Your heart soars whenever you are together. You are in love! But the term has
many different meanings as each of these common example statements illustrate: I
love my wife. I love my son. I love my parents. I love riding my bike. I love
psychology class. I love Linda Ronstadt and Rod Stewart. I love the movie
Forms of Love
Many words in our vocabulary describe forms of love. Here is a partial list:
affection, attachment, tenderness, devotion, amity, regard, adoration,
adulating, ardor, fondness, liking, attraction, caring, tenderness, compassion,
sentimentality, longing, and passion. Lust has synonyms: arousal, desire,
passion, and infatuation. Companionate love describes the love of children
for parents, siblings for each other, parents for their children, and the love
of close friends. Erotic passion is the key distinction between romantic love
and the various forms of companionate love.
- A caring relationship between two people,
- Desiring or participating in affection and physical intimacy, usually but
not necessarily reciprocated.
- A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a
- Limbic Resonance.
Emotion or Sentiment
The word “love” can refer both to an acute passionate emotion, lasting for
minutes, hours, or days as well as to a lasting sentiment, enduring for years
through many ups and downs. The phrase “in love” often refers to the sentiment.
“Passion” describes the emotion.
Emotions allow us to sense the inner states and motives of the people around
us. We can detect what others are feeling and rapidly adjust our own thinking,
feeling, physiology, and actions to precisely match the situation. We have a
capacity for limbic resonance—a complex and rapid exchange of
information, largely non-verbal, between two people about our own state and our
adaptations to the other's state. This limbic resonance is what makes gazing
into the face of another person so fascinating. The eyes truly are the windows
to another's soul. Limbic resonance allows for a deep, personal connection,
below the level of consciousness. It is emotional harmony. It draws emotions into
congruence. It is the
mechanism that provides the “bonding” between mother and infant and even between
an owner and his dog. Limbic resonance is the mechanism of love.
Pushing a person on a swing is a common example of resonance. The pushing and
swinging must remain precisely synchronized to be effective, yet it seems
unclear if the swing paces the push, or the push paces the swing. So it is
with limbic resonance, are your emotions reflected in your lover, or are your
lover's emotions reflected in you? The resonance is a property of the
relationship between the two of you.
The term “unrequited love” refers to a person who is in love with someone who
does not love them back. It is a one-way, or asymmetrical, love relationship and
often leads to hurt and pain. As described below in the triangular theory of
love, love has several components. Each of these components can be asymmetrical
in any given relationship. For example you may feel sexual passion for the boss,
but the boss may feel only commitment toward you. The ideal, enduring, romantic
love is a strong and balanced consummate love, where commitment, intimacy, and
passion are all strongly felt by both people in the relationship.
Love, Sex, and Procreation
Sex is essential for procreation. The linkage between love and sex is less
clear, and somewhat culturally determined.
The Triangular Theory
Sternberg's triangular theory of love considers three independent
components of a complete, enduring, and romantic love he calls “consummate
love”. The three components are intimacy, passion, and commitment, with these
Intimacy is defined as feelings of being close to and bonded with a
partner. It requires exposing vulnerabilities. Agreement with the statements: “I feel close to my significant other”
and “I receive considerable emotional support from my significant other” measure
Passion refers to the arousal you experience toward your partner,
including sexual attraction. An example is agreement with the statements: “I
find my significant other to be personally attractive” and “I fantasize about my
Commitment consists of making two decisions; one, that you love your
partner, and two, that you desire to maintain that love and stay with your
partner. It is a long-lasing and stable concern for the other. A person committed to a relationship tends to agree with the statement:
“I will always feel a strong responsibility for my significant other.”
But what if one or more of the three essential elements of consummate love
are weak or absent from a relationship? The theory goes on to define and name
the six other possibilities as show here:
- “Coordination of moods is the essence of rapport.” ~ Daniel Goleman.
Passion and Reason: Making Sense of Our Emotions by Richard S.
Lazarus, Bernice N. Lazarus
The Triangle of Love: Intimacy, Passion, Commitment, by
A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, Richard
Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love,
by Helen Fisher
Conditions Of Love,
by John Armstrong
Emotions Revealed : Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve
Communication and Emotional Life by Paul Ekman
Cognitive Structure of Emotions by Andrew Ortony, Gerald L.
Clore, Allan Collins
Destructive Emotions : A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama
by Daniel Goleman
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Create Your Life, Your
Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values, by Marshall B.
Rosenberg, Arun Gandhi
Fear, Sadness, Anger, Joy, Surprise, Disgust, Contempt,
Anger, Envy, Jealousy, Fright, Anxiety, Guilt, Shame, Relief, Hope, Sadness, Depression, Happiness,
Pride, Love, Gratitude, Compassion, Aesthetic Experience,
Joy, Distress, Happy-for, Sorry-for, Resentment, Gloating, Pride, Shame, Admiration, Reproach,
Love, Hate, Hope, Fear, Satisfaction, Relief, Fears-confirmed, Disappointment, Gratification,
Gratitude, Anger, Remorse,
power, dominance, stature, relationships