When did you know?

I’m interested in love.  
My personal editor just stepped in, ‘Now don’t just go cracking this subject open, willy-nilly, like some sort of glorious walnut that you can examine the insides of. You look like an idiot, pretending to lay things out on the table and understand. This is not a clinical topic.’
It’s not. And I don’t pretend to understand it. But you can observe the top layer, and that’s enough to wonder at.
Love is responsible for some of the most baffling behavioral extremes of human nature.
And sometimes it seems so freakin’ predictable. For instance, put a male and a female in a platonic relationship, tweak one of their lives so there’s a major shift in their outlook, throw in some obstacles and maintain the trust of their former communication, and Voila! They’re gonna turn it into a romance thing, it’s just a matter of time.
That pisses me off a little. I don’t want love to just need the right ingredients at the right time, and then it comes out the other end like a spice cake. (I haven’t had breakfast yet, can you tell?)
Isn’t that awful though? What business is it of mine, if Herbert and Sasha discover this burgeoning passion growing out of years of gardening together?
Well. I can console myself that not everybody’s right for each other. In fact, hardly any are. A measly few of the sum total of all romances embarked upon are successful, and it’s a handful who find the right one, find them and know it in their hearts. And even when that happens, there’s no guarantee that the other person will feel the same way, or that  circumstances, fate, the ‘fuck-you-hoopla’ as I like to call it, won’t step in and just destroy it all to pieces.
Does that make me feel better then? Maybe. Not that love seems more exclusive, exactly, but that there is a level less manipulatable, there isn’t any faking or concocting or conjuring the genuine article out of proper ingredients. You can do so much to care for and maintain a relationship, but at basis there’s still that undefinable element. They still hafta be your heart’s desire, and there’s no telling why they are or aren’t. (The grammar gods just put me on their hit list)
S’true. People get the craziest yens. Why do we want who we want? There’s a whole bunch of disguises for these things, a whole bunch of bullshit reasons we come up with to explain. Often times an unfathomable love is jotted down to some sort of psychological short coming. Age disparity: Oh, she has a daddy complex. Oh, he’s having a mid-life crisis. Oh, he or she is a control freak.
Uneven socio-economic status? Then one of them is ‘slumming it’. Different race? ‘Jungle fever’. It becomes a sexual thing, a rebel-tabboo-turn-on situation.
And if you love someone inaccessible  you must be protecting yourself. Or if you love someone who doesn’t love you back, you must be doing a psychological self-destruction thing, an ambush. Its all internal mechanisms at play, arising in the brain, making us act out our inner demons like puppets on a cerebral string.
I donno. But naw, because love- I mean LOVE is something else. Ask someone who purports to love you, “Why? Why do you love me?”, they will likely make a noble effort out of listing your good points, the things they adore. You might be a little startled to hear that the set of reasons sounds easily transferable to another member of the human race. But rest assured, likely they didn’t manage the task. They gave you all the dear, wonderful impressions that bolstered their feelings, they told you things about you that give them pleasure to know, but the ‘why’ of it remains a stubbornly hidden mystery.
Why wouldn’t it be a mystery? Have you ever had to try and explain to someone why you didn’t love them anymore? Usually you still do, to some degree, in that you care, terribly. It hurts. You’d almost rather keep your mouth shut, if this is a person you’ve known so well, and whose happiness you want to ensure. But they know. And you know, that your inside has turned away, that it isn’t the same. And the why isn’t exactly graspable. 
What we describe most often is not the ‘why’ but the ‘when’. When I knew I loved you: When you came around the corner all disheveled with leaves in your hair, and that grin on your face that made you look like a 12 year old boy about to jump into some kind of happy, innocent mischief.
When your voice, the distress and pain of one syllable cracked the stone in my chest and made my robotic actions, my carefully thought out course of action impossible, and I just stood there, flooded.
When you got in that laughing jag at Outdoor  Outfitters and actually ended up on your back, rolling around helplessly in a fit of mirth, tears coming out of your eyes, completely unconscious of all the people staring at you in bewildered awe.
That’s what we remember, that’s what we can describe. Not the why, but the when of love.
So this is for… it’s for everybody. Not just married, not just ‘involved’. This question is for anyone who has felt it, whether they kept it or lost it, it’s still there- the real thing. Love.
When did you know? Was it the moment you saw them, or was it another moment that still fills you up inside? When did you know, and what was your reaction when it happened? How did you respond to the knowledge of genuine love?

