Dr Rajiv Desai

An Educational Blog

SCIENCE OF LOVE

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SCIENCE OF LOVE:

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In a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, one researcher likened love at first sight to narcissism, because it turns out what we’re most attracted to is someone who happens to be looking at us. Again, this has evolutionary roots, as we shouldn’t spend time chasing a mate who’s not interested, but it’s narcissistic because the person we tend to look at, of course, looks like us. It’s like falling in love with your own image in the mirror as shown in the figure above.  

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Prologue: 

Shruti Hassan says that she is my fan. Esha Gupta wants to frustrate me. Is this love? Well, they are playing safe. If you have a reason why you love someone, it is not love. You can’t have a reason for loving someone, it just happens and you know it…..Love is an extremely complicated topic, and perspectives on it can vary from the cynical to the optimistic. However, there is no denying that love for ones country keeps that country strong; love for one’s family keeps that family together; and love for one’s partner keeps a relationship strong. No human condition has such a wide variety of symptoms. On one hand lies sleeplessness, irrational behavior, eating disorders, depression, mania, the inability to focus, and a great deal of pain. On the other stands intense concentration, vigor, confidence, and what most would consider the ideal state of life. No single force has contributed more to the shaping of society. Every home, temple, and countless works of art are built on one feeling, while just as many fires, murders, suicides, and even wars have stemmed from the same feeling…love.  When asked “What makes your life meaningful?”  Majority of people answer ‘close relationships with family, friends and romantic partners’.  You switch on the television and there are sagas of love. Romance is an indispensable part of many movies. You turn on the radio and 80% of the songs played are those that romance the concept of love. You log on to the internet and if you are single, you are bombarded by singles sites and the prospects of finding true love. If you are in a relationship – you are bombarded with info about how you could express your true love. There is no denying that love is a natural function, as essential to us human beings as breathing, eating, and sleeping. But still, we really have no idea what it really is or how and why it occurs. Certainly love is within us. We feel it, we enjoy it, and we ache both for it and from it. We chase it, we crave it, and sometimes we think we can’t live without it. Nevertheless, we seem to know very little about it… until very recently. For centuries, we’ve looked to philosophers and poets to parse the mysteries of love. Now it is science’s turn.

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The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love. Needless to say, when trying to discuss “love” with another person, it’s an iffy proposition as to whether or not you’ll be talking about the same thing.  So how is one to know if it’s love he’s (she’s) feeling for his partner?  Are there different types of love?  Are there different degrees of love?  These are very important questions, not only when there is a question about whether love is present, but also when trying to define the type and degree of love one is trying to find. Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts. Insofar as love involves concern for the other rather than only for oneself, and softens and strengthens relations within the family, the group and the nation, then it tends to produce lasting beneficial changes, advances, which enrich the family, the group and the nation. Many of the cultural achievements of humanity derive from love or have been closely associated with love: poetry, song, music, painting, and intellectual achievements of many kinds. In these last years, emotions and feelings, such as attachment, pair and parental bonding and even love, typical of higher mammals, neglected for centuries by experimental sciences, have become the topic of extensive neuroscientific research in order to elucidate their biological mechanisms. Several observations have highlighted the role of distinct neural pathways, as well as of monoamines and neuropeptides, in particular oxytocin, vasopressin and opiates, but this is only the beginning of the story. Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.   

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Statistics of love:

The most important thing that scientists have learned is that romantic love was not invented by the troubadours in 11th century France. We have now found love poetry from the ancient Sumerians written some 4,000 years ago, as well as evidence of romantic love in over 147 societies. It’s given us a deep sense of connection to people everywhere: We’re all alike in some basic and beautiful ways. In a survey of 166 contemporary societies, Jankowiak and Fischer (1992) found evidence of romantic love in 147 of them; they noted that the 19 remaining cases were examples of ethnographic oversight—the anthropologists failed to ask the appropriate questions; they found no negative evidence. They concluded that romantic love constitutes a cross-culturally universal phenomenon. Regardless of the country or culture, romantic love plays an important part. While cultural differences in how that love is displayed vary greatly, the fact that romantic love exists is undisputed.

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The idea of marrying for love is a relatively recent phenomenon: (historically speaking)

In response to the question “If someone had all the qualities you desired, would you marry this person if you were not in love?”

In 1967, 31% of men and 72% of women said ‘yes’

In 1984, only 11% of men and 13% of women said ‘yes’

In non-Western cultures, love often follows marriage.

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A global poll taken on Valentine’s Day showed that most married people—or those with a significant other—list their romantic partner as the greatest source of happiness in their lives. According to the same poll, nearly half of all single people are looking for a romantic partner, saying that finding a special person to love would contribute greatly to their happiness. According to the University of Chicago’s John Cacioppo, an expert on loneliness, and his co-author William Patrick, “at any given time, roughly 20 percent of individuals—that would be 60 million people in the U.S. alone—feel sufficiently isolated for it to be a major source of unhappiness in their lives.” For older Americans, that number is closer to 35 percent.

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A survey of some 3,000 individuals has found that one in five adults claim to be “in love with someone other than their partner”. This “other” is usually a friend or work colleague. “Even in a happy relationship,” a spokesman for the polling firm told, “it seems to be possible to have a wandering eye or even crave affection from another person.” However the report goes on to claim that one in 25 people say they have been in love with someone else for more than five years and one in 50 say they have loved another for as long as they could remember. Furthermore, 29% of men and 19% of women say they plan to leave their partner.

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Statistics show love is a potent killer in India:

Love is what makes life worth living but, if the latest crime statistics are anything to go by; it remains a potent killer in India. While love affairs and sexual relations were the third most common cause for murders in the country in 2012 — after personal vendetta and property disputes — they accounted for most murders in seven states, including Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab. According to the crime data for 2012 — released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) — personal enmity was behind 3,877 of the 13,448 murders, where the figures clearly identify the motives (with the rest of the total 34,434 murders attributed simply to ‘other causes’). Property disputes were the reason for 3,169 murders and love affairs & sexual relations led to 2,549 killings across the country.  

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Love hurts:

People who don’t get sex don’t kill themselves, but it is estimated that 40 percent of people who had been dumped by their partner in the previous weeks experience clinical depression and 12 percent severe depression and 50 to 70 percent of female homicides are committed by rejected lovers. Annually one million women and 400,000 men are stalked in the U.S.

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 We are naive about Love:

Other than those life-sustaining needs like air, water, food, and shelter, no other need except love begins at birth and lasts until we die. Yet people know so little about this exquisite emotion that we idolize in music, film, and poetry, not to mention personally throughout our lives. We live for it. Some have died for it. In the song, “Oh Love,” Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood sang, “You’re the simple truth. And you’re the biggest mystery.” And it has been—until now.  So what is love? Neuroscience tells us that love is a condition involving neurons, neurotransmitters, hormones, receptors, and circuits in your brain.  Cognitive science defines passionate love as an “elevated activity in the brain pathways which cause feelings of euphoria, strong motivation, and heightened energy which can induce sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and obsessive thinking about the beloved.” That doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? And how crass to reduce it all to a rush of chemicals gushing through three pounds of gray slimy sponge under your scalp! Nobody wants to hear that. When humans first began to explore the sun, some people worried that God would be pushed aside. Likewise, some now fear discovering that love is simply a “condition” will make it less magic. Not at all! Understanding what love is just makes us a lot smarter in our choice of partner and teaches us how to keep that love alive. Besides, who says a condition has to be crass or that a motivation system can’t feel like magic? Skeptics aside, love truly can last a lifetime and get better and better. But only if you recognize the powerful neurological, chemical, and evolutionary forces controlling it.

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Brief history of romantic love:

The term romance originated with the medieval ideal of chivalry and was expressed in books, typically extolling the virtues of courtly love. Some historians believe that the word “romance” developed from a vernacular dialect within the French language meaning “verse narrative” referring to the style of speech, writing, and artistic talents within the upper classes. The word was originally an adverb of the Latin “Romanicus,” or “of the Roman style” and the sense of chivalric adventure merged with a sense of love sometime during the seventeenth century. The word “romance” has also developed with other meanings in other languages such as the early nineteenth century Spanish and Italian definitions of “adventurous” and “passionate”, sometimes combining the idea of “love affair” or “idealistic quality.”  Love has attracted the rather spasmodic attention of major philosophers, starting of course with Plato, who in the Symposium treats of a fundamental issue, the relation between love and desire. Pascal before his renunciation of the world produced a Discours sur les passions de l’amour.  Schopenhauer, a philosopher not noted for his tender attitude to individual human beings, said that ‘the subject had forced itself on him objectively and had become inseparable from his consideration of the world:  Instead of wondering why a philosopher for once in a way writes on this subject which has been constantly the theme of poets, should we be surprised that love which plays such an important role in a man’s life, has scarcely ever been considered at all by philosophers… I have decided to spend my life in thinking about it’.  Anthropologists such as Claude Lévi-Strauss show that there were complex forms of courtship in ancient as well as contemporary primitive societies, although the sense of romance is different from the modern sensibility. The concept of romantic love was popularized in Western culture by the game of courtly love. Troubadours in the Middle Ages engaged in trysts – usually extramarital – with women as a game created for fun rather than for marriage. Since at the time marriage was a formal arrangement, courtly love was a way for people to express the love typically not found in their marriage. In courtly love, “lovers” did not refer necessarily engage in sex but rather in the act of emotional loving. The secrecy of the arrangement was a spur to the passion. Short secret trysts escalated mentally but not always physically.  Rules of the game were even codified. For example, De amore or The Art of Courtly Love, as it is known in English, written in the 12th century, lists such rules as “Marriage is no real excuse for not loving”, “He who is not jealous cannot love”, “No one can be bound by a double love”, and “When made public love rarely endures”.

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Love has increasingly become a subject of serious academic study, but it wasn’t always fashionable to study it as a subject.  Amongst psychologists, Stanley Hall in the United States attracted a good deal of opprobrium by making love a central topic. One of the few other psychologists to discuss love in depth, Erich Fromm, argues that any theory of love must begin with a theory of man, of human existence and the full answer to the problems of human existence, according to him, lies in the achievement of fusion with another person, in love; this desire for interpersonal fusion, he says, is the most powerful striving in man: “love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love. I want the loved person to grow and unfold for his own sake”. Freud, with his jaundiced eye, could see nothing good, or indeed see nothing significant in love, an irrational part of human behavior; he long promised a book on the love life of humankind but never produced it, though he was assiduous in amending his published essays on sexuality; towards the end of his life he said that we know very little about love. Some eminent authors have recognized the significance of love but not been able to contribute to its study. So J.Z. Young commented in Programs of the Brain (1978 p. 143) that “Attempting to define love is indeed a hazardous enterprise, more suitable for a poet than for a scientist…. [But he added] What would be the use of a neuroscience that cannot tell us anything about love?”  One of the most sustained accounts of love, surprisingly, was by a Jesuit, Martin D’Arcy (1952). He suggested that to produce a unified, and so to speak, scientific account of love would be of service, as it would enable one to pass from the poetry to the psychology of the matter. Love, he said, is as old as human nature, but long stretches of time have been needed for its significance to be taken as seriously as it deserves. And the difficulties are great: just finding something common in the variety of descriptions which have been given of love is hard enough. Love appears in all literature, not as a passing episode, but as the marrow. Love is such a vast subject that a writer would never reach an end if he did not make up his mind to concentrate on one aspect of it. Referring to Scheler’s (1913/1954) discussion of love and sympathy, D’Arcy (p. 233) observes that while Scheler analyses what happens when we truly love, he does not explain why we should love in this manner; he gives us the fact but not the reason, and it is this final explanation which is so elusive and yet craved for by all. For much of the twentieth century, there was a conception that love was an artificial construction by Hollywood or greeting card firms such as Hallmark. According to one report, scholars had viewed romantic love as a “recent social construction.” A report in Time Magazine in 1977 suggested that: ‘Romantic love was introduced to Western culture by late 11th century troubadours. Since then the telltale symptoms —pain of longing, wide-eyed idealization of the beloved and vibrato of the soul —have become established as the preferred form of sexual attraction. Now, however, it may be nearing the end of its 900-year run. According to a Michigan State University psychologist, romantic love is dying out.’ The researcher quoted in the 1977 article, G. Marian Kinget, believed that the “idealization of lovers” had been shifting more towards a “reality testing” in which young people are casting a cold eye on prospective mates to check for flaws. Kinget hypothesized that the agony and ecstasy typical of romantic love had become “meaningless” and “quaint” because of the breakdown of traditional roles, including the then-increasing prevalence of casual sex. Kinget predicted a shift towards greater “emotional and social stability” as a result.  However, in the 2000s, there is renewed interest in the subject, and the notion that “romantic love is dead” seems out of favor; the view in 2010 is that romantic love has existed throughout time in different cultures and ways. While the institution of marriage in places like the United States as well as most Western nations seems to be foundering, with fewer people marrying, marrying later, and with the huge prevalence of divorce, particularly in the US, there are no indications that romantic love is dead, but is quite alive.

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If scientific treatment of love has been scarce, discussion of love as an evolutionary fact has been even less favored. One of the few exceptions was Mellen’s The Evolution of Love (1981). Glynn Isaac pointed out in the preface that few have grappled with love as something central to human evolution but scientifically elusive; “a topic which in spite of its interest has no experts except in so far as we are all experts”. Mellen says (p. 288) that apart from Darwin and a few other exceptions, self-respecting evolutionists have tended to shy away from love as a subject for study.

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Is there a religious component to romantic love? Generally, in the Western sense, romantic love is seen as attraction between people, although some religions insist that all love has a spiritual dimension. When romantic love results in a wedding, which takes place in a church, they see the end result as a union joined by God or a spiritual presence. But while some persons have an intense attachment to God, their relationships are generally not see as romantic in nature, but rather are usually described as spiritual or platonic.  

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According to American heritage dictionary, love means:

  1. A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
  2. A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance.
    1. Sexual passion.
    2. Sexual intercourse.
    3. A love affair.
  3. An intense emotional attachment, as for a pet or treasured object.
  4. A person who is the object of deep or intense affection or attraction; beloved. Often used as a term of endearment.
  5. An expression of one’s affection: Send him my love.
    1. A strong predilection or enthusiasm: a love of language.
    2. The object of such an enthusiasm: The outdoors is her greatest love.
  6. Love Mythology. Eros or Cupid.
  7. often Love Christianity. Charity.
  8. Sports. A zero score in tennis.

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What is Love? 

It’s a warm feeling based upon knowing and accepting someone. This relationship often involves mutual learning, caring and growth. Also, when you love someone you generally want them to be happy. Any women’s magazine has descriptions of true love in terms of the relation of man and woman. There are other types of love, mother/infant, brother/brother, plus a scatter of other uses of the term: love of animals, love of the countryside, love of excitement, love of truth etc. As a general rule, love usually refers to a deep, ineffable feeling of tenderly caring for another person. Despite this, however, there is a strong potential for love to become effed along the way. As a result of this, love, be it platonic, religious, romantic, or sexual, is one of the major inspirations for the creative arts, and other psychological trauma.

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The dictionary.com definition of love had a few versions:

-a profoundly tender passionate affection for another person

-a sexual passion or desire

-a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection

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The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines love as:

That state or feeling with regard to a person which arises from recognition of attractive qualities, from sympathy or from natural ties, and manifests itself in warm affection and attachment.

This is not bad, though by using “affection” and “attachment” the definition in the end dodges the problem. For affection, the OED has, surprisingly, nothing very helpful referring to “affect’: “affectionate” has “loving” as its most relevant meaning. For “attachment” the OED has “affection, devotion, fidelity” so as usual dictionary definitions go around in a circle.

Perhaps the more useful ways of saying what love is are

(1) to see how it has been described by a multitude of writers over the ages as a matter of personal experience, and

(2) by examining one’s own experience which will tell one when the state of “love” is experienced.

In the end to say what “love” means is much the same as saying what “red” or “pleasant” means; we just know. Little progress has been made in the more fundamental approach of saying what the behavior and experience of love comprises and what the neurological/physiological substrates are.

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines love by twelve different ways (thirteen if you count the tennis term), and there have been countless attempts made by poets, musicians, philosophers, and literary figures to distill and define the essence of this powerful emotion. At first thought, love appears to be too complex and ambiguous to define in a scientific manner. Social scientists do not attempt to operationalize complex emotions like love in their entirety. For example, by demonstrating love-directed behavior in one instance, is a study able to be generalized to other situations? If that were true, dating would be much easier! As a highly individual experience, the act of loving something or someone is dependent on the individual’s biological, psychological, and experiential development.

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Definition of love:

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Different “loves” in our life:

There are many types of loving bonds that can be created in our lives in different ways that can be categorized.

Romantic love:

  • Girlfriend/Boyfriend
  • Wife/Husband
  • Life Partners

Love between Family Members

  • Parent/Child
  • Sisters/Brothers
  • Aunts/Uncles
  • Cousins

Love by a Person for Objects and Animals

  • Family pets
  • Money
  • Personal Business
  • Material Objects

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The English word “love” can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from interpersonal affection (I love my wife) to pleasure (I love ice-cream). It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection—”the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. And it may describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one’s self or animals. When discussed in the abstract, love usually refers to interpersonal love, an experience felt by a person for another person. Love often involves caring for or identifying with a person or thing (cf. vulnerability and care theory of love), including oneself (cf. narcissism).

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The word “love” can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts. Often, other languages use multiple words to express some of the different concepts that English relies mainly on “love” to encapsulate; one example is the plurality of Greek words for “love.” Cultural differences in conceptualizing love thus make it doubly difficult to establish any universal definition. In addition to cross-cultural differences in understanding love, ideas about love have also changed greatly over time. Some historians date modern conceptions of romantic love to courtly Europe during or after the Middle Ages, although the prior existence of romantic attachments is attested by ancient love poetry. Love is sometimes referred to as being the “international language”, overriding cultural and linguistic divisions. Although the nature or essence of love is a subject of frequent debate, different aspects of the word can be clarified by determining what isn’t love. As a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like), love is commonly contrasted with hate (or neutral apathy); as a less sexual and more emotionally intimate form of romantic attachment, love is commonly contrasted with lust; and as an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is sometimes contrasted with friendship, although the word love is often applied to close friendships.

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Romantic love has always been one of mankind’s greatest mysteries — difficult to define, yet equally difficult to miss when it happens. For centuries poets, philosophers, and more than a few stray troubadours have endlessly pondered the nature of this ever-so-ephemeral emotion, providing us with a few moderately useful nuggets of wisdom like:

  • Love is a portion of the soul itself. (Victor Hugo)
  • Love is the beauty of the soul. (St. Augustine)
  • Love is like oxygen. (The Sweet)

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Love as defined in psychology, is any number of emotions related to a sense of strong affection and attachment. Love has a diversity of uses and meanings across disciplines and is complex in the number and types of emotions involved. As such, defining and studying love is relatively difficult compared to other emotional states. Social and behavioral scientists, recognizing the important role that love plays in human life, have theorized about its nature. In the process, they have proposed a number of typologies or classification schemes that specify types or varieties of love. Other researchers, following a prototype approach, have attempted to delineate the nature of love by examining people’s common understandings of love and their love experiences. This body of theoretical and empirical work reveals that there exists a multitude of ways of loving. Love truly is a many splendored—and multifaceted—experience.

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What an interesting phenomenon love is! Almost everybody can relate to a state of “being or falling in love” even though it is difficult to define love. In addition, depending on the background or “current state” we get a vast number of variant answers to our questions about love. Attachment, commitment, intimacy, passion, grief upon separation, and jealousy are but a few of the emotionally-loaded terms used to describe that which love represents. In science, however, love appears to be a hypothetical and multi-dimensional construct with many interpretations and implications. Love and its various emotional states and behaviors are rarely investigated by scientific means. In part, this may be due to the fact that love has always been the domain of poets and artists, maybe psychologists and clinicians, but has certainly not been considered to be right within the scope of common experimental science, i.e., neurobiology research. Emotions and feelings such as attachment, couple and parental bonding, and even love – presumably typical of higher mammals and neglected for centuries by the experimental sciences – have now come into the focus of neuroscientific research in order to elucidate their biological mechanisms and pathways. Thus, knowledge on the neurobiology of love has yet to evolve, and only recently, exciting research has brought to surface detailed information on molecular and physiological “ingredients” of the love phenomenon, as described later on. The experience of love is unique for every person, and using that feeling to measure the potential success of a relationship is even more subjective. Nonetheless, at some point most of us face the timeless question of what makes a relationship work. Though we can’t quantify love, we can look at variables that help us choose the right partner. Research shows that a few crucial compatibilities make the difference between making up and breaking up. Did you know that raw lust is characterized by high levels of testosterone? The sweaty palms and pounding heart of infatuation are caused by higher than normal levels of norepinepherine. Meanwhile, the ‘high’ of being in love is due to a rush of phenylethylamine and dopamine.

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Phrases using the word love:

for love = for pleasure rather than profit: he played for the love of the game

for the love of God = used to accompany an urgent request or to express annoyance or surprise: for the love of God, get me out of here!

for the love of Mike = British informal used to accompany an exasperated request or to express dismay: for the love of Mike take off those shoes!

love me, love my dog = proverb if you love someone, you must accept everything about them, even their faults.

make love = have sexual intercourse: one of the young men makes love to a village girl in the morning; they made love

                  = (make love to) dated pay amorous attention to (someone).

not for love or money = (informal) not in any circumstances: they’ll not return for love or money

there’s no love lost between = there is mutual dislike between (the people mentioned): there’s no love lost between Esha and Sonam

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What does the saying “all is fair in love and war” really mean?

You have to pay special attention to ‘All’ in “All is fair in love and war.” ‘All’ in this context is meant to express that nothing is out of bounds when it comes to love and war. Everything is fair game. The concept behind the phrase is that some areas of life are so important and overwhelming that you cannot blame someone for acting in their own best interest. For war, this implies that spies, torture, lying, backstabbing, making deals with enemies, selling out allies, bombing civilians, wounding instead of killing, and so on are “fair game” in the sense that by taking these options off the table you are only hurting yourself: Your opponent has no reason to comply to your moral standards. It means that the only two areas of life in which you can be forgiven for doing anything are love and war. For example, if someone kills one of their relatives on the battlefield, it is more acceptable than murder usually. Similarly, stealing a friend’s lover is seen as more acceptable if you love them, instead of say, just wanting them for money. It’s not true legally, or in most people’s moral frameworks, but it’s a very romantic idea that does have some truth in society and even the law (for instance, ‘crimes of passion’). There are two main subsets here. The first and most relevant is the idea that you can wreak all the havoc you want during the pursuit of true love. This includes sabotaging the third side in a love triangle or using deceit and trickery to woo the object of your affection (including hiding from them past lovers). The second is the viewpoint that ongoing love between two people is akin to a battle that results in a dominant winner. The stereotypical gender wars are similar to this. A man and wife are in love but a certain unease comes with the territory and pulling one over on your spouse is fair game because, hey, all is fair in love and war. For what it is worth, this last point is probably more of a causality of the individual words in the phrase than any original intended meaning. Most people probably don’t immediately think of this type of behavior as matching up with the phrase until after they need an excuse for their actions.

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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. 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. 

calf love  = temporary infatuation or love of an adolescent for a member of the opposite sex = puppy love 

courtly love = a tradition represented in Western European literature between the 12th and the 14th centuries, idealizing love between a knight and a revered (usually married) lady 

cupboard love = a show of love inspired only by some selfish or greedy motive 

free love = the practice of sexual relationships without fidelity to a single partner or without formal or legal ties 

love affair =  1. a romantic or sexual relationship, esp. a temporary one, between two people 

                  =   2. a great enthusiasm or liking for something (a love affair with ballet)    

love apple = an archaic name for → tomato 

love child = (Euphemistic) an illegitimate child; bastard  

love game = (Tennis) a game in which the loser has a score of zero 

love handles = (Informal) folds of excess fat on either side of the waist  

love knot = a stylized bow, usually of ribbon, symbolizing the bond between two lovers   

love letter =  1. a letter or note written by someone to his or her sweetheart or lover 

                 =   2. (in Malaysia) a type of biscuit, made from eggs and rice flour and rolled into a cylinder 

love life = the part of a person’s life consisting of his or her sexual relationships 

love match = a betrothal or marriage based on mutual love rather than any other considerations 

love nest = a place suitable for or used for making love 

love potion = any drink supposed to arouse sexual love in the one who drinks it 

love seat = a small upholstered sofa for two people  

self-love = the instinct or tendency to seek one’s own well-being or to further one’s own interest 

tough love = the practice of taking a stern attitude towards a relative or friend suffering from an addiction, etc., to help the addict overcome the problem 

tug-of-love = a conflict over custody of a child between divorced parents or between natural parents and foster or adoptive parents   

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Heartthrob = A lover, paramour, or sweetheart; a romantic idol. This common expression describes the exhilarating cardiac pulsations that supposedly accompany every thought, sight, or touch of one’s true love. Heartthrob may also refer to a celebrity of whom one is enamored.

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Different Kinds of Love (vide infra):

The Greeks defined love in four categories:

1. Agape love is unconditional love. It is love by “choice” even if you are not pleased. A good example is “God loves us with our faults.”

2. Philia love is the dispassionate virtuous love, guided by our likes or our healthy or unhealthy needs and desires.

3. Storge is the word for family love and the physical show of “affection”, the need for physical touch. Sometimes the love between exceptional friends.

4. Eros is the physical “sexual” desire, intercourse. It is the root word of erotic, and eroticism.

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Throughout history, scholars from a variety of disciplines have speculated on the nature of love. For example, as early as 1886, the German physician and pioneering sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1886/1945) identified five types of love: true love, sentimental love, platonic love, friendship, and sensual love. Several decades later, psychotherapist Albert Ellis (1954) proposed additional love varieties: “Love itself . . . includes many different types and degrees of affection, such as conjugal love, parental love, familial love, religious love, love of humanity, love of animals, love of things, self-love, sexual love, obsessive-compulsive love, etc.” (p. 101). A religious theoretician C. S. Lewis (1960/1988), devoted an entire book to a discussion of types of love. Drawing on earlier distinctions made by Greek philosophers, he proposed four main varieties. Affection (or Storge) is based on familiarity and repeated contact and resembles the strong attachment seen between parents and children. This type of love is experienced for and by a wide variety of objects, including family members, pets, acquaintances, and lovers. Affectionate love has a “comfortable, quiet nature” and consists of feelings of warmth, interpersonal comfort, and satisfaction in being together. The second variety of love depicted by Lewis is Friendship (or Philias). Common interests, insights, or tastes, coupled with cooperation, mutual respect, and understanding, form the core of this love type. Lewis argued that Friendship, more than mere companionship, “must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice”. Eros, or “that state which we call ‘being in love’”, is the third variety of love. Unlike the other love types, Eros contains a mixture of “sweetness” and “terror” as well as a sexual component that Lewis referred to as Venus. Erotic love also is characterized by affection, idealization of and preoccupation with the beloved, and a short life span. The final love type is Charity, a selfless and “Divine Gift-love” that has no expectation of reward and desires only what is “simply best for the beloved”.

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Infatuation- loving feelings towards a love object that are largely based upon fantasy and idealization (instead of experience). Often when partners get to know each other, infatuation diminishes.

Romantic Love- An abiding love for a partner with whom you feel passion, attraction, caring and respect.

Eros- a passionate love usually involving sexual feelings for a love interest.

Companionate Love- feelings of warmth towards a friend with whom you love to spend time, feeling of mutual respect and trust between two individuals

Unconditional Love- A type of affection and caring that is so strong that you feel it consistently, regardless of what that other person does

Conditional Love- A love that requires specific action or conditions in order to be maintained. For example, at its extreme, a parent who gives very conditional love would only love his child when he gets straight A’s, becomes a surgeon and has two children. The love is based on outside conditions and when they do not occur, the love is withdrawn.

Puppy Love- A childish, innocent temporary crush on someone that you don’t know well.

Maternal Love- This term usually connotes love that is nurturing, accepting and protective. In actuality this love can also be given by a father etc.

Paternal Love- This term connotes love that involves guidance and some authority. Paternal love usually prepares a child to be ready for the outside world. Again, in reality this type of love is not gender specific.

Soulmate Love- This type of love is described as a love that has survived multiple life times. Not everyone believes in this concept.

Spiritual/Divine Love- This type of love recognizes the Divine light in everyone and everything. Love is given to everyone as an act of loving God.

Love of your country or patriotism- This is love for the place you live or the place that were born. It is a type of loyalty and a special feeling of belonging that you attribute to that specific geographic location.

Self-Love- This is a positive feeling that you have about who you are and what you deserve. It often is expressed by treating yourself well, respecting yourself, wanting yourself to be happy and expecting others to respect you too.

Brotherly Love- This term connotes having a feeling of love for your neighbor, because all humanity is considered to be part of a larger family of human beings.

