The phrase “love is blind” probably originated from Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice. In the play, Jessica says, “But love is blind and lovers cannot see / The pretty follies that themselves commit.”
I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that feelings, especially romantic ones, can turn our thoughts into a jumbled mess. No one can escape the experience of being blinded by love. You’ve felt it yourself. You’ve seen it happen to your friends and family. There’s even scientific evidence love is blinding; scientists at University College London in the journal Neurolomage reported that romantic love suppresses “neural activity associated with critical social assessment of other people and negative emotions.”
In other words, once you fall for someone, your brain decides to shut off its logic receptors and burns floaty pink heart bubbles and happy thoughts instead of glucose.
I can’t help but ask, why? Why did God design our brains to work this way? Why do I become a complete idiot when I like someone who may not be the best for me, when normally my judgement is pretty good? Perhaps examining the ways love blinds us will bring me closer to answering that question.
1. Love blinds us to others’ faults.
I can’t help but notice that when I first fall in love with a guy I don’t seem to notice anything negative about his character. Everything about him is great — not just great, it’s perfect. He can do no wrong! And because he can do no wrong, I’m very conscious of my own flaws. So naturally I’d better hide them so he thinks I’m perfect too.
Oddly enough, many married couples have told me the things they first found adorable and wonderful about their spouses when they started dating are now the things that annoy them the most. Her cheesy jokes used to make him laugh, but now he just rolls his eyes. His singing loudly in the shower was one of her favorite sounds, but now she drowns it out with the radio. You get the idea.
Yep. Brains are weird.
2. Love blinds us to logic.
I believe this is what enables people to endure abusive behavior. Those of us on the outside looking in can comment, “Why does she put up with him?” or “Why does he live with that?” But when you’re the one in love, you care about that person so much you excuse their actions.
“He’s having a bad day.”
“She’s working on her anger issues.”
“It’s the drinking. As soon as he stops, it’ll be fine.”
“It’s her ‘time of the month.’”
There’s a line between accepting your partner isn’t perfect and makes mistakes, and living with abuse day after day. Unfortunately, it’s a line someone in love can’t always see. It’s why we need God to guide us and friends to stick by us and tell us the truth, even (or perhaps, especially) when we’re blinded by our emotions.
3. Love blinds us to the importance of other relationships.
I lost some friends in high school because I became involved with a guy and ignored everyone else. I don’t even remember how I lost them or when their friendships faded away; I was too involved in my own romantic feelings to notice.
And then, of course, I could no longer be self-righteously annoyed when other friends behaved the same way, getting all doe-eyed at their new romances and leaving me in the dust, because I’d done exactly that. Hmph.
Recognizing that romantic love isn’t the end-all is important. Those other friends who I’m tempted to ignore because I only want to spend time with my guy? They’re kinda pretty much super-duper valuable. I need them. I also need my significant other to spend time with my friends and family too.
4. Love blinds us to our self-worth.
God tells us we are valuable to Him, again and again. “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered,” Luke says (12:6-7). We are fearfully and wonderfully made, fearfully and wonderfully loved.
But that knowledge doesn’t always stop me from asking, “What’s wrong with me?” after a broken relationship. I want to kick myself even as the phrase rolls off my tongue, but I can’t seem to help asking it. What could I have done better? How could I have changed to make myself valuable in that guy’s eyes? Why wasn’t I good enough?
Those are the wrong questions. They’re questions that come out of a desire to be valued and loved above all others, to be special. And it’s possible I’m ignoring truth by asking them because that means I don’t believe God when he tells me I am valued, loved and precious.
5. Love blinds us to wisdom.
Stuff like making major decisions way too early, losing focus in other areas of life, not listening to friends — these all seem to happen more frequently when I’m in love. Sometimes wisdom gets shucked out the door along with my sanity.
It’s not that we’re always blithering idiots when we’re in love. These are just things I’ve learned along the way (and not always all at the same time). Being aware of these tendencies helps me seek wisdom despite my blindness.
So why is romantic love, at least at first, blinding? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it might be a precursor to unconditional love. Once we get over that blindness and still choose to love someone, it becomes less of a feeling and more of a commitment. Our blindness is also a reminder not to live alone, that we thrive in community and need the wisdom of our friends, our family and our God. Experiencing an inability to see others clearly might be frustrating, but we don’t have to figure it all out ourselves. And the best part is, when you do experience that love rooted in truth, regardless of whether it’s romantic or friendship, it’s totally worth it.
Copyright 2016 Allison Barron. All rights reserved.