A question by Chitra, and some turbulent thoughts in a friend's head, prompted me to think about this.
First of all, what is love? Nobody has succeeded in defining it. But the closest I have come to see it being defined is by M.Scott Peck in A Road Less Travelled. It might look like a self-help book, but it isn't. It is a beautiful book of concepts that will surely change your way of thinking. Of course it is not only about love, it also talks about various aspects of life, but this section stayed with me, because it answered all my questions about love.
Scott Peck says that "Falling in love" is effortless. But it is not equivalent to "loving". "Loving" requires effort. Love is a decision. Love is an action, an activity.
He says that what is commonly called love is actually cathexis. But for true love to develop, a certain amount of cathexis is necessary.
Instead of trying to explain further, I will reproduce a part of a succinct review by Laura Bryannan.
...(Scott Peck) discusses the difference between being "in love" and love. He notes that love is not a feeling, but an activity, and defines it as "the willingness to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one's own and another's spiritual growth." He bemoans the rampant notion of romantic love that pervades society today, which holds that one is not truly in love unless one feels those incredible "I'm in love" feelings that we all know so well. He observes, "Many, many people possessing a feeling of love and even acting in response to that feeling act in all manner of unloving and destructive ways. On the other hand, a genuinely loving individual will often take loving and constructive action toward a person he or she consciously dislikes..."
He teaches to be suspect of the familiar "in love" feeling for two reasons: 1) "The experience of falling in love is specifically a sex-linked erotic experience," which he believes may be genetically coded in us to insure the perpetuation of the species; and 2) "The experience of falling in love is invariably temporary...the feeling of ecstatic lovingness that characterizes the experience of falling in love always passes."
I wonder how many relationships end, or never get started, because the partners feel genuine connection and communication together, but don't feel "in love." ....
Now to answer the question, "Can we choose to fall in love", I will take three situations:
(This is from only one perspective. Needless to say, you need two to tango.)
Guy is interested in girl. Girl feels undeniable attraction. But somewhere at the back of her mind, she knows that this guy is not good for her (whatever the reason is). So she can hold back. She can resist the sweeping emotions. If she is strong enough, she can step back from the flood of emotions, and not fall in love. But if the attentions and adulation of the guy is very intense and continuous, and if the girl is not very strong-willed, if she cannot swim against the currents of her own feeling, she can very easily be swept up in it and fall in love. So though she knows the guy is not good for her, she has fallen in love with him.
Here, after the first high of "having fallen in love" fades away (yes, it will), she might find that it was a grave mistake after all. Then the relationship might break down. Of course, she might even find that what she thought would be an issue, was not an issue at all, and she might have grown to love him, and in that case, all's well that ends well.
Guy is interested in girl. Girl does not feel any particular attraction or attachment. She likes the guy, and thinks he is a very good person, and respects him. But that's it. But she can think, "He is a good person, I am sure I will be happy with him." So she decides to love him. But she cannot "fall in love" with him. (Maybe she can, too, but I am not so sure about it). But she can grow to love him.
In this case, the girl might never experience the high of having "fallen in love", but that does not mean that she does not love the guy.
Guy is interested in girl. Girl is interested in guy. She has no qualms, she knows that he is the best person for her. She very easily falls in love with him.
If, during the high of having "fallen in love", she has also grown "to love" the person, then what else do you want? But I am not saying that this situation will definitely have a happy ending. She might discover things about him which she did not know, and she might realize that she cannot love him after all!
Back to the question. Can you choose to fall in love? I think that you can choose to resist "falling in love", but you might not be able to choose, or force yourself to "fall in love". But you can definitely choose "to love".
At this point, if you are brimming with questions, I strongly recommend "The Road Less Travelled".