Tough Love- This term is used to describe a love that is expressed by setting boundaries for the good of the other person. So for example, a parent may send their teenager to rehab if he is drug addicted, even if he does not want to go. They feel that this is an act of love because it stems from a desire for their son’s ultimate good and happiness.

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Our life is full of happiness. There are many people in this world who love us and want love from us. Love is a natural feeling of someone for someone other. You may fall in love with someone unknown or someone you are close to him/her. Love brings happiness in life and sometimes it hurts when you are ignored by that person whom you loved. Love gives reasons to smile and reason to live life sweetly and healthy. The person in love has little interest in the real world, food may taste bland, concentrating has become a serious mental struggle and even fun pastimes may seem worthless, as pacing and walking or even simply sitting or lying while musing about the person seems a most engaging thing to do. This type of behavior can lead to serious disturbances at work and at home, especially if the person feeling love is already an item with somebody else with whom they may have shared these feelings at some time in the past. There are many types of love. Parents love their children as much no one can love other; even a person can’t love his partner too much as parents love towards their children. This is very unique. Similarly a love for a very special person in your life which is other than your parents, your children and any other close relation is also very cool and charming. Love is a complicated emotion that is felt by all people in some form or another. One can love his or her parents, friends, spouse, siblings, children, etc… The love one feels for a partner differs from the love felt for offspring, and the love felt for ones child is different than the love felt for a friend. Some psychologists believe that there are two different types of love. “Passionate (or romantic) love is a state of powerful absorption in someone. It includes intense physiological interest and arousal and caring for another’s needs. In comparison companionate love is the strong affection that we have for those with whom our lives are deeply involved” (Feldman 449). Although these two categories do help explain the difference between the love we feel for a partner and the love we feel for all others, it fails to define all types of love.

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Active and passive love:

There is a niggling difference between acting in a loving way versus being ‘in love’. The former is about being active. It encompasses what we mean when we say that being in a good relationship takes work. Whereas being ‘in love’ tends to sound passive, something we fall into, over which we have no control. Perhaps it even happens at first sight.

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Impersonal love:

A person can be said to love an object, principle, or goal if they value it greatly and are deeply committed to it. Similarly, compassionate outreach and volunteer workers’ “love” of their cause may sometimes be born not of interpersonal love, but impersonal love coupled with altruism and strong spiritual or political convictions.  People can also “love” material objects, animals, or activities if they invest themselves in bonding or otherwise identifying with those things. If sexual passion is also involved, this condition is called paraphilia.

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Interpersonal love:

Interpersonal love refers to love between human beings. It is a more potent sentiment than a simple liking for another. Unrequited love refers to those feelings of love that are not reciprocated. Interpersonal love is most closely associated with interpersonal relationships.  Such love might exist between family members, friends, and couples. There are also a number of psychological disorders related to love, such as erotomania. Throughout history, philosophy and religion have done the most speculation on the phenomenon of love. In the last century, the science of psychology has written a great deal on the subject. In recent years, the sciences of psychology, anthropology, neuroscience, and biology have added to the understanding of the nature and function of love. Interpersonal love consists of two components:

1. Compassionate love – affection and a feeling of intimacy and warm attachment, and authentic and enduring bond, and a sense of mutual commitment

2. Passionate love – intense longing that is often accompanied by physiological arousal (e.g., shortness of breath, increased heart rate); includes lust and physical attraction

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Flirting:

Flirting is a social and sometimes sexual activity involving verbal or written communication as well as body language by one person to another, suggesting an interest in a deeper relationship with the other person. In most cultures, it is socially disapproved for a person to make explicitly sexual advances, but indirect or suggestive advances (i.e., flirting) may at times be considered acceptable. On the other hand, some people flirt playfully, for amusement. Flirting usually involves speaking and behaving in a way that suggests a mildly greater intimacy than the actual relationship between the parties would justify, though within the rules of social etiquette, which generally disapproves of a direct expression of sexual interest. This may be accomplished by communicating a sense of playfulness or irony. Double entendres, with one meaning more formally appropriate and another more suggestive, may be used. Body language can include flicking the hair, eye contact, brief touching, open stances, proximity etc. Verbal communication of interest can include the vocal tone, such as pace, volume, intonation. Challenges (teasing, questions, qualifying, and feigned disinterest) serve to increase tension, test intention and congruity. In order to bond or to express sexual interest, people flirt. According to social anthropologist Kate Fox, there are two main types of flirting: flirting for fun and flirting with intent.  Flirting for fun can take place between friends, co-workers, or total strangers that wish to get to know each other. This type of flirting does not intend to lead to sexual intercourse or romantic relationship, but increases the bonds between two people. Flirting with intent plays a role in the mate-selection process. The person flirting will send out signals of sexual availability to another, and expects to see the interest returned in order to continue flirting. Flirting can involve non-verbal signs, such as an exchange of glances, hand-touching, hair-touching, or verbal signs, such as chatting up, flattering comments, and exchange of telephone numbers in order to initiate further contact. Increasingly in the 21st century flirting is taking forms in instant messaging, and other social media. People flirt for a variety of reasons. Flirting can indicate an interest in a deeper personal relationship with another person. Some people flirt simply for amusement, with no intention of developing any further relationship. This type of flirting sometimes faces disapproval from others, either because it can be misinterpreted as more serious, or it may be viewed as cheating if either person is in a committed relationship with someone else. Some couples set up rules and boundaries for their partner so one will know what’s accepted and what’s not. Expressing love may start as flirting with smiles, winks and maybe even kissing, but it is usually infatuation at this point, approaching with curiosity by one or both parties. While time is usually spent looking to discover more about this intriguing person, much time will be spent pondering the many possibilities of what could happen, or the consequences that may become of a certain action, or on the other hand the good that may come of it.

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Love-shyness:

Love-shyness is a specific type of sometimes severe chronic shyness that impairs or prevents intimate relationships. It implies a degree of inhibition and reticence with potential partners that may be sufficiently severe to preclude participation in courtship, marriage and family roles. According to this definition, love-shy people may find it difficult if not impossible to be assertive in informal situations involving potential romantic or sexual partners. For example, a love-shy man may in some cases have trouble initiating conversations with women because of strong feelings of social anxiety. Love-shyness may be a stand-alone phobia (independent of other phobias), or may also be a subset of social anxiety disorder, also sometimes called social phobia. Some also refer to love-shyness as erotophobia although erotophobia is also seen by some as being a much more narrowly-defined problem than love-shyness (tied only to sex and not having the broader spectrum of love-shyness, which is seen as being more multi-dimensional).  Others would define erotophobia as one type of love-shyness. The term “love-shyness” was originally coined by psychologist Brian G. Gilmartin, who estimated that love-shyness afflicts approximately 1.5% of American males and will prevent about 1.7 million U.S. males from ever marrying or experiencing intimate sexual contact with women. Gilmartin also conducted research studies and formulated treatment and prevention protocols for love-shyness.

Gilmartin had six criteria for each “love-shy man” he included in his study:

1. He is a virgin.

2. He rarely goes out socially with women more than just friends.

3. He has no history of any emotionally close, meaningful relationships of a romantic and/or sexual nature with any member of the opposite sex.

4. He has suffered and is continuing to suffer emotionally because of a lack of meaningful female companionship.

5. He becomes extremely anxiety-ridden over so much as the mere thought of asserting himself vis-à-vis a woman in a casual, friendly way.

6. He is strictly heterosexual in his romantic and erotic orientations.

According to Gilmartin, love-shyness is, like most human psychological characteristics, the result of some combination of biological factors (genetic/developmental) and environmental factors (experiences of child abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cultural, familial, religious, etc.).  Gilmartin believes that shyness is a condition which needs to be cured. He says in his book “Shyness is never ‘good’. Shyness obviates free choice and self-determination, and it stands squarely in the way of responsible self-control and self-management.”  Again, he states “Simply put, shyness is never healthy.” He suggests several possible biological causes of love-shyness, including low maternal testosterone during fetal development, nasal polyps, and hypoglycemia. Crucial factors exacerbating negative development during the love-shy male’s childhood are:

1. School bullying. Love-shy boys are vulnerable to bullying from their peer group, due to their shyness and inhibition. Non-conformism to peer group norms also makes the boy a target through no fault of his own.

2. Parental upbringing. Where a child receives primarily negative stimuli from his parents (e.g. corporal punishment, child abuse, verbal abuse, criticism, ‘put-downs’, negative comparisons, indifference) this will most likely cause the boy to retreat further and further into his ‘shell’.

With so many negative stimuli from crucial relationships in one’s childhood, the love-shy boy becomes a social isolate. He learns to associate these crucial interactions (i.e. with parents, peer group) with hurt feelings and is likely to avoid social interaction. Social isolation and social anxiety becomes a ‘vicious circle’ for the love-shy individual as the years go by, and inhibits his chances in interaction with the opposite sex, as well as in other crucial areas of life such as his career. Gilmartin argued that love-shyness would have the most severe effect on heterosexual males, because of gender roles. This is because heterosexual men are almost always expected to take the more assertive role in dating situations and to be the ones to initiate intimacy with potential romantic partners, whereas heterosexual women generally take the more passive role, as assertiveness on their part is far less crucial in successfully developing a romantic relationship. He claims that it may be possible for both shy women and homosexual men to become involved in intimate relationships without needing to take any initiative, simply by waiting for a more assertive man to initiate the relationship, or in the case of lesbians, a more assertive woman. According to Gilmartin, shy women are as likely or even more likely due to their love-shyness as non-shy women to date, to marry, and to have children, while this is definitely not the case for heterosexual men. Love-shy heterosexual men normally have no informal social contact with women. They cannot date, marry or have children, and many of these men never experience any form of intimate sexual contact. He also noted that for moral reasons, none of the love-shy men sought prostitutes. Some of the love-shys were partaking in mail-order bride agencies, but the results of these efforts were not pursued in the study. Gilmartin noted that because of their perceived lack of interest in women, love-shy men are frequently assumed to be homosexual. Homosexual men would make advances to the love-shy men, but these advances would be rejected. Gilmartin also noted that many love-shy men are not interested in friendships with other men. 

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Self-love:

How and why to love yourself?

You can’t love others until you learn to love yourself first.

Why to love yourself:

Well, a lot of folks think that loving yourself is selfish and narcissistic. What’s funny though is that true self-love can’t be narcissistic. Self-love is loving; narcissism is just selfishness, which is not loving. Self-love starts by giving love, attention and care to yourself, but if that is where we stop, then it stops being self-love. Self-love that is not extended to other people and given away isn’t self-love. The flow of love and self-love is a giving and a receiving. Why it’s important to start with self-love though is because ultimately we are the ones responsible for our actions, choices and the outcome of those actions and choices. We cannot give to someone else what we don’t have and likewise we cannot get from someone else what he or she doesn’t have. Self-love is important because it is remembering where our power is. If you are confused about all this self-love talk and don’t know what to do in any situation, get still and just ask yourself, “If I truly loved myself, what would I do? Other great questions to ask are: “What actions would I have to take in order to bring Love to this situation or relationship? Is there any way I can take better care of myself in this moment, so I have more to give instead of less?” Think of self-love as the foundation of a happy and full life, but not the full expression of it. The full expression of love comes when we give love away.

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How to Love yourself:

There is more in us than we known. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unable to settle for less. We are all such unique and complex beings and we often don’t spend the time or energy looking at ourselves in a deep and meaningful way. The more we turn our attention towards ourselves, towards the act of loving ourselves, the more likely we will be to ask for more from life and for ever, ever settle for less than we deserve. Whether or not you want to believe it, if you don’t love yourself, no one else can truly love you. Certainly you can be in relationships and experience varieties of emotions similar to love, but if you don’t love yourself, if you don’t respect yourself,  no one else can really, truly love or respect you either. Of course we all want to love ourselves, but it’s not always that easy, is it? Sometimes it can be very, very difficult to believe that you are worth loving. Sometimes it can be damn near impossible to believe that you are valuable. But you are! You, me, everyone is capable of loving and being loved. It’s not always simple — and usually it’s not — but it’s always possible. And it’s up to you to take the first step in the cycle of love by loving yourself. The cycle of love is the idea that once we love ourselves, we are then capable of being loved, and then we are capable of loving others, which makes us love ourselves even more!  

The ways to love yourself:

1. Celebrate your past.

2. Indulge in your desires.

3. Let go of your mistakes.

4. Transform your mindset.

5. Embrace your future.

6. Dive into your passion.

 7. Live in your moment.

8. Sing your own praises.

9. Listen to your ideas.

10. Appreciate your life.  

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Altruism:

Altruism is a selfless type of love that serves others while not serving the one who is altruistic. According to some, true altruism is hard to find. Many find similarities between the Greek Agapé and altruism. The world’s major religions each have a version of altruism in their doctrines. Mothers who tend the sick child throughout the night, fathers who work three to four decades in the harsh marketplace to provide for the family, and even fire-fighters who sacrifice their safety to save the lives of others are all considered to be altruistic in their actions. Because so much of what we do in our relationships is considered in the larger overall equation of the fairness in a relationship, selfless acts can be seen as acts that either build a reservoir of goodwill which will later be repaid or create a debt of sorts in which the other person owes you some selfless service in return. 

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Unconditional love:

Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism, complete love, or “mother’s/father’s love.” Each area of expertise has a certain way of describing unconditional love, but most will agree that it is that type of love which has no bounds and is unchanging. It is a concept comparable to true love, a term which is more frequently used to describe love between lovers. By contrast, unconditional love is frequently used to describe love between family members, comrades in arms and between others in highly committed relationships. An example of this is a parent’s love for their child; no matter a test score, a life changing decision, an argument, or a strong belief, the amount of love that remains between this bond is seen as unchanging and unconditional. In religion, unconditional love is thought to be part of The Four Loves; affection, friendship, romance, and unconditional. In ethology, or the study of animal behavior, unconditional love would refer to altruism which in turn refers to the behavior by individuals that increases the fitness of another while decreasing the fitness of the individual committing the act. In psychology, unconditional love refers to a state of mind in which one has the goal of increasing the welfare of another, despite any evidence of benefit for oneself. The term is also widely used in family and couples counseling manuals.  Some authors make a distinction between unconditional love and conditional love. In conditional love: love is ‘earned’ on the basis of conscious or unconscious conditions being met by the lover, whereas in unconditional love, love is “given freely” to the loved one “no matter what”. Loving is primary. Conditional love requires some kind of finite exchange, whereas unconditional love is seen as infinite and measureless. Unconditional love should not be mistaken with unconditional dedication: unconditional dedication or “duty” refers to an act of the will irrespective of feelings (e.g. a person may consider they have a duty to stay with someone); unconditional love is an act of the feelings irrespective of will. In a study conducted by Mario Beauregard and his colleagues, using an fMRI procedure, they studied the brain imaging of participants who were shown different sets of images either referring to “maternal love” (unconditional love) or “romantic love”. Seven areas of the brain became active when these participants called to mind feelings of unconditional love. Three of these were similar to areas that became active when it came to romantic love. The other four active parts were different, showing certain brain regions associated with rewarding aspects, pleasurable (non sexual) feelings, and human maternal behaviors are activated during the unconditonal love portions of the experiment. Through the associations made between the different regions, results show that the feeling of love for someone without the need of being rewarded is different from the feeling of romantic love.

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Real Love:

Even though true love (real love) is a term which is more frequently used to describe love between lovers and unconditional love is frequently used to describe love between family members, and between others in highly committed relationships; these terms are frequently used synonymously. There’s only one kind of love that can fill us up, make us whole, and give us the happiness we all want: unconditional love or true love. It is unconditional love that we all seek, and somehow we intuitively realize that anything other than that kind of love isn’t really love at all—it’s an imitation of the real thing.  Unconditional love—true love—is so different from the kind of love most of us have known all our lives that it deserves both a name—Real Love—and definition of its own: Real Love is caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves. It’s also Real Love when other people care about our happiness unconditionally. It is not Real Love when other people like us for doing what they want. Under those conditions we’re just paying for love again. We can be certain that we’re receiving Real Love only when we make foolish mistakes, when we fail to do what other people want, and even when we get in their way, but they don’t feel disappointed or irritated at us. That is Real Love (true unconditional love), and that love alone has the power to heal all wounds, bind people together, and create relationships quite beyond our present capacity to imagine.

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How do you define real love (Sheryl Paul):

1. Real love is a conscious choice that often employs the rational part of our brains. Some couples have a “free ride” in the early stages of their relationship where they experience the intense feelings characterized by romantic love, but not everyone. And these feelings certainly aren’t necessary for real love to emerge as the relationship grows, as evidenced by the success rate of arranged marriages in other parts of the world. It’s when the infatuation feelings diminish that the couple has to learn that love is a choice, not a feeling.

2. Real love accepts that your partner is a fallible, imperfect human, just as you are. Unlike romantic love, which ascends the object of desire to the realm of a god, part of the jolt down to earth that many of clients experience during their engagement is the realization that their partner is not perfect — that he isn’t as smart or witty or fun or good-looking as she thought the person she would marry would be. The romantic bubble of marrying Prince Charming is burst. As time passes, the real fears are addressed, and love is redefined, the obsession mellows and she learns to accept and fully love her partner exactly as he is.

3. Real love ebbs and flows in terms of interest, ease, and feelings. In other words, in any healthy relationship there will be times when things effortlessly work, where the spark is alive and the couple is interested in one another and life. And there will be times of, for lack of a better word, boredom. Part of accepting real love is understanding that the boredom is normal and not a symptom that something is wrong with the relationship or that you don’t love your partner enough.

4. Real love is based on shared values and a solid friendship. You genuinely like each other (even though you might not like everything about your partner).

5. Real love is action. Real love asks that you give even when you don’t feel like giving (in a healthy way, not a codependent way). Real love is more concerned with how you can give to your partner than what you can get from him or her.

6. Real love is a spiritual practice in that your focus is not how you can change your partner to alleviate your anger, pain, or annoyance but how you can assume full responsibility for those feelings and find healthy and constructive ways to attend to them. When you change in positive ways, the relationship will positively change as well.

7. Real love is a lifelong practice. You’re not expected to know how to give and receive real love at the onset of marriage but are expected to work at it so that over the course of your life together your capacity to love grows.

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How you can be sure it’s true love:

1. You fight well together. This means you know how to disagree with each other without causing irreparable damage to the other person. In other words you don’t threaten to breakup or walk out just to get your way. You don’t use cruelty as a weapon hurt the other person. We all say things in anger at times that aren’t pretty and we regret, but it’s needs to be a rare event and not a pattern of fighting. Being able to disagree and discuss differences with respect and openness is necessary for a happy relationship.

2. You feel safe. Dr. Phil says it best when he refers to your partner as “a soft place to fall.” God knows dealing with everyday frustrations and the craziness of the world is stressful enough. We don’t need any added pressure from those closest to us. If you can’t feel safe to be you and to express yourself in your relationship, you’re probably not feeling true love. Love can’t grow unless it nurtured with kindness

3. You accept each other as you are. An important indication of true love is when you can stop judging the person you’re with and see them as a unique individual with their own frailties and quirks. Judgment is one of the biggest destroyers of love and connection. Mother Teresa said it best, “If you judge people you have no time to love them.” When you judge another, the tendency is to want to change them. This is a way we tell ourselves we’re right and the other person is wrong. If you want to be right about everything you will never be happy.

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Signs of true love in a perfect romance:

True love may be hard to define, but the signs to read true love can be clearly seen in every perfect loving relationship.

If you’re in a relationship and want to know if you’re experiencing the purest form of love, use these signs of true love to find out for yourself.

Give and take in love:

You give to the relationship wholeheartedly, without any desire or expectations of getting something back in return from your partner to justify your actions.

Pure happiness:

Just watching this special person smile or laugh out loud fills you with intense happiness, even if you’re suffering or having a hard day.

Pain and anger:

You get terribly hurt when your lover upsets you, but their actions never anger you. You may get annoyed or frustrated now and then momentarily, but you just can’t stay mad at them for long because staying mad or giving them the silent treatment hurts you more.

 Sacrifices:

You make sacrifices for their happiness or wellbeing, even if they may never realize it.

The right effort:

You go to great lengths and make an effort to improve the relationship, and play a conscious part in trying to please your partner and make them feel loved and special.

You can’t ever hurt them:

 When you’re truly in love with someone, you can’t even imagine hurting them, emotionally or physically. Payback is a strong human instinct, but true love makes you completely selfless.

You keep your promises:

 When you make a promise to them, you stick to your word even if this person will never find out if you broke their promise. When you experience true love, your moral conscience becomes very strong when it comes to this one special person.

We:

In a perfect relationship, it’s good to have your own space to grow as individuals. But at the same time, if you truly love your partner, you’d see them as a part of your life. When you think of your future, you can’t help but see them by your side.

You share their burden:

And you do that even if you don’t really have to. You can’t bear to see this special someone suffering. If they’re dealing with some issue, you’re always willing to offer them a helping hand even when you have your own difficulties to look into.

Pride and jealousy:

You beam with pride when they achieve something, even if it’s the same thing you failed at. You may get jealous of a friend who outdid you, but when you love someone, jealousy never enters the picture.

Suffering:

You’d be willing to suffer, just to see them happy.

Their perspective:

Everything you do, you keep your lover in mind and think from their perspective, be it about planning a surprise party or hanging out with your own friends after work. You don’t ever want to hurt your lover, so you always think from their point of view before making any decision that involves them in any way.

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Tests of true love:

Since time immemorial, the most important question of the day for women is this – How will I know if he really loves me?

1. If you observe his actions rather than his words, what have you learned?

Does he talk about how nice he is, yet kicks his dog? Does he tell you how much he loves you, but decides for you what you should eat, or the movie you should like on Saturday night? Always remember this simple truism – he is what he does! Actions always speak louder than words! Ignore this notion at your peril.

2. Does he always treat you with respect or does he do so sparingly and inconsistently?

People who are truly in love know this – treating the one you love with respect is a full time activity! You cannot pick and choose the time and place to be kind, considerate, and respectful. He is either respectful full-time or he is not. It really is that simple. He is not entitled to pick and choose!

3. In your relationship, are you relegated to second-class citizenship or are you an equal partner?

 When someone really loves you, they treat you as an equal partner – as a person who has an equal voice in your relationship. If he makes the significant decisions in your relationship and relegates you to following his directives, then he really does not love you. In the best loving relationships between a man and a woman, both share equally in the relationship.

4. When you are in love, you know this – you cannot imagine life without the one you love!

 So try this question on him – “Honey, do you love me more than life itself? Can you imagine life without me?” If his answer makes you wonder about the depth of his commitment to you, he doesn’t truly love you. He is not the man you should commit your life to!

5. People who truly love each other tell each so everyday of their lives together.

Does he tell you he loves you? Does he do it without prodding? Does his love for you come naturally, repeatedly, and frequently? The truth of the matter is this – when you love someone, you tell them. And don’t fall for that old line that goes like this – “I don’t need to tell her I love her because she knows.” This notion is just plain wrong! If he doesn’t tell you, then your relationship has a problem.

6. One of the underlying notions in the best relationships is this – “I trust him with my life and my sacred honor – I trust him more that life itself.”

Your trust in him is unequivocal and without hesitation. Here is the question of the day – Is the man you purport to love a man you trust without question? If the answer is no, then you need to reconsider the question, does he really love me?

7. In the end, if he really loves you, he is always there for you – through the good times and the bad.

 When somebody loves you, they love you through thick and thin. They love you without conditions. They love you when you are at your best and when you are at your worst. The measure of his love for you is always, in the end, about consistency. When you love someone, you cannot pick and choose the times you show you care, when you express love, and when you demonstrate your affection for the one you love. If his love for you is conditional, sporadic, and only comes when the times are good, you have to answer yourself this simple question – does he really and truly love me? You decide.  

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One-sided love:

Unrequited love or one-sided love is a love that is not openly reciprocated or understood as such. The beloved may or may not be aware of the admirer’s deep and strong romantic affections. The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines unrequited as “not reciprocated or returned in kind.” The inability of the unrequited lover to express and fulfill emotional needs may lead to feelings such as depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and rapid mood swings between depression and euphoria.  Unrequited love has long been depicted as noble, an unselfish and stoic willingness to accept suffering. Literary and artistic depictions of unrequited love may depend on assumptions of social distance which have less relevance in democratic societies with relatively high social mobility, or less rigid codes of sexual fidelity.

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Equity and love:

Equity is an important ingredient in maintaining a healthy relationship. Equity ensures a fair give and take dynamic in the relationship. Equity theory attempts to explain relational satisfaction in terms of perceptions of fair/unfair distributions of resources within interpersonal relationships. Equity theory proposes that individuals who perceive themselves as either under-rewarded or over-rewarded will experience distress. This distress leads to efforts to restore equity within the relationship. It focuses on determining whether the distribution of resources is fair to both relational partners. Chances for long-term success in relationships are higher when equity is present (Gray-Little & Burks, 1983; Van Yperen & Buunk, 1990). At the heart of every close loving relationship is mutual support and caring for each other’s welfare (Sternberg & Grajek, 1984). When individuals find themselves participating in inequitable relationships, they become distressed. The more inequitable the relationship, the more distress individuals feel. According to equity theory, both the person who gets “too much” and the person who gets “too little” feel distressed. The person who gets too much may feel guilt or shame. The person who gets too little may feel angry or humiliated. Individuals who perceive that they are in an inequitable relationship attempt to eliminate their distress by restoring equity. The greater the inequity, the more distress people feel and the more they try to restore equity (Walster, Traupmann and Walster, 1978).

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Selfish love:

Selfish love is smart. And though it involves two people to create that relationship, selfish love also involves two people who are in love with one person. Your partner loves you. You love you. Selfish love is a narcissistic love where you don’t care about your partner or their happiness. You only care about yourself. If you ever find yourself getting into a relationship just for the heck of it without really falling in love with the other person, chances are, you’re a selfish lover. Selfish lovers are clever, scheming foxes who only get into a relationship to see what they can get out of it.  Ever dated someone just to appear cooler or achieve something for personal gains? If you have, tick the selfish lover off the list. If you haven’t, wait and watch yourself use someone at some point in your life. Don’t worry, it’ll eventually happen.  

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Rebound love:

A rebound is a relationship that starts up very quickly after another relationship has ended. Rebounds are rarely based on love but are really a way of alleviating the loneliness people feel when a relationship ends. Rebounding can feel like love for the simple reason that the people involved want to be in love. They are used to the security of being in love and more than anything else they want to feel that security again. They convince themselves that they are in love when they are actually missing the safety and comfort of the relationship they left behind. If an old relationship keeps interfering with the progress of a new relationship it could mean that the relationship is a rebound. When somebody is on the rebound they are not entirely over their previous relationship. They may still be trying to work out unresolved issues from that relationship. Rebound relationships may feel like love but they are still impacted by unsettled feelings from the past.

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Sexual love:

Sexual or Passionate Lovers are focused on the intensely sensual pleasures that are found with the senses of taste, smell, touch, feelings, hearing, and sight. Sexual lovers lust for one another and feel closest when they are together and being physical. Sexual lovers can be together for five minutes, five days, five weeks, or five years, but sexual love by itself is typically short-lived. There is closeness during sex and activities leading up to sex, but not much thereafter. Sexual love when combined with other love types can be very beneficial to the couple. Sexual love is almost always the love type experienced by those having an extra-marital affair.

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Friendship love:

Friendship Love includes intimacy and trust between close friends. In our day, most long-burning or enduring love types form between people who were first close friends. Friendship lovers tend to enjoy each other’s company, conversation, and daily interactions. They consider one another to be “go-to” friends when advice is needed or when problems need to be talked about together. Not all friendship lovers become a couple. Many are just close or best friends. Yet, many who spend the rest of their lives together will start out their relationship as friends.

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Realistic love:

Criteria or Realistic Love is the love feelings you have when your list of a potential mate’s personal traits is met in the other person. Women often desire their man to be taller. Men and women often desire to find a partner with homogeneous traits (e.g., same religion, political leanings, and hobbies). Each of us has an ideal for a partner, and we tend to get some of those characteristics with people we become intimate with and eventually marry.

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Deceptive love:

Deceptive Love is formed when one or both partners either consciously or unconsciously mislead the other in an effort to dishonestly establish trust and intimacy. This love type follows a “catch-and-release” or a “black widow/widower” mode. In the Catch-and-Release Mode, one partner lures the other in by pretending to experience all the romance and trappings of falling in love when in reality he or she is tricking the other person. The trickery is done in a never-ending pursuit of many relationships, all of which are initially established and most of which are ultimately not maintained. In other words, he is more interested in falling in love and catching more fish (lovers) than in staying in love and maintaining a long-term relationship. The catch-and-release lover may not be aware of the unhealthy nature of his or her antics.

