Friday, March 19, 2010

Let's Talk About Love

Today, I am writing about love. Love is a complex issue. There are lots of other notions which are intermingled with our conception of love like attraction, sex, sharing, having an eternal relationship. This mix might make it difficult for us to comprehend love. Today, I will try to dismantle this miss. I think this is necessary to appreciate love properly and to manage our relationship more successfully. Love is a phenomenal experience that we some times encounter when we deal with other persons. One of our most important psychological needs is bonding. We need to bond with other human beings. We need to surround ourselves with friends and family members. This is a goal in itself. It is not a mean to reach higher goals. Bonding with other people might provide you with lots of other benefits like sharing, support, recognition and appreciation. But even if you don't need people for any of those things, you still need people in your life. Bonding with other people doesn't have to satisfy any further purposes to be justified. It is a purpose in itself. Our tendency to bond with other people might be explained on evolutionary basis by the fact that human beings tend to have a better chance for survival when they are surrounded by groups. In modern life, this might not be the case, but it was definitely the case back in earlier ages. This fact might be the reason why our brains are wired in such a way to seek bonding even if it doesn't serve any purpose. The bottom line is that if you want to enjoy a healthy psychological life, you must have people in your life. You must have notice that in the previous argument, I have used the notion of bonding rather than love. This was intentioned since I think love is different from bonding. Bonding is the link you have with other people. It is this link which makes you tending to be in contact with other persons. You might have a feeling of craving to be with someone but this is totally different from love. There are lots of factors which might affect the strength of bonding between you and some other person like sharing mutual interests, like receiving respect and understanding and lots of other factors. One of those factors might be time. Spending a considerable deal of time with a particular person works to create a bond between both of you, even if this person doesn't provide you with any other benefit. On the other hand, bonding with another person might be weakened if he hurts you or causes you to feel bad. It might even grow weaker if you spent less time together. So, bonding comes in degrees. It might be weakened or strengthened through lots of other factors. Those factors might be related to your other psychological needs or simply time.

Before dealing with love, there is another human psychological need which I should consider. It is the psychological need of having sex. Again this psychological need can be explained on evolutionary basis by the fact that having sex is essential for reproduction and guaranteeing the continuous existence of us as a species. The psychological need to have sex can be termed attraction. In our adult life, we must experience being attracted to other persons. By attraction here, I mean physical attraction. In other words, I am talking about being attracted to some other person's body. Some people might talk about being attracted to some ones else head or soul. This is not attraction; this is our psychological need for bonding mixed with other psychological needs like sharing interests or recognition and so on. By attraction I am referring to this raw animal like tendency to touch the flesh of some one else. All adults experience this psychological need, even the most conservative among us. Attraction leads to sex. Having sex with the one you are attracted to might be in the form of a true sexual experience or in the form of a fantasized one. This depends on the circumstances. Reaching satisfaction in your sexual experience, whether true or fantasized, depends on the history of your previous sexual experiences. The less sexual experience you had in the past, the more easily you can be satisfied. You might even be satisfied with imagining having a sweet tender kiss with the one you are attracted to. Having a satisfactory sexual experience, even if fantasized with sufficient frequency, leads into love.

Now, it is time to talk about love. As I have mentioned before, the road to love passes through attraction and having satisfactory sexual experiences with sufficient frequency with someone in particular. Love as aforementioned, is an exceptional phenomenal experience. It has been described in poets and songs since the rise of human languages. However, talking in a more scientific fashion, we can define love as a state in which you experience euphoria, high tendency to be with one particular person, shutting of being attracted to any other one, and tendency to have sex frequently with this particular person. In other words, when you are in love, your mind becomes entirely focused on being with the one you love and having sex frequently with this person. Again, love can be explained on evolutionary basis. Human females have a long pregnancy period. In the period, the human female body is greatly exhausted. For the human female to be able to pass through this rough period, she needs to be taken care of. In addition, baby human needs a long period of time to be able to confront life by itself. This period of time is so critical for the existence of the human species. Nature might have come up with love to ensure the cooperation between the father and the mother to ensure the survival of the newly born infant. In other words, nature has wired our brains to fall in love with the person we have sex frequently with to provide adequate circumstances for the expected offspring of this sexual relationship. After having sex frequently with a particular partner, endorphins will be automatically released in high amounts in our brain whenever we encounter this particular person. Those endorphins causes this state of addictive euphoria and it will shut off being attracted to any other one. However, nature is a fool designer. It does mistakes. Its aim is to ensure survival but not happiness of humans. Love can still kick in even if the sexual experiences you had with this other person were all fantasized, and it can still kick in even if this sex doesn't lead into any offspring. In addition, there is no survival benefit in this long term continuity of love. As a matter of fact long term continuity of this state might not be beneficial for human beings. The euphoric state of love which is only associated with being around the one you love might affect your actions for seeking other goals in your life. So, unfortunately for our romantic aspirations, love is a short lived experience. Research concluded that it persists for a period ranging between 3 months to one year, being shorter for males than females. So, is this the end for love? Is love nothing more than just a transient stage that has to end one day? Things are a little bit different than this.

