Thursday, July 26, 2007

Men in Love


This appallingly sentimental piece, by me, appeared in Glamour magazine a few weeks back. Hey, it was commissioned, OK?

What Makes A Man Fall In Love?

Over the centuries, there have been many attempts to explain what happens when men fall in love. And women, for that matter. The Greeks thought love was a kind of brief and bittersweet madness. Medieval theologians thought love was an intimation of the Love Divine, a shard of the Holy Mirror where we see the Face of God.

Meanwhile, modern scientists, in their charming way, say that love is a neurochemical glue, meant to stick us together for long enough to sprog. Notice, they say, how the first, fiery phase of love lasts eighteen months to two years - just the right time to conceive, give birth, and wean a child.

All these perspectives have validity. And yet none of them, to my mind, quite pins it down. And that's because love comes in so many different forms.

The first time I fell in love was with a wastrel of a girl at my University, a girl with dark eyes and a bizarre habit of burning herself with her hair crimper. We fell head over heels, we fell laughing into haystacks, we kicked through the Autumn leaves of romance. And then she dumped me.

Why did I fall in love with her? It was lust, of course, but it was also a kind of sentimental echoing. We were both a bit screwed up and the sharing of similar teenage agonies was blissful. People often neglect this aspect of love: the discovery that you are not alone.

The next time I fell in love was even more powerful, because the sex was better. Indeed, if I am honest I think I fell in love because she had this youthful gap at the top of her thighs. I know that sounds shallow, but that's because love can be shallow, and selfish. It's only human, after all.

The last time I fell in love, I fell in love because, though the girl was very pretty - I wouldn't have cared if she weren't. Being with my last partner was like that feeling you get on a frosty day in Christmas, when you walk to the pub through the snow.

All of which just goes to show how difficult it is to dissect and explain falling-in-love. But that's how it should be. Love is the inarticulate speech of the heart, that we somehow translate; love is that distant music you hear on a summer evening, that makes your heart throb yet you don't quite know why.

What makes a man fall in love? Love.

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