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3 Hypotheses About The Essence Of Love - Relations
3 Hypotheses About The Essence Of Love - Relations

Video: 3 Hypotheses About The Essence Of Love - Relations

Video: 3 Hypotheses About The Essence Of Love - Relations
Video: The Three Requirements of a Good Relationship 2023, March

Can everyone enter into a love relationship and stay in it? Maybe love is some kind of amazing ability? And if so, is it worth developing it and how to do it?

Phenomenon or art?

What images appear before us when we think of love? Most often it is warmth, joy, closeness and pleasure. Explanatory dictionaries unambiguously define love as a feeling characterized by affection, attraction, involvement. And yet the basic characteristic of love is, perhaps, the fact that it is not self-sufficient: it arises in relation to something or someone.

When we think about love-relationship, we see images of a romantic connection, old age met together, open arms, passionate kisses, closed hands. In modern Western culture, love is an analogue of happiness, which can be shared with another, and at the same time something vital and desirable. But the question is: does this happiness itself fall upon a person or does he build it himself?

In The Art of Love, Erich Fromm discusses the concept of love and its perception in Western culture. This book is rightfully considered one of the main philosophical and psychological works of the 20th century. Fromm calls love an art that must be mastered with the same passion with which a person learns music or medicine. After all, it is the absolutized, romantic image of love that makes us hostages of the egoistic idea that love is what should happen to me, in relation to me. In modern practical psychology, we most often encounter love in the context of close relationships, and therefore we speak of it not as an independent feeling, but as a special relationship in a couple or in a family. And when we move away from love as a phenomenon and turn to love relationships, the question arises: "Is everyone capable of love?"

In a maze of convolutions

Hypothesis 1: the ability to love is inherent in human nature


We have all heard a lot about the “chemistry of love”, “hormones of pleasure”, we are familiar with the description of love experiences as something exciting and enticing. This way of describing love is associated with physicality, sexuality, pleasure, and passion. In neurobiology, love is defined as "dopaminergic goal-setting motivation to form paired bonds." The motivation arising on the basis of hormonal influence pushes us to get closer, form paired relationships and stay in them. In a state of passionate love, the brain produces hormones and neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin, which, in turn, encourage us to experience pleasure, joy, benevolence and affection towards the object of our sympathy.

On the basis of research, it was found that the following parts of the brain are responsible for the experience of romantic love: the dopaminergic subcortical regions, in which many dopamine and oxytocin receptors are concentrated, the islet and the anterior cingulate gyrus, which are involved in the experience of sexual arousal, and the amygdala, which reduces their arousal, thereby reducing feelings of anxiety and fear. Due to the complex organization of our nervous and humoral systems, from the point of view of neurobiology, each person is capable of experiencing that complex set of emotions and motivations that we call romantic love.


But there are some exceptions. For example, with endogenous depression or depression resulting from organic brain damage or traumatic brain injury, we can talk about insufficient production of neurotransmitters, which leads to emotional dryness and a general decrease in vitality. It is difficult to say whether a depressed person is deprived of the ability to love. In a sense, this is a philosophical question. Probably, in order to answer it, it is necessary to conduct specific research, qualitative and quantitative, but the testimonies of people suffering from depression indicate that in illness, feelings seem to be lost, life becomes gray, oppressive, unbearable. Not for love. And only the simultaneous use of pharmacotherapy and individual psychotherapy returns patients the ability to feel and experience pleasure.


Although we are physiologically “programmed” for love, there are factors that make it impossible for us to experience strong positive emotions, including love.

As a gift from parents

Hypothesis 2: the ability to love is brought up in a person by society


Do not equate the experience of love with the physiological processes in the human body. Yet we think of ourselves as spiritual beings who have a body rather than are only one. It is not only thanks to genes that we become ourselves, we are also shaped as individuals under the influence of the external environment and culture. Without exception, all psychological concepts agree that the period of childhood is of particular importance in the development of personality.

The external environment sets the framework within which we build our idea of love, and in the parental family we get the first experiences of love in relations with the mother. From the point of view of psychoanalysis, the first few years of a child's life, in which he goes through various phases of development, are of particular importance. At first, he is symbiotically connected with his mother, then gradually separates from her and turns to the figure of the father, the child has his own fantasies of the first scene. These are childhood memories or fantasies of a father and mother having intercourse. If the experience of the primary scene seen was traumatic for the child, fantasies of sadomasochistic or castrating relationships between parents may arise. In such cases, fantasies may be associated with clinical disorders in childhood and adulthood. Howbeit,all together this constitutes a person's idea of the relationship between parents and love in general.