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Love and transference:

‘Love at first sight’, might be better described as ‘mutual positive erotic transference’. Transference is something we all do: it is what happens when we make unconscious assumptions about the person before us based on our experience of people we have known in the past. We may have had a significant bonding experience with a carer from our infancy, maybe a parent, a grandparent, or a nursery school teacher, and later we may meet someone who looks at us in the same way, speaks with the same rhythms, or elicits the same feelings from us, and we may feel what we call ‘chemistry’. The original love object from the past may even have faded from conscious memory. Consciously we may think that we prefer a certain type of person, but this is prejudice. Transference is not as conscious as that, but it can cause a feeling that is highly charged and one that we cannot help but notice. But just because something feels charged or familiar, it does not follow that it is all good even if it feels ‘right’: it might just be familiar. This is why some of us have a pattern of falling for the same ‘wrong’ types. Transference is indeed passive – and it’s probably why we talk of ‘falling’ in love. When we fall in love, we trip over transference. Sometimes we will fall on our feet but at other times, when reality intrudes, the positive transference fades and takes love with it. There are other factors that add to this falling in love feeling – unromantic things such as a complimentary immune system that we instinctively recognize via our olfactory systems, or facial symmetry which our most basic of instincts recognizes as indicating general good health.  

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Falling in love:

In romantic relationships, falling in love is mainly a concept of moving from a feeling of neutrality towards a person to one of love. The term is generally used to describe an (eventual) love that is strong. Sociobiologists point to the preeminence of heart over head at such crucial moments… as bonding with a mate; suggest that ‘the answer to why we fall in love encompasses…complex neurochemical processes that occur in our brains when we are attracted to another person’; and ‘tell us that when we fall in love we are falling into a stream of naturally occurring amphetamines running through the emotional centers of our very own brains’.  Factors known to contribute strongly to falling in love include proximity, similarity, reciprocity, and physical attractiveness.  Similarity would seem especially important: some would even claim that ‘when we fall in love we fall into narcissistic identification’. Family therapists maintain that ‘the reason we’re attracted to someone at this very deep level is that basically they are like us – in a psychological sense’. Others suggest that ‘the very act of falling in love sets in motion old patterns of how we love…Falling in love returns us to emotions of infancy and childhood’.  Biologist Jeremy Griffith suggests we fall in love in order to abandon ourselves to the dream of an ideal state (being one free of the human condition).

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Lovestruck:

 Being lovestruck means having mental and physical symptoms associated with falling in love: love-struck means to be hit by love…you are hit in your heart by the emotion of love’.  A 2005 article by Frank Tallis suggested that being utterly romantically lovestruck be taken more seriously by professionals. Being lovestruck only occurs when a person has deeply fallen in love, not when a huge crush emerges. However it may develop into pure, real romantic love. ‘For love-struck victims, the world appears altered. Replacing the flatness of ordinary experience is a fullness’.

According to Tallis, some of the symptom clusters shared with being lovestruck includes:

Mania or hypomania – abnormally elevated mood, inflated self-esteem, extravagant gift giving

Depression – tearfulness

Insomnia – loss of concentration and difficulty sleeping

Anorexia – lack of appetite

Stress – high blood pressure, pain in chest and heart, acute insomnia; sometimes brought on by a “crush”

Obsessive-compulsive disorder – preoccupation and hoarding valueless but superstitiously resonant items

Psychologically created physical symptoms, such as upset stomach, change in appetite, insomnia, dizziness, and confusion.

More substantively, the estimated serotonin levels of people falling in love were observed to drop to levels found in patients with OCD. Brain scan investigations of individuals who professed to be “truly, madly, deeply” in love showed activity in several structures in common with in the neuroanatomy of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), for example the anterior cingulate cortex and caudate nucleus.  

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Love at first sight:

You may have dreamed of gazing across a crowded room, locking eyes with an attractive stranger and knowing instantly that you’re in love. While it does seem to work out for some, others scoff at the idea of love at first sight. Helen Fisher, a prominent anthropologist known for her research on attraction and love, believes three minutes is all you need to know whether someone will be in your life for a while. Others believe in the power of the first few minutes, as well. In fact, the philosophy behind speed dating is not just to save time for busy people. Love at first sight is a common trope in Western literature, in which a person, character, or speaker feels romantic attraction for a stranger on the first sight of them. Described by poets and critics from the Greek world on, it has become one of the most powerful tropes in Western fiction. In the classical world, the phenomenon of “love at first sight” was understood within the context of a more general conception of passionate love, a kind of madness or, as the Greeks put it, theia mania (“madness from the gods”). This love passion was described through an elaborate metaphoric and mythological psychological schema involving “love’s arrows” or “love darts,” the source of which was often given as the mythological Eros or Cupid, sometimes by other mythological deities (such as Rumor). At times, the source of the arrows was said to be the image of the beautiful love object itself. If these arrows arrived at the lover’s eyes, they would then travel to and ‘pierce’ his or her heart, overwhelming them with desire and longing (love sickness). The image of the “arrow’s wound” was sometimes used to create oxymorons and rhetorical antithesis. Another classical interpretation of the phenomenon of “love at first sight” is found in Plato’s Symposium in Aristophanes’ description of the separation of primitive double-creatures into modern men and women and their subsequent search for their missing half: “… when [a lover] … is fortunate enough to meet his other half, they are both so intoxicated with affection, with friendship, and with love, that they cannot bear to let each other out of sight for a single instant.” The phenomenon of “love at first sight” is often thought of as romantic love. According to Branden, true romantic love is based on a shared knowledge of each other, which requires time to build. However, it’s possible that, after sharing a few sentences together, that there’s enough information exchanged that both persons want to know more about another, and hope that the other person will turn out to be the person they envisage. Love at first sight as a concept still survives and is the basis of many a modern romantic comedy film or romance novel, but it has also been given credence through scientific research.

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A number of studies carried out in recent years conclude that it is in fact physically possible due to the release of chemicals in the brain that affect the intellect and cognitive functions – producing a feeling of euphoria. Professor Stephanie Ortigue of Syracuse University in the US carried out a study in October 2010 on the subject and published her findings in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. She found that the quick release of chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenalin and vasopressin, some of which act in tandem, create a high that could be called falling in love.

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Another study by C Neil Macrae, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College in the UK, published in the November 2002 issue of Psychological Science, suggests that ovulation heightens a woman’s response to the pheromone androstenol, typically found in males. The study also suggests increased response to the sight of strong male facial features, such as an angled chin or a large forehead, that emphasize characteristics such as strength, aggression or dominance, which are likely to appeal to women looking for masculine mates. Females, he says, prefer faces with typically male characteristics during ovulation and those with feminine traits at other points of their menstrual cycle. Meanwhile, men’s notions of what is attractive (such as ideal hip-to-waist ratio) remain relatively constant over time. And it seems there may be some truth to the bow and arrow theory. Macrae’s study also found that a direct gaze was more likely to stimulate a response in the opposite sex.

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Scientists have been researching the whole concept of love, and in a study carried out by Ohio State University, it was discovered that within the first two minutes of meeting someone, both people could tell if they had an interest in furthering the relationship. In addition, after a period of nine weeks, the way the relationship actually turned out was pretty close to how the participants thought it would when they met. People can make up their minds about love when they first meet, but they have to work at the relationship, or they might find themselves falling out of love as fast as they fell into it.

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Dr Roghy McCarthy, who runs the Counseling and Development Clinic in Dubai, agrees. “A relationship is like a plant,” she says. “If you do not feed it and water it and look after it, it will not grow and eventually it will shrivel up and die.” She identifies four stages in a healthy marriage: love, commitment, honesty and respect – and says it is essential to have all four qualities for a relationship to last. And she believes men are more likely to fall in love at first sight than women. “A man falls in love and instantly wants to possess a woman. Even if the woman is not in love with him she can be persuaded. However, it is rare for a woman to persuade a man who is not in love with her.”

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Research has shown two bases for love at first sight. The first is that the attractiveness of a person can be very quickly determined, with the average time in one study being 0.13 seconds. The second is that the first few minutes of a relationship have shown to be predictive of the relationship’s future success, more so than what two people have in common or whether they like each other.

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While many believe in first impressions, though, it appears that most relationships start out differently: In one survey of 493 participants, only 11 percent responded that their long-term relationships had started out in a love-at-first-sight situation.

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Why love at first sight?

Our ancestors lived shorter lives than we do, and it was important in their brief time on Earth to mate and produce a healthy child so that the race would live on. For this reason, they had to size up potential mates quickly, just as they had to quickly size up whether a stranger was friend or foe. Fisher believes our evolutionary past wired our brains so that we know pretty quickly whether we might want to mate with someone (even if we’re not even looking to have a child). Fisher believes that our brains are wired to make these decisions quickly, and people only need three minutes to know whether or not someone is the right choice for a mate. She suggests that if you feel a quick connection, you should go for it. Men and women both wanted to ensure that their children would live and pass on their genes, so they needed to be sure that the other party was bringing the best genetic makeup to the table. We often signal our physical and reproductive health with traits like a certain waist-to-hip ratio or a symmetrical face; scientists have found that these qualities are universally attractive to others. And when you check out a guy’s chin or a lady’s lovely eyes, you’re actually looking at traits that are shaped by the amounts of testosterone and estrogen in their bodies, respectively, which also indicate reproductive fitness. So when we comment on someone’s hotness, we’re actually commenting on ancient ideals of fertility. Fisher points out that the sections of the brain that respond to love and lust are different, though they can light up at the same time and there is some overlap also. In a study conducted at Syracuse University, researchers found that the hormones associated with love, rather than lust, can flood the brain in one-fifth of a second. 

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Peterson and Seligman go on to identify the three prototypical forms of love: 

  • Child’s love for a parent
  • Parent’s love for a child
  • Romantic love

Relationships can involve more than one type of love.  For example, best friends may love each other in both a child-parent and a parent-child way in the sense that each leans on as well as looks out for the other.  Relationships can involve different types of love at different points in time. For example, people may gradually shift from a child-parent to parent-child form of love as they grow up, and their parents get older.  Relationships can begin with one type of love and acquire other types over time. For example, dating couples may initially love each other only in a romantic way but eventually begin to love each other in child-parent and parent-child ways as well. Mate relationships are unique in being the only social tie that encompasses all three forms of love. Peterson and Seligman go on to explain, “Humans have theorized about love and relationships for as long as they have theorized about anything.  Surprisingly, it has only been in the last 30 years or so that the methods of empirical science have been applied to the task of understanding and explaining love. And for much of this time research proceeded along two separate pathways, with developmental psychologists investigating parent-child bonds and social psychologists studying adult romantic relationships.  Recently these two areas of inquiry began to merge, and the integration has thus far proved fruitful. The capacity to love and be loved is now viewed as an innate, species-typical tendency that has powerful effects on psychological and physical health from infancy through old age. It has also been established that this capacity can be affected in deep and lasting ways by early relationship experience”.   

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Maternal love and romantic love:

Maternal and romantic love share a common and crucial evolutionary purpose, namely the maintenance and perpetuation of the species. Both ensure the formation of firm bonds between individuals by making this behavior a rewarding experience. It is possible that they share a similar evolutionary origin, and it is likely that they also share some common neurobiology.

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Generic aspects of primate attachments: parents, offspring and mates:

Researchers examined behavioral and physiological aspects of primate emotional attachments in the context of four relationships: infant-to-parent, parent-to-infant, and adult male-to-female and adult female-to-male in a monogamous New World species. Emotional attachments in each of these relationships show striking similarities at a basic functional level. The nature of these similarities suggests that they are produced by the same psychoneuroendocrine core, which appears to be present in all mammals. Researchers also considered the development of each of kind of attachment. In contrast to fundamental similarities in the expression of attachment, their development in each case appears to be based on distinct, species-typical dispositions and constraints.

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Maternal love:

Children need to know from the day they are born that someone is there for them, and that begins with the mother. Children need to know that they can rely on at least one person to be attentive to them and be there for them. It quells their anxiety because they begin to trust that they can rely on this person. They feel comforted. They feel safe. They feel valued and important. The bond a baby has with Mom is the baby’s first relationship.

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The maternal bond (or motherly bond) is typically the relationship between a mother and her child. While it typically occurs due to pregnancy and childbirth, it may also occur between a woman and an unrelated child, such as in adoption. The maternal bond between a human female and her biological child usually begins to develop during pregnancy, with she normally adapting her lifestyle to suit the needs of the developing infant. Beginning around 18 to 25 weeks, the mother also can feel the fetus moving, which can enhance bonding, as can seeing her baby during an ultrasound scan. The developing fetus hears the mother’s heartbeat and voice and may respond to touch or movement. By the seventh month of pregnancy, two-thirds of women may report a strong maternal bond. The process of childbirth ideally greatly adds to this bond. 

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The most accepted form of an enduring social bond, within the love concept, is maternal attachment. The idea of motherly love implies a selective behavioral response by the parent to its off spring, i.e., parental love. Hence, the tender intimacy and selflessness of a mother’s love for her infant occupies a unique and exalted position in human conduct. It provides one of the most powerful motivations for human actions and behaviors. Sexual behavior, on the other hand, is closely related to attachment as well, but they are not synonymous. Sexual activity can occur in the absence of social attachment, and many forms of attachment exist that do not involve sexual behaviors. However, in humans, the most desired sexual partner is often – and simultaneously – the object of strong feelings of attachment. In monogamous mammals, pair bonds provide a social matrix for sexual behavior. Mating promotes social preferences, possibly because oxytocin and/or vasopressin are released during sexual interactions. We see that sexual, romantic, or parental love and attachment overlap. 

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The position commonly held by psychologists and sociologists is quite clear: The basic motives are, for the most part, the primary drives — particularly hunger, thirst, elimination of pain, and sex — and all other motives, including love or affection, are derived or secondary drives. The mother is associated with the reduction of the primary drives – particularly hunger, thirst, and pain — and through learning, affection or love is derived. It is entirely reasonable to believe that the mother through association with food may become a secondary-reinforcing agent, but this is an inadequate mechanism to account for the persistence of the infant-maternal ties. There is a spate of researches on the formation of secondary reinforcers to hunger and thirst reduction. There can be no question that almost any external stimulus can become a secondary reinforcer if properly associated with tissue-need reduction, but the fact remains that such derived drives suffer relatively rapid experimental extinction. Contrariwise, human affection does not extinguish when the mother ceases to have intimate association with the drives in question. Instead, the affectional ties to the mother show a lifelong, unrelenting persistence and, even more surprising, widely expanding generality.

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In contrast to the phase of falling in love is motherly love, mother’s love for her child. It’s the most accepted form of love, an enduring social bond. Maternal and romantic love are not all the same, there is specific overlapping activity in the central nervous system as well as differences mostly in activity. Maternal and romantic love share the pattern of cortical de-activation in particular the frontal cortex. This might account for the somewhat suspended judgment when it concerns their own children. Mothers as well as lovers are a good deal more patient and less critical when it’s about their children or loved one respectively. In maternal love there is a strong activation of parts of the brain that are specific for faces. This is for the importance of reading children’s facial expressions, to ensure their well being, and therefore the constant attention of the mother for the face of the child. Another difference is the involvement of the hypothalamus only in romantic love not in maternal love, since the hypothalamus is associated with sexual arousal (vide infra).   

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Face Brain areas
Maternal love Facial expression of infant to ensure wellbeing Hypothalamus spared
Romantic love Facial attractiveness of partner Hypothalamus must for sexual arousal

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You self developed under the watchful eyes of your caregiver or parents. When you were a newborn you were totally dependent upon the adults in your life to take care of your needs and raise you in a safe environment. You had to be fed and clothed, bathed and held, and loved and appreciated. While your caregivers provided for those basic needs in your life, you attached to them and they attached to you. An attachment is an emotional and social bond that forms between one person and another (vide infra). Humans are considered highly motivated to form attachments through their lives. Attachments are crucial to human existence and are essentially the emotional context of those relationships we all have in life. As an infant you learned to trust those who cared for you. You learned that they return after they leave your view and that they can be depended upon. Eventually your brain allows you to love the person you are attached to and to care for them whether or not they are giving care to you. You learn then that your attachments facilitate your needs and wants being met. How you attached as an infant and young child shapes how you will likely attach as an adult. If you had strong attachments in childhood, then forming adult relationships should be easier for you. If you had weak or interrupted attachments in childhood, then forming adult relationships — especially loving ones — will be more difficult for you. Psychologists named Abraham Maslow addressed love in terms of how our needs are met by the other person. His basic premise was that we pair of with those whose love style fills an unmet childhood need. In other words, Maslow said that if our childhood needs were not met in the basics of survival, safety, food, shelter, love, belonging, and even self-esteem, then we look for an adult companion who can fill those needs for us. It’s like we have an empty cup from our childhood that our adult partner fills for us. Maslow also said that when all those basic needs are met in childhood, then we are attracted to an adult partner who complements our full development into our psychological potential. If in your childhood your survival, safety, food, shelter, love, belonging, and even self-esteem needs were unmet, then you will be attracted to a Deficiency Lover. A Deficiency Lover is a lover who provides the basic level of needs for their partner while having their needs reciprocally met in a similar way. A Being Lover meets your aesthetic, intellectual, and full actualization or human capacity needs while you reciprocally meet theirs in a similar way.

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Are there recent studies linking the bonds between children and parents’ love for each other to an adult’s love to their partner?

Yes. There has been quite a bit of research in this area recently. Traditional belief has suggested that while parent-child relationships serve as an important basis for future relationship styles, the earliest relationships between parents and children don’t necessarily define how a person will behave in relationships as an adult. However, some recent research has demonstrated that the link between our earliest love relationships and adult relationships may be stronger than previously thought. A recent study that appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that early social experiences have an important effect on adult romantic relationships. Many studies have demonstrated that individuals who are viewed as securely attached in childhood grow up to have healthier and longer-lasting adult relationships. However, research has also consistently shown that people can overcome poor attachment in childhood to develop healthy romantic relationships as adults.

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During the first half of the 20th century, many psychologists believed that showing affection towards children was merely a sentimental gesture that served no real purpose. Behaviorist John B. Watson once even went so far as to warn parents, “When you are tempted to pet your child, remember that mother’s love is a dangerous instrument.” According to many thinkers of the day, affection would only spread diseases and lead to adult psychological problems. During this time, psychologists were motivated to prove their field as a rigorous science. The behaviorist movement dominated psychology and urged researchers to study only observable and measurable behaviors. An American psychologist named Harry Harlow, however, became interested in studying a topic that was not so easy to quantify and measure: love. In a series of controversial experiments conducted in 1960s, Harlow demonstrated the powerful effects of love. By showing the devastating effects of deprivation on young rhesus monkeys, Harlow revealed the importance of a mother’s love for healthy childhood development. His experiments were often unethical and shockingly cruel, yet they uncovered fundamental truths that have heavily influenced our understanding of child development.

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The Wire Mother Experiment:

One function of the real mother, human or subhuman, and presumably of a mother surrogate, is to provide a haven of safety for the infant in times of fear and danger. The frightened or ailing child clings to its mother, not its father; and this selective responsiveness in times of distress, disturbance, or danger may be used as a measure of the strength of affectional bonds. Harlow noted that very little attention had been devoted to the experimental research of love. “Because of the dearth of experimentation, theories about the fundamental nature of affection have evolved at the level of observation, intuition, and discerning guesswork, whether these have been proposed by psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, physicians, or psychoanalyst,” he noted (Harlow, 1958). Many of the existing theories of love centered on the idea that the earliest attachment between a mother and child was merely a means for the child to obtain food, relieve thirst, and avoid pain. Harlow, however, believed that this behavioral view of mother-child attachment was an inadequate explanation. Harlow’s most famous experiment involved giving young rhesus monkeys a choice between two different “mothers.” One was made of soft terrycloth, but provided no food. The other was made of wire, but provided food from an attached baby bottle. Harlow removed young monkeys from their natural mothers a few hours after birth and left them to be “raised” by these mother surrogates. The experiment demonstrated that the baby monkeys spent significantly more time with their cloth mother than with their wire mother. These data make it obvious that contact comfort is a variable of overwhelming importance in the development of affectional bonds. It is apparent that the cloth mother is highly preferred over the wire one, and this differential selectivity is enhanced by age and experience. In this situation, the variable of nursing appears to be of absolutely no importance: the infant consistently seeks the soft mother surrogate regardless of nursing condition. 

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Fear, Security, and Attachment:

In a later experiment, Harlow demonstrated that young monkeys would also turn to their cloth surrogate mother for comfort and security. Using a strange situation similar to the one created by attachment researcher Mary Ainsworth, Harlow allowed the young monkeys to explore a room either in the presence of their surrogate mother or in her absence. Monkeys in the presence of their mother would use her as a secure base to explore the room. When the surrogate mothers were removed from the room, the effects were dramatic. The young monkeys no longer had their secure base to explore the room and would often freeze up, crouch, rock, scream, and cry.

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The Impact of Harlow’s Research:

While many experts derided the importance of parental love and affection, Harlow’s experiments offered irrefutable proof that love is vital for normal childhood development. Additional experiments by Harlow revealed the long-term devastation caused by deprivation, leading to profound psychological and emotional distress and even death. Harlow’s work, as well as important research by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, helped influence key changes in how orphanages, adoption agencies, social services groups and child care providers approached the care of children.

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Why Mom’s Love is so important:

“A mother’s love is extremely important for the healthy emotional outcome of her children,” says Ridgefield therapist Janet Esposito. “In most cases, it is the mom who is the primary caregiver, and how she loves her children greatly affects their lives.” The latest study on mother love, conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., discovered that school-age children with a larger hippocampus in their brains were those nurtured early in life.  Why is this important? The hippocampus is crucial for learning, memory and our response to stress. There’s more:

— Researchers at Ohio State University found that of the 1,000 study participants, those who grew into overweight adults lacked a strong emotional bond with their moms.

— Psychologist Arthur Janov, Ph.D., in his book Biology of Love, talks about the importance of the first few months of an infant’s life. He writes: “Hugs and kisses during these critical periods make those neurons grow and connect properly with other neurons. You can kiss that brain into maturity.”

—  A study from the University of British Columbia determined that of 1,215 middle-aged Americans studied, those who grew up in poverty had a greater chance of suffering from type-2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke than those who knew a life of privilege — unless the lower income group had a loving mother.

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Brain of neglected child is much smaller than that of a normal three-year-old:

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The figure above shows that the brain on the left is considerably larger, has fewer spots and less dark areas, compared to the one on the right. According to neurologists the sizable difference between these two brains has one primary cause – the way they were treated by their mothers. The child with the larger and more fully developed brain was looked after by its mother – she was constantly responsive to her baby. But the child with the shrunken brain was the victim of severe neglect and abuse. The consequences of these deficits are pronounced – the child on the left with the larger brain will be more intelligent and more likely to develop the social ability to empathize with others. But in contrast, the child with the shrunken brain will be more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crimes, much more likely to be unemployed and to be dependent on state benefits. The child is also more likely to develop mental and other serious health problems.   

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The effects of not having mother’s love:

“Mothers tend to be the primary caregivers, and if children don’t feel loved, they internalize that and feel unlovable,” Esposito says. “They wonder what is wrong them, that their mothers cannot love them. It is something they carry through the rest of their lives.” She says that many of these children have self-esteem issues that can affect future relationships and their career path because they lack the confidence to pursue challenging jobs. Purcell says newborns can sense if something is wrong in the family, citing the failure-to-thrive syndrome in neglected babies. “They physically lose weight and wither away,” she says. “There is a physiological basis for why that initial connection is so important, fundamental proof that mother love and mother attention is critical. “The first relationship with the primary caretaker becomes the child’s role model,” Purcell adds. “A mom needs to be present physically and emotionally with a baby from the time it is young. But that does not mean 24/7. Mom needs balance and some time for herself, or she may not be able to give baby quality time. It’s better to have quality time, even if it means a little less quantity.” Dr. John W. Travis founded the country’s first wellness center in Mill Valley, Calif., in 1975. If mother love is missing, Travis says it can lead to depression, anxiety, bullying, poor achievement in school, violence, drug and alcohol addictions and illness. Boys may be on a continual search for love, a search for the mommies they never experienced emotionally. Teen girls may become pregnant, hoping to create someone they can love and who will love them. “These are all the creative ways human beings make up for the failed connections of their childhoods,” he adds. “Our body and minds attempt to compensate for our failed connections. And the cost of the lack of those connections is so far-reaching, the consequences so devastating.”

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How affection shapes a Baby’s Brain:

Sue Gerhardt considers how the earliest relationship shapes the baby’s nervous system, with lasting consequences, and how our adult life is influenced by infancy despite our inability to remember babyhood. She shows how the development of the brain can affect future emotional well being, and goes on to look at specific early ‘pathways’ that can affect the way we respond to stress and lead to conditions such as anorexia, addiction, and anti-social behaviour. When researchers studied the brains of Romanian orphans – children who had been left to cry in their cots from birth and denied any chance of forming close bonds with an adult – they found a “virtual black hole” where the orbitofrontal cortex should have been. This is the part of the brain that enables us to manage our emotions, to relate sensitively to other people, to experience pleasure and to appreciate beauty. These children’s earliest experiences had greatly diminished their capacity ever to be fully human. Sue Gerhardt’s book Why Love Matters shows that early experience has effects on the development of both brain and personality that none of us can afford to ignore. In Why Love Matters, Gerhardt, a psychotherapist, has bravely gone where most in recent years have feared to tread. She takes the hard language of neuroscience and uses it to prove the soft stuff of attachment theory. Picking up your crying baby or ignoring it may be a matter of parental choice, but the effects will be etched on your baby’s brain for years to come. Putting your one-year-old in a nursery or leaving them with a childminder may turn out to be a more momentous decision than you thought. Drawing on the most recent findings from the field of neurochemistry, Gerhardt makes an impressive case that emotional experiences in infancy and early childhood have a measurable effect on how we develop as human beings. Wielding the language and findings of science, she scythes through the confusion that normally surrounds this subject to explain how daily interactions between a baby and its main carer have a direct impact on the way the brain develops. Gerhardt is not interested in cognitive skills – how quickly a child learns to read, write, count to 10. She’s interested in the connection between the kind of loving we receive in infancy and the kind of people we turn into. Who we are is neither encoded at birth, she argues, nor gradually assembled over the years, but is inscribed into our brains during the first two years of life in direct response to how we are loved and cared for. Our earliest experiences are not simply laid down as memories or influences; they are translated into precise physiological patterns of response in the brain that then set the neurological rules for how we deal with our feelings and those of other people for the rest of our lives. It’s not nature or nurture, but both. How we are treated as babies and toddlers determines the way in which what we’re born with turns into what we are. According to Gerhardt, “There is nothing automatic about it. The kind of brain that each baby develops is the brain that comes out of his or her particular experiences with people.” The key player in this unfolding drama turns out to be a hormone called cortisol. When a baby is upset, the hypothalamus, situated in the subcortex at the centre of the brain, produces cortisol. In normal amounts cortisol is fine, but if a baby is exposed for too long or too often to stressful situations (such as being left to cry) its brain becomes flooded with cortisol and it will then either over- or under-produce cortisol whenever the child is exposed to stress. Too much is linked to depression and fearfulness; too little to emotional detachment and aggression. Children of alcoholics have a raised cortisol level, as do children of very stressed mothers. The key point is that babies can’t regulate their stress response on their own, but learn to do so only through repeated experiences of being rescued, or not, from their distress by others. Through positive interactions, the baby learns that people can be relied upon to respond to its needs, and the baby’s brain learns to produce only beneficial amounts of cortisol. Baseline levels of cortisol are pretty much set by six months of age. Gerhardt’s book is a much-needed corrective to writers such as Steven Pinker, who have made too great a claim for the role of inherited genes. Instead, in line with Antonio Damasio and Daniel Goleman, she shows that you can’t slide a knife between the heart and the brain. Human babies, like all mammals, are born wired for survival, but uniquely, we are wired to do so through other people. By smiling cutely long before they can walk or talk, babies ensure that the adults in their lives are sufficiently besotted to forgive them the sleepless nights and want to keep them alive. Being smiled at in return teaches the baby the rewards of communication and primes the infant brain for more. Good parenting isn’t just nice for the baby; it leads to good development of the baby’s prefrontal cortex, which in turn enables the growing child to develop self-control and empathy, and to feel connected to others. Interaction, it turns out, is the high road from merely human to fully humane.  

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Romance:
Romance is the essence of a relationship. Without romance your love life will not exist. Romance is the true identity of your love. It brings out your true self and helps you be a better lover, husband and partner. Romance is a celebration of the life you live as part of a couple. It springs naturally and originates from within your heart. It makes you do things that you possibly couldn’t have imagined to do otherwise. It shows you who you are and reminds you of the role you play in a relationship. Romance is not responsibility but it is caring about your responsibilities towards your lover and partner. Romance is the appreciation of two people who are celebrating the lucky coincidence that they found each other. Romance is the expressive and pleasurable feeling from an emotional attraction towards another person associated with love. In the context of romantic love relationships, romance usually implies an expression of one’s strong romantic love, or one’s deep and strong emotional desires to connect with another person intimately or romantically. The debate over an exact definition of romantic love may be found in literature as well as in the works of psychologists, philosophers, biochemists and other professionals and specialists.

