Anatomy of “love”
Excerpts from essays
Nature wanted a reason for us to live, so created love in our hearts. Love is what people yearn for , live for and die for .
Loving is different from liking.
In love, first impressions are important. Long-term love is merely an intensification of initial liking.
Love is triangle of passion, intimacy, and commitment.
In loving relationships, mutual understanding, giving and receiving support, enjoying the company of each other are important. But a passionate love demands an exclusive relationship, physical bond and intense fascination in each other’s eyes.
The strong-love couples give themselves away by gazing long into each other’s eyes. When talking, they also nod their head, smile naturally, and lean forward.
Passionate love is emotional, exciting and intense. If love gets reciprocated, one feels fulfilled and joyous; if not, one feels empty or despairing. Passionate love involves a roller coaster of elation and gloom, tingling exhilaration and dejected misery. We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love. Passionate love preoccupies the lover with thoughts of the other—as Robert Graves put it in his poem “Symptoms of Love”: “Listening for a knock; waiting for a sign.”
It is very interesting that married couples, who do exciting activities together report the best relationships. Adrenaline makes the heart grow fonder.
Passionate love is a biological as well as a psychological phenomenon. Research indicates that passionate love engages dopamine-rich brain areas associated with reward attraction and Intimacy.
There is always a temptation to assume that most others share our feelings and ideas. We assume, for example, that love is a precondition for marriage. Most cultures— 89 percent in one analysis of 166 cultures—do have a concept of romantic love, as reflected in flirtation or couples running off together (Jankowiak & Fischer, 1992). But in some cultures, notably those practicing arranged marriages, love tends to follow rather than to precede marriage. Even in the individualistic as recently as the 1960s, only 24 percent of college women and 65 percent of college men considered (as do nearly all collegians today) love to be the basis of marriage (Reis & Aron, 2008).
Do males and females differ in how they experience passionate love? Studies of men and women falling in and out of love reveal some surprises. Most people suppose that women fall in love more readily.
Men also seem to fall out of love more slowly and are less likely than women to break up a premarital romance. Once in love, however, women are typically as emotionally involved as their partners, or more so. They are more likely to report feeling euphoric and “giddy and carefree,” as if they were “floating on a cloud.” Women are also somewhat more likely than men to focus on the intimacy of the friendship and on their concern for their partner. Men are more likely than women to think about the playful and physical aspects of the relationship (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1995).
Although passionate love burns hot, it eventually simmers down. The longer a relationship endures, the fewer its emotional ups and downs (Berscheid & others, 1989). The high of romance may be sustained for a few months, even a couple of years. But no high lasts forever. “When you’re in love it’s the most glorious two-and- a-half days of your life,” jests comedian Richard Lewis. The novelty, the intense absorption in the other, the thrill of the romance, the giddy “floating on a cloud” feeling, fades. After two years of marriage, spouses express affection about half as often as when they were newlyweds (Huston & Chorost, 1994). About four years
Unlike passionate love, companionate love can last a lifetime.
Unlike the wild emotions of passionate love, companionate love is lower key; it’s a deep, affectionate attachment. It activates different parts of the brain. And it is just as real. Nisa, a !Kung San woman of the African Kalahari Desert, explains: “When two people are first together, their hearts are on fire and their passion is very great. After a while, the fire cools and that’s how it stays. They continue to love each other, but it’s in a different way— warm and dependable” (Shostak, 1981).
It won’t surprise those who know the rock song “Addicted to Love” to find out that the flow and ebb of romantic love follows the pattern of addictions to coffee, alcohol, and other drugs. At first, a drug gives a big kick, perhaps a high. With repetition, opponent emotions gain strength and tolerance develops. An amount that once was highly stimulating no longer gives a thrill. Stopping the substance, however, does not return you to where you started. Rather, it triggers withdrawal symptoms—malaise, depression, the blahs. The same often happens in love. The pas- sionate high is fated to become lukewarm. The no-longer romantic relationship becomes taken for granted—until it ends. Then the jilted lover, the widower, the divorcé, are surprised at how empty life now seems without the person they long ago stopped feeling passionately attached to. Having focused on what was not working, they stopped noticing what was.