Fromm’s classic, The Art of Loving, is full of arresting ideas, if a little dated now, what with his complementary idea of gender and poor understanding of homosexuality. I particularly like the distinction he draws between falling in love and standing in love.
Falling in love is perhaps the default idea of love today. When two people meet they are, by definition, strangers. So when they suddenly feel close and the walls come down, it can be possibly the most exhilarating and exciting experience in life. It seems wonderful and miraculous, not least for someone who has for some time being looking for the right person. Sexual attraction is the physical expression of that.
However, this falling in love is not lasting, since it is premised on the meeting of strangers. Once you stop being strange with this new person, the feeling of falling for them, and its exhilaration, will stop too. The miracle seems to be over. The risk is that the old antagonisms, anxieties, disappointments and so on flood back in and kill the previous experience.
At the time of falling in love, this just seems impossible to think about. Indeed, the intensity of the experience of falling in love, of meeting someone, seems to be the very measure of that loves worth, again especially if when set against the previous experience of loneliness. This sets up a paradox though. If the intensity of falling in love is not a measure of love but is a measure of the collapse of previous loneliness, then falling violently in love when you meet someone might actually be the worst experience to have. Because once it is over, and it will not last, normal life ??” normal love we might say ??” can come to seem so boring. The risk is that people become addicted to falling in love. They cant hold down relationships.
Standing in love, though, is what happens when you can.