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Romantic love:

This is the type of love that is the stuff of countless poems, songs, films, and fantasies. The all-consuming, heart-skips-a-beat, shooting stars in the sky during a kiss, can’t wait until he/she calls, crazy kind of love. Most committed partnerships start here (romantic love usually doesn’t last more than three years), in the phase of intensity, “connection”, longing, focus, and feeling that is hard to describe and feels special. What a ride this can be! This is the stage where people generally describe being “in love” or “falling in love”, and is the stage of courting and being in a state of “fusion”. Romantic love is a passionate emotional desire by one human for another which is characterized by deep feelings of connection and intimacy. It is often seen as being intricately enmeshed with the sex drive as well as the “urge to build a deep attachment to a romantic partner.” It’s an intense feeling of euphoria, almost manic, usually irrational, which helps people form permanent pair-bond relationships. It has been the subject of much speculation by thinkers in a wide variety of disciplines, including art, poetry, philosophy, and psychology. The Western concept of romantic love was thought to have originated in the Middle Ages, particularly in France, and has been associated with courtly love marked by passion and sometimes secrecy and intrigue. Romantic love generally characterizes the early stages of a relationship or romance. It is often seen in many cultures as the best part of any relationship. There is considerable agreement that the intensity of romantic love fades over time, although there have been arguments that it becomes steadier and more mature. In a cynical view, it has been called an illusory commitment device shaped by processes of evolution which has the purpose of encouraging two humans to form a lasting bond to enable families.  Some scientists think romantic love is a “biological urge” distinct from sexual arousal, while others see romance and sex as tightly intertwined. Regardless, romantic love is often contrasted with asexual platonic love. Romantic love is contrasted with platonic love, which in all usages, precludes sexual relations, yet only in the modern usage does it take on a fully asexual sense, rather than the classical sense in which sexual drives are sublimated. Sublimation tends to be forgotten in casual thought about love aside from its emergence in psychoanalysis and Nietzsche. Unrequited love can be romantic in different ways: comic, tragic, or in the sense that sublimation itself is comparable to romance, where the spirituality of both art and egalitarian ideals is combined with strong character and emotions. Unrequited love is typical of the period of romanticism, but the term is distinct from any romance that might arise within it.  Romantic love may also be classified according to two categories, “popular romance” and “divine or spiritual” romance. 

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Researcher Martie Haselton of the University of California at Los Angeles emphasized the evolutionary benefits of romantic love, since they encourage the formation of families.  Romantic love, in this view, is a “commitment device” which motivates people to become attached, and this attachment had positive evolutionary consequences for the offspring of the sex between the romantically-involved partners. Romantic love evolved along with humans, according to this view. Haselton wrote: “Natural selection has built love to make us feel romantic.” She speculates that while sex is a drive to reproduce, love was a drive to form a long-term commitment.

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Professor Zeki said: “Passionate romantic love is commonly triggered by a visual input and is an all-consuming and disorienting state. Previous studies have demonstrated that despite the complexity of this emotion, the brain patterns triggered when viewing the face of someone you’re in love with are limited to only a few, though richly connected, brain regions”.  The pursuit of romantic love is a greater driving force than the sex drive, according to Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher, who studies the neuroscience of love.  As she describes it, symptoms of love are indeed quite powerful: Romantic love begins as an individual comes to regard another as special, even unique. The over then intensely focuses his or her attention on this preferred individual, aggrandizing the beloved’s better traits and overlooking or minimizing his or her flaws. Lovers experience extreme energy, hyper activity, sleeplessness, impulsivity, euphoria, and mood swings. They are goal-oriented and strongly motivated to win the beloved. Adversity heightens their passion. They reorder their daily priorities to remain in contact with their sweetheart, and experience separation anxiety when apart. And most feel powerful empathy for their amour; many report they would die for their beloved. In fact, love can affect your brain like an addiction. When love is reciprocated it’s a constructive addiction, while rejection of love is a destructive addiction.  Its powerful effects have shaped and been shaped by evolution, and – Fisher argues – have even helped drive the development of human culture.   

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Psychologists are thinking that romantic love is not merely an emotion, but a “motivation system designed to enable suitors to build and maintain an intimate relationship with a preferred mating partner.” The thinking is that passion comes from the “motor of the mind” and is fueled by dopamine, a powerful stimulant. Psychologists such as Carl Jung suggested that the strength of a person’s bond to their parents “unconsciously influences the choice of husband or wife.” And author Lauren Mackler in The Huffington Post agreed, particularly after going through a divorce, that parental upbringing had much to do with a person’s ability to experience romantic love. Mackler feels it’s the unconscious mind which “draws into our lives those people who provoke our deepest wounds.” According to Mackler, three theories of romantic love are:

•Biologic theory which emphasizes the biological basis for romance, based on an evolutionary premise that we choose mates who ensure the survival of the species.

•Social-exchange theory is that we choose mates we perceive as “equals”, trying to choose mates by evaluating their youth, social status, creativity, intelligence, humor and kindness.

•Persona theory is we choose mates depending on how well they “raise our self-esteem” and are more likely to choose a mate who is perceived well by others.

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Biologists and evolutionary psychologists have very recently begun to conclude in consensus that romantic love is anything but romantic: …early-stage romantic love is a developed form of a mammalian drive to pursue preferred mates.  Research has concluded that it was a goal-oriented motivational state (rather than an emotion) that uses subcortical mammalian reward/survival systems, helping to explain why early-stage romantic love affects behavior so profoundly. (Fisher et al, 2010).  The characteristics of someone in romantic love “…include focused attention on the preferred individual, rearrangement of priorities, increased energy, mood swings, sympathetic nervous system responses including sweating and a pounding heart, emotional dependence, elevated sexual desire, sexual possessiveness, obsessive thinking about him or her, craving for emotional union with this preferred individual, affiliative gestures, goal oriented behaviors, and intense motivation to obtain and retain this particular mating partner.” (Fisher et al, 2010).  Some recent work in neuroscience as examined the brains of people in romantic love. They found that the brain areas involved with making judgments and with sense of self. What this means is that when we are in romantic love, our ability to make judgments about situations and the other person is actually impaired, and we lose our sense of individuality and over-identify with the other (Xu, et al, 2010). 

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Tragedy and other social issues in romance:

The “tragic” contradiction between romance and society is most forcibly portrayed in literature, in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The female protagonists in such stories are driven to suicide as if dying for a cause of freedom from various oppressions of marriage. Even after sexual revolutions, on the other hand, to the extent that it does not lead to procreation (or child-rearing, as it also might exist in same-sex marriage), romance remains peripheral though it may have virtues in the relief of stress, as a source of inspiration or adventure, or in development and the strengthening of certain social relations. It is difficult to imagine the tragic heroines, however, as having such practical considerations in mind. Romance can also be tragic in its conflict with society. The Tolstoy family focuses on the romantic limitations of marriage, and Anna Karenina prefers death to being married to her fiancé, however this is because she is tired of waiting and being hidden away from public, when her fiancé makes failed attempts to get his mother’s approval of the marriage. Even being aristocrats did not make them both free, as the society was nevertheless equally binding for all. Furthermore, in the speech about marriage that is given in Kierkegaard’s Either/Or, Kierkegaard attempts to show that it is because marriage is lacking in passion fundamentally, that the nature of marriage, unlike romance, is explainable by a man who has experience of neither marriage nor love. Reciprocity of the sexes appears in the ancient world primarily in myth where it is in fact often the subject of tragedy, for example in the myths of Theseus and Atalanta. Noteworthy female freedom or power was an exception rather than the rule, though this is a matter of speculation and debate.  A requirement for romantic love is having a healthy respect for our own needs and interests, according to Branden. If we don’t love ourselves, it’s hard to believe that someone else can love us. Romantic love is generally characterized by a relationship of exclusivity which means that two people are committed to each other, and that no third persons are involved, according to Branden, who explained that “open” relationships generally become more closed, particularly as couples enter their 40s and 50s, and favor sexual exclusivity. 

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The term romantic friendship refers to a very close but non-sexual relationship between friends, often involving a degree of physical closeness beyond that which is common in the contemporary Western societies, and may include for example holding hands, hugging, kissing, and sharing a bed.

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Committed Love:
This type of love is a much different story. It doesn’t sparkle but for a moment here and there. Committed love is about sharing normal life together. It is about being supportive, affectionate, kind, caring, committed, responsive, and loyal. This is the stuff of the healthiest long-term couples, and can be thought of as “standing in love”.  Robert Johnson, a Jungian writer, calls this “stirring the oatmeal” love, and describes it as: …a willingness to share ordinary human life, to find meaning in the simple, unromantic tasks: earning a living, living within a budget, putting out the garbage, feeding the baby in the middle of the night. To ‘stir the oatmeal’ means to find the relatedness, the value, even the beauty in simple ordinary things, not to eternally demand a cosmic drama, an entertainment or an extraordinary intensity in everything. Committed love is what can be built when the flames of romantic love fade out and two people are left with the choice of facing a life together. 

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Courtly love:

Courtly love was a tradition represented in Western European literature between the 12th and the 14th centuries, idealizing love between a knight and a revered (usually married) lady. Courtly love was a medieval European conception of nobly and chivalrously expressing love and admiration. Generally, courtly love was secret and between members of the nobility. It was also generally not practiced between husband and wife. Point of ongoing controversy about courtly love is to what extent it was sexual. All courtly love was erotic to some degree and not purely platonic—the troubadours speak of the physical beauty of their ladies and the feelings and desires the ladies arouse in them. However, it is unclear what a poet should do: live a life of perpetual desire channeling his energies to higher ends, or physically consummate. Scholars have seen it both ways. A continued point of controversy is whether courtly love was purely literary or was actually practiced in real life. There are no historical records that offer evidence of its presence in reality. Historian John Benton found no documentary evidence in law codes, court cases, chronicles or other historical documents. However, the existence of the non-fiction genre of courtesy books is perhaps evidence for its practice. For example, according to the courtesy book by Christine de Pizan called Book of the Three Virtues, which expresses disapproval of courtly love, the convention was being used to justify and cover up illicit love affairs. 

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Platonic love and controversies:

 First of all, the original meaning of “platonic love” comes from Plato’s The Symposium, where the ideal kind of love was described as a kind redirecting the lover’s focus from the beloved (and sex with the beloved) to “the divine” or “philosophy,” basically to an interaction of the mind or some outside pursuit of knowledge. What Plato was getting at in The Symposium was essentially: the ideal love may include sex but the intellectually-based friendship in it is far more important, without which the relationship is base and carnal in a way we shouldn’t settle for. Plato (and Socrates) did not mean to exclude sexuality altogether from this ideal. They condemned the kind of erotic love that keeps two people obsessed with sex and each other’s body, to the point of neglecting those higher ideas, pursuits, etc, but they did not quite say that the ideal love is totally nonsexual. The contemporary use of the term “platonic love” is obviously an inaccurate one. It is not true to Plato’s philosophy. In English, we understand “platonic love” to mean love that is not sexual—and that’s problematic for reasons beyond the disconnect to the original idea. Usually, when people use the term “platonic love” to describe love that isn’t sexual, a simultaneous lack of romance is implicit too. In other words, if you “platonically” love someone, you don’t want to have sex with them and you don’t want to be a couple either. This usage does absolutely nothing to acknowledge the complexities of possible relationships. It conflates romance and sex and makes couplehood or primary partnerships synonymous with a romantic-sexual relationship.

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Definition of platonic love:

1: love conceived by Plato as ascending from passion for the individual to contemplation of the universal and ideal

2: a close relationship between two persons in which sexual desire is nonexistent or has been suppressed or sublimated.

 Platonic love in its modern popular sense is an affectionate relationship into which the sexual element does not enter, especially in cases where one might easily assume otherwise. A simple example of platonic relationships is a deep, non-sexual friendship between two heterosexual people of the opposite sexes. At the same time, this interpretation is a misunderstanding of the nature of the Platonic ideal of love, which from its origin was that of a chaste but passionate love, based not on uninterest but virtuous restraint of sexual desire.

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There are 4 types of relationships:

You can have a romantic sexual relationship.

You can have a romantic nonsexual relationship.

You can have a nonromantic sexual relationship.

You can have a nonromantic nonsexual relationship.

Everybody would probably agree that the last kind—a nonromantic, nonsexual relationship—is “platonic.” But what about the other three? If we use the word “platonic” to mean a nonsexual relationship, then the romantic nonsexual relationship would qualify for platonic love. “Platonic love” is usually equated to friendship in our minds. If you love someone “as a friend,” meaning you don’t want them sexually or romantically, that love is “platonic.” Except—people do sometimes love their friends nonromantically but want to have sex with them (and do!). And it’s now a very common thing in 21st century English-speaking societies to conceive of the ideal romantic-sexual relationship as inclusive of friendship anyway (which is a relatively new idea in civilization and still doesn’t exist in many different countries all over the world). You can love someone romantically without being friends, just as you can be sexually involved with someone who isn’t your friend. So which relationships are “platonic” and which aren’t? And if they aren’t “platonic” but they aren’t “romantic,” then what are they? The main problem with using “platonic love” to mean friendship is that friendship itself is the most ambiguous kind of connection between two people in the first place! Philosophy in particular makes a big deal about the ambiguity of friendship. Erotic love is relatively simple in comparison! The “romantic-sexual/platonic” love dichotomy leaves no room for the real emotional nuances people experience in their attachments, and it often causes us to live with simplified relationships not because we want to or because we have simple desires and feelings but because we have no experience, cultural context, or language to accommodate a complex social life or set of relationships. This is why language is so important. This is why words and labels matter. How can you have the kind of relationships you want with anyone, if you don’t even have the words to accurately express how you feel? Half the time, people don’t even understand their own feelings and relationship desires because what they feel is not simple at all, but the only relationship framework they know makes everything seem simple and clear cut: romance and sex go together, friendship is separate from both of those things, couplehood/primary partnership is exclusive to romance and sex, etc. But if we are to accept the possibilities and realities of asexual romance, primary nonsexual/nonromantic love, nonromantic sex and sexual friendship, romantic (nonsexual) friendship, queer-platonic nonsexual relationships and sexual relationships, etc…. we have to drop this way of thinking and speaking about relationships and love in a romantic-sexual/platonic dichotomous way. None of those “complex” relationships fit into that model, which is why the average romantic-sexual person who has no exposure to anything other than normative relationship style will almost always react to those other kinds of relationships with total confusion, rejection, etc.

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Crush:

A crush is harmless attraction, often a secret, towards someone you’re attracted to. You generally see this person around sometimes and they always seem to catch your interest. There’s not really reciprocation with crushes, unless two people just so happen to have crushes on each other and somehow both find out about the others’ feelings.

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Puppy love:

Puppy love is an informal term for feelings of love, romance, or infatuation, often felt by young people during their childhood and adolescence. It is named for its resemblance to the adoring, worshipful affection that may be felt by a puppy. Puppy love is usually the kind of love exchanged between people who have crushes on each other and know about it and/or they are newly dating. It’s mostly innocent, cutesy mush. Long term commitments aren’t usually thought about or considered in puppy love situations. It’s a light-hearted love situation, not meant to be anything more serious at any point and is short-lived. The term is often used in a derogatory fashion, describing emotions which are shallow and transient in comparison to other forms of love such as romantic love. Some consider that in puppy love ‘usually the object of such infatuation is some highly idealized person who is some years older—a teacher, an uncle or aunt, a friend of the family, an actor, or rock star’—and typically the sufferer ‘greatly moved with emotion…spend[s] much time in daydreams and wishful fantasies’ about them. On the positive side, ‘Puppy love gives young people a new sense of individualism. For the first time, they love someone outside their family’. Others warn however that ‘the old saying may be true: “If you marry on the strength of puppy love, you’ll end up leading a dog’s life.”‘ 

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Limerence:

Limerence is an involuntary state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one’s feelings reciprocated. More recently, limerence has been defined in relation to obsessive compulsive disorder as “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves intrusive, obsessive, and compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation from the object of interest”. Albert Wakin, an expert on limerence and a professor of psychology at Sacred Heart University, defines limerence as a combination of obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction, a state of “compulsory longing for another person.” He estimates that five percent of the population struggles with limerence. Limerence has also been defined in terms of the potentially inspirational effects and the relationship to attachment theory, which is not exclusively sexual, as being “an involuntary potentially inspiring state of adoration and attachment to a limerent object involving intrusive and obsessive thoughts, feelings and behaviors from euphoria to despair, contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation”. Limerence is considered as a cognitive and emotional state of being emotionally attached or even obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings—a near-obsessive form of romantic love. For Tennov, “sexual attraction is an essential component of limerence…the limerent is a potential sex partner.” Limerence is sometimes also interpreted as infatuation, or what is colloquially known as a “crush”; however, in common speech, infatuation includes aspects of immaturity and extrapolation from insufficient information and is usually short-lived.

According to Tennov, there are at least two types of love:
a) limerence, which she describes as (inter alia) “loving attachment”; and

b) “loving affection,” the bond that exists between an individual and his or her parents and children.

She notes, however, that one form may evolve into the other: ‘those whose limerence was replaced by affectional bonding with the same partner might say…”We were very much in love when we married; today we love each other very much”‘. The distinction is comparable to that drawn by ethologists ‘between the pair-forming and pair-maintaining functions of sexual activity’, just as ‘the attachment of the attachment theorists is very similar to the emotional reciprocation longed for in Tennov’s limerence, and each is linked to sexuality’. The physiological correlations of limerence are heart palpitations, trembling, pallor, flushing, pupil dilation and general weakness. Awkwardness, stuttering, shyness, and confusion predominate at the behavioral level. Less common effects include sickness, headaches, etc., and loss of appetite, dizziness and passing out. There is apprehension, nervousness, and anxiety due to terrible worry that any action may bring about disaster. Many of the commonly associated physiological reactions are the result of the limerent fear. Some people however may find that these effects come most strongly either immediately at or sometime after contact with the object of limerence, and this is accompanied with an acute feeling of ecstasy or despair, depending on the turn of events beforehand.

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Tennov identified the following core characteristics of limerence:

• Idealization of the other person’s characteristics (positive and negative)

• Uncontrollable and intrusive thoughts about the other person

• Extreme shyness, stuttering, nervousness and confusion around the other person

• Fear of rejection and despair or thoughts of suicide if rejection occurs

• A sense of euphoria in response to real or perceived signs of reciprocation

• Fantasizing about or searching obsessively for signs of reciprocation (“reading into things”)

• Being reminded of the person in everything around you

• Replaying in your mind every encounter with the other person in great detail

• Maintaining romantic intensity through adversity

• Endlessly analyzing every word and gesture to determine their possible meaning

• Arranging your schedule to maximize possible encounters with the other person

• Experiencing physical symptoms such as trembling, flushing, weakness or heart palpitations around the other person

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Love vs. Limerence:

Early in a romantic relationship, it can be difficult to distinguish love from limerence. One begins to follow a calmer, more rewarding path that feels good to both partners, while the other intensifies and stops feeling good to one or both partners over time. Limerence is smothering and unsatisfying and cares little about the other person’s well-being. Securing the other person’s affection takes precedence over earning their respect, commitment, physical intimacy or even their love. In healthy relationships, neither partner is limerent. They are in love, but they do not struggle with constant, unwanted thoughts about their partner. Rather than pursuing reciprocity, the couple bonds through mutual interests and enjoyment of each other’s company. In most relationships where limerence is an issue, one partner is limerent and the other is not. These relationships are unstable and intense. If both partners are limerent, the relationship typically fizzles as quickly as it sizzled. Experts disagree about the likelihood of limerent relationships evolving into affectionate, long-term commitments. While some may grow into healthy, mutually gratifying relationships, others end in rejection and disappointment. Limerence lasts longer than romantic love, but not usually as long as a healthy, committed partnerships. By Tennov’s estimates, limerence can last a few weeks to several decades, with the average being 18 months to three years. The duration depends whether the individual’s affections are requited. When requited, the feelings may persist over many years. When unrequited, the feelings typically dwindle away and eventually disappear, unless the object of their affection sends mixed signals or physical or emotional distance prolongs the intensity and uncertainty (e.g., one partner lives in a different state or is married).

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Infatuation:

Infatuation is the state of being carried away by unreasoned passion or love: expresses the headlong libidinal attraction of addictive love. Usually, one is inspired with an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone. Because in common parlance, ‘infatuation is extravagant or foolish love, an infatuated person, quite commonly, is someone who in over-valuing the beloved, has mistaken beliefs concerning her or him’.  Some consider that perhaps infatuation can only be distinguished from romantic love in retrospect…others suggest that infatuation may be the first step towards love…can grow into a more mature love;  marks the first stage of a relationship before a bumpy, but nonetheless inevitable, transition from romantic infatuation to mature intimacy. In such a view, ‘lovers begin as prolifically inventive, producing enthralling illusions about each other…only to be disappointed into truth’. Love and Infatuation are both intense emotions that one feels for another person. These feelings are most often confused for each other by many people. But the two feelings differ in their actuality of love, intensity and final outcome. Infatuation usually occurs at the beginning of relationship when sexual attraction is central. Love can be described as feeling of intense affection for another person.  

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Infatuation Love
Definition: Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoning desire. A decision to commit oneself to another and to work through conflicts instead of giving up.
Associated with: Selfish uncontrollable desire Physical chemistry over a fairly long period of time.
Sub-Categories: Short lived physical desire, crush, or lust, hormonal activity, addictive chemical reactions in the brain. Not revived with the same person without a deeper feeling. Intimacy, commitment, security, the desire to please and help the other person.
Symptoms: urgency, intensity, sexual desire, anxiety, high risk choices, reckless abandonment of what was once valued. Faithfulness, loyalty, confidence. Willingness to make sacrifices for another. Working at settling differences. Able to compromise so that either both win or at least give the other person’s opinion a chance.
Person to Person: reckless commitment to satisfy one’s all consuming lust. Commitment to another. Genuine intentions. Think about other person’s feelings before acting.
Feels like: All consuming euphoria similar to recreational drug use (addictive chemical reactions in the brain), stupidity (cupidity). Can risk everything for the next hit of adrenalin. A deep affection; contentment, confidence. Partners communicate and negotiate appropriate expectations. Requires a lot of selflessness and polite assertiveness. You are loving your best friend.
Result: Emptiness, consequences of choices made while under the influence of mind numbing temporary lust. Security, peace, a solid partnership which can provide the ideal atmosphere to raise confident secure children.
Effect: being controlled by brain chemistry, loss of ability to make rational evaluations of what is true, valuable and worthy contentment, stability
Interdependency: Cannot be sustained without some portion of love and physical attraction, always desire to be close to that person at any cost. Partnership. Can lead to codependency if not tempered with self-awareness and self-guidedness.
Time Period: Takes off fast and furious like a spark in dry grass burns out quickly and can leave feelings of emptiness. It will deepen with the passage of time.
Commitment: This is temporary in life and goes off after some period. This is permanent commitment and stays throughout the life.
Bottom Line: Infatuation is delusional. Love unconditionally.
Patience: infatuation is of the now Love is a gradual process. it happens over time

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A relationship between two people that starts as infatuation may grow into genuine love, but only if both partners share common beliefs and values.

Love Signs:

It’s probably love if…

  • When making decisions, you think of your partner as well as yourself.
  • You continue to grow as independent human beings while the relationship becomes stronger and deeper.
  • Your relationship develops slowly, naturally and sincerely.
  • There is honesty and trust between you.
  • Both of you accept that neither of you is perfect.
  • Each of you continues to foster other aspects of your life such as family, work, ideas and other friends.
  • Your relationship remains as strong in painful, difficult times as in happy times.

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Infatuation Signs:

It’s probably infatuation if…

  • The relationship happens suddenly, after meeting once or twice.
  • You depend on your partner to feel good about yourself.
  • One of you gets more out of the relationship than the other.
  • One of you is jealous of the other’s activities or friends.
  • Your relationship is generally based on physical attraction.

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It all sounds so wonderful that we may not see the problem when infatuation is mistaken for love. But it’s a big problem, and that’s why it’s so important to understand the differences between love and infatuation. Here they are:

◦Love develops gradually over time. Infatuation occurs almost instantaneously.

◦Love can last a long time. It becomes deeper and more powerful over time. Infatuation is powerful, but short-lived.

◦Love accepts the whole person, imperfections and all. Infatuation flourishes on perfection – you have an idealized image of your partner and you only show your partner your good side.

◦Love is more than physical attraction. Infatuation focuses on the physical. 

◦Love is energizing. Infatuation is draining.

◦Love improves your overall disposition. Infatuation brings out jealousy and obsessiveness. It causes you to neglect other relationships.

◦Loves survives arguments. Infatuation glosses over arguments.

◦ Love considers the other person. Infatuation is selfish.

◦Love is being in love with a person. Infatuation is being in love with love.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with two people being infatuated with each other, just as long as both people recognize the relationship for what it is. Teens often use failed “lust” relationships to assess the undesirable aspects of such relationships.

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Obsession:

The word, “obsess” (or “to be obsessed”) is defined by Concise Oxford Dictionary as “preoccupy continually or to a troubling extent”. Obsession can be for a person or thing or act. It is a psychological condition that in its extreme form needs medical attention. The person affected by an obsession desires the object of his obsession with enormous passion, ferocity and even madness. When the object of obsession is a person of opposite sex, there is a tendency to confuse the obsession with love. If a person tries to constantly monitor his/her partners whereabouts, makes attempts to get in touch with him/her numerous times a day, becomes extremely suspicious of infidelity or abandonment for no apparent reason chances are that they are obsessed. Moreover, obsessed partners or spouses often try to isolate and control their significant other. Often times an obsessed partner demonstrates disturbing and even violent behavior towards the object of his/her passion. Stalking is a mild form of it; unfortunately obsessive escapades often escalate to verbal and even physical violence. In most extreme cases an obsessive partner can be a serious threat to their object of desire and to themselves. Obsessions that ended with fatality are not uncommon. However, there are fundamental differences between love and obsession.

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The signs of obsession may include:

•Getting too close too fast. This might include having your partner express feelings of deep attraction or even love within minutes of meeting.

•Romanticizing the relationship on an almost fantastical level. (i.e. feeling that the love is deeper and more real than anyone else’s, or that it is somehow magical and makes life possible)

•Inability to apply reason and logic to the relationship. (i.e. you know you are pretty incompatible or that your partner is cruel or even dangerous, but you choose to ignore the obvious signs)

•Paranoia exists about possible infidelities, especially when you are not together. Over time, the paranoia may become even more illogical (i.e. accusations of infidelity with unlikely partners such as relatives, clergy, teachers, etc.)

•You or your partner place multiple phone calls, and send several emails and texts on a daily basis and become agitated if they go unanswered for even a few minutes.

•Driving by a partner’s home, office or other frequented places hoping to catch a glimpse of them or catch them with someone else to validate feelings of paranoia.

•Inability to focus on anything else, including work, because the obsessive relationship occupies all thoughts and consumes copious quantities of time. This might mean that even while at work one constantly tries to reach their partner by phone, sends emails, daydreams, writes poetry, takes long lunches to buy gifts or to stalk their lover, etc.

•Feelings of confusion (i.e. I know I can’t possibly be in love with them, but when why can’t I imagine life without them?)

•Loss of sleep and appetite. Increasing feelings of anxiety and depression.

•Feelings of extreme depression and low self-esteem brought on when the relationship begins to suffer strains. This happens to individuals who allow their entire identify to become wrapped up in the relationship.

•Inability to accept the end of the relationship. May believe that your partner really can’t live without and still loves you even when they refuse to take your calls, ask to be left alone or even seek restraining orders.

•Belief that if you continue your stalking or obsessive behaviors, they will realize that they still love you and will take you back.

•Manipulation of a lover through guilt tactics (i.e. If you leave me I’ll kill myself; or half-hearted suicide attempts meant to gain attention and reignite affection and compassion rather than to actually harm oneself).

•Dulling pain through use of drugs, alcohol or other self-destructive behaviors as feelings of rejection and depression become more frequent.

•Promises to change oneself to please the partner. This may mean anything from changes in behavior, to changes in appearance, habits, interests, etc. At times, changes may even become apparent, but they are not likely to be lasting, so beware of such tactics.

If you recognize any of the above signs in your relationship, it is important to seek help immediately.

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Obsessive love:

Obsessive love is a state in which one person feels an overwhelming obsessive desire to possess another person toward whom they feel a strong attraction, with an inability to accept failure or rejection. Although not categorized specifically under any specific mental diagnosis by the DSM IV, many people argue that obsessive love is considered to be a mental illness similar to “attachment disorder, borderline personality disorder, and erotomania.”  Obsessive lovers may feel entirely unable to restrain themselves from extreme behaviors such as acts of violence toward themselves. They may be entirely convinced that their feelings are love, and may reject the idea that their severe obsession is not love. Moore suggests that for people who are afflicted with relational dependency (love addiction, codependency, etc.) their relationships often follow the pattern of the wheel having 4 phases; attraction, anxiety, obsession and destruction. This is known as obsession love wheel.

