Why do we fall in love? Why does it feel such a joy to connect with a romantic partner and why does it hurt so much to disconnect from someone we love?
There are a number of theories describing love and its types. One is such theory is articulated by John Lee in his book The Colors of Love. Lee reports that there are six styles of loving, three of which are primary, the other three being secondary. The primary styles are:
- Eros, which is loving an ideal person
- Ludos, a type of love in which loving is seen as a game
- Storge, a type of love in which loving is more like a friendship
The secondary styles of love are Mania (Eros and Ludos), which is an obsessive type of love, Pragma (Ludos and Storage), which is a realistic and practical type of love, and Agape (Eros and Storge), which is selfless love.
Another theory of love is that of Robert Sternberg, who caims love is composed of three elements: intimacy, passion and commitment. Different combinations of these three result in different types of love.
In today's world, especially in the more technologically advanced areas of the world, many people are not only looking for physical compatibility but emotional, mental and spiritual ones. In today's life, humans are becoming more aware of their deeper needs and are learning a sense of self-value that encourages them to take care of their highest self and deeper needs.
By self-value I don't mean an egoistic sense of self-value, but understanding how priceless humans can really become if they can access their potential and their inner power. It also means a sense of love for the self to make sure one's being is not damaged, controlled or taken advantage of; it is ensuring that the self is provided a healthy life style to blossom and to give its flower back to life. When we get a feeling of being stepped over, controlled, repressed or damaged; we tend to project that onto our surrounding and others.
In relationships, women are becoming more intellectually autonomous and financially secure and less in need of having a mate to "take care" of their financial and basic needs. In addition, men are becoming more emotionally expressive and less in need of a woman to take care of their need for emotional satisfaction, as they are finding that within. We are in a way becoming more self-sufficient -- but does that mean we won't want to be with someone else?
Not at all. Individuals searching for balance in life need to find a healthy balance between inner and outer connections. It is through relationships with others that we learn many things in life. We learn through our interactions with our surroundings and other people to find joy, experience pain and a range of other emotions.
What self-sufficiency means is that we get into a relationship not because of neediness or fear of loneliness. It is more of a sense of finding more joy rather than filling up some empty hole within. If we don't learn to work on our deficiencies, it is unlikely that someone else will be able to do it for us -- so that type of expectation will probably lead to disappointment and more.
Another subject worth noting is the depth of love and how far we want to go. If love is based on just the senses, just chemistry or only based on sexual attraction, the chances of it fading away is quicker. Senses may get impulsively attracted but if there is not enough effort put into the relationship, it fades away. We fall out of love just as quickly as we fell in love.
But when something deeper is at play, when we truly connect emotionally, mentally and even on deeper levels which can go as far as spiritually, then the chances of that love lasting increase. It does not mean that there is free access to a "happily ever after" world; we still need to do the work on any type of relationship. We need to grow together and be determined to move through the challenges of life, hand in hand. We need to learn to compromise, communicate and learn about each other.
In a relationships, there is no feeling worse than "just getting by". We deserve to be happy and have a healthy life. We deserve to feel compatible with our partner and feel respected but we also need to be fair and see if we are giving what we are expecting. We can never change someone else but we can change our perceptions and responses to others which may help them wanting to change. Some couples report that by understanding more about each other's deep being, they have been able to find compassion for each other and with that compassion comes forgiveness and with that forgiveness comes positive change.
How do we know if we really love someone? Many times we confuse anxious attachments with love. Love does not come or is not rooted in anything negative. Many people rush into a relationship to run away from another unhealthy one -- this is a relationship that is seeded in escape rather than pure love. Other times our relationship is rooted in fear, and other times it is rooted in insecurities.
Then there are those relationships that we jump into to get some unmet needs fulfilled. Whatever it is, we have to start becoming familiar with our intentions and why we want a relationship. We need to learn what our needs are in a relationship, be open and expressive about them and present our authentic self. This way both us and the other who gets into a relationship with us know what we are getting into. We can make an informed decision for how we want to make the relationship work.
At the end, if a relationship is abusive, obsessive or controlling, we need to respect ourselves and let go. If there is too much disharmony and conflict and all of our problem solving skills -- including getting expert advice -- have not helped, it may be time to let go. There are times for following separating paths; old skin must be shed for the new to surface. If a relationship is not growing and becomes damaging rather than nurturing, then there may be time to discard it. Progress is essential in life and peeling away is needed for what does not serve. Sometimes retreat is the way to go to decide what needs to be done in a relationship.
In the end, to receive, something must be given. Sometimes we may have to let go of a habitual behavior or a cultural conditioning to be able to grow and expand. We also may have to let go of attachments when it is time to release.
Here is one of my poems that may be relevant to the subject of love:
Life may not want us to be together
But it wants us to understand each other
When we cross each other's path
When we glimpse at each other's eyes
When we go beyond the façade
When we look at that inner God
When we hear that inner heart
When we feel every single part
There is no real separation
Me and you are the same creation
So let's not judge
Let go of the grudge
Lighten your baggage
Enough with self damage