Love Is a Choice: How Our Decisions Shape Our Relationships


Have you ever thought about what keeps a relationship strong over the years? Sure, there’s the initial spark, the excitement, and the butterflies, but what happens when the honeymoon phase fades? That's where the profound truth comes into play: love is a choice.

It's More Than Just a Feeling. Many of us grow up with the idea that love is something that just happens - a magical force outside of our control. But as we navigate the ups and downs of relationships, we realize that love is more complex than that. It's not just about feeling affection; it's about making a conscious decision to love, even when it's challenging.

Everyday Decisions Matter. The little things count. Whether it’s choosing to be patient when your partner is having a bad day, or actively listening instead of just hearing, these daily choices add up. It's about prioritizing your partner's happiness alongside your own and making decisions that benefit the relationship, not just the individual.

Love Through the Tough Times. Every relationship faces its share of challenges. During these times, love as a choice becomes even more apparent. It's easy to love when everything is going smoothly, but what about when it’s not? Choosing to work through problems, to communicate, and to compromise are all ways we actively choose love over indifference or resentment.

The Science Behind the Choice

The notion that love is a choice is not just philosophical; it's rooted in scientific understanding. Relationship psychology and neurobiology provide insights into why and how our daily decisions significantly impact the health and longevity of our romantic connections.

Neurobiology of Love: The Brain in Love. Love triggers a symphony of neurotransmitters in our brain. When we fall in love, chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin surge, creating feelings of pleasure, attachment, and happiness. However, these chemical reactions tend to stabilize over time. This is where the choice factor becomes crucial. By choosing behaviors that reignite these neurochemicals, like showing affection or sharing new experiences, we can keep the spark alive in long-term relationships.

Attachment Theory: Choosing to Secure. Attachment theory plays a vital role in how we form and maintain relationships. Developed in the 1950s by psychologist John Bowlby, this theory suggests that our early relationships with caregivers shape our attachment styles: secure, anxious, or avoidant. While these styles are rooted in childhood, as adults, we can choose behaviors that foster secure attachment, like open communication and emotional availability, regardless of our inherent style.

Cognitive Behavioral Perspectives. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a popular psychological treatment, teaches that our thoughts affect our emotions and behaviors. Applying this to relationships, our decision to think positively about our partner and to give them the benefit of the doubt can lead to more positive emotions and healthier interactions.

Choice and Relationship Satisfaction: The Empirical Evidence. Numerous studies corroborate the idea that love is a choice. A study published in the "Journal of Social and Personal Relationships" found that individuals who believe in destiny are more likely to exit a relationship when problems arise, whereas those who believe love is a choice and requires effort are more willing to work through challenges. This "growth mindset" in love, as psychologist Carol Dweck would call it, fosters more resilient and satisfying relationships.

The Role of Active Commitment. Commitment is a choice that significantly influences relationship success. Dr. John Gottman, a renowned relationship researcher, emphasizes that actively choosing to commit every day, demonstrated through actions and decisions, builds trust and deepens the bond between partners. This includes turning towards your partner’s bids for connection and expressing appreciation and admiration.

Neuroplasticity and Love. Neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to change and adapt throughout life, suggests that our choices can literally reshape our brain. Choosing positive relationship behaviors can reinforce neural pathways associated with empathy, understanding, and patience, making these responses more automatic over time.

In essence, the science behind love as a choice reveals that our daily decisions in relationships don’t just affect our immediate interactions but have long-term implications on our emotional and neurological well-being. Choosing love is more than a romantic ideal; it's a practical, science-backed approach to building enduring, satisfying relationships.

Love and Personal Growth

Choosing to love is also about personal growth. It encourages us to develop qualities like empathy, patience, and understanding. When we view love as a choice, we take responsibility for our actions and emotions. This mindset not only benefits our relationships but also contributes to our own well-being and growth.

The Ripple Effect of Choosing Love

the ripple effect of choosing love

Our choice to love doesn’t just affect our romantic relationships; it extends to all areas of our life. When we choose love in our interactions with friends, family, and even strangers, we create a more compassionate and understanding world. Imagine the impact if everyone made the conscious decision to approach each other with love and kindness.

A Lifelong Journey

Choosing love is not a one-time decision. It’s a lifelong journey that evolves with each phase of a relationship. As we grow and change, so does the way we love. It requires continuous effort, understanding, and the willingness to adapt. This journey, though challenging, is incredibly rewarding.

Cultivating Love in Everyday Life

How do we make this choice in our daily lives? It starts with mindfulness - being aware of our actions and how they affect our loved ones. It involves communication, expressing our needs and listening to those of our partner. And, it requires a generous dose of forgiveness, for both ourselves and our partners, understanding that we are all human and make mistakes.

In a world where we often look for quick fixes and easy answers, the idea that love is a choice might seem daunting. But it's this very choice that gives love its power and beauty. It transforms fleeting emotions into a deep and enduring connection. In the end, love is not just something we feel but something we do, day in and day out. So, the next time you think about your relationships, remember: love is not just a feeling. It’s a choice – one that can change your life.


You will also like:

Unrequited love, unmet expectations, or simply a desire to move on—there are countless reasons why we might want to detach emotionally from someone.…
Experiencing betrayal such as being cheated on can deeply shake your trust and emotional well-being. It often leads to a painful aftermath where overthinking…
When the person you vowed to spend the rest of your life with approaches you with the idea of having a half open marriage, a flurry of emotions can…