Falling in love

Match.com allows users a space to list their personal goals. It only makes sense that the most popular is to “Fall in Love.” But let’s be clear: falling in love is not a goal. A goal is something you can plan to achieve. Falling in love isn’t something you plan for, and it’s certainly no achievement.

It’s not anything of this world, which James Hillman described back in 1990:

“. . . the reason you’re with this certain person, this certain lover, is not about love, or at least it’s not about ‘having a good relationship.’ You’re with this person because your soul is hungry for them, your soul is seeking something with or through them, and it will insist on what it wants. It doesn’t care what price YOU pay for that; the ego-driven, agenda-ridden you is not your soul’s priority. The nice thing about getting older is that you learn to pay some prices more gracefully, but the soul doesn’t care. The soul is absolutely merciless — toward you, and toward anybody around you. The soul doesn’t give a damn about human values.”

In 1850 Elizabeth Barrett Browning described her experience of falling in love in her famous poem, “Sonnets from the Portuguese” (number 26). Read closely and you’ll sense the expectation of falling in love, followed by actually falling in love:

“I lived with visions for my company
Instead of men and women, years ago,
And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know
A sweeter music than they played to me.
But soon their trailing purple was not free
Of this world’s dust, their lutes did silent grow,
And I myself grew faint and blind below
Their vanishing eyes. Then thou didst come–to be,
Beloved, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,
Their songs, their splendours (better, yet the same,
As river water hallowed into fonts);
Met in thee, and from out thee overcame
My soul with satisfaction of all wants:
Because God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.”

How does one plan for such an experience?

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