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What is love?

What is love? How to define something so complex, contradictory, and fascinating that makes us feel so alive at the same time? It cannot be observed under a microscope; there are those who define it in chemical terms and those who make poetry of it. Love is inspiration, sometimes even suffering; everyone wants to live it, most have felt it at some time, but our pending account is still being able to explain it.

Mahatma Gandhi used to say that “where there is love, there is life.” This is undoubtedly one of the simplest but realistic definitions of this wonderful dimension, as well as mysterious. This emotion is what nurtures the baby that has just been born, what helps us grow, what makes us feel part of a social group. Love, so to speak, places us in the world …

Love chooses us

Love songs. We all have our favorites, and they try to explain what this feeling is and what it implies and above all, what it produces: happiness, misery, inspiration, passion … These lyrics tell us about unrequited love, and even their typologies: interested love, romantic love, eternal love, that which is born from friendship …

Read:13 reflections on love

“Love is something fiery
That forms a ring of fire …”

-Johnny Cash-

If you have already been or are in love, you know very well what it feels like, even if you cannot express it in a definition that semantically encompasses all the nuances. Thus, if there is something that most of us know, it is that we are not always free to fall in love with who we really want. To put it another way: love chooses us. And that choice may be the appropriate one or, on the contrary, bring us more suffering than said.

Why do we have so little control over effective matters? Why can’t we be more objective, more rational? What underlies the phenomenon of attraction?

What is love? What does science tell us?

In love, there is a certain biological component; we know it. We have all heard of this chemical storm made up of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin … Now, we cannot ignore other types of influences, in this case, external ones. We talk about our culture and society’s weight as an influencing mechanism.

Read:How to resolve relationship conflicts effectively according to psychology

Love from psychology

From a purely psychological point of view,  love is an affective experience made up of a set of very specific variables: the need to bond with someone, needs for intimacy, passion, sexuality … All these principles are included in Stenberg’s triangular theory.

It was in 1986 when Robert Stenberg, a professor at Yale University, gave the first psychological definition in his book  The Triangular Theory of Love, about those dynamics that build a relationship. About what, in essence, seeks and defines love.

  • Intimacy: these are the feelings that promote closeness, connection, and bond-building. It is the acceptance of the other and the feeling of trust and affection that we establish with that person.
  • Passion is desirable, but it does not refer only to physical and sexual desire with all the neurochemical components derived from it. Passion is also expressed through the other’s admiration through that psychological implication where the deepest affection arises and the need to be close to the loved one.
  • Commitment: it is the express and authentic decision to build a project with the other person. It is faithful to him and knowing how to build a present and a future where activities are carried out in common. To create a “we,” a space of our own was to consolidate the relationship.

Helen Fisher and the neurobiology of love

Helen Fisher is a well-known anthropologist and biologist studying human behavior at Rutgers University. His works are known around the world for bringing us an alternative and equally interesting vision of what love is. For her, it is a powerful motivational system, a basic impulse that allows us to satisfy a series of needs.

Read:4 practical tips for Getting Over Disappointment
  • The main need is to feel loved. That craving is more intense than sexuality itself. Thus, Helen Fisher explains that the human being’s vital desire constitutes what we know as “ romantic love. ” It is about a whole series of emotional dynamics characterized by motivation, the desire to bond, the desire to share life, projects, to be a joint part of the project with someone.
  • Sex drive is another one of those motivators. It is the search for pleasure, self-satisfaction …
  • The third goal of love from this neurobiological perspective is attachment. Attachment is an aspiration to obtain calm and security next to someone; attachment is the evolution of romantic love to achieve stability and evolve as a couple.

Love, prejudice and social implications

What if you are forty years old and still enthusiastic about the idea of pure love? Absolutely nothing. Surely they create a delusional, make fun of you or tell you that you should be more realistic. For a moment: that is your reality. It is a complete mistake to deny what you are or what you feel because of others’ judgments.

Historically there has been a tendency to catalog how we should relate to the opposite sex. If we say “opposite sex,” it is because the LGTB collective, sadly, is still being omitted or treated as a taboo when it comes to talking about love.

What implication does this have? That socially, we continue to make the same mistakes. It continues to establish what is the correct way of wanting and desiring, and with this, we cut off love in all its forms, forms, and expressions. We deny, for example, facts such as that people with disabilities also have their emotional and sexual needs. We deny (or do not want to see) that love and sexuality are also present in the elderly.

The true meaning of love

It happens to all of us. In no media does the silhouette of two lesbian women, a white boy and a black girl, a street sweeper and a lawyer, or a young writer and an older man appear as “the perfect couple.”

Loving is the greatest act of courage.

Recently, a man with multiple sclerosis appeared in the media who, lying in bed, saw his baby being born. It thrills us all; we all thrill. Few of us would have the arrests necessary to fight alongside him on a day-to-day basis.

We live in the culture of minimal effort and appearances. We are big egotists.

Love is a great dedication, but without losing identity. Love is sharing, learning, discovering … Someone who has ended a relationship is often told that there is much fish in the sea. We could even add something else; there are many seas with fish. Love does not understand languages, colors, ideologies, ages, or sexes. Don’t be the one who pushes him away because of prejudices, fears, or myths hidden in love phrases. 

So, if you have not yet found “your prince charming” or “you had a frog,” you think that “there is no one who understands us women” or that “we are too complicated,” you may be adopting the wrong perspective. Open your mind and live; love can find you in the least expected place.

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