Happy Valentine’s Day!
Now let’s “explore” love?
The basic way to begin this process is to simply define the different types of love that exist in our lives. One can love art, a dog, a house, a type of food. Love can mean many things. I am interested for our purposes in an exploration of interpersonal love, the love that exists between human beings. It is a more potent sentiment than a simple liking for another person. Interpersonal love is most closely associated with interpersonal relationships. Such love might exist between family members, friends, and couples.
Just thinking of all of the concepts, idea, and beliefs concerning love – good and bad – can be a bit overwhelming! The word love gets tossed around and thrown at us from every angle. “I think I love you,” “Love is a many splendid thing,” “When a man loves a woman.” “Without love I am nothing” “Love stinks.” “I want to know what love is.” “Will you love me tomorrow?” “Will you love me forever?” “God loves you,” “I’m lovin’ it!” “Let’s make love”, “a thin line between love and hate.” Etc.
So, how can a person define love when it means so many different things?
There are many answers that effectively define what love is if you are speaking about a specific type of love such as romantic, platonic or familial love.
If the definitions are so clear, why are so many of us are either confused by the concept of love or are constantly redefining what the word means in our own lives? No matter how much we ponder on love no one definition is complete enough to fully define it. And then there is the never-ending question. “Is this thing I’m feeling love?”
Let’s discuss love from a basic biological perspective. Biological models of love tend to see experience as a mammalian drive, just like hunger or thirst. There are many scientists who believe that what we feel and call Love is in part a product of biochemistry created through natural selection. They further believe that there is biological influence at the core of our thoughts and feelings. The conventional view in biology is that there are two major drives in love —”sexual attraction and attachment. Attachment between adults is presumed to work on the same principles that lead an infant to become attached to its mother.
Now let’s discuss love from a basic psychological perspective. Most schools of Psychology define love as a social and cultural phenomenon while recognizing the biological factors that come into play. Traditionally a psychologist might view love as being a combination of companionate love and passionate love. Companionate love is affection and a feeling of intimacy not accompanied by physiological arousal. Passionate love is intense longing, and is often accompanied by physiological arousal (shortness of breath, rapid heart rate).
So love is cultural, biological, and psychological? The answer is “Yes” and spiritual as well. Certainly romantic love and sexual passion are influenced by hormones (such as oxytocin), pheromones, and other brain chemicals. That being so, how people think and behave in love is also influenced by different models and conceptions of love.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Weekend
Here is a sweet video about Love.