What is Love?
Love can sometimes be truly unconditional and impossible to measure like that of a love between a mother and a child. Love has many dimensions to it and it can change from one relationship to another. For some, it’s a kind of madness, an adrenalin rush of emotions that makes ordinary life seem less so. And if asked to define love they might look to Hollywood for help.
“Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. If you don’t start with that, what are you going to end up with? Fall head over heels. I say find someone you can love like crazy and who’ll like you the same way back.” – Movie: Meet Joe Black (1998)
The kind of love referred to in the quote above is romantic love and it is the most powerful sensation you will ever feel. On a romantic date, you develop an intense attachment to another and will do all kinds of crazy things to be with your love. To have their love, to be their only love. It’s staying up all night together talking, and whizzing through work the following day feeling energized and totally hyped waiting to spend more time with your loved one. If you’re feeling it now about someone then are reassured, you’re not completely mad.
Scientists tell us these intense feelings of passion have a biological basis to them and when in a heightened state of romantic like your body is literally flooded with amphetamine like chemicals. Your focus becomes finely tuned a bit like a heat-seeking missile with one direction only -towards that of your loved one. You’re constantly thinking about the person you’ve decided is ‘the one.’ You are love addicted
In this euphoric state, you idealize your loved ones, bestowing on their qualities and attributes far beyond what any one human being could possess. If, through this fog you see your loved one has imperfections you minimize them, even considering them adorable. You’re positive this time your dreams are finally realized; this is the person who will make you feel whole, the soulmate you’ve been waiting for. And because your feelings are so intense you convince yourself that what you’re feeling is real. This madness, this addiction you declare to all is love.
However, with every high, there is a low and although the euphoric period varies with each couple, it will end at some point. It’s nature’s way of preventing us from burning out completely. Making all those grand gestures, staying up late talking for hours on end. Is fun even exhilarating but it will become exhausting? And so you enter the next stage of the relationship, the low, the period of disillusionment.
Do I Know You?
For some the period of disillusionment is unsettling and questions surface like, ‘Who is this person I’m with?’ Realization dawns your soulmate sees things differently to you, has opinions at odds with yours. And most perplexing of all they can be boring/loud/obnoxious or silly at times. For some this is the time to move on quickly, feeling justified in doing so by a belief that says without the high, something must be wrong with the relationship. ‘I got it wrong, he/she wasn’t right for me at all.’
Others, however, will move from the period of disillusionment into the next phase that is the ‘mature love’ stage. This is when the relationship takes on deeper meaning; it’s a place of calm, friendship, commitment, intimacy and most of all acceptances of one another -just as you are. It’s having faith and trust in one another, and an ability to see and accept both the frailties and vulnerabilities each of you has.
Love – A Decision?
While you might not want to hear this, when you tell yourself, “But I can’t help how I feel,” the truth is you can! When we speak of love, we tend to think of our heart yet love does not come from the heart it comes from the brain. It is a cognitive process…and it involves choice.
I am making a decision to no longer like you or
I am making a decision to like you.
Love is not a Feeling…the Reality is, It is an Action, an Activity and it Requires Effort, Courage, and Practice.
For the passion slaves unwilling to accept this. The search for the ‘real’ soulmate will continue for as long as they believe the problem lies with the person they love rather than their ideas about love or the expectations they set for a partner. Equally, happiness, for them, will remain elusive as it soars and dives with each new love addiction.
Carole Smith is a relationship counselor and life coach based in Dublin, Ireland.