Howexactly can you define love? Love is anemotion that is perceived differently by different people. During a studyconducted by Fehr, it was said that it was mainly meant as trust and caringwhereas as a minor meaning of having uncertainty and butterflies in thestomach. (Fehr, 1988)Before we godeep into the nature and understanding of love, let us first understand why itis important to study love. Even though the topic of love was once consideredunworthy and of zero importance, understanding love has now become an extremelyimportant subject in order to solve interpersonal problems. Psychologists likeHarry Harlow and John Bowlby individually started studying and researching onmaternal love and care which gave pathway to understanding adult love andattachment which was researched and studies by Cindy Hazan and Philip Shaver.Their work gave people an insight on how relationships and affection worked inadulthood. (Reis & Aron) While studyingthe nature of love, an important theory came into existence in order to studythe nature of love more effectively. It is known as the Triangular Theory ofLove which was studied by Robert J Sternberg.
(Sternberg, 1986)The Triangular Theory of Love: It is basicallya triangle that consists of three components; 1. Intimacy (topvertex of triangle) 2. Passion (lefthand vertex)3.
Decision/Commitment(right hand vertex) TheIntimacy component involves your bonding and connection withan individual. But into a deeper understanding, the intimacy component can alsomean the following: a. a desire topromote the welfare of the loved oneb. experiencedhappiness with the loved one, c. high regardfor the loved one, d. being able tocount on the loved one in times of need, e. mutualunderstanding with the loved one, f. sharing ofone’s self and one’s possessions with the loved one, g.
receipt ofemotional support from the loved one, h. giving ofemotional support to the loved one, i. intimatecommunication with the loved one, and j. valuing theloved one in one’s life It is notnecessary for an individual to experience all these feelings at once in orderto experience love. Any one of these feelings is sufficient for the individualto feel the intimacy component to another individual and in most cases,individual often experience these feelings in an overall aspect. Basically, theintimacy component is considered as an emotional investment in a relationship. (Sternberg, 1986) ThePassion component involves the sexual attraction andromance you feel towards an individual.
Hatfield and Walster (1981) also referit as “a state of intense longing for union with the other.” In most cases, anindividual experiencing passion may have a predominance of sexual needs. Butother factors like dominance, submission, nurturance and self esteem alsocontribute to the feeling of passion. Sexual needs are a vital part in a lovingrelationship and these manifestations are fulfilled through psychological andphysiological arousals. In short, thepassion component is considered as a motivational investment in a relationship.
(Sternberg, 1986) TheDecision/Commitment component has a short-term andlong-term meaning. The short-term refers to the decision that an individualtakes to love a person and the long-term refers to the commitment that isrequired to maintain the individual’s relationship. An important point to benoted here is that these components do not have to necessarily go together i.e.just because there is a decision to love an individual, it doesn’t meancommitment must be involved. In the same way, just because an individual iscommitted to the love of another individual, it doesn’t mean that the personhas even made the decision to love the other. In short,decision/commitment is considered as a form of cognitive decision in andcommitment to the relationship. (Sternberg, 1986) The next part ofunderstanding love involves how love is affecting an individual biologicallyand psychologically.
How biology fuels your loveOften times youcan see people saying “I couldn’t take my eyes off him when I first met him”and “I always start sweating when I’m around her.” Ever wondered why thesesituations happen to you? It is because of the biological processes happeningin your body which indicates that you are falling in love. (Chapman, 2011)When an individual falls in love, their Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) isactivated which results in the feelings of pleasure, motivation, arousal andmotivation.
(Gibson, January 2015) Whilefalling in love, the main body part responsible for this is your brain. Yourbrain releases certain types of hormones while you start loving an individualin order for the individual to realize that he/she is slowly falling in love.An important structure that is involved while falling in love is the limbicsystem, which consists of the basal nuclei, thalamus and the hypothalamus. Thehypothalamus is directly involved both the behavioral and sexual functioningwhile a person is in love.
(Chapman, 2011)When it comes tothe hormones released by the brain, the hormone adrenaline also known asepinephrine is responsible for the dilated pupils, increased heart beat andsweating when an individual experiences being in love. Another importanthormone to be mentioned is the Endorphins, which are released during sex andtherefore giving couples the “feel good and calm” effect right after they havereached the stage of orgasm. (Chapman, 2011) Another hormone,Oxytocin also referred to as the “cuddle chemical” which is conventionallyreleased during childbirth and breastfeeding, is also released when anindividual falls in love.
This hormone promotes trust and social bonding. (Gibson, January 2015) According toDiane Ackerman in her book, “The Natural History of Love” stated that “Oxytocinplays an important role in romantic love, as a hormone that encourages cuddlingbetween lovers and increases pleasure during lovemaking…The hormone stimulatesthe smooth muscles and sensitizes the nerves, and snowballs during sexualarousal.” People also refer oxytocin as “closeness” that they feel right aftersexual intercourse. (Chapman, 2011) The next hormoneto be noted is Dopamine, which is responsible for problem solving andreward-motivated behavior. (Gibson, January 2015) However, thishormone ironically, is responsible for the erratic behavior an individual showswhen they are in love. The individual who’s in love would crave to spend everysecond of their day with the love of their life and once they have experienceda break-up, it is extremely difficult for them to even start their day. (Chapman, 2011) Lastly, thehormones called pheromones.