All these stages, to varying degrees, affect the ability of the growing up child to establish relationships of intimacy, but special attention is paid precisely to the period up to one and a half years, in which the child is especially closely connected with the mother. Through feeding, he forms the ability to receive pleasure, from the mother he also receives the emotional experience of peace, affection, warmth and intimacy.


But there is also a downside to the coin. Developmental trauma can be a challenge for a child's ability to establish intimate loving relationships. The classic of modern psychoanalysis, Otto Kernberg, describes trauma as a powerful, soul-shaking experience that cannot be absorbed and processed by the psyche. Developmental trauma can occur due to the lack of emotional contact between the mother and the child in the first years of life, lack of safety and abuse of the child, violation of his boundaries and lack of understanding of needs.

These traumas are difficult to recognize as they are often the result of hidden neglect that is difficult to detect. And in this case, the main recommendation to all parents is to establish emotional contact with the child, to treat children with respect, attention and justice. In the event that we are already dealing with developmental trauma, it is worth turning to a psychologist for help and devoting time to personal psychotherapy aimed at restoring mental integrity.


The society as a whole, and above all the parental example, in a person can equally develop both the ability and the inability to love.

Meeting with you

Hypothesis 3: a significant person for an individual can help develop the ability to love


If in the psychoanalytic tradition, special attention in the formation of the personality is paid to the period of childhood, then in the existential-humanistic traditions the personality is perceived as constantly forming. Thus, regardless of genetic characteristics or childhood events, we shape ourselves throughout our lives through the choices and decisions we make here and now. In the existential analysis of Alfried Langle, for example, a personal, personal relationship occupies a special place in the formation and maintenance of love relationships.

We feel a personal attitude on ourselves when we feel that the other is interested in me in my entirety, and not in any part of me. He accepts me, supports, respects and takes into account, he is not occupied only with our common affairs and plans or only with my body, sexuality, I am not any function for him. Also, we ourselves can give another a personal attitude, taking into account it, inscribing it into our life, allowing him to have his own aspirations, views and even shortcomings.

Meeting is also an important condition for forming close, loving relationships. A meeting is a moment of special intimacy, in which each appears to the other as he is, in his value and openness. In her article "Is Love Happiness?" Alfried describes a love relationship as follows: “The central phenomenon in love is that we seem to enter into some resonance with another person … You … My presence, my attitude towards you can be beneficial for you in what you can become. My love can support you in this process of development, in which you can become to a greater extent what you already are."

So, the main setting for maintaining a warm loving relationship is to give each other a personal relationship, wish good and support a person so that he becomes more and more himself. Of course, this is the art of love. A personal attitude is available to us only when we can put our psychological deficiencies outside the brackets and look at the person close to us with an open mind, experience joy in connection with the fact that he is.


Often, even in the most prosperous relationships, the ability to be open about each other is lost. Maintaining a high level of awareness is difficult and not always available. Here we were expecting support in a moment of weakness, and a loved one, due to their special circumstances, could not show the desired attitude towards us. At such moments we experience pain, resentment, we are deeply hurt. In the event that it is not possible to discuss and resolve the conflicts that arise between us, they accumulate in the history of relations, building a wall of misunderstanding between people. In such situations, couples therapy or individual psychotherapy is very successful, which helps to understand what is happening in the relationship, to regain lost understanding, to sort out one's own feelings.


Just as a Meeting can push a person towards disclosure and vivid love experiences, so the absence of Meetings in a relationship can cause no less deep disappointments, up to and including refusal of love relationships in the future. As personal as an individual is in a relationship, no one can ever guarantee that it won't hurt or run out. Even if you did everything right …

The experience of love in itself is not a unique gift, rather it may be a natural human nature, but how a person integrates it into the field of relationships depends on many things, including her life story or daily personal choices

It is important to pay attention to your share in a love relationship, to answer the question: "With what attitude do I go into this relationship?" If I only expect a warm and caring attitude towards myself, but do not invest anything, can I speak of this connection as a love affair? In a relationship, we are always not only asking for something for ourselves, but also being requested, through this dialogue we experience the fullness of life and rootedness in it. Love relationships give us the opportunity to experience ourselves active, alive, meaningful, give meaning to life and allow us to feel fulfilled.

Photo: © Syda Productions / Photobank Lori

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