So, you want it, you’ve longed for it your whole life, but you just can’t seem to get a grip on what love is. Before you start falling into it (as if it were a hole in the ground) you should probably have some idea about what love is. And if you’re thinking about getting into a love relationship, both you and your partner had best determine how each of you define love.
It doesn’t matter what age you are, the desire to love and be loved is universal. When From the time you were introduced to this planet by birth, instinctively you knew you wanted it, even though you have no ideas what love is. Now, look at you. It’s been a long time since you were born and you still want love and you want to give it, even if you’re really not sure what love is.
You already know there are different kinds of love. For instance the love of a mother for her baby and the romantic love in a coupled relationship are recognizably different. Then there is the intangible far off fantasy ideal of true love. You have a sense of knowing that if you could capture true love, it would be the best thing that could ever happen to you. While falling in love with someone is quite simple due to certain chemical reactions in the brain and our biological yearning to have an intimate partner, establishing true love is more complex.
To find true love, you seek out a partner who meets a list of criteria (and if you’re like me, it’s a long one) which includes (but certainly not limited to) trustworthiness, responsibility, transparently innocent and faithful, to name a few.
So, what is love anyway?
No matter where the love exists, whether it be with your family, friends or a romantic partner, devotion is a standard component. When you are devoted to someone you are dedicated to maintaining a degree of allegiance to the other person and care enough about him or her to pledge a uncompromising support and concern about his or her well being. When you’re devoted to someone there exists a special heroic bond which creates a willingness to endure risk or engage in a potentially dangerous circumstance to protect the object of your affection.
Similar to the bond between a mother and her child, attachment creates in you a feeling of connection to someone outside yourself, you often desire to be with that person and would like to see them content and happy more than anything. When oxytocin and vasopressin hormones are released into your brain, you are developing your bond of attachment. You are drawn to and desire to be in the presence of this person to whom you are tethered.
When you look across a crowded room and your attention is fixated on another person with whom you would like to be deeply attached, or have an overwhelming desire to be intimate with, this is due to the release of testosterone and estrogen hormones in your brain. Left to themselves, these hormones make you want to have sex with this person but combined with other traits of love, can have you wanting a long-term romantic relationship with this person.
If you have been burned before and have reservations about committing to another person, there is something inside you that desires to stay connected to the other person over a long period of time. Our society encourages marriage as a public declaration of your commitment to your betrothed. Even though the odds may be stacked against you, you and your partner team up in a counter-intuitive never-say-die declaration, “It’s you and me against the world.” Whether the contract is merely emotional, spoken or appears on a legal document, the fact remains, you are each one committed to the other, and committed couples tend to be more optimistic and likely to overlook otherwise undesirable traits.
For there to be a romantic relationship there must be some intimacy. In fact, a marriage document may not be legal without consummating the marriage. This is to say, if you want your marriage to be legal you must have sex to complete the contractual obligation to each other and the state. Not limited to sex, intimacy also refers to the deepening closeness shared between two people as they progress through life together. There is a deeper sense of knowing the other person as you share experiences in your pasts and in the now, while contemplating the future together.
Trust is hard to come by these days. You might know your partner, but you really only know what he or she has revealed to you, or you may have access to third-party information to gain knowledge about some of the things you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to. There is no way to really know what your partner is thinking inside his or her head. Building trust can be a difficult and lengthy process, even harder if you’re trying to rebuild it following a betrayal. In the most ideal relationship, both partners should be able to communicate openly, honestly and be able to believe and depend on the reliability of the other person.
Since there are so many varying interpretations of what love is, it would be a good idea to delineate what love means to you. Then, after you’ve defined it for yourself, have your partner do the same. You might be surprised at how differently your partner defines love. Compare notes and make revisions with your mate to create a shared vision of love. What you will end up with is a comprehensive definition of love for both of you as a couple to share along the way.
Love, true love. Princess Bride