What is Love? Why it Happens, and Why it Ends
I am going to leave hard science aside for this post, although science exists on this subject. Love cannot be as easily measured as other constructs in the field. It is our human curiosity to want to know why we love, or why at times we cannot find love or stay in love.
Lets face it, it is because often times love is egotistical. We love based on needs. Psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow has a wonderful depiction of this hierarchy of human needs (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs), and author Nathaniel Branden (link below) writes about it beautifully in his writings.
We find the love that meets our needs and desires, but what happens when those “needs” change? Does the love change, or does it simply end?”
LOVE IS NOT AN EMOTION!
Google it! Love alone cannot be classified as an emotion. Happiness is an emotion. Sadness is an emotion. Anger is an emotion, but Love is not an emotion. Instead love is an accumulation of many emotions mixed perfectly in a potion that makes us fall in love and allows us to love. To me, Love is action, reaction, and attraction.
Action: Showing someone you love them by the things you do for them and for others. Going out of your way to make their life happier and more positive. It takes hard work to keep a strong relationship going.
Reactions: The way that person makes you feel. What emotions that person makes you feel that make your mind and body react in a way that feels out of the norm. The special reactions that are only reserved or felt with that person. They are incomparable to other reactions attached to other people.
Attractions: Being attracted or interested in that person in more than one level. That could mean physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Often times these attractions can start or stir up the start of love or falling in love.
Why We Fall In Love, or Why We Seek Love
To meet our needs.
- We may seek love in order to meet human desires or our basic needs that cannot be met by others alone.
- We may seek love for the companionship or validation.
- We may seek love to fill our sexual needs and desires.
- We may seek love for stability in our lives (financial, emotional, social)
- We may seek love for acceptance and approval. The need to feel accepted often is dependent on those who we love and whom love us.
- We seek love to feel nurtured and to make others feel nurtured. We have the need to be a part of someone’s life and to have someone be a part of ours.2. To fulfill expectations (ours and others)
- Finding a significant other or a “soul mate” is an essential part of most cultures and societies.
- Having children many times becomes synonymous with finding “the right one.”
- We have the expectation that someone else will “complete” us because we have been told that “our better half,” is the only one that will make us whole.
- We have been taught, in most western cultures, that finding true love is the most important and fulfilling part of our lives.
- We compare lack of love to loneliness and make love synonymous with happiness, but remember, LOVE is not an emotion.
- We think falling in love and finding love are ultimately a needed stage or part of our adult lives that we have to do. You know the saying… “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby….”
3. Because we are innately selfish (not always a negative thing)
- Like mentioned before, we have NEEDS, and although some of these needs can be briefly met without “love” they are not what most would call “everlasting”
- We like the idea of owning or having someone’s affection and love to ourselves. We may be very okay with the ideas that “two become one,” and the “love” of someone’s life. There is may be something special in that.
- We want to feel needed and appreciated. What is more special than devoting your life to that person or people you love? What is more special than someone putting you first because they love you?
- The idea of not being loved may not make sense to our ego or our psyche. We get pleasure in what we get back from people, either physically or emotionally.
Love paints a pretty picture.
- Love is painted as a wonderful thing, sometimes painful, but always worth it in the end. “It is better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all.” -Alfred Lord Tennyson
- A happy ending is almost always connected to a love story. The truth is not everyone needs or wants to be in love.
- Love does not always last. Being in love is not the same thing as staying in love.
- Love does not always lead to marriage, or to a lasting marriage… because again love is not an emotion alone, it is action, reactions, and attractions.
Why Love Ends. Why It Dies
We are told to love, but not TAUGHT how to love.
- We are told the importance of loving others, but we are not taught what this entails.
- Love starts in the self, that is, we have to have those emotions for ourselves in order to start and keep a healthy love for others.
- We are taught that loving another person is part of human nature, but we fail to learn the healthy way to do it.
- We believe that our significant others will complete us, when in reality we should feel completed in order to love in a healthy and lasting way.
Love is EGOTISTICAL
- When our needs are met, our Love ends. Once that person no longer meets our essential needs or our checklist (sex, money, affection, attraction) we become disinterested. That love (our love for them) was not a mature love, it was selfish.
- We look to what others can offer us instead of looking and measuring what we can offer them. We rank people, we categorize them, and we think people are lucky to be with us.
- We look for the perfect mate and often ignore that others are looking for us to also be perfect… and we are not.
- We fail to see our own flaws and forget to be thankful that others are giving themselves a chance to love us.
***IF your partner was %100 percent like you in terms of personality, would you love them more, or less? Could you put up with dating someone like yourself?
We fall in love but do not work to stay in love.
- Being in love, and staying in love take a lot of work.
- Once the initial stage of infatuation and ecstasy wear off, we fail to take love seriously.
- Like mentioned before, we only pick at what our partner does not, failing to take into account how much of our flaws they have been willing to overlook.
- Once “dating” someone ends and we move on to being in a relationship, we grow comfortable and secure in the strength of our relationships and may even realize it is ending.
- Needs and desires change… and love can change with it.
We do not take responsibility
- Loving someone is a contract. Sometimes unspoken, and other times written down in our vows.
- Many times people are not ready for the types of responsibilities attached to loving someone. Love really just is not enough to make any relationship work.
- When we decide to love someone, or maybe when we realize we are falling for someone, we become responsible for the way we treat them and the emotions we foster in the relationship.
- Loving someone takes discipline. When you commit in your mind, or out loud to love someone, what you are saying is that you are responsible for how you will behave even when you are not around them. This relates to respect, loyalty, and self-awareness.
We do not understand that simply loving someone and expecting happiness is an immature feeling.
- When you first fall in love you may feel extremely happy, elated, like nothing can go wrong. This is not reality.
- Love, or relationships can end when we do not allow our initial stages of love to mature. We have to realize that love can end as fast at it began.
- People end relationships constantly, and they find themselves in another failed relationship shortly after. We keep loving immaturely. Love takes real work and it takes learning from our past mistakes.
- Fairytales are created, but they are also based on a strong sense of reality. A happy ending may have a sad middle, a difficult few chapters, and very trying paragraphs in our love story.
As always, thank you all for reading. A lot of the information that influenced this post can be found in the book listed below. Love truly can have a positive effect on our lives. Romantic love, or the love found in a romantic relationship is truly an extraordinary thing. Work hard for it and work hard on it, but remember that it is not the only thing that brings self-fulfillment. Please leave your comments below of what definition you would give to love.
*Amazon link above. If it does not appear and you would like to know the book it is
“The Psychology of Romantic Love,” by Nathaniel Branden