Musings + Essays

Is Love a Hunch?

By: Jen Shoop

I’ve been really striking gold recently while scrolling Instagram — there was this quote about people-pleasing that nettled me for weeks, and then this quote about avoiding danger that had me reflecting on risk — and now I’m back with a provocative definition of love:

“Love isn’t a fact. It’s a hunch at first. And then later it’s a series of decisions, a lifetime of decisions. That’s love.”

(This is an excerpt from a popular podcast called Welcome to Night Vale, of which I know nothing.)

I think I disagree with some of the speaker’s characterizations of love, at least as I have experienced it, but the quote drew me back to some of my musings on the very earliest stirrings of my love story with my husband. I understand, viscerally, the sense that “love is a hunch at first.” I don’t know your opinion on whether “love at first sight” exists, but it was pretty damn close in my case. I remember every detail about Landon the first night I met him — even the posture he assumed to accommodate the foot of difference between our heights, and the olive green shirt he wore, and the slight curl of his hair at the nape of his neck, and the way he intently listened — and I can’t say the same of any other person I’ve ever met. I mean: I took to him immediately. But was it love, even then, in some gradation of nascency? Or some kind of hunch that love might be close at hand? The more I think of it, maybe love is a hunch at first, an inkling forged by intuition rather than experience. I like, too, the way that “hunch” implies just the kind of vulnerable guesswork at hand in the early days of any relationship, during which I derived ambitious conjectures from threadbare interactions.

Picture this: you are sitting in your bedroom and you hear a familiar thump from downstairs. You immediately, possibly subconsciously, identify this sound as the shutting of a cabinet door, most likely at the hands of your husband, and you might even register which cabinet it is, perhaps informed by the slight creak that-cabinet-next-to-the-sink emits, or its relative loudness or muffledness in relation to where you are sitting. You can’t be sure, but you are pretty confident you’ve identified that sound correctly. That is what it felt like: the hunch that preceded, or gave rise to, the love that has borne all things in my life. A quiet, nearly subliminal, apprehension.

But I am less convinced of the rest. Can’t love be a fact? I feel that way in my marriage, where the love feels reflexive, automatic, beyond provocation or doubt. It is not that I rest on our laurels, or take the relationship for granted, but just that — love pre-exists my every thought. I do understand that the author might be getting at the notion that, to borrow from John Mayer, “love is a verb.” I can see this. Love is a muscle; it moves. Sometimes, and in some relationships, love must be called upon, galvanized, coaxed, for various reasons. Sometimes it does not flow easy. Sometimes it is, in fact, a series of decisions. But I do not feel that way with Mr. Magpie, nor does it feel that way with my children, or parents, or siblings. Love, in those relationships, feels to me like truth.

What do you think? I am confident there are many ways to experience and think about love. Do you think that love can be a fact? Do you agree it feels like a hunch at first?


+Related: I won’t soon forget…

+Vaguely related: the notion of remaining interesting to your spouse after having children.

+Super love this table lamp in the small size. The shape is so elegant!

+This scalloped detangling comb is so cute!

+In case you have a case of summer hair (i.e., chlorine, sun, beach, etc.)

+The length and color of this quilted coat is speaking to me ATM.

+This striped tee is right up my alley…less expensive alternative to the Kules I love and Ayrs I plan to order this fall.

+Love the colors of these New Balance sneaks.

+I personally think chocolate brown is an underrated color, and this dress is a dream (could be worn with sandals now or booties in fall). It looks spectacular on brunettes in particular. I remember my first large-sized Longchamp tote was a chocolate brown color and I was stopped by a woman on the street who said, “Wow – I would never think to buy brown, but it looks so classy on you!”

+Also think khaki is underrated. Love this dress!

+This tweed cardigan strikes me as a solid, seasonless, timeless buy.

+Pretty and understated floral.

+I have a post on sweaters for fall coming live soon, but I had to share this one, for fear it might sell out before publication. It’s under $70 and reminds me of Olivia Rubin. SO cute.

+Have you ever had a bad boss?

+Love these roman shades.

+These rattan sconces would transform an old chandelier.

+Lots of chic lighting options here.

+What I would put on a wedding registry.

+Sweet gingham headband.

+Fanciful candle holders.

+What do you splurge vs. save on?

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6 thoughts on “Is Love a Hunch?

  1. Agree that chocolate brown is underrated – very versatile color for dress pants? Also stains less easily than the lighter khaki or tan colored ones. Why is it so hard to find?

  2. For me, love has definitely been a “strong hunch at first sight” kind of thing, if that makes sense! I also concur with your estimation that deep love feels like the truth. That definitely rings true for me!


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