What Is Romantic Love?
Romantic love has been and continues to be studied by philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, neuropsychologists and anthropologists who have exposed their theories about such a broad and complex feeling in an attempt to unravel it.
Romantic Love In The Relationship
With this article I intend to address romantic love in the relationship . I assume the challenge that, when undertaking this task, the emergence of false beliefs and false ideals ( myth of the half orange, myth of romantic love , etc.) that have been transferred to the collective imaginary since ancient times will arise.
These false beliefs and ideals have come to permeate the collective mind beyond reality by the feedback of transfers and projections that are responsible for transmitting both verbal criteria and those transferred by literature, cinema and the media in general . All this helps to ensure that the current relationship implicit in marriage, love and sexuality is a product-consequence of the social and cultural changes of recent centuries, among which the preponderance of patriarchy stands out.
More or less we all know that love is an emotion or a feeling that is possible to experience at some point in our lives. Moreover, we all consider as true a series of conceptions that define what love should be. However, love is something that goes beyond a closed conceptualization. Love is an emotional bond that eventually emerges in an interpersonal relationship. It is a constantly changing process , which is why he admits many descriptions and definitions, even for the same person depending on each stage and moment of his life.
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Also, consider that the term love is used for a wide range of feelings (tenderness, affection, passion, etc.) and also at different levels in its expression (love-physical, love-vanity, love-passion). That is why it would not be unreasonable to say that love could be defined in various ways by different people and at different stages of their lives.
We will contemplate some of the studies that I have considered most significant and important regarding romantic love in recent times.
Are There Different Types Of Love In A Relationship?
Types Of Love - John Alan Lee
John Alan Lee, a sociologist at the University of Toronto, published in 1973 the book "Colors Of Love" where he conducted a study about love styles, as well as a classification of them.
Lee distinguished three basic and three secondary types of love , which are in turn a combination of two basic ones.
- Eros (passionate or romantic love ) . It is characterized by eroticism, a great physical attraction and a copious sexual activity.
- Ludus (playful love) . Relationship style tending to flirting and lack of commitment. There is little emotional involvement and no future expectations.
- Storge (friendly love) . Based on complicity, similarity, sharing interests and intimacy. It is a stable relationship that is characterized by love and implies a lasting commitment.
- Mania (possessive love) . Result of the sum of eros and ludus , in this relationship there is an obsessive tendency associated with jealous dyes, dependence and distrust.
- Pragma (logical love) . In this type, the choice of the right partner is loaded with conditions, in an attempt to find the person that best suits their own interests. It is therefore a bond of convenience that unites ludus and storge .
- Agape (selfless love) . It is a kind of love in which it is given without expecting anything in return, an absolute renunciation, an unconditional surrender. It includes eros and storge in an idealized relationship.
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John Alan Lee formulates his theory based on history and classical literature :
- Eros, of the teacher / disciple relationships that occurred in ancient Greece.
- Pragma, of marriages arranged or arranged throughout history.
- Ludus, of the relations described by Ovid between boy and maiden in the Roman Empire.
- Agape and Storge, of the normative feeling between spouses, devoid of passion, in the Christian Era.
- Mania, from the tragic exaggeration of the Eros in Medieval Europe.
The Triangular Theory Of Love - Robert Sternberg
Robert Sternberg formulated in the late eighties "The triangular theory of love", according to which love consists of three interdependent elements :
It is understood as passion for emotion and intense desire manifest towards a person. A feeling of vehement love, which manifests itself especially in sexual desire. It represents nostalgia and desire for union.
The rapid growth of passion in the early stages tends to slow down as the relationship progresses to stabilize at moderate levels as time progresses.
Sternberg considers intimacy as an emotional component of love that allows us to provide well-being, respect, " having " in times of difficulty, understanding, sharing, giving and receiving support, communication, appreciation and self-disclosure.
Intimacy has a rapid growth in the early stages of a relationship, and as it progresses it develops in a progressive manner.
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Decision / Commitment
The decision / commitment implies, in the short term, the decision to love someone, and in the long term, the desire to maintain that love - commitment.
These three elements are symbolized in each of the vertices of an equilateral triangle.
Sternberg considers that in love there are different possibilities of combination between the three basic elements (passion, intimacy and decision / commitment), which give rise to different alternatives or types of love.
- Love friendship (or pleasure, love). There is only intimacy and it manifests itself in intimate friendship relationships, with great emotional proximity and without any anxiety in the face of separation.
- Passionate love (or infatuation). In this relationship there is only passion that produces great psychophysiological arousal, which can both arise and dissipate instantly.
- Empty love . There is only commitment and it is typical of relationships of stagnant couples, in which it has been lost or there has never been mutual emotional involvement or physical attraction.
- Romantic love . In this type of relationship there is intimacy and passion. It is like a relationship of pleasure to which physical attraction is added.
- Love partner (or sociable). It is a relationship of intimacy and commitment, that is, a long-term committed friendship. It may happen that a relationship begins with only passion and after a few years it becomes this kind of love.
