Love has long been an issue of debate. Cynics declare it nonexistent while hopeless romantics believe love to be the key to long-term relationships.
Science has begun to uncover some mysterious aspects of love that might help explain its functioning, offering insight for therapists treating people experiencing heartache.
1. It is a choice
Love is a conscious decision; by choosing love you’re taking an active role in strengthening communication, trust, intimacy, and emotional security within your relationship.
Treating your partner in an appropriate manner reflects how much you value their love, so if you fail to invest time and energy in maintaining and strengthening it, its longevity may diminish quickly.
Love can be an intense feeling, which can bring excitement, elation, joy, warmth, tenderness and security; on the other hand, love may cause jealousy, insecurity, anger fear sadness.
One key way to find true love is being thankful for everything your partner does for you – from little things such as cleaning your mug each morning or making dinner to bigger acts such as planning dates or romantic trips together. Gratitude should always be expressed.
Focusing on the little things your partner does for you may seem inconsequential, but it can have a tremendous effect on your relationship. Paying attention to even seemingly minor acts can have an incredible impactful on how it will develop over time.
However, if your relationship is beginning to unravel, it’s essential that you discuss this with someone – whether this means seeking professional counseling advice or discussing challenges directly with your partner.
Establishing healthy relationships also involves finding time for yourself and learning to prioritize your own needs over those of your partner, which may initially prove challenging but will become simpler as time progresses and your relationship matures together.
Love can be hard to choose, whether due to trust issues, financial strain or health concerns. Or it could simply be unrequited love – especially if your partner doesn’t feel the same about you!
2. It is a feeling
Love can be one of the most profound feelings we know, compelling us to do things we never would have dreamed of doing and even taking risks we never would have otherwise taken.
Love can take many forms; from romantic relationships to strong bonds between animal species. Additionally, one may feel love for principles or religion.
Psychologists have struggled to define love, and there have been heated arguments between psychologists on its definition and meaning (Sabini & Silver 2005). Some argue that love is just an emotion while others deem it as more of a connection-feeling than anything else.
Love can be defined in various ways; at its core, however, it refers to an intense feeling of deep affection for another individual or thing – such as your best friend, parent, romantic partner, child or teen’s deep desire to spend time with a special someone or experiencing the thrill of watching your sports team win or lose.
Love can be defined biologically as following three stages – lust, attraction and attachment. This cycle is controlled by hormones in the brain such as dopamine and oxytocin that govern its progression.
When in a loving relationship, hormones stimulate your brain to release dopamine and oxytocin which encourage emotional intimacy. Furthermore, the same hormones also trigger production of serotonin which makes you feel good while alleviating feelings of anger, insecurity and sadness.
But when not in a loving relationship, those same hormones stop doing their job and may lead to anxiety, depression and other negative emotions – as well as decreasing sexual gratification or reproduction desires.
Understanding love’s inner workings is vital if you wish to appreciate its euphoric effects in relationships and recognize and foster your own feelings of affection whenever necessary.
An intimate, fulfilling relationships requires deliberate choice on both parts. You need to open yourself up to someone, trust them with your heart and move forward together. That means focusing on your partner; being patient and kind while sharing thoughts and ideas openly; communicating regularly and truthfully about how things stand between the two of you; communicating regularly about goals versus disappointments etc.
3. It is a chemical reaction
Love is an intoxicating emotion that affects us all, spanning across an array of emotions, attitudes and beliefs that encompass strong feelings such as affection, protectiveness, warmth and respect for people, non-human animals principles or religions. Love can transform lives and alter reality itself – it can change everything!
Everyone’s definition of love differs; whether it’s physical affection, shared memories or the sense of an eternal bond, we each have our own ideas about what love means to us. While love may bring immense pleasure and fulfillment, it can also cause profound suffering.
Rutgers University researchers discovered that love is both physical and chemical; both components contribute to sexual attraction and lust. When we fall in love, our bodies release hormones which trigger various sensations of excitement and sexual desire.
Initial sparks of attraction often result in the release of testosterone, estrogen, dopamine and norepinephrine; these hormones cause increased heart rate, restlessness and decreases in appetite–all indicators of attraction.
Once in love, a person’s body releases more hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin that allow them to feel connected with the person they love – these hormones play a critical role in social interaction as well as sexual reproduction.
According to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, neurotransmitters released from our brains play an integral role in making us feel safe around those we love, such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin produced in the hypothalamus region of our brains and acting as neuroregulators regulating many inner functions.
Understanding how your brain works is crucial in understanding relationships, including your own. Through understanding yourself better, you can identify emotions and beliefs which may be hindering the success of relationships in general.
Have you ever experienced love or felt attracted to someone special? It can be an extraordinary feeling; even addictive at times. Soon you find yourself missing that person every day, needing them in your life more and more each time around.
4. It is a bond
Love is an inextricable bond between two individuals that grows stronger with communication, respect and openness between partners.
The ideal type of love is one which makes us feel safe and fulfilled, while permitting us to explore who we truly are without being restricted or constrained in any way.
Love can be understood in various ways; some experts consider it to be a complex psychological phenomenon involving many feelings and behaviors while others see it as being biologically driven.
Scientists have conducted exhaustive studies comparing love to other emotions like hunger, thirst and sleep. Their findings reveal that strong feelings of affection arise when connected to someone dear.
One prime example is the relationship between two dogs. Their deep emotional attachment is both loving and affectionate; though it may not match up to that between parent-child, or spouse-partner.
There are various ways you can show your loved ones you care, from making an honest effort to connect or sharing something special that brings out smiles.
One thing’s for certain – you can experience this type of love with many people, from parents and close friends alike. All it takes to find that perfect one is finding them!
One way to measure whether or not you are experiencing love is to look at the big picture. A true romantic bond should make you feel lucky every time you think of their loved one; and perhaps most importantly, this type of love relationship can last for a lifetime.