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Over the years, scientists have made efforts to classify different types of love. Recently, researcher Dr. Barbara Acevedo discovered some good news about one type in particular. Neuroscientists have even discovered that the brains of couples who experience this kind of love can keep firing for each other the same way they did when they first met even 20 or so years later.
Romantic love is associated with marital satisfaction, well-being, high self-esteem and relationship longevity. That initial passion and excitement we have for another person is precious and often worthy of our willingness to go all in. It may seem arbitrary or unromantic to try to scientifically label or examine something as personal and abstract as love.
However, seen as love is at the root of so many of our greatest joys and most crushing heartbreaks, understanding it from a psychological perspective could mean the difference between experiencing it long-term or sabotaging it over and over again. So, while the question of what kind of love am I in may present a challenge, exploring this subject may help us answer the more important question of how can I best maintain my feelings of love and passion over time. Many years ago Ellen Berscheid and Elaine Walster suggested that there are two types of love, one that is based more on passion and another that is more about companionship.
Over the years, it came to be accepted that passionate love would usually either erupt and fizzle out like a firework or quietly merge into a less fiery, more friendship-like form. This helped explain why couples move on from the honeymoon phase to more of a camaraderie. Along with her colleague Arthur Aron, Acevedo described how the latter form, known as companionate love, though marked by commitment, intimacy, and a sharing of interests tends to be less intense and can lack elements of sexual desire and attraction. Perhaps as a result, this type of love tends to be only moderately satisfying for individuals in relationships.
However, the aforementioned third type of love, romantic love, seems to combine many key elements of passionate love but has the added benefit of keeping both partners happy and in love long-term. If real passion is possible in the form of romantic love, then the question arises of why does it so often fade?
What are some Looking for friendship and passion the ways we push love away, either by allowing it to drive us deeper into our own obsessions, insecurities, jealousies, etc. We can find some of these answers by looking at three contributing factors that can limit our capacity for experiencing love in our relationships: our attachment patterns, psychological defenses, and the concept of the fantasy bond. Our attachment patterns are established in our early childhood relationships, and they continue to function as working models for relationships throughout our lives.
Our early attachments shape how we expect other people to behave as well as how we go about relating and getting our wants and needs met by others. Lisa Firestone. They may feel flames of passion but lack a sense of security that will allow the relationship to be consistent and satisfying.
Learn more about attachment style in relationships. Our early experiences in relationships, starting with the ones we had with our parents or primary caretakers, heavily influence the psychological defenses we form and often face throughout our lives.
These defenses may have been strategies we adopted to survive less than ideal conditions in our childhood. We may have become isolated or reclusive to avoid a needy or intrusive parent, or we may have learned to be emotive or clingy toward a parent who was absent or rejecting.
These adaptations may have helped us as kids, but they can go on to hurt us in our adult relationships. Oftentimes, when we first fall in love, we are in an undefended state in which we are more open to another person. However, as we get closer, we may experience certain fears around intimacy and fall back to our old defenses. We may become more critical and guarded or become more anxious and controlling depending on our defense system. In addition, we may even be attracted to people who are likely to hurt us in the very same ways we were hurt as children.
Unfortunately, we often feel fireworks with people whose defenses fit with ours and who reaffirm old, familiar, often unpleasant ways of feeling about ourselves and others. While we may feel passion and excitement in the initial stages of these relationships, our defenses will often eventually get in the way, as we find ourselves either becoming more and more distant or increasingly pursuing our partner in ways that trigger their own defense system.
There are two ways that fantasy can undermine real love.
For instance, if our attraction to someone is based on form or something superficial, we may be drawn to the fantasy of being with that person without having the feelings of deeper love for that person. Falling in love can feel like a dream come true, but it is not a fairy tale in the sense that it has to be based on reality: real affection, respect, and attraction toward another person. In fact, Dr. Robert Firestone developed the concept of the fantasy bond to describe an illusion of connection between a couple that is substituted for feelings of real love and intimacy.
To learn more about why a fantasy bond develops, what it is and how to challenge it. Lisa Firestone advises that we think of love as a verb. If we want to stay in love for the long haul, we have to engage in loving actions. That may mean challenging our own defenses and avoiding the trappings of a fantasy bond in order to remain open and vulnerable to another person.
In a recent blog, Dr. These include:. If we commit to these characteristics as principles we uphold within ourselves, we are much more likely to stay in touch with our loving feelings and keep passion, attraction, respect, and admiration as living forces in our relationship.
An article on kinseyconfidential. The chemical storm of brain changes it causes are strikingly similar to drug addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Love really does make us crazy. Other studies have linked passionate love to addiction. For many of us, love can open up old wounds and trigger us in ways that are important to make sense of.
About the Author. Her interest in psychology led her to pursue writing in the field of mental health education and awareness. Carolyn's training in multimedia reporting has helped support and expand PsychAlive's efforts to provide free articles, videos, podcasts, and Webinars to the public. She now works as an editor for PsychAlive and a communications specialist at The Glendon Associationthe non-profit mental health research organization that produced PsychAlive. Related Articles.
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Love Is About Friendship, Not Passion