- Fatuous (or foolish) love . It is a precipitous relationship that lacks the stabilizing element of intimacy. There is only passion and commitment and it is a very short relationship.
- Full (or consummated) love . This relationship is the one that contains the necessary ingredients of intimacy, passion and commitment that can guarantee maximum satisfaction. It constitutes the fullest manifestation of love and is the type of relationship that most would like to have.
Modification To The Triangular Theory Of Sternberg - Carlos Yela
Carlos Yela, a social psychologist, modifies Sternberg's triangular theory by dividing passion into two: erotic passion and romantic passion.
- Erotic passion . It refers to the love of physical and physiological character, such as physical attraction, sexual desire, etc.
- Romantic passion . It refers to passion based on a set of ideas and attitudes about the relationship, such as having a romantic ideal. The latter would follow an evolution similar to what Sternberg understands by intimacy.
Carlos Yela sustains the existence of four fundamental components in love: Commitment, Intimacy, Erotic Passion and Romantic Passion.
Throughout a relationship, three fundamental phases are crossed :
Falling In Love - Romantic Love
It is a relatively short phase in which there is a vertiginous increase in all love components, especially erotic passion and romantic passion.
Passionate Love - Passionate Love
Intermediate phase between falling in love and the long phase of companion love. The components of this phase are intimacy, romantic passion and erotic passion, with an important growth in commitment.
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Love Mate, Not Passionate - Love Mate
It is the longest phase in which intimacy and commitment reach their maximum level. Romantic passion and erotic passion tend to moderate. It is based on reciprocity.
Romantic Love And Its Neurochemistry - Helen Fisher
Helen Fisher, an anthropologist, biologist and director of the Research Department at Rutgers University (in New Jersey, USA), studied romantic love for many years from a scientific point of view .
One of his most relevant studies consisted of investigating the brain state in each of the elements of a group of people imprisoned with love passion or romantic love.
To carry out his study, Fisher resorted to neuro imaging technology and observed through magnetic resonance imaging, an increase in the activity of the areas of the brain involved in the reward circuits , areas that promote circulation through the brain of dopamine, a neurotransmitter present in the brain regions that regulate movement, emotion, motivation and feelings of pleasure.
Both excess and dopamine deficit is related to several diseases such as Parkinson's or drug addiction (substances that generate a feeling of euphoria pleasure through the same pathways and the same areas related to dopamine).
The reward circuit is not only found in humans but in most animals, since it is a primitive system that, naturally, is essential for the survival of the individual and the species , since activities depend on it Pleasant as food or reproduction.
The studies carried out by Helen Fisher led her to contemplate the existence of three brain systems that interact with each other and are related to love :
- The sexual impulse
- Romantic love, whose intensity is manifested in the beginning of the relationship.
- The attachment or affection. They are deep feelings that make an appearance in a long-distance relationship.
In addition, Helen Fisher demonstrated with her studies that love passion (or romantic love) is closely linked with our brain ; so much that romantic love would not be an emotion but an impulse, an instinct, an intense physiological need of the human being such as hunger.
Interestingly, these Fisher findings would explain biochemically a hypothesis formulated by psychoanalysis about the link between unresolved dependency needs in childhood and addictions (alcohol, food, shopping, play, sex, etc.) in adulthood.
According to Fisher's hypothesis, the sexual impulse would be the expression of a desire that seeks gratification and satisfaction , which is obtained through certain neurotransmitters (mainly dopamine , endorphins , norepinephrine and adrenaline ) that, in a way, overshadow the trial to the extreme of making us ignore potential dangers.
In this situation, norepinephrine supplies energy to guide the behavior to perform the maximum possible activities with the couple, fixing all the attention in it and removing obstacles in order to satisfy their desires.
Romantic love is the desire and motivation that arises from the need to be with the other person, even not only in the sexual aspect. As with the sex drive, it is also mediated by neurotransmitters such as dopamine, among others.
Consider that during sex and with orgasm the action of vasopressin and oxytocin is added, generating the feeling of bond and connection that unites us with the other person. According to Helen Fisher, romantic love is an impulse that can even overcome sexual desire for the intensity of the craving it originates , a conclusion that came from data obtained in their research based primarily on neurosciences and anthropology.
During sexual arousal and orgasm, the frontal lobe areas are inhibited, which is why it is more prone to primary instincts than to reflection and critical ability. This is due to a prefrontal hypoactivity that can lead to wrong decisions and even irresponsible behavior with negative effects.
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Long-Term Attachment To A Couple
Helen Fisher defends that the evolution of romantic love was aimed at focusing mating energy on a single person and thus conserve time and reserves for other activities beneficial to personal and our species' evolution. In turn, he affirms that the evolution of attachment helped to tolerate the couple with less difficulty, at least for long enough together to bring the offspring up to fruition.
At this stage of the relationship, the bond is strengthened at the expense of knowing what our partner likes - or not -, facilitating greater mutual understanding and greater empathy. The circumstances of having interests and distractions in common (such as children), goals and desires that strengthen the union help in this company.