Understanding The Psychology Of Love
By: Michael Arangua
Updated February 08, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Tonia Cassaday
For millennia upon millennia countless great minds have attempted to study and understand the phenomenon that is the psychology of love. There are many inherent intricacies surrounding love; however, there are also concrete and scientific facts which many people have found to be interesting.
When most individuals hear the word "love," they generally think of romantic love. However, while romantic love is quite prevalent and given considerable media attention, there are other forms of love which are equally as important. There can be love between friends, siblings, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and so on. Hopefully, a breakdown on some of love's psychological roots will be valuable to some inquiring minds that harbor curiosity regarding this matter.
Romantic Love Is Comprised Of Three Different Parts
Virtually everyone has their own thoughts and opinions regarding romantic love, what leads up to it, what causes it to last or fade, and the like. Different studies have different findings. However, many individuals have a tendency to use their own personal experience with romance to pass judgments about love as opposed to heeding the findings of various sources and studies.
One theory of romantic love states that it contains three specific elements: attachment, care, and intimacy. Each of the foregoing parts is considered to impact the depth, quality, and often the longevity of love and various romantic relationships. Therefore, if one or more elements are out of balance with the other, the imbalance can create the groundwork for problems within a relationship.
A healthy degree of attachment is to be expected in any relationship, especially a romantic one. Many people who are in love with each other enjoy each other's company. They want to share their lives with one another, grow together, and make memories. Attachment in a loving, romantic relationship can also be viewed as the feeling which fuels the sensation of missing someone or craving their company.
Of course, like all things, when taken to the extreme, attachment can become dark and potentially harmful. While a healthy degree of attachment is to be expected, an individual should not be overly attached or otherwise dependent upon their partner. As both parties ought to enjoy each other's company, both individuals should furthermore have their own interests, hobbies, and activities outside of the relationship. Having hobbies that are separate from one's relationship provide a healthy balance.
At its core, caring for someone means taking their thoughts, feelings, and desires into regard. Most people feel the innate desire to do what pleases them; however, in a caring and healthy romantic relationship, both parties should have regard for the other individual. This means not engaging in certain actions or behaviors that may be harmful or damaging personally or to the relationship.
Most of the time, when two people are in a relationship and care for one another, the care is evidenced in their treatment of the other person. They may plan dates, spend time together, show affection by hugging, kissing, etc. It is also important to stress that a person who truly cares for someone would never do anything to put them danger or harm's way. Caring about someone largely entails respecting them as a human being. Sometimes, care can present itself in the form of sacrifice or give-and-take. In a relationship, one individual cannot and should not expect to have all the power or control. In fact, huge power imbalances in relationships can often lead to abuse, which is the antithesis of care.
Often, when people think of intimacy, they are usually reminded of sex or sexual acts. While this certainly falls into the category of intimacy, there are other depths and levels of bonding and baring one's soul to their partner. At its core, intimacy is all about sharing and connecting with the other person in the relationship. Bonding on matters such as dreams, feelings, desires, and innermost thoughts are the epitome of intimacy. Many people have debated whether or not physical intimacy is as powerful as the emotional intimacy of bonding.
Attachment, care, and intimacy each play a part in the phenomenon which is love. Ideally, a relationship that encompasses all three of the aforementioned elements is best and most likely to withstand the test of time.
Healthy Ways To Express Love
Regardless of whether love is romantic, familial, or friendly, there are healthy and unhealthy manners in which one should go about expressing love. One of the best ways to healthily express love is by keeping one's anger in check.
There are many people who struggle with self-control during anger. The urge or temptation to verbally lash out can be great when someone is displeased or unhappy. Nevertheless, this can be quite dangerous. Once something is said, it can never be taken back and in most cases neither can its impact or aftermath. This is why the ability to manage oneself, especially when angry, is so paramount. Damaging or ruining a relationship in a fit of rage is something that should always be avoided.
Many individuals partake in certain coping methods when angry. This is done to promote control over one's emotions and prevent doing something which may later be regretted. Some of the most common ways of managing anger are temporarily isolating oneself from others, exercising, silently counting to ten, or otherwise doing something to calm down. People are also advised not to make important decisions when they are angry.
Show Appreciation And Gratitude
Virtually everyone has mistakenly taken someone for granted if they didn't consciously realize it at the time. However, similarly to controlling anger, another effective way to show love is by showing appreciation and gratitude to loved ones. While grand gestures are nice and often appreciated, showing gratitude can be as simple as saying, "thank you," or simply telling someone that they are meaningful and important.
Many people may believe that their loved ones already know that they are appreciated. However, not everyone is aware of this. Sometimes doubts can arise. Moreover, being shown appreciation and gratitude is always an excellent feeling, even when one already knows that they are cared for. Never underestimate the power of showing appreciation and gratitude.
Everyone messes up and nobody is perfect. Therefore, there will inevitably come a point where a loved one makes a mistake or slips up. When this happens, the best course of action is to exercise forgiveness. The truth of the matter is that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Most people are conscious of their errors and try not to have repeats in the future.
Love is inherently patient, kind, and forgiving. This means letting go of past transgressions and moving forward. When engaged in a loving relationship, one does not hold onto anger or use someone's past mistakes as leverage against them. These are the actions of manipulators, not someone who values and loves another human being.
While forgiveness is important in any healthy, loving relationship, it should not come without limits. If someone continuously makes the same mistakes or ignores the errors of their own ways, they are, in essence, taking advantage of the relationship. Many abusers see a person's capacity for forgiveness as a weakness to be exploited. Therefore, forgiving someone while simultaneously remaining mindful and vigilant is best practice.
A Final Word
Love, at its core, is complicated because human beings are complicated. Each and every person has their own life experiences, thoughts, and feelings that comprise who they are. Some people are compatible with others. Some loving relationships will last for a season, while others will last for a lifetime. Every person who comes across one's path has a lesson to teach them. The ability to be open-minded and receptive to the lesson is important and will contribute to personal growth, awareness, and development.
Due to the intricacies and complexities of love and relationships, many people can sometimes struggle with making certain decisions. Many people, things, and partnerships change and shift with the passing of time. Depending on the nature of the relationship and other involved factors, certain changes can be difficult to overcome. There is no one formula. The manner in which people deal with events varies from one individual to another.
Sometimes, the best course of action can be to sit down and have a conversation with a licensed professional, especially when love-related matters are in the picture. Getting a second or third opinion from someone who specializes in helping others can have a monumental impact in one's life. Despite the stigma associated with seeking professional assistance, the ability and decision to ask for guidance when necessary is indicative of strength and not weakness. Here at BetterHelp, we pride ourselves on providing the best quality of care, assistance, and help to those who reach out to us.
Ultimately, the choice is yours, but if you feel inclined to contact BetterHelp for any reason whatsoever, you can do so by clicking here.
You might be interested in more information before making a decision. It might be tempting to think that therapy is only for people with a mental illness. That isn’t true. Therapy can help you with many skills in your day-to-day life and relationships. Healthline lists better communication skills, better problem-solving skills, and better trust in one another as some of the benefits that therapy can bring to any sort of relationship. And 75 percent of people who have participated in talk therapy report they have experienced some benefit. If you’re curious about how effective online therapy is, there’s research for that too: most research indicates that most common types of talk therapy, when you’re not dealing with a very severe issue, work just as well online as in person.
There are other ways you may benefit from online therapy. Online therapy tends to be more affordable than traditional therapy, which may be extra appealing if you have multiple members of your family who are interested in trying therapy. There’s also no need to run to an office; you can contact your counselor from anywhere you have a secure, reliable connection.
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