Train Wreck

Recently a friend found out her boyfriend of less than three months, has a serious drug problem.  He doesn’t think he’s an addict and has refused to get treatment. Despite her misgivings about his substance abuse problem she quipped.

“You can’t help who you fall in love with”

So does love trump all common sense?  Does a strong romantic bond throw all logic out the window?  Do people fall in love after only three months?

Similarly a certain film director who had what most would consider a highly inappropriate affair defended his actions by saying, The heart wants what it wants. There’s no logic to those things. You meet someone and you fall in love and that’s that.  I’m sure he might feel differently if his now wife fell in love with his best friend, but I digress.

Does love trump all?  Is it ethical to use love as an excuse for causing such havoc in the lives of others?  When does common sense, logic and self-control come into the picture?  Is a person allowed to do anything they want in the name of love and not be accountable for their actions?

Love doesn’t always come when we want it, and there are many situations that get morally ambiguous.  Two people may fall in love while both are married to other partners.  Some couples might repeatedly reconcile despite epic fights and constant battles.  And we all know relationships that make absolutely no logical sense, yet endure despite glaring incompatibilities.  Love is this mystical force that can make people do all sorts of irrational things.  Our myths and fairy tales center around characters who literally slay dragons and wake the dead in the name of true love.

But will love conquer all?   Let’s go back to my friend’s example.  She is in her thirties, has never been married but has had long-term relationships.  She doesn’t live with her new boyfriend. They don’t have children together and they have only been dating for three months. His drug of choice is a highly dangerous one that could easily kill him in an overdose.  As a divorced person, I can’t help but scream “Dear God Woman run with all the force that you have in you, don’t look back, get out, RUN!” at the top of my lungs with full force.  Instead of “love” I see the most tragic a love triangles a co-dependent, a drug addict and drugs. Although she won’t admit it openly, she probably thinks she can “save” or at least change him. I would give her much more leeway if she was a younger woman with less life experience, but she really should know better. Three months is hardly a lifetime and she should get out before she gets into too deep.

Then there is the case of the film director.  He was 56 years old when he started an affair with the daughter of his then partner.  Could he not have done the more responsible thing and resisted temptation?  Were there not adoring 19-year-old sycophants eager to jump his bones, who were not related to his children?   People use love to excuse all sorts of selfish behavior – a man cheats on his wife while she is sick with cancer, a teacher seduces her student, a woman sleeps with the husband of a pregnant friend, and on and on. When does free will step in?  Are we powerless to emotions of the heart?  Also when we are on the wrong side of these affairs it’s next to impossible to empathize with our partner’s betrayal.

Then there are the serial disaster daters.  People who will literally destroy their lives for one lover after another.  They don’t just have one abusive, addicted, or cruel ex, they have several who all seem to have the same horrible personality.  Is it love every time or co-dependency?  Is it narcissism. masochism or insanity?

All of us have been in situations were we are strongly attracted to people who were not available.  Do we throw caution to the wind every time to the whim of love? I’ve found myself strongly desiring men I knew were a bad idea and I had enough self-control to not avoid temptation.  I’ve also made mistakes and become enraptured with someone despite the warning signs and suffered major consequences.  And who hasn’t been hung up on a former lover we know is bad for us.   Love has caused me to do things against my own self-interest, well-being or mental health.  I’m obviously not the most rational person – I married a clown.

Is love is a type of magic fairy dust that falls from the heavens, covers us in sparkles and makes us lose sound judgment and our basic sense of self-preservation?  Should we really use the most powerful human emotion as an excuse to absolve ourselves of any pain we cause others? Romantic love is a powerful and wonderful force, but we are not slaves to it.

My divorce has made me a realist.  I’ve seen the empty void on the other side of a romantic relationship gone wrong.   Of course we would all love to have a love so strong that our partners would risk everything for us but sustained love rarely works that way.  A good foundation is built on trust, communication and real life experience.  Love doesn’t always happen in nice and tidy ways, we can avoid major heartache and pain if we let the rational side of our brains take over. My friend could give herself space from her drug addicted boyfriend, the movie director could have at least broken up with his partner before sleeping with her daughter, or he could have slept with someone else. We can’t always save ourselves when we are deep in the throes of love, but we can at least try to avoid a moving train when we see it coming. 

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3 comments on “You CAN help who you fall in love with.

  1. candidkay

    Whether she cares for him or not, she should back off until he gets help. Difference between loving someone and loving someone while enabling him. I’m with you.

    1. julietjeske

      I completely agree I was just stunned when she said it. It’s a different situation when you are married with three kids and your husband relapses…but some guy you’ve been dating for three months? That’s nothing…RUN!

  2. MarleyDee

    Falling in love is an intoxicating experience. Much like drugs. Whether it makes you feel good or will ultimately kill you. I think the people we fall in love with are generally a reflection of ourselves…someone we once were or somebody whose attributes we admire and want to see in ourselves. Everyone is flawed and some people don’t understand that the chemicals in a drug addicts brain are geared first for the next fix and their partner often comes second. Not because the drug user doesn’t want to care for their lover, but ultimately because they don’t even know how to care for themselves. You should never try to give somebody more love than they give themselves. Or more than they give you. I think good love is mutual, naturally.

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