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.

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