As I have mentioned before, love forces you to spend more time in contact with a particular person. In addition to the time factor, there is attraction. In other words, this person is not only a person you spend lots of time in contact with but he is someone you are attracted to and possibly having sexual satisfaction with. The factors of contact, time and attraction are more than enough to create a bond of a remarkable strength. So when love is over, you still have a bond with this person. In addition, to the factors of contact, time and attraction, other factors might be present to further strengthen this bond. Such factors would include sharing, respect, understanding and so on. So by the end of love, you would still have a strong bond with this person. This bond would be most properly stronger than any other kind of bond you have with other persons around you. However, this bond is different from love. When love is gone, the euphoria associated with it is gone, attraction to other people might take place and is most properly inevitable, and the urge to spend more time with this person gets weaker. This is how things go. So whenever you feel that the old sweet emotions are gone, you have to remember that it is nobody's fault. As a matter of fact the disappearance of this crazy blind love stage is beneficial for both of you. Now, you are in a better control over your brain's chemicals and you can seek other important things in life. Fortunately, by the end of love you would have a remarkably strong bond with a significant other. This bond is so good for your psychological well being and happiness. However, this bond like any other bond might grow stronger or it might grow weaker. It can be further maintained and strengthened if the bonded persons formed a committed relationship with each other. On the other hand, it can grow weaker if this bond started to hurt the two bonded persons. As a matter fact a remarkably strong bond can easily turn into a source of pain to the people involved. There are various reasons why a bond with someone might hurt you. First there is jealousy. Jealousy is a normal emotion that rises in association with bonding. The stronger the bond you have with someone, the more jealous you get at him. In normal circumstances, jealousy should be respected and the two bonded persons should avoid raising it to avoid the pain associated with it. Other reasons for pain include prevention of one of the two bonded person from achieving other psychological needs, especially self esteem and self actualization. If you are bonded with an immature person, he might easily start to control you and this can easily affect your other psychological needs. Apparently, sustaining such a strong bond is actually more difficult than sustaining weaker bonds. There are lots of possibilities for things to turn ugly and it would require high degree of maturity, and mutual work to avoid possible sources of pain.

If the two persons involves were highly mature, they would most probably enjoy a wonderful bond. They would enjoy a remarkably strong bond which satisfies the psychological need on bonding to others and they won't suffer any kind of pain due to this special bond. The reason why this would be the case is that highly mature persons are emotionally independent. They don't depend on other people to satisfy any other psychological need except for that of bonding itself. They don't need appreciation to feel self esteem, and they don't need support to achieve self actualization. They don't need them but yet they can give it and have it but it is not essential. So such great things like appreciation, sharing and support can be entertained but they will never raise pain if they were absent

However, such perfect highly mature individuals are so rare, if they exist at all. All of us have a certain degree of emotional dependence. We depend on others in satisfying our psychological needs. All of us are not all the time understanding and having an open mind. That's why a strong bond can easily slip into a remarkable source of pain. The only hope in such a case for this bond to go on is through having a well organized relationship. A relationship that would involve the features of; sharing, support, appreciation, intimacy, honesty, commitment, forgiveness, communication, equality, and persistence. It is definitely difficult to construct a perfect relationship. That's why maintaining a relationship requires lots of work. However, you should always remember that the reason you have for keeping a relationship is to enjoy the chance of satisfying you bonding needs to a level higher than usual. The reason why you should brake up a relationship is if it started to cause you a significant pain that prevents you from functioning properly in achieving other needs in life.