Remembering the Laws of Physics Can Help You Navigate Your Life and Love
Acceleration, and Force, be with you
I got into my first serious relationship too slowly. He was the best boyfriend I ever had, but I was too young, emotionally insecure, and vulnerable. I ran away from that relationship to the romance, adventure, and family obligation that beckoned in a whole other state: Colorado.
Once in a whole new world, I moved too fast into a committed relationship with someone who was so charming I should have known right away that he was too good to be true. Turns out he was abusive, and he routinely cheated, the two things every girl should learn about in middle school, but rarely does.
I also should have taken physics in High School, because the natural laws of the universe have much to teach us about life with Homo Sapiens.
“May the force be with you” is good advice. We move through our daily lives encountering push and pull. We also know from physics of acceleration that a steady and constant effort eventually pushes through, and helps us move an object, situation, or relationship further on.
“May the force be with you” sounds more like a Jedi blessing than advice, but think about how you have moved through life decisions for jobs, location, and especially relationships, without regard to the powerful forces that surround you at any given moment.
We need to pay better attention to the forces around us to navigate life.
We can use the power of force to guide our input into relationships. If you are investing more effort, more push, into the relationship, this will slide you over toward the dark side. It may happen slowly and insidiously — I stayed in that dysfunctional relationship for almost a decade — but the dark forces of imbalance will destroy your trust and love as surely as a death star.
Then there are the times (almost every time) where one person is more enamored than the pursued one is, at least at first. This leads to relationships where one person feels uncomfortable at the amount of commitment they are being asked to make, too quickly.
Every woman I know instantly recognizes the guy who tried too hard and pushed too fast. I think it happens more often with guys than gals, because our old ways of masculinity taught males to be forceful and aggressive as a sign of strength. It’s true, but rare, that sometimes this approach works for some couples.
Of course, what is true in physics does not always align with psychology. Any Psych 101 student will instantly be put off by what comes across not as strength, but insecurity.
The joke about Harvey Weinstein as Jabba the Hutt comes to mind. Each of his victims is now perceived as an unwilling Princess Leia to his bulky, pushy, slobbering, blob-ish-ness.
That said, however, most men are not out to harm women, they just don’t recognize her vulnerability. When I think of how sweet and attentive my first over-zealous boyfriend was, I realize that I too, should have paid much more attention to the emotional forces and setting in which we met. Had we done this, we many not have screwed everything up.
Gravity can be at least partly responsible
“Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do, but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.” Variations of this quote from Albert Einstein are well known, and the translation from the original German varies.
But the idea stays the same. I adore Dr. Einstein. I wish we could all be more like him, (minus the misogyny of his era, and womanizing, of course) but I quibble with his gravity idea — just a bit.
For me, I have come to believe that Love is a kind of fifth force. Love is just as natural as the strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetic, and gravitational forces we all learn in school.
This fifth force of Love combines elements of all the others. Our brains use electromagnetic forces to turn our body parts into feelings that then manifest in the physical world with our relationships.
And, for me, thinking that the gravity of the moon does not translate into romance, fertility, and tremendously inspiring beauty feels like an anathema.
Indeed, the wisest of all people, poets, artists, musicians, philosophers, engineers, and theologians have always been literally pulled by the forces of gravity to create people, art, innovation, and culture.
I think of this gravitational force as Selena Allures, for the goddess of the moon, Selena, and for the many, many, many attractions of our living experience that are pushed and pulled by these attractions.
Sometimes I wonder if Einstein would have seen the power of gravity differently if he had experience of a menstrual flow — the life giving force — that is directly connected to fertility, love, and the abundance of biodiversity that Sun, Moon, and Earth’ gravity exerts upon everything from the sapling tree and flower shoot being pulled up from the soil, to the turtle hatchlings scrambling to the sea.
Science friction and science fact
Friction, is how we describe the force that pulls against our efforts and motions. You may experience friction today in how slowly traffic moves when rain, or other obstacles and events slow everything down.
But you will also feel subtle friction when someone disagrees with you about the very best way to paint the bathroom, launch a new project, or start a family.
If you look at the soles of your shoes, you will notice that someone engineered ways for your shoe tread to create friction so you don’t slide in gravel, or snow and ice. Friction, is often our friend, but it doesn’t feel that way in relationships.
We need friction to create trust.
Trust is only created slowly over time through people willing to acknowledge friction. Friction is unavoidable with relationships. Yes, we can and do repress our feelings, but as with every action having an equal reaction, we may hide, but never wholly dissipate that pent-up energy.
Ask any marriage counselor (any good one) and they will tell you that friction, disagreement, and argument is crucial to every relationship. The idea that one party should have a voice and the the other person submit (shut up)or, subjugate completely (rule through fear) spells disaster for relationships. The science is clear, you have to work through friction.
You also cannot spark the fire of a relationship without tension, which is another form of friction. Just as a match requires resistance when it is struck, a relationship needs the energy of friction to ignite a fire of passion.
To navigate this friction gives us the most exciting and also the most vulnerable stage of our courtships. As mentioned above in the force section, it is incredibly important to recognize when, why, and where, it is happening.
Maintaining that fire, that passion, is yet another force we have to manage. In physics we measure the force of effort, of power, in units called Newtons.
You are going to need a lot of Newtons to push for the distance in your love life. The amount of Newtons expended can be a bit more metaphorical than force, acceleration, and gravity. That is because emotional lifting is harder to pin-point. You can, however, measure it somewhat by the number of hours you, or your partner spends, in making thoughtful gestures, writing notes, being grateful and adoring, or spending time, affection, and investment of their energy, time, and money.
There is a great deal of controversy, for example in the idea of spending three months salary on an engagement ring. This is a personal preference, but for reference in Newtons, think of whether a life-time beer, or latte budget, measures up to the significance of an “our love is forever” investment of a diamond ring.
Again, to reduce or confront friction, it is far better for a couple to jointly decide how they feel about such a decision. If my husband spent more than $20,000 on an engagement ring, I would probably be furious, because I would choose home equity, or a nicer honeymoon, instead.
But the example is particularly useful, because for some people a priceless heirloom to be passed down through generations is of much greater meaning, value, and romance than say, a newspaper subscription over twenty years plus of time, for the same cost.
One person might think a partner will value diamond heirlooms enough to see them as suitable gratitude for the hand of the person who deals with most of the poopy diapers and college applications. Another person, (please communicate, couples!) may think this is absurd.
Tools: I need a lever that won’t drive me crazy
Finally, we all need powerful tools. The first tool of any powerfully, managed force relationship is good communication.
Good communication provides the plane, the ramp if you will, that allows us to climb every steep hill we encounter. There will be plenty of uphill struggles in human relationships, and navigating them is key.
A lever is a tool that does the heavy lifting for us. I think that good communication is both lever and an incline plane. Lever, pulley systems, gear systems, wedges, and wheels are also useful in the form of helpers, support systems, occasional distancing — as with a fulcrum for your lever — and all the social ways in which you can employ tools that move you forward.
Social media, or lunch with pals, can lubricate the wheels you need by comparing other people’s experience, insight, wisdom, and expendable “Newtons” advice.
But not all tools are metaphorical. A weekly walk in the woods, a strong habit of snuggling at 9pm, a date night, and creative chore charts are physical tools wise couples can employ to increase the best efforts and forces of their union.
May the forces of the all motion, and emotion, be with you as you marvel and propel your love lives through the matter, mystery, and energy of the universe.