They are chemicals signals released by the body inorder to attract potential mates. Even though researchers were aware that thishormone was present in mammals, only recently did they find out that thesehormones existed in human adults. We can know because, we hear people sayingthat they fell in love with the “scent” of a person. This can also be seen whenindividuals hug the clothes of the person they love when they miss them as thesmell “reminds” them of their lover. (Chapman, 2011) HowPsychology Affects LoveIn order to getan entire view on how romantic love works, it is important not only to look atbiological view, but also the psychological point of view of love.
Ever sincethe topic of love has been a famous talk within psychologists, tons of paperswere published in its name. But the most looked upon one is by Sigmund Freud’s.He stated that most of time when a man or woman look for their significantother, they look for the same qualities as their parents possess. Even just theappearance of an individual similar to that of their parents, the man/womanwill find them attractive. This is because, when individual’s where in theirteen years, the boys were prone to be attracted to their mothers and had atendency to get rid of the fathers. The same could be observed in teenagegirls; they were attracted to their fathers and wanted to get rid of theirmothers. When this theory initially came out it was a huge controversy amongpeople as it was a very unusual and disturbing concept.
(Chapman, 2011) In contrast tothis theory was Abraham Maslov’s theory. He stated that humanistic theory isthe one that human potential and free will to choose life patterns that are supportiveof personal growth. Unlike Freud’s theory, the individual could decide theirown actions rather than acting on your subconscious mind. His theory was knownas the Maslow’s Hierarchy and was in a pyramid shape. The most important needswere placed in the bottom and therefore the order was placed in the followingfrom the bottom to top: 1.
Physiologicalneeds – includes water, food and rest. 2. Safety needs– includes security, protection, and stability. 3. Love andbelonging needs – includes affectionate relationships and adoration.4.
Esteem – includesself esteem and esteem from others5.Self-actualization – it is becoming everything you’re capable of. 6. Selftranscendence – it is exceeding beyond an individual’s own limitations. These factorsare all vital because they create a sense of priority within us. For e.
g.; youcan notice how many couples would want to get a divorce but doesn’t all becausethey have children and they prioritize their children more than their ownrelationship. (Chapman, 2011) Having a betterunderstanding the biological and psychological aspect of love, it is nowimportant to study the different perspectives of love from different age groupsand cultures. From adolescence to adulthood there is a different perception oflove due to a variety of factors like age and experiences.
But a lot of it ischanging as a lot of young adults still show the perceptions of that of teensand hence delaying their age of marriage where most women marry by the age of26 and most men by the age of 28. Even so, quite a few differences can be seenfrom the adult and teen perspectives. TeenPerspective into Adulthood PerspectiveStarting fromearly adolescence, teens are slowly interested into relationships and romanticlove.
This is time where 1/4th of 12 year olds are involved inromantic relationships and nearly 75% of the 18 years are involved in romanticrelationships. These relationships are characterized by the following criteria:1. Affiliativesystems: offers companionship, reciprocity and cooperation. 2. Sexual/Reproductivesystems: includes physical intimacy and potential for procreation.3. Attachmentsystems: includes love, closeness, bonding and feeling of security. 4.
Care givingsystem: includes support and assistance between partners. Affiliative andsexual/reproductive systems are active during adolescence romantic relationshipeven before the formation of attachment and care giving systems. In fact thelatter systems don’t even form until early adulthood. (Sumter, Peter, & Valkenburg, July 2013)During theinitial stage teens are prone to be into an individual by attraction anddesire. As the teens move into the affiliation stage the opposite sex interactwell and hence provides opportunities to learn how to interact with theopposite sex and find their potential partners. While entering the intimatephase, couples start forming a distances with their friends in order for themto spend more time together. In the committed phase couples begin to showattachment and care, followed by emotional and physical intimacy. Even thoughthe process seems like a pathway for long term relationships, it is pretty shortlived.
Early teen years would be the time when relationships are short livedand group dates take place. Middle teen years would be the time when multipleshort-term relationship takes place and more sexual oriented relationshipsrather than emotion based. And finally, in the early adulthood an individualwould commit to a single long term relationship. It is also noted that in mostcases females have a longer period of relationship compared to males. Youngadults basically prioritize the support of their partners compared to thesupport of their parents and friends unlike teenagers, who value the supportand opinions of their parents and friends more than their partners.
And as anindividual reaches the stage of a young adult, the individual would value commitmentmore than attraction whereas teenagers value attraction and passion compared tocommitment and long term relations. It can also been seen that girls valueinterpersonal qualities in a partner compared to the boys, who value physicalattraction in a partner. (Sumter, Peter, & Valkenburg, July 2013) This is thereason why most teens are prone to making a mistake while choosing theirpartners as they are quick to judge and conclude that they are in love. But onthe other hand, during a test conducted by Child Trends on Teens on how theyfelt about relationships, they were sure about what they wanted in arelationship. It was found that most teenagers found qualities like respect,trust, honesty and good communication in a healthy relationship. At the sametime, they are very well aware that long term relationships are most likely notto work as they are supposed to be more focused on their education. A majorityof girls are not likely interested in romantic relationships as they think thattheir chances of having a faithful and supportive partner are low.
This is because;most of these females have confronted a “playboy” or basically someone whocheats in a direct or indirect way. Many teens are struggling to find models ofhealthy relationships. This is because of the troubled family relationshipsthey have seen throughout their life. (Guzman, Ikramullah, Manlove, Peterson, & Scarupa, October 2009) CulturalPerspective on LoveIt is often said that “love is blind”and “love has no language.” Ever wondered why people say these phrases? This isbecause love is universal and everyone loves in the same manner even if they don’tshare the same mother tongue or culture.
But the way each culture perceives andhas understood love is different. It is important to understand how eachculture picked up and understood love from different countries. Here are a fewcountries: