On the question of love
I have both a creative brain—specifically that of a writer—and an analytical brain, that of an unrealized scientist, and so I am blessed with both emotional and rational perspectives. And like many a bard, poet, philosopher, psychologist and neuroscientist, I have pondered the nature of love both in terms of the romantic notion and the scientific neuro-chemical basis. Yet, it still eludes.
What is love? Is love even quantifiable, or is it ruled by forces like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? That the very act of trying to define love may alter its nature, change its reality somehow. Is love like Schrödinger’s proverbial cat? Both alive and dead simultaneously, its fate left to be determined by the observer?
And where love exists, why does it go the distance in some instances yet in others it sputters and fades or explodes in flames or sometimes fails to even get off the ground, failing to become airborne?
If love is like flying, then perhaps it is governed by similar forces. In order to keep an aircraft airborne, four forces need to be balanced perfectly. This is known as the aerodynamic theory of flight, and the forces involved in the juggle to keep an aircraft in the air are: thrust, drag, lift and gravity.
Just as an aircraft cannot fly with only one or two of the aerodynamic forces acting on it, a relationship will not work if it is based on only one or two principles. Just like flight, love requires four principles or forces working in perfect balance to keep it alive.
These forces have to work together in perfect balance, otherwise the aircraft will fall out the sky or may fail to take off at all. It seems to me that love is kept airborne by similar forces: commitment, desire, life and compatibility.
My Aerodynamic Theory of Love
My four aerodynamic forces of love are commitment, life, desire and compatibility.
When talking about flight, thrust is the forward motion of the aircraft. Thrust is provided by the engines, and in order to keep the engines running, the aircraft requires fuel, lots of it.
In my aerodynamic theory of love, the thrust in the relationship, that which keeps it moving forward, is commitment. And commitment requires a lot of work. Committing to a relationship is what will ensure it moves forward into the future. No matter how well a couple get along, without commitment, the relationship won’t go anywhere. Without commitment, the relationship will run out of energy, sputter and die.
In flight, drag is the opposing force to thrust. It is the resistance to movement caused by the disruption of airflow and friction. In love, it’s those things in life that, despite every good intention, can kill a relationship; things like long distance, responsibilities, financial issues, religious and political differences.
Flying is primarily dependent on lift. Lift is created by faster air flowing over the wings leading to a negative pressure that essentially lifts the aircraft into the air. In love, lift is the figurative wind beneath our wings. It is attraction, passion, the butterflies we feel, that sensation that makes us feel like we’re floating above the ground. Lift is the very reason we fall in love, the desire for that intoxicating feeling of flying, of being invincible.
The opposing force to lift is the combined weight of the aircraft and crew being pulled downwards due to gravity. I’ve called the equivalent force in love compatibility. We all crave passion and desire, but it’s compatibility that brings us down to earth. At its core, it’s compatibility that holds a relationship together. Without compatibility, there can be no love. Lust perhaps, but love, no. Compatibility is the aircraft, the vehicle which carries people from one place to another, from the present into the future. With no aircraft there is no flight, just people standing on the ground. Without compatibility, a relationship is unlikely to move into the future.
One more factor
Even with all the four aerodynamic forces in balance, there is one more factor necessary to keeping an aircraft in the air: the pilots. The pilots drive the aircraft, and they need to communicate openly and work together to fly the aircraft smoothly.
In love, both partners have to bring the necessary forces to the relationship and work together in harmony for the relationship to go the distance.
Why relationships fail based on aerodynamic theory of love
The crash and burn
The relationship takes off fast, soars to great heights and then comes plummeting down at frightening speed and crashes in a huge explosion. This is a relationship that has desire at its core. Too much lift sends it far too high, but without compatibility to counter the upward motion and commitment to move the relationship forward, it eventually loses momentum and falls straight down, crashing spectacularly into the ground and creating a fiery crater.
Failure to become airborne
This relationship may last indefinitely as long as it has commitment to keep it moving forward, but its lack of lift means it just circles endlessly around the runway, never taking off.
Stuck in the hangar
Another relationship that never becomes airborne, never feels the thrill of flying, the rush of desire. Perhaps arranged, or through convenience, the relationship stays within the warmth and safety of the couple’s comfort zone.
The sputter, stall and tailspin
The relationship takes off well and has everything going for it, but either the couple stop working at it, loses commitment or life throws obstacles in the way that make it too hard to keep going. It either runs out of fuel, loses thrust or the drag becomes too great causing the engines to sputter, flame out and stall. It may glide for a while, but ultimately it falls to the ground and crashes tragically, tearing a long scar of devastation across a remote forgotten field.
It is up to the pilots to communicate and work together, to make sure that all of the aerodynamic forces are kept in perfect balance. Without them, there is no flight. It’s up to both partners to work together to ensure that the relationship forces remain balanced. Flight requires consciousness, pilots at the throttle to keep it going. So does love.
Let love fly
Regardless of whether it’s a single-prop-biplane average couple or the sleek-jet-engine power couple, it is down to both parties working together to keep the four forces in balance that determines whether love will fly.
So, next time you embark on a journey of the heart, be sure to choose your co-pilot wisely, stow away your baggage in the overhead compartment and buckle your seat belt securely.
As for me, too many co-pilots have let me down, so I’m flying solo these days in a little zippy personal jet.