What is LOVE?

Understanding how and why it happens.  Look for RED FLAGS.

 

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5 Psychological Theories of Love

Medically reviewed by
 

Why do people fall in love?

 

Why are some forms of love so lasting and others so fleeting?

Psychologists and researchers have proposed several different theories of love to explain how love forms and endures.

 

Love is a basic human emotion, but understanding how and why it happens is not necessarily easy.

In fact, for a long time, many people suggested that love was simply something too primal, mysterious, and spiritual for science to ever fully understand.

 

The following are four of the major theories proposed to explain love and other emotional attachments.

 

Liking vs. Loving

 

Psychologist Zick Rubin proposed that romantic love1 is made up of three elements:

 
  • Attachment
  • Caring
  • Intimacy
 

Rubin believed that sometimes we experience a great amount of appreciation and admiration for others. We enjoy spending time with that person and want to be around him or her, but this doesn't necessarily qualify as love.

Instead, Rubin referred to this as liking.

 

Love, on the other hand, is much deeper, more intense, and includes a strong desire for physical intimacy and contact.

People who are "in like" enjoy each other's company, while those who are "in love" care as much about the other person's needs as they do their own.

 

Attachment is the need to receive care, approval, and physical contact with another person.

Caring involves valuing the other person's needs and happiness as much as one's own.

Intimacy refers to the sharing of thoughts, desires, and feelings with the other person.

 

Based on this definition, Rubin devised a questionnaire to assess attitudes about others and found that these scales of liking and loving provided support for his conception of love.

 

Compassionate vs. Passionate Love

 

According to psychologist Elaine Hatfield and her colleagues, there are two basic types of love:

 
  • Compassionate love
  • Passionate love
 

Compassionate love is characterized by mutual respect, attachment, affection, and trust.

Compassionate love usually develops out of feelings of mutual understanding and shared respect for one another.

 

Passionate love is characterized by intense emotions, sexual attraction, anxiety, and affection.

When these intense emotions are reciprocated, people feel elated and fulfilled.

Unreciprocated love leads to feelings of despondency and despair.

Hatfield suggests that passionate love is transitory, usually lasting between 6 and 30 months.

 

Hatfield also suggests that passionate love arises when cultural expectations encourage falling in love, when the person meets one's preconceived ideas of ideal love, and when one experiences heightened physiological arousal in the presence of the other person.

 

Ideally, passionate love then leads to compassionate love, which is far more enduring.

While most people desire relationships that combine the security and stability of compassion with intense passionate love, Hatfield believes that this is rare.

 
 
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Heart, Silhouette, Love, Luck, Abstract

 

You Were Born to Be Loved

By Leah Dawang

 

It’s a sleepy morning. The kind of morning that looks back on the day before, heavy and empty at the same time.

Sedated by exhaustion birthed out of trying your very best and still coming up short.

Readjusting the baggage you’ve brought, you pull the cold handle, opening the door to your favorite coffee shop. Immersed in smells, sounds and warmth, your body reminds you, you’re alive.

 

Glancing too and fro, humans speak, words navigating through steam. Provoked by their connections, a feeling crawls up from the bottom of your stomach: aloneness. 

Your bags grow heavier with this addition.

 

He wanted to meet you here to reconnect.

You did your best to talk yourself – and him – out of it. You search the shop until you see Him…well, not so much as see Him as you feel His smile.

 

It’s kind, Love’s smile

 

It’s the kind of smile that disassembles ego’s walls brick by brick while whistling a favorite tune.

Baggage landing with a thump, you scoot out the chair to sit, unconsciously reaching for the mug in front of you.

It’s aroma offers some comfort and you gladly accept. Eyelids heavy, it’s unclear if tears or tired are the cause. You assume both, to be safe. 

 

Space wraps around your feet as they dangle off the ground and memories of being a kid overwhelm your body. Small. Powerless.

Too much to say much. 

“It’s good to see you.”

 

Like racket balls, the words rickashay off the fortress of your heart.

It senses intruders and without pause, fortifies the walls of shame and protection.

And yet, the penetrating kindness of Love’s smile doesn’t fade.

Brick by brick, he begins dismantling. 

 

“I’m glad you’re here. I’m particularly delighted to be with you.”

Words so surprising, you can’t help but look up.

He is average looking, wearing a tired sweatshirt.

