Why do we fall in love? Why do we get attracted towards someone? How can some stay in love for so long and others fleet? Love is the basic human emotion. It can be used as a synonym for affection, enjoyment, sexual attraction, care & concern, loyalty. Attraction and romantic love and are a mystery but how do this work.
There are two most common theories of attraction which can be contradictory. These are ‘Opposites Attract’ and ‘Birds of a Feather Flock Together’. These are contradictory theories so they both are right and wrong. Often opposite do attract as we look or admire the qualities or personality traits that we lack in ourselves. This can also be termed as ‘better half’ or ‘other half’ theory but almost everyone is attracted towards the attractiveness whether they have opposite qualities or not. You can get attracted to someone even on the first meet without knowing the person. You get attracted towards a person for their physical appearance, their knowledge or their socio economic status. When you are attracted towards a person you want to be with them and once you get that person in your life you start losing the charm or interest in them, gradually. This is opposite in love, Your love for the person get increased as the day passes. In love we accept the complete personality of the person with its good as well bad things while we get attracted to only some qualities of the person, not with the complete personality.
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Research suggests that some specific combination of chemical substance such as dopamine, norepinephrine and phenethylamine. Later guiding by another two – oxytocin and serotonin.These chemicals are responsible for the experiences and behavior that are associated with love in human.
These chemical substance function similar to amphetamine making us alert excited and wanting to bond. The romantic love and attraction are not an emotion they are motivational drive which are the part of brain reward system.
Romantic love is made up of 3 elements-
Attachment can be defined as a deep and eternal emotional bond between two people and the need to receive care, seeking closeness.
Caring is being attentive or valuing other person needs and happiness.
Intimacy is sharing closeness, fondness, and desire with the other person (Zick Rubin).
On the other hand, love can be seen as much intense and much deeper emotion. According to the triangular theory of psychologist Robert Sternberg.
The three components of love are –
Intimacy is an enclosed feeling of connectedness, attachment, closeness, and affection.
Passion is enclosed admiration, a drive that connects to both love fantasies and sexual attraction.
Commitment enclosed the decision to stay or to be with another, sharing each other’s strengths and flaws together.
Combination of these three components give different types of love. If we combine intimacy and commitment result is compassionate love and if mix passion and intimacy the result is romantic love. If we combine intimacy passion and commitment the result is consumate love. This type of love is the deepest, strongest and enduring. According to Sternberg, this type of love is rare. If we only found intimacy in a person then that will result in liking.
Another theory to explain love and other emotions were given by psychologist Elaine Hatfield et. al. She explained that there are two types of love –
- Compassionate vs passionate love –Companionate or compassionate love comprises of mutual trust, respect, commitment, affection, and intimacy. People who are in compassionate love still feel passion towards their partner in the later years as well, this type of love require understanding and commitment in both good and bad phase of their life.
- Passionate love – Passionate love comprises sexual attraction, intense feeling of longing for union with the partner. When these feelings are reciprocated people achieve a sense of fulfillment. People in this type of love, constantly thinking about their partner and experiencing distress if didn’t receive the same from their partners.
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All this knowledge gives the rosy picture of love: chemical substance are related which will make us feel good that would act as a reward and make usclose to our romantic partner but this does not end here – love is often come with jealousy, irrational behavior ordemands along with the mood fluctuations and these are not positive emotions. So our hormones are also responsible for the downside of love.
Falling in love can instigate thoughts and the need to spend every moment with your partner which also sounds like an addiction. Researches suggest that love is like a drug. Being in love activates the same system in the brain as cocaine addiction. Love can also be distracting, as intense changes in emotions lead to reduced cognitive control resulting in less control over your attention.
Love and Mental Health
Though we cannot agree on a single definition of love, we do believe that love plays a significant role in physical and mental wellbeing.
Research studies have shown the benefits of love. We can understand this by these examples –
- Feeling unloved can be correlated with the feeling of low self-esteem and depression.
- Partners who feel secured and loved tend to be happier.
- Love can play an important role in good mental health and individual also stay emotionally stable.
- Being in love can lower your blood pressure.
- Love can lead you to feel more or less stressed, all depending on the stage of your relationship.
- Cuddling, hugging, and kissing your partner can instantly decrease stress levels and develop a sense of trust and calmness.
A therapist can help in supporting clients in understanding their mistakes and learning from their past, the reckless behavior they have done in their relationships or suffered any abusive or traumatic relationship. Many people choose similar personality traits in their next to next relationships but they are unaware about it and further it leads to disappointment.
Take mental health counseling for your related and it will help you in your recovery process.
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