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According to Oxford Dictionary of Current English the definition of love is “warm, kind feeling, fondness and tender devotion” while obsession is described as “fixed idea that occupies one’s mind”. In other words people who love regard their loved one as a human being and the needs of the beloved are important to them, while the victims of obsession see their love interest as an object of their sexual desire or romantic interest ignoring the fact that he/she is a real person. They want to possess the object of their obsession, they crave him/her like a drug addict craves heroin or an alcoholic craves a drink. Almost two hundred years ago British writer John Galsworthy in his legendary novel The Foresyte Saga described a fixed idea of the possession of an object of one’s desire as a mania that “ runs with eyes turned inward to its own light, oblivious of all other stars”. When two people fall in love, they maintain their individual identities and interests. They are not threatened when their partner elects to spend time with family or friends without always including them. They are happy for and proud of their partner’s accomplishments, even when those accomplishments are exclusive of the relationship. With obsession, it becomes nearly impossible to be without one another. The obsessive partner feels a physical need to be with the object of their obsession every day and to know exactly where they are and who they are with whenever they are not together. Negative feelings such as jealousy and paranoia begin to creep into the relationship. The obsessive individual suspects that their partner may be cheating or that everything they do or say is somehow a reflection of how they feel about them. An obsessive person will spend inordinate amounts of time trying to please their partner in an ongoing effort to assure that the partner does not want to cheat on or leave them. They may place multiple phone calls, send countless texts or emails all in one day. They may write poems or songs to the object of their obsession. They make attempts to spend every unoccupied moment with them, often making plans well in advance to assure that every moment can be accounted for. They limit the other’s ability to spend time with family or friends and become angry and jealous when they do choose others over them. Often, an obsessive person can become verbally or physically abusive and express great amounts of remorse afterward, yet they consistently blame their partner for bringing on the abuse themselves. Over time, they reduce their partner to a helpless, dependent individual that is a mere shell of the person they supposedly fell in love with. This is done in a subconscious attempt to maintain control over their partner.

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Love vs. obsession:

Obsessions are often mistaken for love because people rationalize the crazy feelings they are having. They assume that it must be love if the other person is always on their mind. Obsession is similar to lust but it is much more misleading and destructive. While lust is often fleeting, fading as two people come to know each other better, obsession sticks around. The more time and effort invested in an unhealthy obsession the more intense the obsession can become. People in an obsessed state have a one track mind where the other person is concerned and they often lose touch with who they are as an individual. This loss of individuality creates a vicious circle of behavior where the obsessed person grows more and more dependent on the other person to bolster their sense of self.  Even unrequited love, love that is not returned, can become an overwhelming obsession. When one person believes they are in a relationship that doesn’t really exist, or when one person is more invested in an existing relationship than the other, the foundation for an obsession has been laid. Real love is nurturing and helps people grow but obsession is debilitating. If you feel like you have lost yourself, if you are always striving to please your partner without them doing the same for you, and if you find yourself making all decisions in your life based on the feelings and needs of the other person you could be dealing with obsession.

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Love is focused and centered on the needs of the beloved. Obsession, in contrast, is self-centered. The obsessed is always focused on his (or her) own desires and the object of obsession is incidental. Love treats the beloved as a human being and in extreme cases lovers treat love and beloved as divine. For the obsessed the centre of his attention is an object with no desires, no life independent of the intense desire that the obsessed has for the object. He (or she) is almost like a child who is mad for a toy and will take the toy with him (or her) to bed, to garden, and even to the toilet. But if one day the toy hurts the child, there is immediate rejection. The child is now looking for a new toy while the old one is thrown mercilessly into the dustbin. Obsession is, unlike love, not just passionate; it is ferocious and cruel. The pathos of cruelty that an obsessed displays can be seen in an innocent form in the craving that a child has for a favorite toy. Take the favorite toy away and the child will cry for days and may even stop eating food. The child can be cruel to himself in such a situation. The same cruelty may turn outwards to the toy when the toy is no longer the favorite one. An adult, who expresses obsession in terms of erotic love, is even more dangerous. He (or she) may go to any extent to get the object of his (or her) desire and may even turn violent if the object is taken away. Intensity of such passion is destructive in case of any denial; the obsessed one either destroys oneself or destroys the object of obsession. Newspapers are full of stories of some young boy or girl committing suicide after being turned down. One also hears stories of some boy killing or throwing acid on the face of his girl friend after knowing that she is getting married to someone else.

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Obsessive love as addiction:

Moore, Forward and Buck believe that rejection is the trigger of obsessive love – also known as love addiction or relationship addiction. They state four conditions to help identify it, namely, a painful and all-consuming preoccupation with a real or wished-for lover, an insatiable longing either to possess or be possessed by the target of their obsession, rejection by or physical and/or emotional unavailability of their target, and being driven to behave in self-defeating ways by this rejection or unavailability.
Two Key Characteristics:
• Obsessive lovers believe that only the person they fixate on can make them feel happy and fulfilled.
• Persons close to the love-obsessed can also be greatly affected. Witnessing a friend or family member suffer from the disorder can be distressing.
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Potential causes of obsessive love:
Hodgkinson believes several factors create a climate for obsessive love. Leisure, because obsessive love almost always coincides with boredom, as stated by Anthropologist Branko Bokun. Feelings of vulnerability and a perceived failure to belong because those who feel they do not have a recognized place in the world (e.g., those who are required to perform an unfulfilling job), and/or those undergoing dramatic life changes and the associated fear and lack of self-confidence will seek out an outlet for their anxieties. Hodgkinson believes this is the most important factor. An inflated opinion of oneself, as this is believed to ultimately stem from insecurity, with this insecurity driving the obsessed to seek an individual with attributes that they want for themselves. Particular childhood experiences, such as deep feelings of unworthiness during childhood that lead the obsessed to seek out one who finds the obsessed similarly unworthy in adulthood. Feelings of being special and/or different, as there is an apparent correlation between feelings of distance from peers (whether real or perceived) and obsessive love. Inequality between the lover and the beloved, e.g., the beloved may be married/taken, older, too young, famous, far away or otherwise unattainable. Moore postulates that the way a person “loves” is learned. He suggests that the blueprint of our love styles is passed on to a person through primary relationships during childhood. For example, if a child is not shown healthy love and affection during formative years, the person may go on to gain attention in the form of dysfunctional relationships later in life. He also suggests that children from alcoholic families may be at greater risk for love addiction (or relationship addiction). Others have suggested that borderline personality types and dependent personality types are at greater risk for relationship addiction. It is worth noting that almost all of these conditions apply exclusively to the obsessed, and not to the target of their obsession. Hodgkinson recommends realizing that one who loves obsessively has not fallen in love with a real person, but rather an illusion. It is estimated that up to 90% of obsessive love is motivated by projection. The obsessed is not falling in love with their target because of any salient properties of the target, but for what that target represents to the obsessed.

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Hodgkinson suggests Regression Therapy as the most useful remedy. Moore suggests that Cognitive Therapy, which is a type of counseling approach focused on what is happening in the “here and now” is the most effective treatment for love addiction. Challenging irrational thoughts, often based in fantasy is believed to be an important tool in the healing process. He also suggests support groups (such as sex and love addicts anonymous). In some rare cases, the situation is different. It is true that usually the obsessed is not in love with the person per se but rather with his idea, his mental image of the person, which are two completely different realities usually. However sometimes certain cases where observed, where the object of obsession was not exactly unattainable, where X became obsessed about Z due to a real feeling or experience which Z gave to X. Due to this newfound emotion X formed an immediate bond with Z. The reason of the obsession is the very quick separation of that bond in a physical way.
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The dangers of obsessive love:
The individual who becomes involved with an obsessive partner can grow to realize it, but it is often well after the relationship grows out of control, though in most cases, that doesn’t take too long. Once that has happened, it becomes harder to extricate oneself from the relationship, especially without much guilt and possibly danger. Obsessive love is a delusion, and therefore can lead to dangerous consequences. In extreme cases of obsessive love, the obsessive partner may subject their lover to verbal or physical abuse, rape, stalking or even murder. Obsessive person may also cause self-harm or suicide to gain attention and reignite affection.  In one case, John Hinckley’s obsession for actress Jodie Foster caused him to attempt an assassination of then-President of the United States Ronald Reagan, because he believed it would grab her attention. 

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Love and sex:

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Have a look at this diagram below: it is a picture of reality:

Love – Sex – Friendship (liking) are three different circles that don’t necessarily always overlap.

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Romantic love — which is more like a drug – overpowering your senses as powerfully as cocaine, is a physiological-emotional reaction. It generates high levels of euphoria, fearlessness, and willingness to commit and oversee logic. But romantic love is something that naturally lasts somewhere between 18 months to three years. And to an extent, the more you are exposed to each other, the faster it will wane off.

Friendship/Liking — is a more long lasting emotion. Something that can last a lifetime and therefore is much more important in a long lasting relationship than love itself at times. After the love fizzles out – you can or cannot, may or may not reignite it (yes you can). But Friendship or Liking an individual lasts, maybe not for eternity or whatever, but way longer than love does.

Sex — is a biological need just as love and friendship are psychological/social needs.  As you would notice in the diagram above that the most powerful relationships are those in which all three circles overlap – but it in no way suggests that, that is the only way it can be. It is perfectly natural to have friends you love but don’t have sex with. You can have friends you have sex with but don’t feel passionate love for. You can fall in love with a friend/s and have sex with him/her/them and it’s all still perfectly natural. Polyamourous relationships have survived very well even in the modern day scenario – and very well too despite the social criticism.  

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Making love vs. being in love:

It is often said that “making love” is just a euphemism for “having sex.” To be sure, these terms are frequently used interchangeably. Unfortunately, this common use (or misuse) can mask the important distinction between these two activities.  Indeed, many people who have “good sex” mistake it for love only to find out that their apparent lover was not the person with whom they cared to spend their life.  This is not to proclaim the moral, or prudential, superiority of making love. Indeed some would prefer to just have sex. “Sex alleviates tension,” said Woody Allen. “Love causes it.” Still, it is important that one gets what one bargains for. Of course, making love (as distinct from being in love) necessarily involves having sex.  But having sex, even great sex, is not necessarily making love. According to philosopher Alan Goldman, sexual desire is desire for contact with another person’s body and for the pleasure which such contact produces; sexual activity is activity which tends to fulfill such desire of the agent. Goldman claims that sexual activity is not necessarily a means to any further end. For example, procreation is not the essential purpose of having sex; so you are not doing anything wrong (that is, misusing your body) if you are having sex without trying to get pregnant.  Indeed, according to Goldman, there is no essential purpose to sex beyond fulfilling your desire for contact with another person’s body. We can take Goldman’s account of sexual activity as a working definition for developing and contrasting the idea of love-making.  Inasmuch as sex is a desire for physical contact with someone else’s body, it is a mechanical activity.  Rubbing, touching, caressing, kissing, sucking, biting, and, of course, intercourse, as fulfillments of a desire for physical contact, are all sexual activities in this sense.  Here, a key word is “mechanical” because these activities are essentially ways of mechanically stimulating or arousing oneself.  Per se, they are self-regarding.  They seek self-gratification—fulfillment of a purely self-interested desire. As philosopher Immanuel Kant stated, “Sexual love makes of the loved person an object of appetite; as soon as that appetite has been stilled, the person is cast aside as one casts away a lemon which has been sucked dry.” Here the idea that “sexual love” is self-regarding is clearly articulated by Kant. This has implications for the cognitive, perceptual, and symbolic aspects of love-making. When one merely has sex, one perceives the other as an object of pleasure, as Kant describes. In mere sexual activity one may seek to dominate, control, and even humiliate in order to elicit sexual pleasure. Indeed, there are as many ways to cognize and treat one’s sex partner as there are ways the human animal can satisfy a sexual desire.  But, love-making is unifying whereas these cognitions are relational and assume logically distinct beings.  For example, is masochistic sex, thinking of oneself as lowly and servile relegates oneself to something less than and therefore distinct from one’s sex partner. In contrast, the language of love-making involves thoughts (and perceptions) that unite rather than separate, divide, or alienate. “Two hearts beating as one” expresses a unifying metaphor, although it is not very sensual; while “I want to feel you all over” can be very erotic but still objectifying. “I want to get lost inside of you” can be both erotic and unifying.  Unifying thoughts can be deeply personal and can replay in the mind’s eye moments of intimacy and solidarity.  They can reflect tenderness; an adoring (or adorable) look; or the instant when you knew you wanted to be together for an eternity.

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Love vs. sexual desire:

The experience of being in love involves a longing for union with the other, where an important part of this longing is sexual desire. But what is the relation between being in love and sexual desire? To answer this it must first be seen that the expression ‘in love’ normally refers to a personal relationship. This is because to be ‘in love’ is to want to be loved back. This much would be predicted by equity and social exchange theories of interpersonal attraction. Findings suggest however that love differs fundamentally from liking and, consequently, distinct approaches to the theory of love have been developed. A phenomenological theory is then put forward which suggests that the experience of being in love involves a complex of desires for reciprocal vulnerability in order to care and be cared for. Sexual desire is then seen to involve the physical expression of these desires in the form of desires for mutual baring in order to caress and be caressed. Unlike love, however, sexual desire need not refer to the other person’s desires. This is supported by the existence of sexual desires like fetishism. It is concluded that other desires which often appear in instances of being in love are not basic to the experience of being in love.

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Love vs. sexual desire study:

Romantic love, sex, and sexual desire are so closely intertwined that it might seem almost impossible to disentangle them. But a team led by Gian Gonzaga believes it has done just that. Studies have found that different body gestures are associated with romantic love and sexual desire. If someone is feeling romantic love, they are likely to smile, nod their head, gesticulate, and lean toward their partner. Gestures associated with sexual desire include lip biting, lip licking, sucking, touching your own lips, and protruding the tongue.

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A study found that if a couple had discussed marriage, the partners expressed significantly more romantic love and significantly less sexual desire (on a scale of zero to eight) for each other than partners who hadn’t discussed marriage.

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A study found that couples who had engaged in sex gave significantly lower “love” ratings and higher “desire” ratings compared to those who had never had sex. Rather than going hand in hand, sexual desire and romantic love seem almost in opposition to one another (we can’t say that this is necessarily so, however — it’s possible that committed couples still have more of both sentiments than non-committed couples).

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Lust:

Wikipedia.com describes lust as an inordinate craving for sexual intercourse which can include violence. That means that you really want to be with that person in a sexual way and sometimes you will go to extremes to get him or her.  Lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body. The lust can take any form such as the lust for knowledge, the lust for sex or the lust for power. It can take such mundane forms as the lust for food as distinct from the need for food. Lust is a powerful psychological force producing intense wanting for an object, or circumstance fulfilling the emotion. In this article, lust means to have a strong sexual desire (for or after). Lust is an intense and sudden attraction to somebody you hardly know. It is mistaken for love because the attraction is so strong. In the book, Common Women, by Ruth Mazo Karras, she discusses the meaning of prostitution and how people thought the proper use of prostitutes by unmarried men helped contain male lust.  Lust, in the domain of psychoanalysis and psychology, is often treated as a case of “heightened libido”.    

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Love vs. lust:

Lust differs from love like night differs from day. Lust happens in the early phase of a relationship when people don’t yet know each other. Lust is based on a fantasy, and the fantasy and reality don’t always mesh up. This is where lust runs out of steam.  Although physical attraction is definitely a key ingredient in any romantic relationship, love is more than just a physical longing. If a relationship is all about physical attraction it is based on lust. Really loving another person takes time and it can’t be based on physical attraction alone. According to an article by Lisa Diamond, entitled “Love and Sexual Desire”, lust and romantic love are two different things caused by different underlying substrates. Lust evolved for the purpose of sexual mating, while romantic love evolved because of the need for infant/child bonding. So even though we often experience lust for our romantic partner, sometimes we don’t — and that’s okay. Or, maybe we do, but we also lust after someone else. According to Dr. Diamond, that’s normal. Sexologist John Money draws the line between love and lust in this way: “Love exists above the belt, lust below. Love is lyrical. Lust is lewd.”

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So how can you tell whether it’s love or lust? Here are a few tips to help you sort things out.

It is lust if:

 1. You’re totally focused on her looks and body

 Even before you know her name, you’re already fantasizing about what she looks like naked and what it would be like to have sex with her.

2. You don’t care about anything she has to say

 It wouldn’t make a difference to you if you never had a conversation with her. Furthermore, you don’t bother to return her calls promptly and you can easily go for days without talking to her — until you get horny again.

3. You only want to be with her to have sex

 You make excuses not to spend time with her, except for sex. And if she asks you for a favor, you tell her you’re too busy. But if you have to be with her and not have sex, she gets on your nerves and you find yourself fantasizing about other women.

4. She’s your booty call

 After you go out trolling for tail with your buddies on a night, you then call her at 1 a.m. for some drunken action.

5. You leave after sex

 After having sex with her, you look for the easiest way to leave. No cuddling, no breakfast the next morning, just “I got to go.”

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It is love if:

 1. You have great chemistry

 You get lost in your conversations, and the hours pass like minutes. You’re more than willing to listen to her when she talks about her day. The chemistry between you is remarkable.

2. You find her beautiful

 Even if you catch her with no makeup on and her hair pulled back while she’s unclogging a toilet, she still looks beautiful to you.

3. You want to spend time with her

 All you want to do is to be with her, whether you’re having sex or not. Even if she tells you that sex will have to wait, you don’t care.

4. You see a future together

 You experience the strange feeling that your life would be totally empty without her. You tell your friends and family that she may be The One, and you’re even thinking about marrying her.

5. You introduce her to your family

 It becomes very important to you that your parents like her, and that she gets along with everyone close to you.

6. You include her in all your plans

 Whether you’re going out with your male friends or taking your dog for a walk, you want her there with you. And if she’s not there, you can’t get her off your mind and sneak off to give her a quick “I miss you” phone call. Of course, you don’t tell your buddies.

7. You are more romantic

 All of a sudden you find yourself listening to cheesy romantic songs and thinking of her. You send her flowers and love notes to work and set up romantic evenings candlelit dinners at home.

8. You always take her side

 If someone says anything even slightly disparaging about her, you immediately rise to her defense. Furthermore, in social gatherings, you always agree with her even if you disagree behind closed doors.

9. She makes you want to be a better man

 She challenges and motivates you. She makes you happy, and you’d do anything to make her happy.

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Love Lust
Definition: A decision to commit oneself to another and to work through conflicts instead of giving up. Any intense desire or craving for gratification; when contrasted with love, lust usually means sexual desire.
Associated with: Physical chemistry over a fairly long period of time. Physical chemistry over a short or medium period of time.
Sub-Categories: Intimacy, commitment, security, the desire to please and help the other person. Sexual desire.
Symptoms: Faithfulness, loyalty, confidence. Willingness to make sacrifices for another. Working at settling differences. Able to compromise so that either both win or at least give the other person’s opinion a chance. Desire, passion, acquisitiveness, intense emotions.
Person to Person: Commitment to another. Genuine intentions. Think about other person’s feelings before acting. Enjoyment of a short-term, mutually pleasurable relationship.
Feels like: A deep affection; contentment, confidence. Partners communicate and negotiate appropriate expectations. Requires a lot of selflessness and polite assertiveness. You are loving your best friend. Passion, joyousness, strong desire, intense and sometimes difficult feelings of need.
Result: Security, peace, a solid partnership which can provide the ideal atmosphere to raise confident secure children. Unsatisfied lust results in sexual frustration, increased religiosity and superstition, emotional rigidity. Lust satisfied in a mutually beneficial way results in pleasure, creativity, passion, zest for life.
Effect: contentment, stability fire, drive, activeness.
Interdependency: Partnership. Can lead to codependency if not tempered with self-awareness and self-guidedness. Often the first stage of love, and can lead to lasting friendships, romantic or otherwise. When not tempered with compassion and empathy, however, it can lead to emotionally damaging behavior.
Time Period: It will deepen with the passage of time. Highly variable — it may deepen or dissipate with the passage of time.
Commitment: This is permanent commitment and stays throughout the life. Temporary commitment that last only long enough to fulfill desire.
Bottom Line: Love unconditionally. Interested in only what can be done for self-pleasure.

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How do you want to love and be loved?

One of the most common issues around couples is ‘growing apart’. A man may express his love for a woman by being ‘the family breadwinner’, when really his wife would rather like him earned less money and spent more time listening to her. Likewise a woman may express her love by meticulously ironing her husband’s shirts when what he would much prefer is a warm, slow hug at the end of a long hard day. So, how do you want to be loved?

Ask yourself these 6 questions:

1. Physical: How much are we attracted to each other physically? Do we each want the same amount of cuddling, holding and kissing?

2. Sexual: How compatible are our sexual preferences and sex drives?

3. Emotional: How important is it to each of us to honestly share our feelings with each other and be listened to? Are we on the ‘same wavelength’?

4. Intellectual: How important is intellectual stimulation to each of us?

5. Practical: how well do we work together on everyday domestic issues such as housework and financial planning?

6. Spiritual: do we share similar views about the meaning of Life? How much are we ‘looking together in the same direction’ in terms of our values and vision?

Why does it help to go through these 6 questions? Because they reveal our core values, in other words what is most important to us. Our values drive our expectations and our happiness is determined, at least in part, by how much these expectations are met by our relationships. For those of you with children, we could add a number 7 about attitudes to parenting.

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How and why we fall in love?

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How we fall in love? What makes us fall in love?

We all have a template for the ideal partner buried somewhere in our subconscious. It is this love map that decides which person in that crowded room catches our eye. But how is this template formed?

Appearance:

Many researchers have speculated that we tend to go for members of the opposite sex who remind us of our parents. Some have even found that we tend to be attracted to those who remind us of ourselves. In fact, cognitive psychologist David Perrett, at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, did an experiment in which he morphed a digitized photo of the subject’s own face into a face of the opposite sex. Then, he had the subject select from a series of photos which one he or she found most attractive. According to Dr. Perrett, his subjects always preferred the morphed version of their own face (and they didn’t recognize it as their own).

Personality:

Like appearance, we tend to form preferences for those who remind us of our parents (or others close to us through childhood) because of their personality, sense of humor, likes and dislikes, etc.

Pheromones:

The debated topic of human pheromones still carries some weight in the field of love research. The word “pheromone” comes from the Greek words pherein and hormone, meaning “excitement carrier”. In the animal world, pheromones are individual scent “prints” found in urine or sweat that dictate sexual behavior and attract the opposite sex. They help animals identify each other and choose a mate with an immune system different enough from their own to ensure healthy offspring. They have a special organ in their noses called the vomeronasal organ (VNO) that detects this odorless chemical. The existence of human pheromones was discovered in 1986 by scientists at the Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and its counterpart in France. They found these chemicals in human sweat. A human VNO has also been found in some, but not all, people. Even if the VNO isn’t present in all of us — and may not be working in those who do have it — there is still evidence that smell is an important aspect of love (note the booming perfume industry). An experiment was conducted where a group of females smelled the unwashed tee shirts of a group of sweaty males, and each had to select the one to whom she was most “attracted.” Just like in the animal world, the majority of the females chose a shirt from the male whose immune system was the most different from their own. Humans have 387 pheromones—chemicals that trigger instinctive behaviors. Androstenone, the first one discovered, is present in human sweat, saliva and urine. Exposure to androstenone can cause physiological responses in both men and women, but only when one’s own androstenone has been activated, according to Hiroaki Matsunami, a researcher at Duke University in Durham, N.C. There is a genetics influence on Human Odor Perception. In a study of 400 volunteers, Matsunami found three genetic variations that affect olfactory perception. Depending on their genes, some people sensed androstenone and considered it pleasant, while about 30 percent who had a different gene combination found it to be a “sickening,” noxious odor. A third group could not detect the pheromone at all.

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Staring into each other’s Eyes:

Professor Arthur Aron, of the State University of New York at Stonybrook, has studied what happens when people fall in love and has found that simply staring into each other’s eyes has tremendous impact. In an experiment he conducted, Professor Aron put strangers of the opposite sex together for 90 minutes and had them discuss intimate details about themselves. He then had them stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes without talking. The results? Many of the subjects felt a deep attraction for their partner after the experiment, and two even ended up getting married six months later.

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Are we alone in love?

Social monogamy is normal for birds but rare in mammals. That’s because birds of both sexes can participate in parenting duties such as incubating eggs and feeding chicks, but male mammals can’t help gestate or breastfeed a baby. During the long period when a mother mammal is occupied with parenting, an opportunistic father can take off to sire more offspring with other females. But around 9 percent of mammal species, such as wolves and beavers, live in pairs in which the male sticks by his mate. This living arrangement is more common among primate species, about a quarter of which live in pairs. To determine what factors drove the evolution of monogamy, one group of researchers says monogamy evolved in primates to counter the threat of males killing babies to boost their siring success. The other team concludes that mammals, including primates, become monogamous when females live far away from one another. The prairie vole is one such animal that form “family” relationships like we do. This vole mates for life and prefers spending time with its mate over spending time with any other voles. Voles even go to the extreme of avoiding voles of the opposite sex. When they have offspring, the couple works together to care for them. They spend hours grooming each other and just hanging out together. Studies have been done to try to determine the chemical makeup that might explain why the prairie vole forms this lifelong, monogamous relationship when it’s very close relative, the montane vole, does not. According to studies by Larry Young, a social attachment researcher at Emory University, what happens is that when the prairie vole mates, like humans, the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin are released. Because the prairie vole has the needed receptors in its brain for these hormones in the regions responsible for reward and reinforcement, it forms a bond with its mate. That bond is for that particular vole based on its smell — sort of like an imprint. As further reinforcement, dopamine is also released in the brain’s reward center when they have sex, making the experience enjoyable and ensuring that they want to do it again. And because of the oxytocin and vasopressin, they want to have sex with the same vole. Because the montane vole does not have receptors for oxytocin or vasopressin in its brain at the same place, those chemicals have no effect, and they continue with their one-night stands. Other than those receptors, the two vole species are almost entirely the same in their physical makeup.[ voles experiment-vide infra]

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How to make someone fall in love with you:

Love is linked to dopamine levels in your brain — and the quickest way to up someone’s dopamine (and therefore have them fall in love with your more quickly) is by getting them into bed as soon as you can. “When you actually have sex with somebody, any kind of stimulation of the genitals at all drives up the dopamine system in the brain,” Fisher said. “As you are making love to somebody and driving up the dopamine system you can possibly go over that threshold and push them into falling in love with you.” And if you make them orgasm, your chances at true love increase. Orgasms increase the level of oxytocin in the brain, which is “the chemical linked with feeling deep attachment.”  However, this chemical equation won’t override the importance of things like moral values or a sense of humor. They only help a potential romantic situation move forward. According to Fisher’s research, “no amount of dopamine or oxytocin is going to make you fall in love with somebody you really don’t like. If you don’t like their values, if you don’t like their personality, you’re not going to fall for them, even if you go to bed with them.” Fisher also says background is an important element in a true love match. “We tend to fall in love with somebody who comes from the same socioeconomic background, same level of intelligence, same general level of good looks and someone who shares our religious and our social and our economic values.” So how do you turn a one-night stand into a life-long love affair? With caution. One night stands frequently turn into longer term arrangements, such as “hooking up” or “friends with benefits.” Marriage is becoming less common and non-traditional arrangements are increasing in popularity — and Fisher says it’s easy to see why. They let you explore the long-term potential of a partner without worrying about legal or religious ramifications if the relationship doesn’t work out. “I had always felt this was irresponsible but I’m beginning to see that maybe it makes sense,” Fisher said. “Instead of a sign of irresponsibility, it’s a sign of caution and care to find the right person.”

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My view:

Voles that do not have dopamine and oxytocin receptors continue one night stand relationships while voles that do have dopamine and oxytocin receptors make life-long monogamous relationship. Humans on the other hand, do have dopamine and oxytocin receptors but yet are frequently involved in one night stand and extra-marital affairs. The fundamental difference between vole brain and human brain is the presence of neo-cortex in humans. Human neo-cortex can override sub-cortical dopamine (pleasure) and oxytocin (attachment) drives. When man sees an attractive woman, his neo-cortex can override sub-cortical attachment drive for his wife and so he goes for an affair. The same neo-cortex also tries to comply with socio-economic, religious, linguistic and cultural values. When clash of values occurs, neo-cortex can override the affair and man is back with his wife. However, during intense romantic love, neo-cortex is inhibited and therefore love proceeds despite clash of values. So if an affair becomes romantic love, man will abandon or divorce wife and live with beloved.  

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Why do people fall in love?

