He Is Not Here, So Why Do I Still Love Him
By Danni Peck
Updated December 10, 2018
Reviewer Wendy Galyen, LCSW, BC-TMH
Of all the mysteries in the universe, how and why we love is probably the biggest one. In our most primal states male and female love is driven by the need to procreate. As we evolved cognitively, we evolved socially and the need for companionship began to drive our need for love and acceptance (Fletcher, Simpson, Campbell, & Overall, 2015). However, physical attraction continues to be the strongest force in the ways and who we love.
Is it His Great Personality or His….?
Most people find themselves attracted to individuals who have certain physical as well as personality traits (Gatzanis, 1998). What happens at times is that we "fall in love" with someone based upon the physical attraction, and find we do not really like the personality so much. Love based upon physical attraction alone, most will agree, is not enough. Some of the longest recorded marriages were by people who say they married their best friend (Adams, 2015), and that may well be the secret to a long-lasting marriage.
It is when we love someone that is also our best friend, that we miss them so much once the relationship ends. We may find ourselves missing sex, but that is a primal feeling, an urge. When we miss conversation, laughter, and the simple act of being, that is truly missing a person. This also is a strong indication of love. Just love. Not "in love" … because if we can be "in love" we can also be "out of love."
The Way You Make Me Feel…
When we truly love someone, we have both a psychological and a physiological reaction to that person (Gatzanis, 1998). We feel joy. Our heart and breath rates increase, our pupils dilate, our faces flush. We find we cannot stop smiling when speaking to, or about the object of our affection (Bolmont, Cacioppo, & Cacioppo, 2014). Even when we are upset with that person, looking at him or her often still has the same effect. We may not like them or their actions in that moment, but we still love them.
One of the hardest part about loving someone once they are gone is missing them. Someone once said absence makes the heart grow fonder; however, someone else also said, familiarity breeds contempt. When we long for a person after they are gone, it is bittersweet - perhaps even heart-wrenchingly painful. If the loss of the loved one is fresh, we cannot see past the current pain, and indeed the pain is so sharp we hope it will pass. Those on the other side of the pain, however, can appreciate it as evidence that true love did exist.
'Tis Better to Have Loved and Lost?
There is comfort in knowing we can love, and that we have loved. It is okay to miss someone, that is our evidence of the love. However, it is not healthy to hold so steadfastly to that lost love that we cannot move forward in our lives, and studies show that a broken metaphorical heart, can actually damage our physical heart ("Broken Heart Syndrome: How Loss Hurts Your Health | Time.com," n.d.). An even wiser person once said that each person we love prepares us for the next, so if you are missing someone right now, then you know what to look for in the next person, the next time.
If you are feeling down, and maybe even depressed over the loss of someone you love, now may not be the correct time to look toward a new relationship. Healing from a breakup takes time, and it does take effort. Use this time to learn more about yourself, think about what was important to you in the relationship. List those traits and focus on them. What we love about another person tells us a great deal about ourselves. For example, if you loved the fact he volunteered at the homeless shelter, this means you are compassionate, and you are drawn to others who are. That is something good you can take away from that relationship, and knowledge that can help lead you to the next.
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Adams, R. (2015, January 9). New Study Says You Should Marry Your Best Friend. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/09/married-people-happier_n_6436420.html
Bolmont, M., Cacioppo, J. T., & Cacioppo, S. (2014). Love Is in the Gaze: An Eye-Tracking Study of Love and Sexual Desire. Psychological Science, 25(9), 1748-1756. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614539706
Broken Heart Syndrome: How Loss Hurts Your Health | Time.com. (n.d.). Retrieved May 19, 2017, from http://time.com/4283739/broken-heart-syndrome-marriage-death/
Fletcher, G. J. O., Simpson, J. A., Campbell, L., & Overall, N. C. (2015). Pair-Bonding, Romantic Love, and Evolution: The Curious Case of Homo sapiens. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(1), 20-36. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691614561683
Gatzanis, S. (1998). The Science of Love: Understanding Love and Its Effects on Mind and Body. Sexual and Marital Therapy; Abingdon, 13(2), 218.