What Is Love?


April 24, 2007

Who knew there was so much research on and definition of love? I have copied this from another site (meaning of life):

According to Rubin (1970), love has three components: (1) an affiliative and dependent need, (2) a predisposition to help, and (3) exclusiveness and absorption. Liking is more closely akin to friendship.

In his research, Wong has found that liking can be negatively related to passionate love ; in other words, you may be madly in love with someone you dislike, because your mind tells you that he or she is “bad news”, but your heart is still lovesick.

According to Tennov (1979), love is different from limerence. Love is mutual, and is characterized as a great affection and concern for the welfare of the beloved. Limerence, on the other hand, is passionate love gone wild. It begins with a spark of interest, and under appropriate conditions, can grow into enormous intensity. Limerence is a state of cognitive obsession, an unrealistic hope of reciprocation. A tiny bit of reciprocation, whether motivated by pity or vanity, will result in feelings of euphoria, which inevitably turn to despair and misery. However, limerence can grow into love, when it is completed fulfilled.  to_love.jpg

Peele and Brodsky (1975) also differentiate between addictive love and genuine love. Addictive love occurs when a person is totally absorbed in the love object in order to escape from an otherwise meaningless and unhappy existence. Such obsession distracts from a person’s ability to pay attention to important aspects of his or her life. Prolonged separation or termination of the relationship can cause “withdrawal symptoms” similar to those of a drug addict.

Lee (1973) has developed a typology consisting of six types of love: (1) Eros, where the lovers search for someone with specific physical characteristics; (2) pragma, where potential love-objects are rationally considered; (3) agape, where the person loves without expectation of reciprocation; (4) ludus, where love is treated as agape; (5) storage, which is similar to compassionate love, and (6) mania, which is similar to addiction love, characterized by cognitive obsession as well as emotional peaks and valleys.

triangularlove.gif Sternberg (1986) views love as a triangular structure, consisting of three components: intimacy, passion and decision/commitment. Various combinations of these components result in eight kinds of love: (1) non-love (absence of the three components),(2) liking (intimacy in isolation), (3) infatuation (passion), (4) empty love (decision/commitment), (5) romantic love (passion and intimacy), (6) compassionate love (intimacy and decision/commitment), (7) fatuous love (passion and decision/commitment), and (8) consummate love (which includes all three components.)

Literature, music and films are replete with themes of forlorn love.

Judging from newspaper advice columns, magazine articles and self-help books (i.e., Halpern, 1983; Phillips & Judd, 1978), the problem of unrequited love seems both serious and widespread. widespread18hi.jpg It is not surprising that popular interest in unrequited love has remained unabated, because more often than not people are not able to win the affection of the man or woman of their dream and suffer much as a result. When one’s love is not reciprocated, a host of negative reactions might follow. In extreme cases, a person may be driven to attempt suicide in order to escape the pain. However, even in milder cases unrequited love causes pain and may interfere with a person’s daily functioning. Unrequited love, as it is commonly known, involves situations in which one person passionately loves an unresponsive object.  love-forlorn.jpg

Tennov (1979) has provided numerous examples of forlorn love. Lee’s (1973) manic lover and Hazan & Shaver’s (1987) anxious ambivalent lover also fall into this category. Each of these describes an intense craving for intimacy, an irresistible cognitive obsession with the love object, and prolonged sufferings caused by rejection and jealousy. The driving force is not sexual gratification, but reciprocation of romantic interest and devotion. We refer to this type of obsessive love as the Classic unrequited love.

Co-dependency is a term used to describe those people whose lives are completely intertwined with a drug/alcohol addict, such as a spouse or lover. The co-dependent identifies with their love object to the extent of losing his/her own identity. The needs and problems of the addict are taken on by the co-dependents as their own. The co-dependents choose to get stuck in a painful relationship, because of their neurotic need to be needed and their own insecurity. Thus, unlike classic unrequited love where the ultimate goal is union, the goal of the co-dependent is the fulfillment of a need to be needed, no matter how unloving and painful the relationship is. 1-interior.gif Another kind of unrequited love is less intense, and more common-hence the term minor unrequited love. This type is characterized by one’s perception that one’s partner does not reciprocate one’s love to a similar degree. Minor unrequited love may be only a distorted perception or it may be an accurate portrayal of the situation. In either case, it may result in feelings of dissatisfaction and upset. Because it is a negative and potentially destructive experience, psychopathology may develop. Even minor unrequited love may cause marital breakdown and may adversely affect other areas of the person’s life. ”

No shit.

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7 Responses to “What Is Love?”

  1. O'Maolchathaigh Says:

    So, I’m experiencing Classic unrequited love after Minor unrequited love? One leads to the other? – wow! Now what?

    For Karen: “…an irresistible cognitive obsession with the love object, and prolonged sufferings caused by rejection…. The driving force is … reciprocation of romantic interest and devotion. We refer to this type of obsessive love as the Classic unrequited love.”

    For The Dragon: “…characterized by one’s perception that one’s partner does not reciprocate one’s love to a similar degree. Minor unrequited love may be only a distorted perception or it may be an accurate portrayal of the situation. In either case, it may result in feelings of dissatisfaction and upset. Because it is a negative and potentially destructive experience, psychopathology may develop. Even minor unrequited love may cause marital breakdown and may adversely affect other areas of the person’s life.”

  2. zip Says:

    love is bullshit

  3. O'Maolchathaigh Says:

    It does seem that way, doesn’t it? It is, of course, a wholly human invention, and not as old as humanity. However, it can propel someone to the depths of despair or the height of estatic bliss, so, even if imaginary, it still seems worthwhile.

  4. dianajajha Says:

    love has four letters..so does hurt..shit..crap…and fuck

  5. O'Maolchathaigh Says:

    Yep!

  6. LuLi Says:

    Hmm.. seems I’ve been in limerence for long periods of time. I thought love could still exist despite not being reciprocated. But then, it did always seem unhealthy! This was a very interesting article, thanks for reproducing it.

  7. O'Maolchathaigh Says:

    You’re welcome; it was an interesting article to me, for sure, and I thought it might be useful. I don’t think limerence is real love. One might love family without any expression of love in return, but romantic love really does seem to require reciprocity.


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