Political Parallelism:
A recent Rice University study published in the Journal of Politics found that we tend to choose partners with similar political views — in fact, couples who swing the same way politically outnumbered those with similar personality traits, appearances, and religious beliefs. And that makes sense, says Dr. Grossman: “It would be hard to have a relationship long-term with someone with a dramatically different political view. It’s a different value set, which goes to our core.”

A Woman’s Measurements:
There’s no denying that physical appearance plays a big role in romantic attraction — but who knew it got this specific? Researchers at the University of Texas found that women with a low waist-to-hip ratio (in which the waist is significantly narrower than the hips) are more attractive to men than those with wider waists. What’s in a waist size? Researchers believe that a good waist-to-hip ratio may subconsciously signal to a man that a woman has good health and reproductive ability.

Graciousness:
If you’re one of those types who puts others first, you’re in luck: You may have a greater chance at a satisfying, healthy relationship. A survey by the University of Chicago showed that people who agreed with altruistic statements, like “I’d rather suffer myself than let the one I love suffer,” reported more happiness in their marriage than those who did not concur with those statements. While it’s not all that surprising that altruistic people have better relationships (they are more likely to be considerate and thoughtful toward their spouses), there’s a fine line between being selfless and a people-pleaser. It’s important to know how to say no (for example, when you’re overextending yourself), or you may end up doing damage to your emotional health.

A Symmetrical Face:
Could it have been your partner’s evenly spaced eyes that got you all starry-eyed? An Australian study found that, subconscious though it may be, women tend to prefer male faces that are symmetrical (which is often considered a sign of good health). It’s a survival of the fittest thing. We subconsciously look at their face and say, ‘That’s a great face — our kids are going to look awesome!” This judgment is a quick one, too — less than a second.

Your address:
No one likes long-distance relationships — but that has little to do with why someone’s address impacts whether you’ll be romantically attracted to them. Instead, it has to do with cultural values: If you’re raised in one place, your idea of attractiveness may be completely different than that of someone raised somewhere else. In fact, a study published in the journal Psychological Science found that men who live in cultures where food and money are scarce tend to find heavier women more attractive than thinner ones. These men may see the extra pounds as a status symbol; a buxom figure signals having the means to purchase plenty of food. Given these findings, it’s not surprising that super-skinny people are idealized in places where there are plenty of resources to go around. 

The age:
We’ve become a culture that’s obsessed with defying age — and research may help prove why: A study from the journal Current Anthropology found that men from five different cultures showed a preference for females with youthful features like large eyes, a small nose, and full lips. These findings show that we subconsciously seek out partners who are most likely to be able to reproduce. And though the study didn’t examine women’s preferences, females may have similar penchants for younger-looking partners. However physical attraction doesn’t always add up to a healthy relationship.

Mirror Images:
Opposites may attract, but that doesn’t mean they’re a match made in heaven. In fact, recent research has helped explained the phenomenon of doppelganger couples. While participants in a Canadian study were less likely to choose people with similar-looking faces for a short-term relationship, they were more trusting of people with faces that resembled their own — and therefore more likely to end up with them in the long term. The researchers theorize that this response evolved to prevent accidentally becoming sexually attracted to relatives, while at the same time guiding us to fall in love with long-term mates who are reasonably similar to us. We do not want to date relatives, but we do trust people who are similar to us. Now we realize the whole ‘opposites attract’ thing is lust. Most opposites don’t stay together long-term.

Your Genes:
The types of relationships you forge may be influenced by your genetic makeup. An Italian study found that people with certain relationship styles were most likely to carry specific biological markers in their brains. This may indicate that biology plays a factor in our romantic attractions, but it doesn’t mean that our fall-in-love behaviour can always be forecasted by science. You can make specific predictions of people, but there are always things that we haven’t been able to quantify, like emotions and the human heart. There will always be outliers.

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Love among animals: love between human and animals:

Animal’s love:

Animals are surprisingly picky about who they mate with. Free love is not the way of nature. Sex has a preliminary qualifying event in every species. Animals only have sex when the female is actively fertile (except bonobos). Female chimpanzees only have sex every five years. The rest of the time they’re pregnant or nursing, and without ovulation the males aren’t interested. When opportunity knocks, it’s a big deal. Brains good at navigating such hurdles got passed on, and natural selection produced a brain bent on doing whatever it takes to reproduce itself.

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Few textbooks on animals discuss the possibility of love. For instance, the word love can be found in neither the index of The Oxford Companion to Animal Behavior nor the Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior. There are two main reasons for this. First, it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove feelings of love in another individual, even a human. This is the challenge of private experiences. That is why the study of animal feelings in general was largely neglected for the century following the 1872 publication of Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. But humans can at least give verbal expression to their loving feelings; so far, animals cannot, although there is the potential for revelations from language-taught great apes. Second, our sense of superiority over other animals has made us loath to accept the idea that they can have such presumably complex feelings as love. That nonhumans are conscious remains controversial for some scientists, although their numbers are dwindling. Nevertheless, biologists usually use the term bond in place of love when referring to nonhumans. This is a safety net to avoid anthropomorphism. As scientific interest in animal emotions has grown in recent years, new discoveries have suggested that animals too can feel love. One such discovery is that spindle cells occur in nonhumans. These large neurons, named for their shape, occur in parts of the human brain thought to be responsible for social organization, empathy, and intuitions about the feelings of others. Spindle cells are also credited with allowing us to feel love and to suffer emotionally. Long believed to exist only in the brains of humans and other great apes, in 2006 spindle cells were discovered in the same brain areas in humpback whales, fin whales, killer whales, and sperm whales. Furthermore, the proportion of spindle cells in whales’ brains is about three times that in human brains. It appears that spindle cells evolved in whales about thirty million years ago, some fifteen million years before humans acquired them, so the fact that the common ancestor of cetaceans and primates lived more than ninety-five million years ago means that spindle cells evolved separately in these lineages. In 2008, spindle cells were reported in both African and Indian elephants.

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Despite our similar biology, it doesn’t necessarily follow that whales or elephants can feel love in the manner that we can. But we cannot take for granted the complexity of these animals’ social behavior. Elephants are more easily studied than whales, and like whales they are long-lived, large brained, and strongly social. They appear to be vulnerable to the same sorts of long-term psychological conditions that may afflict humans who have suffered mental or physical trauma: there is solid evidence emerging that they feel emotions relating to grief at loss and to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Poaching and so-called elephant culls have left many orphaned elephants in the care of compassionate humans. Growing up with the traumatic memories of terror and the loss of a mother or another close companion, exacerbated by the dearth of nurturing that only a mother can provide, these orphans show the classic symptoms described in human PTSD patients, including sleep disorders, reexperiencing (including what appear to be nightmares), loss of appetite, irritability, and hyperaggression. These are not pleasurable feelings, but brains that are capable of them might be capable of feelings of love too. And needless to say, love isn’t all about pleasure. The emotions felt toward a loved one can quickly turn to grief, anger, or resentment, depending on circumstances. There is also much evidence in elephants for tight emotional bonds between adults—particularly members of the same family group—and between mothers and their calves. There are many accounts of other mammals and birds of a variety of species showing the behavioral hallmarks of grief from loss of a loved one: lethargy, disinterest, decreased appetite. The ethologist Konrad Lorenz described the sunken eyes and hunched posture of newly bereft graylag geese: “A greylag goose that has lost its partner shows all the symptoms described in young human children.” Jane Goodall has described the “hollow-eyed, gaunt and utterly depressed” state of Flint, an eight-year-old chimpanzee, following the death of his elderly mother, Flo. Flint had been more dependent on his mother than most chimps his age, and the loss of Flo imploded his universe. He stopped eating and died three weeks later, curled up at the spot where he had found Flo’s body.

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In humans, feelings of love are accompanied by changes in the brain’s chemistry. As people fall in love, the brain begins to release the hormones dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These chemicals stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers, creating the rewarding feelings that come with lust and attraction toward another. Animals show comparable biochemical changes in similar situations. For instance, when a male zebra finch sings a courtship song to a female, nerve cells in a part of his brain called the ventral tegmental area become activated. In humans this is the same area that responds to cocaine, which in turn triggers the release of the brain’s “reward” chemical: dopamine. Male zebra finches don’t show this brain response if they sing solo; it is only in the presence of a potential mate that they have this pleasurable reaction. Similar emotional charge is experienced by the male bird—and by the female also, if she is interested. The study, conducted at the Riken Brain Science Institute in Saitama, Japan, is considered the clearest evidence so far that singing to a female is pleasurable for male birds. There is also evidence that zebra finches find the sight of their mate rewarding. Separated pairs call and search vigorously for their mate. Isolated males will work (having been trained to hop from perch to perch) to be allowed to see female zebra finches through a window, and they will work much harder to see their mate in particular. Love can also be detected by brain imaging studies. Magnetic resonance imaging of sexually aroused common marmosets—small monkeys that usually form monogamous pairs—shows patterns of brain activation and deactivation that are shared by women experiencing feelings of romantic love.

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Instant attraction across the animal kingdom (love at first sight):

Animal literature is full of descriptions of love at first sight, actually. When Tia, a female elephant living in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, came into heat (or estrus), she was followed by a coterie of young males. Tia would not cooperate. But the moment Bad Bull swaggered into view, head high, chin tucked in, ears intensely waving, trunk aloft, and doing his courtship strut, Tia changed her elephant mind. Holding her ears high in a pose meant to draw his attention, she stared at him with the prolonged courting gaze, then turned and began to move slowly away, glancing repeatedly to see if this mature male was following. Tia and Bad Bull remained inseparable for the duration of her estrus. Scientists and naturalists have recorded this instant attraction phenomenon in hundreds of species. Throatpatch and Priscilla, two orangutans; Alexander and Thalia, two baboons; Skipper and Laurel, two beavers; Misha and Maria, two Huskies; Satan and Miff, two chimps: these and many other creatures have taken an instant liking to one another. As Charles Darwin wrote of two ducks, it was evidently a case of love at first sight, for she swam about the newcomer caressingly with overtures of affection.

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Can animal feel love for human?

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Can a dog truly love its owner?

Anyone who doubts that dogs love their owners only has to read the story of Greyfriars Bobby, the loyal police hound. According to reports, he belonged to Constable John Gray who served in the Scottish police force in the mid-19th Century and walked the beat in Edinburgh Old Town; a bustling part of the city where robbery and disorder were rife. During the long cold nights, Bobby was Gray’s companion. In documents Skye terrier Bobby is described as, “Tenacious in character, distrustful of strangers but devoted to family and friends, he was courageous but not aggressive. No other sort of dog has more gritty tenacity, cockiness or sparkle than a Skye terrier with one particular noted quality – loyalty.” After Gray died of tuberculosis in 1858, Bobby’s loyalty became a national sensation. Legend has it that the day after Gray’s funeral, Bobby was discovered sitting on top of his master’s freshly dug grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard. He was ushered away but returned again and again and finally kept a mournful vigil on the grave for 14 years until he died in 1872. In Edinburgh he is a legend. There is a plaque marking where he ate, a bar named in his honour and statue to commemorate him. Natural history broadcaster Sir David Attenborough warns against drawing human conclusions about animal behaviour. “It is possible to over-anthropomorphise animals,” he says. “You have to define what you mean by love. Of course there are bonds between a dog and its master but I don’t think animals are capable of love.” Those bonds between humans and dogs are a product of around 15,000 years of co-evolution. Any devoted dog owner will attest that their pet fits easily into the structure of their family, but does the animal feel empathy with them? The field of animal behavioural studies is relatively new and recent research is beginning to suggest that animals are more sophisticated than we assume.

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While the older studies hint at emotional bonds between members of the same species, they do not prove whether those emotions are displayed in inter-species relationships. This area was investigated more recently by researchers at Goldsmiths College in London who set out to see if dogs could detect the emotional state of humans by recording their reactions when a human nearby began to cry or hum in an odd way, to make the dogs curious. Eighteen dogs were placed in various scenarios with humans. In some scenarios the dog’s owner cried, in some a stranger cried. The authors of the subsequent report on the study, Dr Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer, wondered if exposure to crying led dogs to feel distress and if so, would they go to their master for comfort regardless of who was crying. They also theorized that if curiosity rather than empathy was the driving force behind the dogs’ reactions then the humming would make the dog engage with people. The results, reported in scientific journal Animal Cognition, showed that “person-orientated behaviour” sometimes took place when a person was humming but it was more than twice as likely to occur if someone was crying. In all, 15 dogs showed person-orientated responses when the stranger cried and every one directed those responses towards the stranger rather than their owner. The conclusion drawn is that dogs have the ability to express emphatic concern and the capacity to experience sophisticated secondary emotions.

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Gentle stroking (petting) gives pleasure and love:

“Scientists care about what feels good to animals, not just about things that feel bad, like painful stimuli,” co-author David Anderson told Discovery News. “Both are important for understanding how the brain interprets the world around us and guides our behavior.” Anderson directs the David Anderson Research Group at the California Institute of Technology. He and his colleagues focused their analysis on mice, which often serve as models for other mammals. The scientists used high tech imaging to monitor how neurons were activated when the mice were touched in various innocuous ways. A custom-designed brush and other methods were used to poke, pinch and stroke the mice. These experiments revealed a previously undiscovered population of sensory neurons that “innervate hair follicles,” Anderson said. These neurons appear to be solely dedicated to massage-like stroking sensations. They were not activated during the other forms of touch. “The neurons that detect stroking are probably wired into higher brain circuits that produce a reward or pleasure,” he continued. The researchers suspect similar sensory neurons with comparable properties exist in humans and most furry mammals. Since the sensation is connected to hair follicles, animals with many of them – such as cats and dogs – likely feel waves of pleasure when being petted. They certainly look like they do, as many pet owners could attest. In terms of research directly on humans, a prior study found that hairy arm skin responds to gentle stroking more so than areas of skin with fewer hair follicles. No matter humans or animals, gentle stroking (petting) by caregiver leads to feeling of pleasure and love.

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Why do we love our Pets?

Researchers trace the roots of our animal love to our distinctly human capacity to infer the mental states of others, a talent that archaeological evidence suggests emerged anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. Not only did the new cognitive tool enable our ancestors to engage in increasingly sophisticated social exchanges with one another, it also allowed them to anticipate and manipulate the activities of other species: to figure out where a prey animal might be headed, or how to lure a salt-licking reindeer by impregnating a tree stump with the right sort of human waste. There is another deep-rooted reason why we humans surround ourselves with dogs and cats and other animals. New research finds we are hardwired to respond to other animals and the mechanism that makes us do that probably dates back hundreds of millions of years to the time when vertebrates were first evolving. The secret is buried deep in a very old part of the brain, called the amygdala, long recognized as the seat of emotional reaction. Scientists at the California Institute of Technology and the University of California at Los Angeles were able to measure brain activity in 41 persons on a cell-by-cell level and found that neurons in the amygdala became extremely active when participants were shown pictures of animals.  “Our study shows that neurons in the human amygdala respond preferentially to pictures of animals, meaning that we saw the most amount of activity in cells when the patients looked at cats or snakes versus buildings or people,” Florian Mormann, lead author of a paper and a former postdoctoral scholar at CalTech said in releasing the study. The paper was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.  Mormann, who is now at the University of Bonn in Germany, said that he and his colleagues were a bit surprised to discover that the type of animal — whether it be a deadly snake or a cuddly puppy — made no difference. They found the same level of brain activity for all animals.  “Given the amygdala’s prominent role in fear conditioning, we were indeed expecting stronger responses to hazardous animals such as spiders or snakes, but it turned out that all kinds of animals, dangerous and cute, elicit responses in the amygdala,” he said.  “This preference extends to cute as well as ugly or dangerous animals, and appears to be independent of the emotional contents of the pictures. Remarkably, we find this response behavior only in the right and not in the left amygdala.”  That’s significant because it supports other research indicating that early in vertebrate evolution the right hemisphere of the brain took on the role of responding to environmental stimuli, including the presence of other animals, which could be either prey or predator.  “This is somewhat in line with recent findings that the amygdala is also involved in reward processing and generally mediates vigilance,” Mormann said.  The intense brain activity triggered by photos of animals “may reflect the importance that animals held throughout our evolutionary past,” the study notes. It also suggests that early vertebrates, and by extension humans, really needed to know if there were other animals around, some of which could be eaten, and some of which could do the eating. The research suggests that in the early evolution of vertebrates, one key to survival was the recognition of the presence of other animals that could be harmful, or could be harvested. That ability was honed to perfection in the part of the early brain that was responsible for reacting to changes in the environment, including the sudden appearance of other animals, “both aversive and cute,” the study notes. As fear of snake is hardwired in brain (read article on ‘Fear’), love for dog is also hardwired in brain.

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Behavioural neurobiology of animals: Chemical love:

Male and female fruitflies use pheromones to flaunt their species identity and gender as they court amid other fruitfly species. The grammar of this chemical language is surprisingly sophisticated.

Pheromones impart species identity in Drosophila. Billeter et al. report that the pheromone 7,11-HD, produced by Drosophila melanogaster females, acts as an aphrodisiac on males of the same species (upper panel) but as a deterrent to males of other species (lower panel). The upper panel shows a D. melanogaster male serenading a female by vibrating his wing while he licks her genitalia — a prelude to copulation.

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Why do some people love Animals more than Humans?

There are many reasons why some people love animals more than they do humans. People sometimes just do not get along with others and prefer to care for animals who do not judge. Animals have a knack at loving their owners for their whole lives.

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Love of inanimate object: Objectophilia: Paraphilia:

Back in 1979, Eklöf tied the knot with the Berlin Wall and legally changed her name to mark the occasion. Ever since she was eight years old, Sandy K. was hopelessly in love with New York’s Twin Towers. Neither of these two monumental lovers were known for being particularly talkative. Nor did they seem to be blessed with qualities of seduction. But to their admirers, the buildings were male, sexy and extremely desirable. Psychology student Bill Rifka — who is 35 and in a relationship with an iBook — admits he has “often flirted with many a sweet laptop on eBay and felt true desire.” Like all objectum-sexuals, Rifka also attributes a clear gender to his partner: “To me, my Mac is male. I’m living in a homosexual relationship, so to speak.”  Some people love their laptops more than anything else in the world. Others are sexually aroused by musical instruments or buildings. Experts are trying to understand a bizarre sexual obsession known as objectophilia. Object sexuality (OS) is a pronounced emotional and often romantic desire towards developing significant relationships with particular inanimate objects. Those individuals with this expressed preference may feel strong feelings of attraction, love, and commitment to certain items or structures of their fixation. For some, sexual or even close emotional relationships with humans are incomprehensible. Some object-sexual individuals also often believe in animism, and sense reciprocation based on the belief that objects have souls, intelligence, and feelings, and are able to communicate.  Contrary to sexual fetishism, the object to an OS person is viewed as their partner and not as a means to an end to enhance a human sexual relationship. Medical, psychological, and sexological professionals categorized OS as a paraphilia, though without specific data or inquiry into this condition.  Its only a developmental problem when the person’s only way of connecting is through inanimate objects or dead people, as most serial killers also have a fear of social/personal intimacy. Is the bear keeping you from connecting to other people? Is the bear, or some other inanimate object, making it harder for you to function in a social setting like not being able to go out to the store because you can’t handle the stress of dealing with people? Having a security blanket is a very normal human response, and it isn’t always a sign of developmental issues. Sometimes, even late in life, people become attached to things that they can understand and relate to without worry or doubt. If you ever notice how some people spend an inordinate amount of time with something like their car or their stereo system or a pair of shoes or a handbag, you’ll see versions of that attachment issue. Again, it only becomes a problem when the attachment begins to squeeze out interpersonal relationships, if you spend a weekend waxing your car rather than going someplace interesting you’ve talked about for a long time. It’s when you use the attachment to avoid people and social situations that it becomes a problem. Actually, having a long term attachment to an inanimate object can help build one’s ability to be attached to other things/people. If we look at it in terms of issues of trust and reliability, of something that can be emotionally and physically counted on to be there for you, refusing to give that up can be considered something good. If someone makes you choose between your bear and them, choose the bear, because someone who really cares about you wouldn’t put you in that situation. The retired professor and former director of Frankfurt University’s Institute for Sexual Science, Volkmar Sigusch, is one person who believes he has unraveled the mysteries of objectophilia. He has extensively probed this attraction to objects as part of his research into various forms of modern “neo-sexuality.” The sexologist views this inclination as proof of his hypothesis that society is increasingly drifting into asexuality: “More and more people either openly declare or can be seen to live without any intimate or trusting relationship with another person,” Sigusch says, adding that cities are populated by an entire army of socially isolated individuals: “Singles, isolated people, cultural sodomites, many perverts and sex addicts.”  Sexologist Sigusch doesn’t want to classify such odd behavior as pathological. “The objectophiles aren’t hurting anyone. They’re not abusing or traumatizing other people,” he judges. And then he asks mildly: “Who else can you say that about?”

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Robots starting to feel the love:

The robot in the figure above does compute: Actroid-F is an android from Japan being used to understand how people and robots interact.

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The reason why robot is so adorable is because it’s responsive, like a dog. You engage robot by stroking and touching it. It looks up at you with long eyelashes and very dark eyes and it’s like having a newborn baby. It has that same emotional response. Researchers believe we will become emotionally attached to robots, even falling in love with them. Researchers believe that increasing complexity of robots means they will have to understand emotion. With social robots that may be with you 24 hours a day, it is “very natural” people will want to feel affection for the machine. A care-giver robot will need to understand emotion to do its job, and it would be a simple step for the robot to express emotion. Within a matter of years we’re going to have robots which will effectively be able to detect emotion and display it, and also learn from their environment. The rather spooky breakthrough came when artificial intelligence researchers realised they did not need to create artificial life. All they needed to do was mimic life, which makes mirror neurons – the basis of empathy – fire in the brain. If you have a robot human and it looks happy or sad, mirror neurons will be triggered at the subconscious level, and at that level we don’t know if the object is alive or not, we can still feel empathy. We can’t really tell the difference if the robot is really feeling the emotion or not and ultimately it doesn’t matter. Even for humans we don’t know whether a person’s happy or sad. Researchers argue if a robot emulates life, for all intents and purposes it is alive. Research shows that 60 per cent of people could love a robot.

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Psychology of love:

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Interpersonal attraction:

Interpersonal attraction is the attraction between people which leads to friendships and romantic relationships. Interpersonal attraction, the process, is distinct from perceptions of physical attractiveness which involves views of what is and is not considered beautiful or attractive. Many factors leading to interpersonal attraction have been studied, all of which involve social reinforcement. The most frequently studied are: physical attractiveness, propinquity, familiarity, similarity, complementarity, reciprocal liking, and reinforcement.

Similarity or complementarity?

Principles of similarity and complementarity seem to be contradictory on the surface (Posavac, 1971; Klohnen & Mendelsohn, 1998). In fact, they agree on the dimension of warmth. Both principles state that friendly people would prefer friendly partners. (Dryer & Horowitz, 1997) The importance of similarity and complementarity may depend on the stage of the relationship. Similarity seems to carry considerable weight in initial attraction, while complementarity assumes importance as the relationship develops over time (Vinacke, Shannon, Palazzo, Balsavage, et-al, 1988). Markey (2007) found that people would be more satisfied with their relationship if their partners differed from them, at least, in terms of dominance, as two dominant persons may experience conflicts while two submissive individuals may have frustration as neither member take the initiative. Perception and actual behavior might not be congruent with each other. There were cases that dominant people perceived their partners to be similarly dominant, yet in the eyes of independent observers, the actual behavior of their partner was submissive, in other words, complementary to them (Dryer 1997). Why do people perceive their romantic partners to be similar to them despite evidence to the contrary? The reason remains unclear, pending further research.

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Types of Attraction:

Attraction is of two types:
a. Physical Attraction – happens when your body reacts to another person. Heart rate increases; temperature rises, palms get sweaty; stomach flutters; throat tightens; etc. This is what will tell you that you are ready for the first contact and also whether you are comfortable in the company of the other person.
b. Emotional Attraction – develops next if the circumstances are right. After being drawn to a person physically, you then begin to come closer. If you find you have things in common — hobbies, ideologies, career, education, or some other common ground — then an emotional attraction starts to form. Sometimes an emotional attraction can occur even when a physical attraction does not. And in this case, the bond will be stronger between the two who connect, since no preconceived notions based on physical appearance have occurred.

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Body language in attraction:

There are a lot of different physiological factors which determine whether we will find someone attractive – pheromones – the colourless, odourless chemical signals given off by the body; their mannerisms and whether they are in harmony with ours; the dilation of their pupils or the plumpness of their lips etc. All of these things will play a part in whether we feel physically drawn to someone. If they are then combined with sparkling conversation, laughter, and shared interests you have an exciting, even intoxicating, combination. When we do meet someone with whom we click with at this level can be dramatic. Even the thought of seeing them again can make you weak at the knees and cause your heart rate to speed up. It would be easy to interpret these feelings as love, and they could certainly develop into that, but the physical sensations you experience are also the signs of pure animal lust.

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Social psychology of attraction:

We would all like to think that we meet and fall in love with our significant other because of fate or divine intervention.  This may be true but lots of empirical works suggests we are attracted to others based on following principles:

1. Physical Attractiveness (vide infra) – ability to create irresistible attraction relating to the body. We all usually aspire to like someone more attractive than we are, but ultimately we all end up with someone with equal attractiveness. Universally men place more value on physical attractiveness than women.
2. Similarity – the state of being similar, in a feature or aspect. Do birds of a feather flock together or do opposites attract? There is consistent evidence proving we tend to choose our friends and romantic interest by what we have in common. (e.g. Attitudes, beliefs, interests, education, socio-economic status, etc.) We choose to be around people who are like us because it is rewarding. Similarities within the people you associate yourself with can also determine who you’re closest with. Those who you have more in common with are most likely your closest friends. Those you have less in common with are likely acquaintances you only talk to now and then.

3. Familiarity -There is significant research showing that familiarity is positively linked to attraction.

Familiarity produces the following:
a)identification of common ground
b)responsiveness, including encouragement, support, humor
c)mutual self-disclosure
d)feeling liked produces reciprocity of liking
e)downplays critical assessment, which interferes with social engagement
f)feelings of comfort and safety

4. Proximity: Typically proximity is defined as the physical space or distance between two people. It can also refer to the actual individuals or their homes, work spaces, seats in a classroom, etc. (E.g. Two people who both live in a small town rather than two people who live in Los Angeles to New York City have a lower proximity.) Proximity Studies of attraction have shown that there is a positive correlation between physical proximity and attraction. Proximity Findings show that long-distance partners are less satisfied with their relationships. Luckily for these long-distance couples they have the help of social networks to provide an easier means to keep in touch. According to the Psychology of attraction physical proximity increases the attractiveness of a person as a result of the continued exposure that happens. Now what physical proximity does is that it ensures that continues exposure keeps happening until attraction intensifies.  A theory called the mere exposure effect states that people tend to become attracted to a novel stimulus if it was repeated over and over again. If the stimulus wasn’t reinforced we tend to forget about it even if we liked it.

5. Reciprocity – we are more likely to be attractive to those who can return our interests.  We are nice to those who are nice to us.

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What mostly affects our first impression?

Some might say a person’s sincerity, intelligence, or personality.

But it is physical attractiveness.

– Hundreds of experiments reveal that it is actually something way more superficial: Appearance

– It is said that a physically attractive individual will have more advantage than a lesser attractive one.

-Elaine Hatifield and her co-workers randomly matched new University of Minnesota students with a date….before going on their date she gave the students a personality and aptitude test, by the end of the night it was evident that only one thing mattered: physical attractiveness. This was true for both men and women. Attractiveness helps create a positive first impression.  

– Women are more likely than men to say looks don’t matter, but a man’s looks do affect women’s behavior.

– People’s physical attractiveness has wide-ranging effects.

– It predicts their frequency of dating, their feelings of popularity, and other people’s impressions of their personalities.

– We perceive “attractive” people to be healthier, happier, more sensitive, more successful, and more socially skilled.

– Peoples attractiveness is unrelated to their self-esteem and happiness.

– In many cultures women are considered more attractive if they have a youthful appearance.
-women feel more attracted to healthy-looking men, especially those who seem mature, dominant, and wealthy.
– When people rate pictures for attractiveness, there is general agreement across people on the ratings. Attractive People are really only average.
– Langois & Roggman (1990) used computer “morphing” techniques to show that the more faces which were averaged across to make a composite face, the more attractive the resulting face created. According to Langlois and Roggans experiment, composite faces are more attractive by about 96%
– Symmetrical faces and bodies are more sexually attractive
– This first impression can be important in both meeting a potential dating partner or in a job interview. Studies which have subjects rate the attractiveness of people in yearbooks find that the more attractive people have higher status jobs, make more money, and are more likely to describe themselves as being happy. (Umberson & Hughes, 1987).

– Men value opposite-sex physical attractiveness more than women (Feingold, 1990, 91). 90% of cosmetic surgery patients are women.