21 thoughts on “When did you know?

  1. I think after a few years, around two the experts say, when the attraction of cute, or whatever wears off, you know if you are really in love or not.

    O’Henry defined it in his story with the young husband and wife. They were quite poor and struggling, of course there was no extra money in the house. It was Christmas and he sold his watch for a clip for her hair, and she cut her hair to buy him a watch fob. This story by O’Henry, to me is the ultimate in knowing you are in love, sacrifice, and irony too I suppose.

    For me it is knowing I want to make a comfortable place for this person in my life to land in no matter what happens in the outside world.

    That is a pretty big cup of tea, and at times feels like a one way street, but that is how I would define it.

  2. Pit of stomach. Just after any phone call or contact. Lie back, and it feels like my insides are exploding and imploding simultaneously. Writhing in a search for someone stuck far away.

    That and little things. That constant contact whenever close. That ease.

    Little tiny things. Words and thoughts half thought. Enwrapt.

    Vague, but precise. Indefinable.

    I’m incoherent.

    But I think I’m in love.

  3. I agree with Michael. Love takes time. Passion, heat, libido… all those things are instantaneous, and if attendant circumstances are correct, and if blah blah blah blah blah… then it turns into love.

    For me it came down to this: Is she worth giving up unscheduled golf outings, Wednesday night card games, putting the toilet seat down without being nagged at, not talking to that previously ‘special’ woman who even now would ball your eyes out though she knows you’re ‘in love’, telling her she’s beautiful even when your eyes call you a liar and committing yourself to activities with her that you’d *never* consider outside your relationship with her–then it’s probably love. I just don’t think there are any shortcuts that ensure that the bet is a lock.

  4. A really nice story.
    It remembers me to my own love story.
    But unfortunately it ended a few days ago.
    My girlfriend has left me because of money.
    I wrote a blog entry (003) about it.

    Julian B. R.

  5. I wish I could contribute something meaningful, but I’m at a stage where… I know love exists, and I know people feel it but I just find it all terribly inconvenient. And beyond that, it all seems a little bit forced to me. There is someone who claims to be in love with me, it’s been almost a year now and I’ve been horrible to him, even though he’s beautiful in so many ways, and I think, if love makes people willing to endure that kind of pain and humiliation, I don’t really want any of it. I’ve just been too naive in the past, diving head first and not bothering with the practical matters or saving my pride. And where did it get me? It got me here. Cynical but not bitter.

  6. You know this is so good, so very well written, an excellent piece. I had one case of love at first sight, my longterm ex opened a door and I felt like I had been hit by a thunderbolt, couldn’t speak and from that moment on was completely smitten, as was he (and it wasn’t a looks thing, he was just normal to look at). Then I’ve had the slow slipping into it, like the day you realise a piece of clothing is your favourite, something you bought as a put-on but it was just right. I’ve had quite a lot of longer relationships, so have only been in that state five or six times, say, and each time apart from the thunderbolt, it was all down to something they said or wrote (letters, lethal :)

  7. It is interesting that you and many others think that love’s success can be measured in its durability, perhaps it has nothing to do with finding the ‘right one’, perhaps the most successful loves don’t last but burn so fierce they change lives,

  8. The age old mystery, huh? I really, really like Paul’s thought above. I might change the words “successful” and “don’t last”, but the part about “burn so fierce they change lives” has the thud of truth to it. Sorry if I modified your thought too much. I do think some loves can be successful and not last, but change lives, but others can be durable. I “knew” at first site of my how deep my feelings were, but convincing myself of what I knew took longer. We have been married over fifty years, so I would say that particular fierce burning had durability.

