Ask someone what love is, and they can hardly put it into words. The nature of love is also hard to comprehend. Why can we feel love for one person and not for another? Some believe that it depends on chance or fate, others are sure that it has to do with pheromones. And what psychologists think about this - read our article.
What is love made up of
Psychologist Robert Sternberg offers a theory according to which love consists of three necessary components: intimacy, passion and commitment.
Intimacy is closeness and mutual support, a partnership. It increases as the lovers get closer and may not appear in a quiet, measured life. However, in a crisis situation, when the couple has to overcome difficulties together, it is clearly expressed.
Passion is a feeling of sexual attraction. It reaches its highest point at the beginning of a relationship, but ceases to grow in the long term. However, this does not mean that passion is absent in a long marriage - it just ceases to be an important motivator for the couple.
Commitment is the willingness to be faithful to the other person. It is the one component of love that grows over time in any relationship, both long-term and short-term, and becomes an increasingly significant aspect.
Types of love
Depending on whether these components are present in the relationship, Sternberg identifies seven varieties of love.
1. Sympathy. Includes only one component, intimacy. There is spiritual closeness, a sense of tenderness, and affection for the person, but there is no passion or devotion.
2. obsession. There is passion, but no intimacy or commitment. Passion usually arises very quickly and just as quickly passes. This is the love at first sight, which can remain a passing passionate infatuation, or it can develop into something more.
3. Empty love. There is a mutual commitment, but there is no passion or intimacy. This is a love at a reckoning (not monetary, of course), when a person rationally, weighing all the pros and cons, decides to remain faithful to his partner. This kind of love is characteristic of married couples who have lived together for a long time and have lost their emotional and physical attraction to each other, but have maintained a warm relationship.
4. Romantic love. Intimacy and passion are characteristic, but there is no devotion. The relationship is similar to sympathy, but in addition to emotional intimacy, there is a physical attraction to the partner. This kind of love constantly pops up as a plot in literature and movies (both in the classic play "Romeo and Juliet" and in popular romance novels).
5. Comradely love. A combination of intimacy and commitment. Passion no longer or never existed. This love binds relatives, friends, or spouses together when the passion is gone.
6. Meaningless love. An unusual combination of passion and devotion to your partner, but there is no spiritual intimacy with him or her. Such relationships often develop into a hasty marriage, when a couple decides to get married almost on the second date. However, if intimacy does not increase over time, such a marriage ends in divorce.
7. Perfect love. This includes all three components: passion, intimacy, and commitment. All couples strive for such a relationship. And it is possible to achieve them, but very difficult to maintain. This kind of love is never long. It does not mean that the relationship ends in rupture, just that it loses one of the components, and the ideal love is transformed into another kind, such as a companionship or an empty one.
What does it take for mutual love to emerge?
Psychologist Elaine Hatfield, as a result of her research, came to the conclusion that in order for love to arise - mutual, bringing joy and satisfaction, or unrequited, leading to despair and depression - three factors must be present:
1. The right time. There must be (ideally, both of them) a willingness to fall in love with the other person.
2. Similarity. It is not a secret that people sympathize with those who are similar to themselves, and not only externally but also internally: with similar interests, hobbies, attachments.
3. Early attachment style. It depends on each person's personality traits. A calm, balanced person is more capable of a long-term relationship than an impulsive and impetuous person.
Psychologists strive to understand the nature of love, but at present hardly any of them can answer the question of why and how this feeling appears. But the phenomenon of love certainly needs to be studied. After all, if we understand the regularities of this feeling, then the reasons for unsuccessful relationships will become clear, which in the future can be avoided.