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Note:  I was always wondering why actresses and supermodels are so popular. Now I know that whether it is Priyanka Chopra or Sonam Kapoor or Esha Gupta, people like them because they are physically attractive.

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Attractiveness also depends on our feelings about the person:
Liking and love can also influence attractiveness ratings. The more in love a women is with a man, the more attractive she rates him as being. (Price et al, 1974) Additionally, the more in love people are, the less attractive they find other people of the opposite sex to be. (Johnson & Rusbult, 1989) As we continue to see our loved ones often their physical imperfections grow less noticeable and their attractiveness grow more apparent. Occasionally, people move quickly from initial impressions, to friendships, to the more intense complex, and mysterious state of romantic love depending on similarities. We are inclined to want the people we choose to be around to be similar to ourselves on agreeableness, conscientiousness, extroversion, and emotional stability. While you’re making small talk, you’re sizing up his or her voice. A male who speaks deeply and quickly, for example, is likely to be rated as better-looking and highly educated by women around him, according to some studies. And of course, if your date is saying things that jibe with your worldview, then you’re going to be further besotted. Though we often hear that opposites attract, scientists say it’s far more likely that we practice assortative mating, which is partnering off with people who are similar to us. Successful couples may share the same religious values and tax bracket, and they tend to be “in the same league,” looks-wise. Yes, what you learned in high school is true — the pretty people tend to stick with their kind. One study found that people tend to choose people who have the same level of body fat. Of course, we don’t want someone who’s too much like us, genetically — remember our ancestors’ mandate to find someone who could make a baby with the best chance of survival? That’s why researchers believe that smell is involved when we’re sizing up the opposite sex. Some researchers think that while we’re sizing up how nice another person looks, we’re also somehow sniffing out their genes through pheromones. One famous study found that women who sniffed sweaty shirts and ranked them in terms of attractiveness tended to rank shirts that belonged to the most genetically different men the highest. And in one study of fruit flies, researchers found that one meeting was all it took for the female fruit flies to figure out which males were their best genetic match. While humans aren’t fruit flies, the researchers posit that we possess some similar search mechanism. There’s evidence that women become more attuned to certain traits in men during the most fertile times in their menstrual cycles; specifically, women tend to respond more strongly to potential suitors when they’re ovulating, and men, in turn, tend to find women more attractive during the same period, even when the men don’t know the lady’s cycle.

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Measurement of attraction:

Any given interaction is characterized by a certain level of intensity, which is conveyed by individual and interpersonal behavior, including the more subtle nonverbal behavioral information of interpersonal attraction. Interpersonal attraction is most frequently measured using the ‘Interpersonal Attraction Judgment Scale’ developed by Donn Byrne. It is a scale in which a subject rates a target person on dimensions such as intelligence, knowledge of current events, morality, adjustment, like-ability and desirability as a work partner. This scale seems to be directly related with other measures of social attraction such as social choice, desirability ratings as a date, sexual partner, or spouse, voluntary physical proximity, frequency of eye contact, etc. Kiesler & Goldberg analyzed a variety of response measures that were typically utilized as measures of attraction and extracted two factors: The first, characterized as primarily socioemotional, included variables such as liking, desirability of the target’s inclusion in social clubs and parties, seating choices, and lunching together. The second factor included variables such as voting for, admiration and respect for, and also seeking the opinion of the target. Another widely used measurement technique is when you use the simple scaling of verbal responses which are expressed in terms of ratings or judgments of the person of target.

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Rules of attraction: some research studies:

Study-1:

In short-term relationships, physical attractiveness is a priority for women, just as it is for men, according to a study by psychologists Norman P. Li and Douglas T. Kenrick. Trying to draw a distinction between “luxuries” and “necessities,” the researchers gave men and women varied “mating budgets” and, in a series of tests, asked them to construct their ideal mate, using such qualities as looks, social status, creativity, and kindness. For one-night stands and affair partners, both women and men sought physical attractiveness above all else. For long-term mates, the expected sex differences emerged: Men kept preferring attractiveness, and women opted for social status, as well as warmth and trustworthiness. But after their minimum requirements for these necessities were met, both sexes chose well-rounded partners over those with the very best looks or the highest status. This makes good evolutionary sense, considering that to father a child, Li said, “You don’t need the most beautiful woman in the world.” At the same time, women “don’t need the richest man in the world to guarantee reproductive success. You just need somebody who’s not a bum, basically.”  In practice, Li said, people’s budgets in the mating market are determined by what they themselves have to offer. “So a guy who is extremely high status or very wealthy can trade up for a more physically attractive partner,” he said. And “women trying to make themselves more physically attractive so they can get a higher quality mate are not completely misguided.” It is also true, Li said, that very smart and successful women will have a harder time finding partners. “It seems that men want somebody intelligent enough so that they can recognize the man’s brilliance,” he said, “but not necessarily enough to challenge them — or so smart that they find someone else more interesting.” In the end, said Li, men and women tend to strive for the best partner their own attributes can buy. “Falling in love,” he said, “is basically a process where both sides feel they’re getting a good deal.”

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Study-2:

John Marshall Townsend, professor of anthropology at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, says that women’s status requirements often complicate their search for a mate. Townsend showed a group of female medical students, law students and professionals pictures of men dressed in different ways — wearing, for instance, a fast-food uniform or a designer suit and Rolex watch. He also gave participants descriptions of each man’s social status. The results were decisive. “Here’s Mr. Hottie, but if he’s in the wrong costume, and given the wrong status description, then she won’t go out with him, much less go to bed with him or marry him,” said Townsend. “You could put Cary Grant in a Burger King outfit, and he looks dorky.” If women do occasionally date “down” in terms of social status, Townsend said, “that would be out of desperation.” By contrast, he says, men are likely to date any physically attractive woman. When it comes to marriage, “guys are not completely insensitive to social class,” but, he said, they’re “not looking for socioeconomic gain.”

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Study-3:

Another recent study, by Stephanie L. Brown of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and Brian P. Lewis of Syracuse University in New York, suggested that men prefer long-term relationships with subordinates rather than co-workers or supervisors. By contrast, women showed no significant preference for socially dominant men. The reason for this result, Lewis hypothesized, is that men think they would “have more control over the behavior” of female subordinates, including being able to ensure female monogamy, and thus the paternity of any children. “Female infidelity is a severe reproductive threat to males only when investment is high,” as it is in long-term relationships, the authors write.

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Study-4:

Some evolutionary psychologists think gender differences can be overstated. In “The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature,” Geoffrey Miller suggests that the human mind evolved, much like the elaborate peacock’s tail, primarily as a way of attracting partners of both sexes. His book argues that traits such as musical and artistic ability played no clear role in helping human beings survive, but instead enhanced their reproductive success. For Miller, assistant professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, intellect and creativity are, well, sexy. “Guys are not picky about short-term mating, which is why we don’t read about IQ scores in Penthouse magazine,” he said. But when it comes to long-term relationships, he said, “There’s good evidence that guys are as picky as women about the mental traits of partners.”

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Study-5:

In the context of speed dating, where quick impressions count, HurryDate president Adele Testani says she was not surprised to learn that both sexes were most choosy about physical attractiveness. Although participants invariably ask each other about their careers, Testani said, “It really is all about that face-to-face chemistry and connection and attraction.” She added: “You’re certainly not going to find out if you’re going to marry the person” in a few minutes. Kurzban said the “rich visual information” supplied by HurryDate encounters may help men and women get over the first hurdle of appearance, before other factors, such as social status, become relevant.

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In a nutshell, for short term mating (one night stand, extra-marital affair), both men and women prefer physical attractiveness. However, for long term mating (e.g. marriage), men still prefer physical attractiveness along with average smartness and submissive nature in woman while women prefer social status, wealth and trustworthiness in men. No wonder, actresses and supermodels who were interested in me backed off as I am not a wealthy man. 

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What is Attachment?

An attachment is an emotional and social bond that forms between one person and another. Humans are considered highly motivated to form attachments through their lives. Attachments are crucial to human existence and are essentially the emotional context of those relationships we all have in life. Attachment is a special emotional relationship that involves an exchange of comfort, care, and pleasure. Psychologist John Bowlby devoted extensive research to the concept of attachment, describing it as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.” Bowlby shared the psychoanalytic view that early experiences in childhood have an important influence on development and behavior later in life. Our early attachment styles are established in childhood through the infant/caregiver relationship. In addition to this, Bowlby believed that attachment had an evolutionary component; it aids in survival. “The propensity to make strong emotional bonds to particular individuals [is] a basic component of human nature” (Bowlby, 1988, 3). Bowlby believed that the earliest bonds formed by children with their caregivers have a tremendous impact that continues throughout life. He suggested attachment also serves to keep the infant close to the mother, thus improving the child’s chances of survival. Attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally. Attachment theory explains how much the parents’ relationship with the child influences development. Infants form attachments to any consistent caregiver who is sensitive and responsive in social interactions with them. The quality of the social engagement is more influential than the amount of time spent. Although the biological mother is usually the principal attachment figure, the role can be taken by anyone who consistently behaves in a “mothering” or caregiving way over a period of time. In attachment theory, this means a set of behaviours that involves engaging in lively social interaction with the infant and responding readily to signals and approaches. Fathers or any other individuals, are equally likely to become principal attachment figures if they provide most of the child care and related social interaction. The central theme of attachment theory is that primary caregivers who are available and responsive to an infant’s needs allow the child to develop a sense of security. The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world.   

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Characteristics of Attachment:

Bowlby believed that there are four distinguishing characteristics of attachment:

1. Proximity Maintenance – The desire to be near the people we are attached to.

2. Safe Haven – Returning to the attachment figure for comfort and safety in the face of a fear or threat.

3. Secure Base – The attachment figure acts as a base of security from which the child can explore the surrounding environment.

4. Separation Distress – Anxiety that occurs in the absence of the attachment figure.

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Attachment vis-à-vis love:

Attachment theory was extended to adult romantic relationships in the late 1980s by Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver. Four styles of attachment have been identified in adults: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant and fearful-avoidant. These roughly correspond to infant classifications: secure, insecure-ambivalent, insecure-avoidant and disorganized/disoriented. Attachment styles in adult romantic relationships roughly correspond to attachment styles in infants but adults can hold different internal working models for different relationships. Early attachment styles can play a role in adult romantic attachment styles. Before you start blaming relationship problems on your parents, it is important to note that attachment styles formed in infancy are not necessarily identical to those demonstrated in adult romantic-attachment. A great deal of time has elapsed between infancy and adulthood, so intervening experiences also play a large role in adult attachment styles. Those described as ambivalent or avoidant in infancy can become securely attached as adults, while those with a secure attachment in childhood can show insecure attachment styles in adulthood. Basic temperament is also thought to play a partial role in attachment. In one study, Hazen and Shaver found that parental divorce seemed unrelated to attachment style. Instead, their research indicated that the best predictor of adult attachment style was the perceptions that people have about the quality of their relationships with their parents as well as their parent’s relationship with each other. But research in this area does indicate that patterns established in childhood have an important impact on later relationships. Researchers Hazen and Shaver also found a varied beliefs about relationships amongst adults with differing attachment styles. Securely attached adults tend to believe that romantic love is enduring. Ambivalently attached adults report falling in love often, while those with avoidant attachment styles describe love as rare and temporary. While we cannot say that infant attachment styles are identical to adult romantic-attachment styles, research has shown that early attachment styles can help predict patterns of behavior in adulthood.

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The attachments which form between people often seem to defy logic. Researchers believe “falling in love” as “among the most irrational of human behaviors”.  Steven Pinker in Time argued that if people found mates rationally, by shopping, then romance might never happen. The principles of “smart shopping” wouldn’t be enough, he argued. Somewhere in this world lives the best-looking, richest, smartest person who would settle for you. But this ideal match is hard to find, and you may die single if you insist on waiting for such a mate to show up. So you choose to set up house with the best person you have found so far. Your mate has gone through the same reasoning, which leaves you both vulnerable. The law of averages says that someday one of you will meet an even more desirable person; maybe a newly single Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie will move in next door. If you are always going for the best you can get, at that point you will dump your partner pronto. But your partner would have invested time, child rearing and forgone opportunities in the relationship by that point. Anticipating this, your mate would have been foolish to enter the relationship in the first place, and the same is true for you. In this world of rational actors, neither of you could thus take the chance on the other. What could make you trust the other person enough to make that leap? Pinker argued that it’s best to commit to someone who is similarly committed to you, since it forms a kind of protection against the possibility of your mate running off with somebody more attractive; therefore, romantic love has a purpose of protecting the pair-bond between two people. The argument was made by economist Robert Frank on the basis of work by Thomas Schelling, a Nobel laureate. The theory is that social life is based on a series of promises, threats, and bargains in which it sometimes pays to “sacrifice your self-interest and control.” And, as a result, suitors who are clearly smitten with an advantage, because it appears to the other person that their pledge of love is credible.

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Behavioral systems:

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Intimacy:

In social psychology, intimacy refers to the feeling of being in a close personal association and belonging together; a close affectionate bond formed through knowledge and experience. True intimacy requires: dialogue, transparency, vulnerability, reciprocity, and unconditional positive regard for the other (Carl Rogers). In human relationships, the meaning and level of intimacy varies within and between relationships. In anthropological research, intimacy is considered the product of a successful seduction, a process of rapport building that enables parties to confidently disclose previously hidden thoughts and feelings. Intimate conversations become the basis for “confidences” (secret knowledge) that bind people together. Intimacy can occur in romantic and plutonic relationships. It evolves via reciprocal self-disclosure and candor. To sustain intimacy for any length of time requires well developed emotional and interpersonal awareness. It requires an ability to be both separate participants and together participants in an intimate relationship. This is called self-differentiation. The inability to differentiate self from another is called symbiosis.

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Love is an important factor in physical and emotional intimate relationships. Love is qualitatively and quantitatively different to liking, and the difference is not merely in the presence or absence of sexual attraction. Two people who are in an intimate relationship with one another are often called a couple, especially if the members of that couple have placed some degree of permanency to their relationship. These couples often provide the emotional security that is necessary for them to accomplish other tasks, particularly forms of labor or work. Love is the physical, emotional, sexual, intellectual, or social affection one person holds for another. Concepts related to love include adore, desire, prefer, possess, care for, serve, and even worship. Intimacy, on the other hand, is a close relationship where mutual acceptance, nurturing, and trust are shared at some level. In order to understand love in human relationships, you must first understand how the self either enhances or inhibits your capacity to love.

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To sustain intimacy for any length of time requires well-developed emotional and interpersonal awareness. Intimacy requires an ability to be both separate and together participants in an intimate relationship. Scholars distinguish between four different forms of intimacy: physical, emotional, cognitive, and experiential.  Physical intimacy is sensual proximity or touching, examples include being inside someone’s personal space, holding hands, hugging, kissing, caressing, and other sexual activity. Emotional intimacy, particularly in sexual relationships, typically develops after a certain level of trust has been reached and personal bonds have been established. The emotional connection of “falling in love”, however, has both a biochemical dimension, driven through reactions in the body stimulated by sexual attraction (PEA), and a social dimension driven by “talk” that follows from regular physical closeness or sexual union. Cognitive or intellectual intimacy takes place when two people exchange thoughts, share ideas and enjoy similarities and differences between their opinions. If they can do this in an open and comfortable way, then can become quite intimate in an intellectual area. Experiential intimacy is when two people get together to actively involve themselves with each other, probably saying very little to each other, not sharing any thoughts or many feelings, but being involved in mutual activities with one another. Imagine observing two house painters whose brushstrokes seemed to be playing out a duet on the side of the house. They may be shocked to think that they were engaged in an intimate activity with each other, however from an experiential point of view, they would be very intimately involved.

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Self-disclosure and intimacy:

Self-disclosure contributes to close relationships. Deeper intimacy is often achieved through mutual sharing of intimate and personal details. Self-disclosure is both the conscious and unconscious act of revealing more about oneself to others. This may include, but is not limited to, thoughts, feelings, aspirations, goals, failures, successes, fears, and dreams, as well as one’s likes, dislikes, and favorites. Typically, a self-disclosure happens when we initially meet someone and continues as we build and develop our relationship with them. As we get to know each other, we disclose information about ourselves. Self-disclosure is an important building block for intimacy; intimacy cannot be achieved without it. Most self-disclosure usually occurs early in relational development, but more intimate self-disclosure occurs later. Male and female differences in self-disclosure are mixed. Women self-disclose to enhance a relationship, where men self-disclose relative to control and vulnerability. Men initially disclose more in heterosexual relationships. Women tend to put more emphasis on intimate communication with same sex friends than men do. In one study (Aron et al., 1997), the participants were involved in a conversation which disclosed more and more personal details as the conversation went on. Those who were involved in these deep conversations felt closer to the person that they were speaking with than those who disclosed fewer details. Increasing intimacy also reignites passion (Baumeister & Bratslavsky, 1999). maintaining a long term relationship . Companionate love is an intimate, non-passionate type of love that is stronger than friendship because of the element of long-term commitment. This type of love is often found in marriages in which the passion has left the relationship but a deep affection and commitment remain. The love ideally shared between family members is a form of companionate love, as is the love between close friends who

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Intimate relationship:

An intimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy is characterized by romantic or passionate attachment or sexual activity. The term intimate relationship is also sometimes used euphemistically for a sexual relationship. Intimate relationships play a central role in the overall human experience. Humans have a general desire to belong and to love which is usually satisfied within an intimate relationship. Intimate relationships involve physical and sexual attraction between people, liking and loving, romantic feelings, and sexual relationships, as well as the seeking of one or more mates and emotional and personal support for the members. Intimate relationships provide a social network for people that provide strong emotional attachments, and fulfill our universal need of belonging and the need to be cared for.

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“Rewire your brain for Love: Creating vibrant relationships using the Science of Mindfulness”:

If you’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places, perhaps it has something to do with the way your brain is wired. That might sound hopeless, but don’t despair: Licensed psychologist and neuropsychologist Marsha Lucas can show you how your earliest experiences with love, attachment and relationships wired your brain for “how to do love.” Better yet, in her new book “Rewire Your Brain for Love,” she offers a highly readable guide to how you can modify faulty wiring through mindfulness meditation. As Lucas explains, “Developmental psychologists talk about essential characteristics that are seen in people with healthy, attuned childhood relationships — characteristics that bode incredibly well for these people’s ability to have healthy relationships in adulthood. Those same characteristics are seen in people who practice mindfulness — plus bonus characteristics.” Lucas has found that the most helpful way to think about these characteristics is to group them into a list of seven acquirable skills. These are skills you can develop and grow within yourself, within your brain — and they seem to be the most powerful in creating and sustaining a healthy and happy relationship.

These skills are

Management of your body’s reactions;

Regulation of your response to fear;

Emotional resilience;

Response flexibility;

Insight (self-knowing);

Empathy and

Attunement — within yourself and with others; Perspective shift from “me” to “we.”

Lucas explains first about how your brain got into the tough spot it’s in, and from there offers a quick and understandable explanation of some very basic neuroanatomy. Moving from the bottom of your brain’s wiring to the top — from your relationship with yourself toward your relationship with others, Lucas shows you how to develop awareness of and how to regulate your body’s responses to the world “out there,” where you’ll learn how to get a handle on the most relationship-derailing emotion of all: fear. Once fear isn’t shorting out your relationship brain, you’ll be ready to work with increased resilience on all of your other emotions.

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Love and mental illness:

Events occurring in the brain when we are in love have similarities with mental illness. Love, it presumably goes without saying, is not a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition-Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) diagnosis. Nevertheless, there are certainly disorders of attachment and love, including erotomania. Leckman and Mayer have pointed out the overlap between normal attachment behaviors and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Conditions such as autistic disorder have been conceptualized in terms of disordered attachment.

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Relationship obsessive–compulsive disorder (ROCD):

In psychology, relationship obsessive–compulsive disorder (ROCD) is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder centered on relationship-related obsessions focusing on intimate relationships. Such obsessions can become extremely distressing and debilitating, having negative impacts on relationships functioning. ROCD can involve obsessive doubts, preoccupations, checking, and reassurance seeking behaviours focusing on intimate relationships. A person may feel the need to end a perfectly good relationship based on their inability to feel how they want to. Common domains of relationship obsessions include doubts regarding one’s own feelings towards an intimate partner, preoccupation with the partner’s feelings towards oneself, doubts about the “rightness” of the relationship and preoccupation with the perceived flaws of the partner.

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Erotomania:

Erotomania is a type of delusion in which the affected person believes that another person, usually a stranger, high-status or famous person, is in love with him or her. The illness often occurs during psychosis, especially in patients with schizophrenia, delusional disorder or bipolar mania. During an erotomanic episode, the patient believes that a “secret admirer” is declaring his or her affection to the patient, often by special glances, signals, telepathy, or messages through the media. Usually the patient then returns the perceived affection by means of letters, phone calls, gifts, and visits to the unwitting recipient. Even though these advances are unexpected and often unwanted, any denial of affection by the object of this delusional love is dismissed by the patient as a ploy to conceal the forbidden love from the rest of the world. The term erotomania is often confused with “obsessive love”, obsession with unrequited love, or hypersexuality.

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Does love make you Hypomanic?

In the Journal of Adolescent Health Serge Brand et al have investigated the effects of romantic love in adolescents. Brand et al found that the early-stages of romantic love induced substantial changes to physiological, psychological and behavioral factors. An increase in sympathetic tone (fight-or flight response) was found; increased heart rate, sweaty palms, wakefulness increase while being with the loved one. Behavioral effects were substantial, as intense focus and obsession with the partner was observed as well as significantly increased mood to the point of euphoria. A craving of being together with the loved one and distorted altruism was also found (“willing to die for his/her loved one”). The study also suggests that the effects seen physiologically and behaviorally resembles those of whom are under the influence of cocaine. The DSM-IV characterizes hypomania with symptoms of increased energy, increased creativity, loss of appetite and need for sleep, elation, mood swings, irritability, increased social inclination, accelerated thinking and increased confidence. Surprisingly, this study found that the adolescents in [romantic] love exhibited many symptoms of hypomania. It should be noted though, that these were the initial stages of “romantic” love and the symptoms may well disappear in tone and severity in time. The interesting thing with this study, is just how strong initial stages of love can be, bordering on the hypomanic. Falling in love is, naturally, not something one just do; but if one does fall in love, the evidence points toward one incredible rush, and I can only say: enjoy it while it lasts.

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Alteration of the platelet serotonin transporter in romantic love vis-à-vis obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD):

The evolutionary consequences of love are so important that there must be some long-established biological process regulating it. Recent findings suggest that the serotonin (5-HT) transporter might be linked to both neuroticism and sexual behaviour as well as to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The similarities between an overvalued idea, such as that typical of subjects in the early phase of a love relationship, and obsession, prompted researchers to explore the possibility that the two conditions might share alterations at the level of the 5-HT transporter. Twenty subjects who had recently (within the previous 6 months) fallen in love, 20 unmedicated OCD patients and 20 normal controls, were included in the study. The 5-HT transporter was evaluated with the specific binding of 3H-paroxetine (3H-Par) to platelet membranes. The results showed that the density of 3H-Par binding sites was significantly lower in subjects who had recently fallen in love and in OCD patients than in controls. The main finding of the present study is that subjects who were in the early romantic phase of a love relationship were not different from OCD patients in terms of the density of the platelet 5-HT transporter, which proved to be significantly lower than in the normal controls. This would suggest common neurochemical changes involving the 5-HT system, linked to psychological dimensions shared by the two conditions, perhaps at an ideational level.   

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Love is akin to drug addiction and since drug addiction is a mental illness, early stages of romantic love does mimic mental illness similar to drug addiction [vide infra]. 

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Psychological basis of love:

Psychology depicts love as a cognitive, cultural and social phenomenon. The traditional psychological view sees love as being a combination of companionate love and passionate love. Passionate love is intense longing, and is often accompanied by physiological arousal (shortness of breath, rapid heart rate); companionate love is affection and a feeling of intimacy not accompanied by physiological arousal. Psychologist Robert Sternberg formulated a triangular theory of love and argued that love has three different components: intimacy, commitment, and passion (vide infra).  American psychologist Zick Rubin sought to define love by psychometrics in the 1970s. His work states that three factors constitute love: attachment, caring, and intimacy. Following developments in electrical theories such as Coulomb’s law, which showed that positive and negative charges attract, analogs in human life were developed, such as “opposites attract.” Over the last century, research on the nature of human mating has generally found this not to be true when it comes to character and personality—people tend to like people similar to themselves. However, in a few unusual and specific domains, such as immune systems, it seems that humans prefer others who are unlike themselves (e.g., with an orthogonal immune system), since this will lead to a baby that has the best of both worlds. In recent years, various human bonding theories have been developed, described in terms of attachments, ties, bonds, and affinities. Some Western authorities disaggregate into two main components, the altruistic and the narcissistic. This view is represented in the works of Scott Peck, whose work in the field of applied psychology explored the definitions of love and evil. Peck maintains that love is a combination of the “concern for the spiritual growth of another,” and simple narcissism. In combination, love is an activity, not simply a feeling. Psychologist Erich Fromm maintained in his book The Art of Loving that love is not merely a feeling but is also actions, and that in fact, the “feeling” of love is superficial in comparison to ones commitment to love via a series of loving actions over time. In this sense, Fromm held that love is ultimately not a feeling at all, but rather is a commitment to, and adherence to, loving actions towards another, one’s self, or many others, over a sustained duration. Fromm also described Love as a conscious choice that in its early stages might originate as an involuntary feeling, but which then later no longer depends on those feelings, but rather depends only on conscious commitment. 

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Psychological Theories of Love by various researches:

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Rubin: Liking vs. Loving:

Rubin’s theory of love:

The nature of love has been explored by a number of theorists. Social psychologist Zick Rubin was one of the first researchers to develop and instrument designed to empirically measure love. According to Rubin, romantic love is made up of three elements:

1. Attachment: The need to be cared for and be with the other person. Physical contact and approval are also important components of attachment.

2. Caring: Valuing the other person’s happiness and needs as much as your own.

3. Intimacy: Sharing private thoughts, feelings, and desires with the other person.

Rubin’s scales of liking and loving provided support for his theory of love. In a study to determine if the scales actually differentiated between liking and loving, Rubin asked a number of participants to fill out his questionnaires based upon how they felt both about their partner and a good friend. The results revealed that good friends scored high on the liking scale, but only significant others rated high on the scales for loving. In his research, Rubin identified a number of characteristics that distinguished between different degrees of romantic love. For example, he found that participants who rated high on the love scale also spent a great deal more time gazing into each other’s eyes as compared to those who rated only as weakly in love.

Liking is only when we think the person earns our respect, good morals etc.  

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Hatfield’s theory of love:

Compassionate vs. Passionate love:

According to psychologist Elaine Hatfield and her colleagues, there are two basic types of love: compassionate love and passionate love. Compassionate love is characterized by mutual respect, attachment, affection and trust. Compassionate love usually develops out of feelings of mutual understanding and shared respect for one another. Passionate love is characterized by intense emotions, sexual attraction, anxiety and affection. When these intense emotions are reciprocated, people feel elated and fulfilled. Unreciprocated love leads to feelings of despondence and despair. Hatfield suggests that passionate love is transitory, usually lasting between 6 and 30 months. Hatfield also suggests that passionate love arises when cultural expectations encourage falling in love, when the person meets your preconceived ideas of an ideal love, and when you experience heightened physiological arousal in the presence of the other person. Ideally, passionate love then leads to compassionate love, which is far more enduring. While most people desire relationships that combine the security and stability of compassionate with the intensity of passionate love, Hatfield believes that this is rare.

Factors Influencing Passionate and Compassionate Love:

Some of the factors associated with passionate love include:

•Timing: Being “ready” to be in love with another person is essential.

•Early attachment styles: Securely attached individuals tend to form deeper, longer lasting love, while those who are anxiously attached tend to fall in and out of love quickly.

•Similarity: Hatfield and Rapson note that we tend to fall passionately in love with people who are relatively good looking, personable, affectionate and similar to ourselves.

While passionate love is intense, it is generally very fleeting. Researchers have looked at how relationships progress among new couples, newlyweds and those married for a longer time and found that while passionate love is more intense at the beginning of relationships, it tends to give way to compassionate love that is focused on intimacy and commitment.

Passionate love may be quick to fade, but compassionate love endures.

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Note: There is lot of confusion regarding the use of terms ‘compassionate’ love and ‘companionate’ love. Different authors have used these terms differently and sometimes these terms have been used synonymously. Compassionate love usually develops out of feelings of mutual understanding and shared respect for one another while companionate love develops out of prolonged companionship like friendship or human-pet relationship.

