Also, some people lie, long distance relationships are tough, and the impersonal nature of the internet has it’s complications.

On the plus side, some of the personality tests and questions you have to answer in the process of creating a profile are kind of fun and helpful in learning about yourself and what you’re looking for. eHarmony.com is probably the best in that regard.

originally posted 3/3/2005 on bibleforums.org

Relationships

A little personal history…

Originally posted 10/10/2004 on bibleforums.org:

I feel like such a loser…

I just had another relationship end because of the apparent lack of spiritual depth and passion in my life.

I met K in December 2000 when we were on a missions trip together. She was a senior in high school and I had just graduated college that spring. I didn’t really see her as a potential mate due to the age difference, but the more I observed her, the more I saw her maturity, and the more attracted to her I became. When the missions trip was over, I began emailing her, and we would talk at church. In March, I asked her dad if I could ask her out, and he said okay, so we started dating casually. She had never dated anyone before, and wasn’t really sure how to handle herself, so she kind of kept me at arms length, and even though we went out every week, we were technically “just friends.” In the fall, she went off to college, and we didn’t pursue our relationship further.

Several months later, I met T. She was attractive, and had a lot of good qualities that I respected. When she showed an interest in me, I asked her out and we started dating. She was a single mom, so we knew going into it that we weren’t just going to date casually. We were both in a position where marriage was a possibility (unlike K, since she was younger and just starting college), so our purpose was in evaluating each other as potential mates. After about six months, she concluded that I was not growing spiritually and put my own interests above hers.

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