His hands are well worn but relaxed and folded on the table.

Eyes locked on his, he makes a small whole in your heart fortress and Light floods in.

“Can you show me what you brought with you today?”

 

You look down at the baggage scattered around your feet, remembering your reality.

Staring, tears threaten your eyelids’ edge.

Your mouth stammers and stutters, tripping on every assumed consequence.

But there is safety about Him. The kindest, most grace-filled friend – He who is Love.

 

And so you begin:

Taking the first bag off the ground with trembling hands, you unpack all that you’ve stowed away for fear of others’ scrutiny. And even more so, your own. 

 

With heavy hands, you untangle memory after memory, thought after thought, setting each on the table, convinced this is the one that will send Love running. Or worse, he’ll demand you leave.

But instead, He bends down and helps you untangle, asking questions along the way. He wants to truly know you.

 

The deeper in the bags you get, the deeper in your heart you go until Love looks down and sees a bag untouched.

 

“What’s this one, friend?”

 

You take a quick glance, as you work to untangle a rather dark thought heavy in your hand.

“Oh, that’s my good bag. I don’t need to unpack it.”

 

A small chuckle bubbles up from Love’s side of the table.

With a crooked half-smile he gently nudges the bag toward you and with a nod of his head, invites you into the process.

 

“But these are all the good things I’ve done. I keep them as reminders.”

“I don’t need reminding, friend.”

 

Love helps you unzip the bag as you take out its contents.

 

“I try to be kind to people.

I do my best to be patient and admit when I’m triggered.

I give money away to those in need and try not to lose my temper when I get frustrated with my family. I do my best to be honest and focus on staying present.

I fight for justice and stand up for what I believe in while trying not to judge others.”

 

On and on you go, piling your efforts out on the table, they overflow.

You look at Love for affirmation but are surprised to see his face mixed between amused and confused.

 

“I work really hard to be good.” You explain.

“And it weighs you down just like the other bags.” Love points out.

 

After some time, with all bags empty, thoughts, memories, efforts piled high, Love takes one last look and then hops off the chair and says, “Okay, ready to go?”

 

Wide-eyed, you’re baffled. “How can it be that simple? Don’t we need to clean this up?”

“Don’t we need to throw it all away?”

 

Like water dancing over a rocky riverbed, Love chuckles again.

The sweetest art you’ve ever heard. Putting his arm around you, he guides you out of the coffee shop, lighting the path with His smile.

 

“There are many things you don’t yet understand about me.

I have no intention to throw anything away. I prefer redeemed things.

Restored things.

Let’s take a walk and I’ll show you.”

Lighter on your feet than you’ve ever been, you take one step after another.

 

Love begins,

“I’m bigger and kinder than you’ve ever known or hoped.” 

 

“I always choose you.”

 

“And when given the chance, I gladly lay down my life for you, friend.”

“My affection doesn’t grow or shrink no matter what you do.”

 

“There is nothing you can do to make me love you more. And there is nothing you can do to make me love you less.”

 

“I love you because I love you because I love you because I love you.”

 

“It’s in your broken places, I find my way in.”

“Walk with me and I’ll transform you to receive and give.”

“You were born to be Loved.”

 
 

 

Heart, Pain, Tears, Man, Face, Mourning

 

 

 

 

 

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Your Opinions Are Not Facts

How to share your experience without forcing it on someone elseDon JohnsonDon Johnson

 

There’s a lot to disagree about these days: politics, shutdowns, masks, travel restrictions, vaccines—you name it.

And then there are the more mundane disagreements in everyday life, the little things, like setting the thermostat.

Someone wants to turn it down.

You want it up.

Someone says, “It’s too hot in here.”

You say, “It’s not hot.

It’s cold.”

Before you know it, you’re in a silly argument.

None of us need more aggravation, especially right now.

In order to express yourself respectfully and diffuse arguments before they start, it’s important to understand the difference between facts, opinions, and toxic opinions.

 

A fact is a thing that is known or proven to be true:

  • The Earth is round.
  • Google is a search engine.
  • Water is a simple molecule of positively charged hydrogen atoms and one large negatively charged oxygen atom.

An opinion is a view or judgment that depends on your assessment:

  • I like pizza.
  • I feel happy when I take a walk.
  • I prefer to wear dark colors.

