Love is a choice. We make a choice whether or not to love people.
Some people believe in soulmates. They think somewhere out there is the perfect person for them, the one with whom they're destined to be together. They spend all their time looking for that person: they cruise bars, they swipe Tinder. They may break up with lovers because they "just weren't the right one." They're never satisfied, always looking for that one magic person.
They're wrong. Love isn't something you find. Love is a choice you make.
The idea of soulmates is ridiculous, and it's espoused by people who would claim to be "not religious, but spiritual." Basically, it's this: out in the world, there is one single person who is right for you. When you meet them, sparks will fly, birds will sing, and the heavens will open in choir of angels. You'll just know.
So your dating life is a quest to find that one single person. You find a reason to reject everyone. He's too short; she's too trendy; he's a lawyer and you hate lawyers. So you reject possibilities of love in favor of your mental ideal.
Finally, you might find Mr. or Ms. Right (the entire concept of "Mr. Right" being as ridiculous as soulmates). You get together with him. And for a while, everything's perfect. You're in the honeymoon phase, the part where you go out to dinner and have great sex all the time and get roses delivered to your office.
But then you start to notice some things. When he trims his beard, he leaves little hairs everywhere. He drives too slowly. He calls his mother too much. And all these little things build up, and you break up with him because he's clearly not the one right guy for you.
This happens over and over. You're never satisfied.
I had to make this choice when I met my husband. Bear is kind, sweet, and considerate. He's brilliant, and one of the best teachers I've ever had the luck to watch. When we met, we talked about old school Nintendo. A few days later, he gave me a mint condition original Nintendo poster. Not only because he liked me (he did), but because he knew I'd enjoy it. That's just Bear.
If I were waiting for love to gobsmack me across the face, I wouldn't have thought twice about Bear. See, Bear is... a bear. Medium-height, medium-beard, more-than-medium thick. I'd always dated the type of guy who looked good in skinny jeans. Bear was more of a dress shirt and cords type.
He was obsessed with the band Phish and had been to practically every one of their shows ever. I ridiculed him for this constantly. This was not the type of guy I wanted.
He wasn't my soulmate. He wasn't my Mr. Right. He wasn't even on the radar. But the more we hung out, the more I realized his good qualities. Finally, I got trashed one night and hooked up with him. And he was good.
Most guys are decent at fooling around, but he was great at it. So I made a decision.
I chose Bear. I chose him despite his looks, which grew on me (he's a dead ringer for Jack Black). And then, when the relationship developed, I kept making that choice. I picked him when he called his mom five times a day, literally. I picked him when he made me drive down to see his friends in another city. I picked him when he snored so loud I had to start sleeping with earplugs.
He wasn't my soulmate. Over the years, though sickness and health and disaster and vacation, he came to know me so well that he is my soulmate — he knows me better than anyone else on earth. But I could still walk out tomorrow. He's still a choice.
I didn't find love. It didn't magically appear before me. I choose it. I made a choice to fall in love with Bear, and it's a choice that lasted. We make the same choice to love each other every day. Love isn't something you find, even when you wake up next to it. Real love is a choice.