  9. But is that love or infatuation? I know exactly what you mean about the fierce burning and it is beautifully put but I distinguish between infatuation and love, which feels the damn same, only by virtue of the durability, it’s my only yard stick…….if it lasts longer it’s love, if it fizzles, it’s not……though sadly so often in the lasting it morphs into something else……..mmmmm, maybe you have a point :) Okay, I’ll shut up now.

  10. Don’t shut up, Jo, I thought the same thing. It’s very possible that a love relationship wouldn’t last, but the durability of the emotion is a marker of its meaning. If you forgot someone when they left your line of vision, it wan’t love… it was something else. Lust, infatuation, admiration. Love leaves an indelible mark, it keeps resonating even if that person goes.

  11. I have a press this button, I pressed it while I was reading the comments in Amuirin’s recent post one love having read the blogs of many other very intelligent and articulate women, i have been listening to men whisper among themselves all my life,

    anyway, i thought what if a blog by writing a comment and then pressing the press this button button,

    Well, ladies, if I may for a moment express the opinion of a balding middle aged man who has some experience in these matters, when I meet a man my age or older who is faithful to his partner when speaking to me and she is not there, ie lets go get drunk and check out some strippers, no mate, i love my wife, cooool, he has my instant respect, ie women love honesty but it is a conditional honesty, because a middle aged man who is honest will tell you that his eye strays, other parts may want to stray, but he keeps his heart and his wallet under control, that is the best you can hope for,
    love is something i feel, i can feel it burn through me just watching her make dinner, i want to be closer to her, i am not close enough, i want her to fold herself into my arms right now because she is the one, i want to be immersed completely in her and disappear, everythingelse in the universe disappears, but most of the time i am thinking, i hope she’s happy, these are two different things, that is in the end there are things in life far more valuable than love, love is just a motivation toward something, it is by definition, unstable, a longing, it is madness, it is a believe that despite everything they will always be in someway that person who inspired that feeling, uniquely, you understand, not some generic easily decribed thing, one specific feeling, the first time, that is all there is and she will always be in someway that person, not necessarily the first love, first love’s often stumble, but the last love, that is who you want to be, but the press this button didnt work do i just left here as a comment, feel free to edit at will, hello,

  12. Love is when i “see’ the person,beyond all the stereotypes and romantic fantasies.. for me, it has nothing to do with how they look, what they say, it is something i cant describe…when i look at my partner snoring and drooling asleep on the lounge, my heart bursts, when he talks to the food as hes cooking it, when he has his concentrated computer face on…this, to me is love, not the passion i feel for my lover, that is still a tenderness, but to me, love transcends time, and expectations.And in this time , holding onto love is the thing that will kill it the most..the idea of eternal love is a deathnell for it, it denies growth, change, and the freedom to choose…love exists in its own right, it doesnt need an object for it, but some objects reflect it back to us easier than others, this is what we call “the one”.
    And by naming someone ‘the one” that is another way to put huge responsablity onto someone else for our happiness.

    Popular ramantic love is at its best a bargain,” i,ll love you if you do this, or until you make me happy,” that is not love.
    Sorry for such a long comment, and no initial hello on my first comment here, I got carried away…great stuff, love the depth and the writing.i will be back

  13. Oh Enigma, I was coming back to argue (smile) with Paul, but I have to agree with you first, exactly, it is recognising the humanity in someone, seeing them as something apart from yourselves (which actually you highlight too in a way Paul, the happiness angle) that is love…….infatuation is the stage where desire overwhelms and you look only for the similarities between you to justify to yourself that this person is ‘the one’, love is where you accept that despite the differences between you there is a very real bond, and in some cases it lasts for ever, in more cases it doesn’t, but while it is there it can burn fierce, burn long and slow, but burn it does…..though I am not sure it requires the beloved to be static and unchanging, I know what you are talking about but I have to disagree with that point, acceptance of another’s growth is love. Wow, Amuirin, you’ve sparked quite the discussion here, as I said before, just why I love hanging out here :)

  14. I knew immediately, that first look which caused the world and time to stop for that split second between heartbeats. I still catch that feeling and look, and fall in love all over again on a daily basis.