A toxic opinion is an opinion disguised as a fact:

  • That project will never work.
  • There’s a worldwide shortage of jobs right now.
  • There’s no hope for a better life today.

Here’s why toxic opinions are problematic:

When someone says “It’s too hot in here,” it’s easy to get defensive because the statement excludes any possibility that your experience might be different.

It doesn’t consider that you might be cold.

“Too hot” is a relative term.

It’s not a universally accepted fact.

 

It might be cute when a child says “Brussels sprouts are gross.”

But it’s not cute when adults speak in toxic opinions.

 

Expressing an opinion disguised as a fact makes it toxic because it diminishes anyone else’s perspective.

 

This is how many arguments start: one person imposes their opinion on someone else.

 

 

The typical reaction is to push back aggressively, turning your own opinion toxic in response: “It’s not hot in here. I’m freezing!”

 

Toxic opinions invite defensiveness and open the door for arguments.

 

When I teach this concept to my clients, I ask them to argue with me.

I say, “The room is hot.”

They say, “No, it’s not.

The room is fine.

What’s wrong with you, anyway?”

Then I say, “Argue with me now: ‘I feel hot.’” I get blank looks.

People try to argue, but it’s impossible to argue with “I feel hot.”+ You can disagree by saying “I feel cold,” but that’s not arguing.

That’s just stating how you feel.

By saying “I feel hot,” I’m not suggesting everyone else should feel that way.

I’m merely describing how I feel and what I’m experiencing.

 

“I” statements demonstrate personal ownership, accountability, and taking responsibility. By using an “I” statement, you can defuse an argument before it happens.

Research has shown that “I” statements can reduce defensiveness and aggression.

 

Toxic opinions invite defensiveness and open the door for arguments.

Arrogance and believing one version of reality—yours—is the only possible view that underlies toxic opinions and could be the single largest creator of arguments.

 

There are two types of toxic opinions: impersonal and personal.

Impersonal:

  • “Conservatives don’t care about the poor.”
  • “Technology is ruining our lives.”
  • “Wealthy people are selfish.”

Personal:

  • “You’re lazy and leave all the housework up to me.”
  • “You don’t listen to me.”
  • “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.”

You can rephrase a toxic opinion by saying “I think…,” followed by supporting facts or by stating what you experience and how you feel.

An opinion or your point of view, when grounded by the facts as you see them and the knowledge that others may see it differently, is a powerful, direct, and respectful way to communicate.

It’s empowering to say, “Look, this is my opinion on the subject.

You may disagree, but I want you to know what I think.”

 

For example, “I feel hot.

The thermostat says it’s 75 degrees in here,” expresses your experience and states a fact. “I think technology is ruining lives.

I read a study from Harvard citing cellphone use by small children reduces cognitive brain function.” “When we agree to sit down to watch TV together, and you get on your iPad, I feel disrespected and unappreciated.”

The purpose of an opinion is not to prove someone wrong or convince them of your point of view.

The goal is to speak truthfully and accurately about what you know or believe without discounting others’ experiences.

Without opinions, we would have no creative dialogue or problem-solving. We would be empty shells with little or nothing to say.

 

Instead of creating defensiveness, an opinion invites dialogue, because you take responsibility for your point of view by saying, “I think, I believe, I propose, I suggest.”

When you speak this way, it encourages others to do the same. Whether they follow your lead is up to them.

You’ve done your part.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and we all have the right to express our point of view.

We may agree with each other or not.

But no one is entitled to impose their opinion on anyone else—whether about politics or the thermostat.

 

My wife and I have had numerous conversations about the thermostat in our house.

She often feels hotter than I do, and we’ve had our moments.

Now I wear an extra layer on cold days.

She dresses more lightly.

When she says, “It’s too hot in here,” I smile and say, “Oh, so you’re feeling warm?

Let’s turn it down for a bit.”

She looks at me and laughs and says, “Right, I am feeling warm.”

 

I smile because even though we both teach this stuff for a living, we don’t always get it right.

We’re just humans, after all, living, learning, and trying to be the best versions of ourselves.

 

Today, I hope you will have another inspired day,

that you will dream boldly and dangerously,

that you will make some progress that didn’t exist before you took action,

that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change.

And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world),

that you will,

when you must,

be wise with your decisions,

and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.