Romantic love can be found in any historical age and culture for which data exists. Romantic love is no longer the enigma it has been thought to be over the ages, according to people familiar with the research literature. Nonetheless, there is much more to discover, and romantic love continues to be a hot research area for social psychologists.
Many animal species exhibit aspects of romantic love, and love may have played an important role in determining human evolution. Romantic love is a cause of both deep joys and grave troubles in humans, including sadness, abandonment fury, stalking, suicide, and homicide. As a result, social psychologists and other academics have spent a significant amount of time and effort to better understand romantic love.
Definition of Romantic Love
Romantic Feelings People often comprehend love by comparing it to a prototype, which is a conventional model or concept (as one would recognize a bird by its resemblance to a robin). In order of importance, the prototypical characteristics of love are closeness, commitment, and passion. Scientists, on the other hand, describe love more formally, as the constellation of actions, cognitions, and emotions linked with a desire to enter or maintain a close relationship with a certain person
Much love study has concentrated on different sorts of love, such as separating romantic love from more generic types of love, such as familial love or compassionate love for strangers. Romantic love, which promotes resemblance, respect, and positive appraisal, is also contrasted with liking, which emphasizes independence, compassion, and exclusivity. Furthermore, passionate love (the intense yearning for connection with a certain another person) is distinguished from companionate love (warm feelings for persons with whom one’s life is intertwined).
Items on the usual research scale of intense love include desiring to be with this person more than anyone else and melting when staring into their eyes. A comparable distinction can be made between people with whom one “loves” and those with whom one is “in love.”
Another well-studied approach distinguishes six love styles: eros (romantic, passionate love), Ludus (game-playing love), storge (friendship love), pragma (logical, “shopping-list” love), mania (possessive, dependent love), and agape (selfless love). The triangular theory, another important method, conceptualizes love in terms of closeness, commitment/decision, and passion, the various combinations of which form various varieties of romantic love.
Romantic Love’s Biological Basis
According to biological research, birds and mammals evolved several distinct brain systems for courtship, mating, and parenting, including (a) the sex drive, which is characterized by a craving for sexual gratification; (b) attraction, which is characterized by focused attention on a preferred mating partner; and (c) attachment, Separation anxiety is characterized by the maintenance of proximity, affiliative gestures, and indications of calm when in social contact with a mating partner.
Each neural system is associated with a unique set of brain circuits, behavioral patterns, and emotional and motivational states. In terms of human love, “attraction” can be associated with passionate love and “attachment” with companionate love. According to recent research using functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, these three neuronal networks are different but interconnected.
Predicting When You’ll Fall in Love
Numerous studies have found elements that contribute to like in general, as well as other forms of loving. Discovering that the other person likes oneself; attraction to the other’s characteristics, such as kindness, intelligence, humor, good looks, social status; similarities with one’s self, particularly in attitudes and background characteristics; proximity and exposure to the other; and confirmation and encouragement from one’s peers and family that this is a suitable partner are all examples of these factors.
Discovering that the other loves oneself and has desired and relevant features are very crucial in the context of falling in love. Furthermore, the arousal-attraction effect—being physiologically stimulated at the time of meeting a potential partner—is a well-researched predictor specific to falling in love (e.g., one study found that men who met an attractive woman while on a scary suspension bridge were more romantically attracted to her than men who met the same woman on a safe bridge).
The Consequences of Falling in Love
Those who have experienced intense passionate love report a constellation of feelings such as focused attention on the beloved, heightened energy, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, euphoria and mood swings, bodily reactions such as a racing heart, emotional dependence on and obsessive thinking about the beloved, emotional and physical possessiveness, a desire for emotional connection with the beloved, and tremendous motivation to gain this specific relationship According to study, when a person is truly in love and that person’s romantic passion is returned, the lovers enjoy increased self-esteem as well as a broader, more diverse sense of self.
Love That Isn’t Returned
According to autobiographical stories of being rejected and being the unwanted object of someone’s attraction, rejection can result in both strong organization and great disarray of ideas, behaviors, and emotions. Both the rejector and the rejectee exhibit primarily passive responses, are dissatisfied with the circumstance and are frequently disappointed. According to a large survey study, the intensity of an individual’s feelings of unrequited love can be predicted by how much the individual wants the relationship, how much he or she enjoys the state of being in love, whether or not it is returned, and if the rejectee initially felt his or her love would be reciprocated.
Keeping Love Alive Over Time
Longitudinal studies show that ardent love fades after a 1 to 3-year first partnership phase. According to evolutionary anthropologists, this drop is because the core role of love (to support the breeding process with a specific individual) was supposed to diminish and evolve into sentiments of attachment so spouses could raise their children together in a calmer state. One psychological theory focuses on habituation. Another psychological theory contends that intense love results from rapid growth in closeness or interpersonal connection, which eventually diminishes as the partner is known. Whatever the cause of the typical decrease, love does not always deteriorate.
In one study that followed newlyweds for four years, approximately 10% maintained or increased their relationship happiness.
Furthermore, according to certain studies, a small percentage of long-term married persons exhibit very high levels of intense love. How could this happen? Experiments and surveys demonstrate an increase in intense love in long-term partnerships where couples engage in demanding and interesting activities together.
Finally, What Is the Process of Romantic Love?
Love as an Emotion and a Motivator
Love, particularly “moments of love,” is an extremely emotional experience (in fact, “love” is the first example most people offer when asked to name an emotion). However, love, particularly intense love, may not be a distinct emotion in and of itself. Passionate love, on the other hand, maybe best described as a goal-oriented state (the desire for a relationship with a certain person) that might result in a range of feelings depending on the partner’s response.
Furthermore, unlike basic emotions, passionate love is not related to any single facial expression, it is more concentrated on a highly specific aim, and it is extremely difficult to manage (it is almost impossible to make yourself feel passionate love for someone). Similarly, brain scan studies demonstrate that passionate love involves a common reward-area brain system across individuals, a system comparable to that which gets active when cocaine is consumed, but the emotional parts of the brain display different patterns for various people.
Sex and love
People often feel sexual desire for someone they deeply love, although they may not feel this way for everyone they sexually desire. This divergence is also evident in studies of neural networks engaged in brain functioning and varied behavioral responses in laboratory trials.
Attachment and Love
According to attachment theory, a significant determinant in adult love is whether one’s primary caregiver (typically one’s mother) provides a solid base for exploration during infancy. According to research, people who had inconsistent care as children are far more likely to experience deep passionate love as adults; those who received constant lack of attention as children are extremely unlikely to experience passionate love. Some evidence also suggests that the brain systems activated by passionate love may vary depending on one’s attachment history.
The self-expansion model proposes, with research support, that the exhilaration and intense focused attention of passionate love result from the rapid rate of feeling as if the other is part of oneself that is often associated with forming a new romantic relationship, but that companionate love results from the ongoing greater opportunities offered by the partner and the potential for loss to the self of losing the partner.
The Story of Love
The idea that romantic relationships can be accurately recounted by the persons involved through narrative autobiographies, often suggesting culturally archetypal “tales,” is an influential (though seldom investigated) idea. The story of a couple locked in perpetual conflict, for example, is frequent, as is the story of a couple gradually growing to love each other.