“Ask a Priest: It Is OK to Choose to Love If the Warm Feelings Aren’t There?”

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Q: It’s been said that love is a choice. Can a person’s choosing to love despite not having those warm, fuzzy, and infatuated feelings be a good thing? In my case there is a man whom I’ve known for four months who is hinting at marriage. However, he is a serious Catholic, and this is where we deeply connect. I’m just not very attracted to him physically. Thanks for reading this. – J.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Love — real love — is an act of the will, and thus a choice.

Love isn’t the same as having warm, fuzzy feelings. Those feelings might exist, but they aren’t crucial.

Among newlyweds it has been noted that the romantic feelings rarely last more than two years. When those feelings fade, that doesn’t the marriage is over. Rather, it is simply the moment when spouses need to recommit to each other based on something more than feelings.

So, what might this mean in your case?

If you have found a man with whom you deeply connect in terms of the faith, then you are fortunate. This isn’t someone you want to write off too quickly.

As you probably know, it’s not easy to find an eligible man with character and faith nowadays. Externals are superficial, and more than a few marriages involving “attractive” spouses have failed because of underlying incompatibility or selfishness or immaturity or whatever.

You mention that you have known this man only four months. You might want to give the relationship time to mature. No need to rush to judgment. As you get to know him, you might come to appreciate his inner qualities deeply. Which could make him attractive to you in the best sense of the term.

In any case, don’t think that you have to force yourself to feel something you don’t. Take things one day at a time. Real love takes time.

To answer your question precisely, I’d say it is a far better thing not to choose to love based on warm, fuzzy and infatuated feelings. “Love” based on that kind of shaky ground usually collapses quickly if not tragically.

In the meantime, it would be good to intensify your prayer life. Try to keep Christ at the center of this relationship. And stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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