A force of nature, love is something we cannot control. Like a bolt of lightening, a free spirit, it dances and radiates light. It has no borders and does not come with conditions but is given freely even if resisted.
Love has been written about for centuries by poets, song writers, storytellers and spoken off between people to express something, but what is that something?
In ancient Greece, love was known as the “maddness of the gods” but today is defined as a strong desire for union with another.
Love does not seek loyalty, attention or compassion, it cannot be bought like a book or turned on and off at will if you are angry or upset with another. Love can be given unconditionally and is inherently compassionate and empathetic as it comes from the heart.
Neural codes tell us that that love is like a thirst, a craving and that we sometimes do strange things because of its natural addiction.
There are three main components to love:
- Sex drive or lust- sexual gratification is not love. You may have sex with someone that you are not in love with. Some men feel more intense love for their partners during the sexual act.
- Romantic love – works in mysterious ways. You may be attracted or craving a particular person and this may evolve into love but this means exculsivity and being with the one.
- Attachment- when you want a deeper union and a life long commitment from the one partner.
When we first meet someone we are attracted to, there is a chemical reaction called pheromones, (a scent they give out) that may influence us unconsciously, sexually attracting us to that person. In a study, female participants were give smelly, sweaty undershirts of males and researchers discovered that the women could detect a level of attractiveness based on the smell. Another study undertaken by the University of Texas highlights the fertility cycle of women as an attractor. Females were asked to sleep with t-shirts during fertile and infertile cycles. It was found that men can actually sense fertility on a woman as she gives off a different scent and this makes them more attractive .
As our eyes are the windows to our soul, we receive visual cues based on the physical attributes of another influencing our thoughts producing that loving feeling. There are a number of traits however apart from physical appearance that are factors that go into who we choose to be with. Personality, values and interests also play a part. Looking good doesn’t mean the other person is suitable but dopamine another chemical involved in giving us strong urges of sexual attraction, may link us to that other temporarily or as a stepping stone to a longer term relationship.
Anthropologist Helen Fisher in Psychology Today, states that she has studied love and dating and suggests that we each have “love maps” that determine who we gravitate to.
Though the love maps vary from one individual to the next, ‘averageness still wins’ even with some people getting turned on by a police uniform or “by big breasts, small feet, or a vivacious laugh.”
Fisher suggests, that though some individuals and cultures have their own standards, there are some ‘universal qualities such as a clear complexion, symmetrical faces, wide hips (for women) and a general appearance of health and cleanliness’, that causes attractiveness to others.
Often the two chemical reactions mentioned above are the neurotransmitters that also cause love to fade. If you have been with someone for sometime and raised children then your job maybe completed and the chemical reaction has done its job. I know this sounds awful but we see so many couples falling out of love due to boredom, lack of sexual attraction, no longer having things in common however staying together sometimes is more about family love and being committed to children and grandchildren. The honeymoon stage of raging hormones may have subsided but a more mature love develops where the sharing of ones love in another way takes precedence.
While romantic love and sexual partners is something of a science, at the end of the day it is about listening to our inner voice when it comes to love.
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