    The thing is, there was a time I didn’t trust it, the feeling and the knowing. It could have gone badly at that point, 20 years into our marriage. The lack of trust and knowing had more to do with what was going on inside of me — this sudden fear that things would get all messed up because I was getting older and feeling terribly insecure because of choices I’d made.

    We’ve had our happily ever after. Or at least happily ever now. We might even be a little better for that brief bit of struggle. 32 years…and the love just keeps growing.

    I agree with Jo about how love can burn long and slow ” but burn it does.”

  15. What a wonderful post, and what a good question.

    I’m going with my first thought, before I overthink it, as I tend to do. I’ve been with my beau for coming on 1o years now. Perhaps it was a couple of years into the relationship, and as usual he was fast asleep as I wrestled with sleep. While we are not big sleep cuddlers, I noticed how even when he changes position when he sleeps, that he unconsciously always keeps some contact with my body. In that moment I felt truly loved and I realized I loved him right back. I felt a deep wave of contentment that comes from feeling safe, accepted and loved.

    Hmmm. Just remembering that moment is bringing back all those warm and fuzzy feelings that sometimes get lost over the years. Yeah . . . I think I’ll do something nice for him tonight.

  16. I knew it was love when suddenly my life acquired a purpose, that of loving and being loved. Alas, being plucked from invisibility by a mid-life crisis when one has a daddy complex is recipe for disaster. Cue ‘fuck you hoopla’. Love? Pffft, only an illusion humans invented to make themselves feel better. It’s just fluffy mutual benefit with sex thrown in.

  17. I tell this story a lot. I knew I was in love with the otter when I was talking about music with her. I said, “Why do so many girls love Gavin Rossdale?”

    “I hate him,” spake the otter.

    “He really sucks,” I said. “He might look good, but he doesn’t sing well, and his lyrics are terrible. He’s the Jim Morrison of this generation.”

    “Yeah,” replied the otter. “Now all he needs to do is die.”

    And I was in love.

  18. Interesting question.

    I’ve come to the disconcerting conclusion that I didn’t genuinely love any of the women I’ve been involved with. I had great affection for them, and sexual attraction, but not the real thing.

    I do, however, genuinely love my friends. And with each of them, I loved them the moment I saw them. I recognized them … that’s the only way I can put it. I knew I’d known them all my life. Josh, Jim, Elissa, Diane, Linda … people who had known me before, and forever, and who will always know me, and whom I just hadn’t found yet.

    Perhaps someday I’ll feel that way about a woman to whom I am also sexually attracted. Or not. And if I never find that woman, well … real friends are rare and precious things, and they last.

  19. I know exactly what you mean about that recognition thing, exactly, I’ve had that experience five or so times, a couple of times with lovers but also with friends, the best way I can describe it is like travelling backwardsforwards very fast in a train carriage, a whooshing feeling in my head and then I look again and I know them already. Weird, but I’m glad I’m not the only one :) Yeah, now you’re all thinking I’m crazy, well except for David…..for years I thought it might be something to do with reincarnation but now I’m not sure what it is.

  20. That’s very interesting, Jo. I do tend to think that people know each other, or know of each other, in ways that are not definable by literal experience. I think it would be wonderful to have a lover whom I felt that way about. I’m kind of thinking I’ll hold out for that next time, that knowing and rightness deep in my infallibly-intuitive gut. I’m used to ignoring information I get from that source when it comes to guy/gal relationships, because it tells me things I don’t want to hear, about how it’s not going to work, when I want it to work, because I’m as much a slave of desire and loneliness as anyone (I act on it much less than most people do, but I feel it just as intensely). I think I’ll know when it’s real if I don’t get those warnings, and instead I have that “Oh, it’s you!” feeling that I’ve had with the friends who have become important to me.

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