Companionate love:

Companionate love refers to the feelings of intimacy and affection we feel for another person when we care deeply for the person but do not necessarily experience passion or arousal in his or her presence. Companionate love, as in the love between two best friends, grows out of a mutual enjoyment in companionship and the intimacy of a close friendship. This love develops slowly and a significant amount of comfort develops between the partners. This love, however, need not be between two people, as it is often felt for animals by their caretakers. Many single adults live with a dog or cat that provides friendship and camaraderie for the owner.

However, according to Sternberg (vide infra);

Passionate love = romantic love= intimacy + passion

Companionate love = intimacy + commitment

Readers must understand the difference of opinion among various experts on using terminology about love.

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Lee’s theory of love styles:

Love styles are modus operandi of how people love, originally developed by John Lee. He identified six basic love styles—also known as “colours” of love—that people use in their interpersonal relationships: Researcher John Lee (1976) conducted extensive interviews with people to discover what the word “love” meant to them. He learned, of course, that love means different things to different people. Lee concluded that humans think of love in six separate ways. He labeled these love forms with Greek nouns.  

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•Eros – from the Greek word for “erotic or passionate”; a passionate physical and emotional love based on aesthetic enjoyment; stereotype of romantic love.

•Ludus – from the Latin word meaning “sport or play, a love that is played as a game or sport; conquest.

•Storge – from the Greek word meaning “friendship”‘; an affectionate love that slowly develops from friendship, based on similarity.

•Pragma – from the Greek word meaning “practical”; love that is driven by the head, not the heart; practical and non-emotional.

•Mania – from the Greek word meaning “frenzy”; highly volatile love; obsession; fueled by low self-esteem.

•Agape – from the Greek word meaning “divine or spiritual”; selfless altruistic love; spiritual; true love.

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In this novel approach, each variety of love is likened to a primary or secondary color (hence the title of Lee’s [1973] book, Colours of Love). Color wheel of love styles include:

       – Three primary love styles

           – Eros- Love an ideal person

           – Ludus- Love as a game

           – Storge- Love as a friendship

       – These primary loves can combine to one another to make different secondary loves

           – Eros + Ludus will equal Mania or obsessive love

           – Ludus + Storge will equal Pragma or realistic and practical love

           – Eros + Storge will equal Agape or dutiful and selfless love

       – There are also nine more possible loves that are made by combining primary loves to secondary loves

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Primary and Secondary Love Styles:  

According to Lee, there are three primary colors or styles of loving. The first, eros, is an intensely emotional experience that is similar to passionate love. In fact, the most typical symptom of eros is an immediate and powerful attraction to the beloved individual. The erotic lover is “turned on” by a particular physical type, is prone to fall instantly and completely in love with a stranger (i.e., to experience “love at first sight”), rapidly becomes preoccupied with pleasant thoughts about that individual, feels an intense need for daily contact with the beloved, and wishes the relationship to remain exclusive. Erotic love also has a strong sexual component. For example, the erotic lover desires the beloved sexually, usually seeks some form of sexual involvement fairly early in the relationship, and enjoys expressing his or her affection through sexual contact. In sum, the erotic lover is “eager to get to know the beloved quickly, intensely—and undressed” (Lee, 1988, p. 50). The second primary color of love is ludus (or game-playing) love. The ludic lover views love as a game to be played with skill and often with several partners simultaneously. The ludic lover has no intention of including the current partner (or partners) in any future life plans or events and worries about any sign of growing involvement, need, or intense attachment from the partner. As the quintessential commitmentphobe, the ludic lover avoids seeing the partner too often, believes that lies and deception are justified, and expects the partner to remain in control of his or her emotions. In addition, ludic lovers tend to prefer a wide variety of physical types and view sexual activity as an opportunity for pleasure rather than for intense emotional bonding. Storge is the third primary love color. Described by Lee (1973) as “love without fever or folly” (p. 77), storge resembles Lewis’s concept of Affection in that it is stable and based on a solid foundation of trust, respect, and friendship. Indeed, the typical storgic lover views and treats the partner as an “old friend,” does not experience the intense emotions or physical attraction to the partner associated with erotic love, prefers to talk about and engage in shared interests with the partner rather than to express direct feelings, is shy about sex, and tends to demonstrate his or her affection in nonsexual ways. To the storgic lover, love is an extension of friendship and an important part of life but is not a valuable goal in and of itself. Like the primary colors, these primary love styles can be combined to form secondary colors or styles of love. The three secondary styles identified by Lee contain features of the primary love styles but also possess their own unique characteristics. Pragma, a combination of storge and ludus, is “the love that goes shopping for a suitable mate” (Lee, 1973, p. 124). The pragmatic lover has a practical outlook on love and seeks a compatible lover. He or she creates a shopping list of features or attributes desired in the partner and selects a mate based on how well that individual fulfills the requirements (similarly, he or she will drop a partner who fails to “measure up” to expectations). Pragmatic love is essentially a faster-acting version of storge that has been quickened by the addition of ludus. Mania, the combination of eros and ludus, is another secondary love style. Manic lovers lack the self-confidence associated with eros and the emotional self-control associated with ludus. This obsessive, jealous love style is characterized by self-defeating emotions, desperate attempts to force affection from the beloved, and the inability to believe in or trust any affection the loved one actually does display. The manic lover is desperate to fall in love and to be loved, begins immediately to imagine a future with the partner, wants to see the partner daily, tries to force the partner to show love and commitment, distrusts the partner’s sincerity, and is extremely possessive. This love type is “irrational, extremely jealous, obsessive, and often unhappy” (Lee,1973, p. 15). The last secondary color of love is agape, a combination of eros and storge. Agape is similar to Lewis’s concept of Charity and represents an all-giving, selfless love style that implies an obligation to love and care for others without any expectation of reciprocity or reward. This love style is universalistic in the sense that the typical agapic lover believes that everyone is worthy of love and that loving others is a duty of the mature person. With respect to personal love relationships, an agapic lover will unselfishly devote himself or herself to the partner, even stepping aside in favor of a rival who seems more likely to meet the partner’s needs. Although Lee believed that many lovers respect and strive to attain the agapic ideal, he also believed that the give-and-take that characterizes most romantic relationships precludes the occurrence of purely altruistic love.

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Clyde Hendrick and Susan Hendrick (husband and wife faculty at Texas Tech) make the study of love and sexuality their life’s work (1980-90s). They emphasize that a blend of love and sexual styles exist within each individual, and these love styles can change during a relationship. Their research also shows that lovers with similar love styles tend to stay together more often than those with differing love styles. Researchers discovered that men tend to view love more in terms of the romantic, intense eros love, or the game-playing love of ludas. Women often have a more logical outlook in the practical pragma love. Mania is often the first love style teenagers display. People often look for people with the same love style as themselves for a relationship. These styles are akin to the Greek types of love. In 2007, researchers from the University of Pavia led by Dr Enzo Emanuele have provided evidence of a genetic basis for individual variations in Lee’s love styles, with Eros being linked to the dopamine system and Mania to the serotonin system.

 

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Sternberg’s Triangular theory of love:

Three components to love

           – Intimacy: Sharing thoughts, emotions, stories, communication

           – Passion: Sexually aroused, attraction    

           – Commitment: Maintain relationship, nourish loving feelings

       – When all are present they will make consummate love: Hardly ever happens:

       – Usually only one or two components are strongly emphasized in a relationship

       – Also some components can become weaker and others can become stronger to change the type of relationship or love:

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Psychologist Robert Sternberg believed that dividing love into two categories (passionate and compassionate love) was too simplistic. Sternberg (1986, 1998) conceptualized love in terms of three basic components that form the vertices of a triangle: intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment. The intimacy component is primarily emotional or affective in nature and involves feelings of warmth, closeness, connection, and bondedness in the love relationship. The passion component is motivational and consists of the drives that are involved in romantic and physical attraction, sexual consummation, and related phenomena. The decision/commitment component is largely cognitive and represents both the short-term decision that one individual loves another and the longer term commitment to maintain that love. According to Sternberg, these three love components differ with respect to a number of properties, including stability, conscious controllability, and experiential salience. For example, the elements of intimacy and decision/commitment are usually quite stable in close relationships (once they occur and become characteristic of a relationship, they tend to endure) whereas passion tends to be less stable and predictable. In addition, whereas people possess a great deal of conscious control over the commitment that they make to relationships and possess at least some degree of control over their feelings of intimacy, they actually have very little conscious control over the amount of passion that they experience for their partners. The three components also differ in terms of their experiential salience. Specifically, an individual is usually quite aware of the passion component, but awareness of the intimacy and decision/commitment components can be extremely variable. That is, a person may experience feelings of intimacy (e.g., closeness, connection, warmth) without explicitly being aware of those feelings or even being able to identify what he or she is feeling. Similarly, a person might not consciously realize the full extent of his or her commitment to the relationship and the partner.

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Sternberg’s Triangular Model of Love. The three components of love are indicated at the vertices of the triangle. The various types of love produced by different combinations of the components are in brackets. Sternberg believed that various combinations of these three components would form eight different kinds of love.

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Passion (motivational component- dopamine drive):

Passion is the drives that lead to romance, physical attraction, sexual consummation, and related phenomena. Passionate arousal tends to occur at the beginning of relationships, peaks relatively quickly and then reduces to a stable level as a result of habituation. Following relationship termination, an individual’s capacity for passion appears to go negative for a period of time, as the individual overcomes feelings of loss.

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Intimacy (affective component- emotional component-limbic system):

Intimacy is a feeling of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness in loving relationships. Intimacy tends to peak slower than passion and then gradually reduces to a relatively low level of manifest intimacy as interpersonal bonding increases. Changes in circumstances, however, tend to activate latent intimacy, which can cause the manifest level of intimacy to return or exceed its earlier peak.

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Commitment (cognitive component- neo-cortex):

Commitment is the decision that one loves someone else and … the commitment to maintain that love. In successful relationships, the level of commitment rises relatively slowly at first, speeds up, and then gradually levels off. Where relationships fail, the level of commitment usually decreases gradually and descends back towards the baseline.

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Types of Love Relationship:

The three basic components of love combine to produce eight different love types, summarized in the table below. Nonlove (no intimacy, passion, or decision/commitment) describes casual interactions that are characterized by the absence of all three love components. Most of our personal relationships (which are essentially casual associations) can be defined as nonlove. Liking (intimacy alone) relationships are essentially friendship. They contain warmth, intimacy, closeness, and other positive emotional experiences but lack both passion and decision/ commitment. Infatuation (passion alone) is an intense, “love at first sight” experience that is characterized by extreme attraction and arousal in the absence of any real emotional intimacy and decision/ commitment. In empty love (decision/commitment alone) relationships, the partners are committed to each other and the relationship but lack an intimate emotional connection and passionate attraction. This type of love is often seen at the end of long-term relationships (or at the beginning of arranged marriages). Romantic love (intimacy + passion) consists of feelings of closeness and connection coupled with strong physical attraction. Companionate love (intimacy + decision/commitment) is essentially a long-term, stable, and committed friendship that is characterized by high amounts of emotional intimacy, the decision to love the partner, and the commitment to remain in the relationship. This type of love is often seen in “best friendships” that are nonsexual or in long-term marriages in which sexual attraction has faded. Couples who experience fatuous love (passion + decision/commitment) base their commitment to each other on passion rather than on deep emotional intimacy. These “whirlwind” relationships are typically unstable and at risk for termination. Finally, consummate love (intimacy + passion + decision/commitment) results from the combination of all three components. According to Sternberg, this is the type of “complete” love that many individuals strive to attain, particularly in their romantic relationships. Because the three basic components of love occur in varying degrees within a relationship, most love relationships will not fit cleanly into one particular category but will reflect some combination of categories. The balance among Sternberg’s three aspects of love is likely to shift through the course of a relationship. A strong dose of all three components-found in consummate love-typifies, for many of us, an ideal relationship. However time alone does not cause intimacy, passion, and commitment to occur and grow. Knowing about these components of love may help couples avoid pitfalls in their relationship, work on the areas that need improvement or help them recognize when it might be time for a relationship to come to an end.

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According to Sternberg, the three basic components of love—intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment—combine to produce eight different types of love relationship. For example, infatuation-based relationships are characterized by relatively high levels of passion but relatively low levels of intimacy and commitment.

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Consummate love is the complete form of love, representing the ideal relationship toward which many people strive but which apparently few achieve. Sternberg cautions that maintaining a consummate love may be even harder than achieving it. He stresses the importance of translating the components of love into action. “Without expression,” he warns, “even the greatest of loves can die”. Consummate love may not be permanent. For example, if passion is lost over time, it may change into companionate love.

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Sternberg’s triangular theory of love can be renovated in circles as seen in figure below:

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Below are various relationships and the reader should try to interpret it as per Sternberg’s triangular theory of love:  

1.  You have been together for several years, still feel very close and connected emotionally, but do not always feel the same passion toward one another as you once did.

2.  You have a strong sexual drive and a need for physical and romantic contact with each other, but do not feel very close to each other. You have not planned for your future together, and in fact have not even thought about any form of long-term commitment.

3.  You have been married or cohabiting for a long time and still verbally proclaim your love for each other, but admit to having lost much of the emotional connectedness, as well as the sexual desire that you once had.

4. After more than 6 years together, you are as “in love” as ever. You remain close and connected, very sexually and romantically in sync, and are completely committed to each other and to your relationship.

5. You have been together for only a couple of months, and although you feel you have become close and are connected emotionally, you have yet to become passionately involved or think about your future commitment.

6. You are in love and have a strong sexual desire for one another, are very close and connected emotionally, but have yet to discuss any future plans that would include a decision to commit only to each other.

7. You have been together for a while and are planning on staying together. You continue to maintain a healthy and satisfying sex life, but say you do not feel very closely connected where emotion is concerned.

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Interpretation:

1. Companionate Love

2.  Infatuation

3.  Empty Love

4. Consummate Love

5.  Liking

6.  Romantic Love

7.  Fatuous Love

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Mixed support for the triangular theory:

In a study done by Michele Acker and Mark Davis in 1992, Sternberg’s triangular theory of love was tested for validity. By studying a population that extended outside the typically studied group of 18 to 20 year old college students, Acker and Davis were able to study more accurately the stages of love in people. Some criticism of Sternberg’s theory of love is that although he predicted the stages of a person’s love for another person, he did not specify a time or point in the relationship when the stages would evolve. He does not specify whether the different parts of love are dependent on duration of relationship or on the particular stage that relationship has reached. Acker and Davis point out that the stage and duration of the relationship are potentially important to the love component and explore them. They find that there are no exact answers because not only each couple, but each individual in the couple experiences love in a different way. There are three perceptions of the triangular theory of love, or “the possibility of multiple triangles.” Multiple triangles can be existent because individuals can experience each component of love (or point of the triangle) more intensely than another. These separate triangles, according to Acker and Davis and many others, are ‘real’ triangles, ‘ideal’ triangles, and ‘perceived’ triangles. These ‘real’ triangles are indicative of how each individual views the progress and depth of his or her relationship. The ‘ideal’ triangles are indicative of each individual’s ideal qualities of his or her partner/relationship. The ‘perceived’ triangles are indicative of each individual’s ideas of how his or her partner is viewing the relationship. If any of these three separate triangles do not look the same as a person’s partner’s triangles, dissatisfaction is likely to increase. Sternberg’s triangular theory of love may not be as simple as he initially laid it out to be. Sternberg measured his theory on couples who were roughly the same age (mean age of 28) and whose relationship duration was roughly the same (4 to 5 years). His sample size was limited in characteristic variety. Acker and Davis announced this issue as being one of three major problems with Sternberg’s theory. Romantic love, in particular, is not often the same in undergraduate level couples as couples who are not undergrads. Acker and Davis studied a sample that was older than Sternberg’s sample of undergraduates. The two other most obvious problems with Sternberg’s theory of love are as follows. The first is a question of the separate nature of the levels of love. The second is a question of the measures that have previously been used to assess the three levels of love. These problems with Sternberg’s theory are still studied today. Sternberg created a model that has been used, questioned, explored, and accepted for many years and probably many more to come.

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Does consummate love require sex?

Consummate love is the ultimate ideal of love, encompassing all three elements of love- passion, intimacy, and commitment. The word ‘consummate’ derives from Latin. ‘con-‘ means together and ‘-summus’ means highest (like a summit). Thus consummating is reaching the highest level by bringing parts together.  Love is certainly possible without sex, and sex is possible without love. Consummate love does include passion and passion does include sex. However there is a difference between consummate love and consummate marriage.  It came to have the meaning of the first sex that a bride and groom have together, because according to custom, a marriage can be annulled if this does not or cannot happen. Thus, even though the vows are taken between a bride and groom, it is actually having sex that makes the marriage binding. So absence of sexual intercourse does nullify marriage but absence of sexual intercourse does not nullify consummate love.  

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In a nutshell, consummate love (ideal love) has three component; passion (dopamine reward system), intimacy (limbic system) and commitment (neo-cortex). In other words, ideal love has activation of both cortical and sub-cortical areas. In colloquial terms, ideal love involves both heart and mind.

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Modification of Sternberg’s theory to overcome contradictions:

In a recent work (C. Yela, 1996) authors formulated a theoretical model of the basic dimensions of love, basing this on Sternberg’s (1986; 1988) Triangular Theory, and incorporating in it certain modifications, including, notably, the double dimension of the passional component, previously exposed with greater or lesser emphasis by diverse authors, from the classic treatises on the subject (e.g., Rougemont, 1938) to current researchers (e.g., Carreño, 1991, Fraia, 1991). Thus, authors postulate the existence of four fundamental components, which they call: Commitment, Intimacy, Erotic Passion and Romantic Passion, obtaining empirical support for the structure of the “new” model by means of factorial analysis. In this way, they aimed to try and overcome the contradictions of Sternberg’s original model in terms of the definition, assessment and temporal evolution of the components he postulated. They obtained a factor labeled as “Erotic Passion” (EP), whose factorial structure and content appeared clearly and strongly differentiated from “Romantic Passion”, and which referred to the physical & physiological dimension of love: general activation, sexual desire, tachycardia, physical attraction, etc. This EP would grow rapidly under the influence of the stimuli which, both in an innate way and through learning in socialization, we associate with these responses of physical attraction, physiological activation and erotic excitation. It soon reaches its maximum level, to descend immediately, due to psycho-biological phenomena such as the opponent process (Solomon, 1980) or the so called “Coolidge” effect (preference for new sexual stimuli; Wilson and Nias, 1976; Dewsbury, 1981; Wilson, 1981; Liebowitz, 1983; Cáceres, 1986; Fisher, 1992; Buss and Schmitt, 1993), and due to certain processes related to general laws of learning, such as habituation and satiation (Skinner, 1953), as explained convincingly by the law of gain-loss (Aronson and Linder, 1965) – wittily re-christened as the law of infidelity. The factor authors call “Romantic Passion” (RP) groups together a set of ideas and firmly-held attitudes about relationships (peculiar to our culture’s stereotype of romanticism): intrusive thoughts, idealization (of the other and of the relationship), belief in something “magical” in the relationship, identification of the couple with the romantic ideal, belief in the omnipotence of love (as a vehicle that should inexorably produce happiness), etc. The growth process of RP would be more drawn out than that of EP (though briefer by comparison with the non-passional components). Important roles in its emergence would be played by: the attribution of physiological activation and/or physical attraction felt for the other (generally unconscious, and occupying a central role in the initial stages of the relationship -as demonstrated by the Bifactorial Theory of Berscheid and Walster, 1978); personal attraction (influenced by similarity, the obtaining of reinforcement, the halo effect, etc.; Byrne, 1971; Dion, Berscheid and Walster, 1972; Wilson and Nias, 1976; Cook and McHenry, 1978; Griffitt, 1979…); and our own romantic expectations (generally acquired in an unconscious way during the socialisation process; Averill, 1985; Good, 1976; Averill and Boothroyd. 1977; Iglesias de Ussel, 1987; Simon, Eder and Evans, 1992…). RP’s decrease is gentler and more gradual than that of EP, would be due basically to cohabitation as a couple, which implies the progressive reduction of uncertainty and of selective attention (Berscheid, 1983), with an increase in the effects of habituation-satiation (Skinner, 1953), the law of gain-loss (Aronson and Linder, 1965), the law of change of emotions (Frijda, 1988), the attraction of the new and the desire to seduce and to be seduced.

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The theory of Hierarchy of Love:

Using the methods originally developed by Rosch, some researchers have investigated the hierarchical structure of the concept of love. Psychologist Phillip Shaver and colleagues (Shaver, Schwartz, Kirson, & O’Connor, 1987), for instance, found evidence that love is a basic-level concept contained within the superordinate category of emotion and subsuming a variety of subordinate concepts that reflect types or varieties of love (e.g., passion, infatuation, liking) as seen in the figure below. That is, most people consider passion, infatuation, and liking to be types of love, which in turn is viewed as a type of positive emotion.

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The figure above shows the Hierarchy of Love and other emotions. Research suggests that love is a basic level concept contained within the superordinate category of emotion. In addition, love appears to contain a variety of subordinate concepts that reflect types or varieties of love; of these, maternal love is viewed as the most prototypical variety.

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Psychoanalytic aspect of love by Freud:

From a psychoanalytic point of view, love is the investment in, and ability to be loved by, another without experiencing this love as a subjective threat, such as that represented by the Thing (das Ding) which Freud described in the Project of 1895. For psychoanalysis the genesis of the love investment must be taken into consideration and the very different modalities through which it manifests itself must be identified. The genesis of love begins with the oral relation of the infant’s mouth and the mother’s breast: “The picture of the child at the mother’s breast has become the model of all sexual relations” (1905d). Also, in choosing an object later in life, the child will attempt “to reestablish this lost happiness” (1905d). But this happiness, even if it is marked by this choice of a primary infantile object, must later reunite and conjoin two libidinal currents, the tender current arising from infantile cathexis and the sensual current that appears during puberty, “The man will leave his mother and father—as the Bible indicates—and will follow his wife—tenderness and sensuality are therefore reunited” (1912d). This can only occur through the loss of the infantile object choice: “The individual human must devote himself to the difficult task of separating from his parents,” as Freud indicated in the twenty-first of the Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1916-1917a [1915-16]). Yet, in “On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love” (1912d), Freud recalls the difficulty of loving and the numerous splits that remain: “When they love, they do not desire, and when they desire, they cannot love.” In “Instincts and their Vicissitudes” (1915c), he examines the different splits and oppositions in which love plays a role; these are: loving/hating, loving/being loved, and loving and hating together in opposition to the state of indifference. The pair loving/hating is related to the pleasure/unpleasure polarity; the ego interjects pleasure and expels unpleasure, which is transformed into the opposition ego-pleasure/exterior world-unpleasure. Thus, hatred and the rejection of the exterior world emanate from the narcissistic ego. The pair loving/being loved originates in the reversal of an impulse into its opposite, of activity into passivity, and corresponds to the narcissism of self-love. The pair love/indifference is associated with the polarity ego/exterior world. We love the “object that dispenses pleasure” and we repeat “the original flight before the exterior world” (1926d) in the face of an object that does not dispense pleasure. In this way the intellectual economy of love is profoundly affected by these different forms of ambivalence.

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Barbara Fredrickson is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel highlights some aspects of love which you may not know:

1. It can be hard to talk about love in scientific terms because people have strong pre-existing ideas about it:

The vision of love that emerges from the latest science requires a radical shift. I learned that I need to ask people to step back from their current views of love long enough to consider it from a different perspective: their body’s perspective. Love is not romance. It’s not sexual desire. It’s not even that special bond you feel with family or significant others.

And perhaps most challenging of all, love is neither lasting nor unconditional. The radical shift we need to make is this: Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another.

2. Love is not exclusive:

We tend to think of love in the same breath as loved ones. When you take these to be only your innermost circle of family and friends, you inadvertently and severely constrain your opportunities for health, growth and well-being.

In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone — whether your soul mate or a stranger. So long as you feel safe and can forge the right kind of connection, the conditions for experiencing the emotion of love are in place.

3. Love doesn’t belong to one person:

We tend to think of emotions as private events, confined to one person’s mind and skin. Upgrading our view of love defies this logic. Evidence suggests that when you really “click” with someone else, a discernible yet momentary synchrony emerges between the two of you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror one another in a pattern I call positivity resonance. Love is a biological wave of good feeling and mutual care that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once.

4. Making eye contact is a key gateway for love:

Your body has the built-in ability to “catch” the emotions of those around you, making your prospects for love — defined as micro-moments of positivity resonance — nearly limitless. As hopeful as this sounds, I also learned that you can thwart this natural ability if you don’t make eye contact with the other person. Meeting eyes is a key gatekeeper to neural synchrony.

5. Love fortifies the connection between your brain and your heart, making you healthier:

Decades of research show that people who are more socially connected live longer and healthier lives. Yet precisely how social ties affect health has remained one of the great mysteries of science. My research team and I recently learned that when we randomly assign one group of people to learn ways to create more micro-moments of love in daily live, we lastingly improve the function of the vagus nerve, a key conduit that connects your brain to your heart. This discovery provides a new window into how micro-moments of love serve as nutrients for your health.

6. Your immune cells reflect your past experiences of love:

Too often, you get the message that your future prospects hinge on your DNA. Yet the ways that your genes get expressed at the cellular level depends mightily on many factors, including whether you consider yourself to be socially connected or chronically lonely. My team is now investigating the cellular effects of love, testing whether people who build more micro-moments of love in daily life also build healthier immune cells.

7. Small emotional moments can have disproportionately large biological effects:

It can seem surprising that an experience that lasts just a micro-moment can have any lasting effect on your health and longevity. Yet I learned that there’s an important feedback loop at work here, an upward spiral between your social and your physical well-being. That is, your micro-moments of love not only make you healthier, but being healthier builds your capacity for love. Little by little, love begets love by improving your health. And health begets health by improving your capacity for love.

8. Don’t take a loving marriage for granted:

Writing this book has profoundly changed my personal view of love. I used to uphold love as that constant, steady force that all but defines my marriage. While that constant, steady force still exists, I now see our bond as a product of the many micro-moments of positivity resonance that my husband and I have shared over the years. This shakes me out of any complacency that tempts me to take our love for granted. Love is something we should re-cultivate every single day.

9. Love and compassion can be one and the same:

If we reimagine love as micro-moments of shared positivity, it can seem like love requires that you always feel happy. I learned that this isn’t true. You can experience a micro-moment of love even as you or the person with whom you connect suffers. Love doesn’t require that you ignore or suppress negativity. It simply requires that some element of kindness, empathy or appreciation be added to the mix. Compassion is the form love takes when suffering occurs.

10. Simply upgrading your view of love changes your capacity for it:

The latest science offers new lenses through which to see your every interaction. The people I interviewed for the book shared incredibly moving stories about how they used micro-moments of connection to make dramatic turnarounds in their personal and work lives. One of the most hopeful things I learned is that when people take just a minute or so each day to think about whether they felt connected and attuned to others, they initiate a cascade of benefits. And this is something you could start doing today, having learned even just this much more about how love works.

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Evolution and love:

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Evolutionary basis of love:

Love is any of various emotions that relate to feelings of strong attachment to another. The origin of such feelings probably lies in their benefit to inclusive fitness—the sum of an organism’s reproductive output and that of relatives with shared genes. It has been suggested that the human capacity to experience love has been evolved as a signal to potential mates that the partner will be a good parent and be likely to help pass genes to future generations. Love motivates individuals to care for and protect one another [mother-infant, husband-wife, brother-sister etc.], which in turn confers a survival advantage. For example, parents who are emotionally attached to each other are more likely to cooperate effectively in raising young. While love has origins that may be ultimate and evolutionary in nature, it is also an emotion felt by individuals.

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Evolutionary theories of attraction:

The evolutionary theory of human interpersonal attraction states that opposite-sex attraction most often occurs when someone has physical features indicating that he or she is very fertile. Considering that one primary purpose of conjugal/romantic relationships is reproduction, it would follow that people invest in partners who appear very fertile, increasing the chance of their genes being passed down to the next generation. This theory has been criticized because it does not explain relationships between same-sex couples or couples who do not want children, although this may have something to do with the fact that whether one wants children or not one is still subject to the evolutionary forces which produce them. Another evolutionary explanation suggests that fertility in a mate is of greater importance to men than to women. According to this theory, a woman places significant emphasis on a man’s ability to provide resources and protection. The theory suggests that these resources and protection are important in ensuring the successful raising of the woman’s offspring. The ability to provide resources and protection might also be sought because the underlying traits are likely to be passed on to male offspring. Critics of this theory point out that most genes are autosomal and non-sex-linked (Gould, et al.) Evolutionary theory also suggests that people whose physical features suggest they are healthy are seen as more attractive. The theory suggests that a healthy mate is more likely to possess genetic traits related to health that would be passed on to offspring. People’s tendency to consider people with facial symmetry more attractive than those with less symmetrical faces is one example. However, a test was conducted that found that perfectly symmetrical faces were less attractive than normal faces. According to this study, the exact ratio of symmetric to asymmetric facial features depicting the highest attraction is still undetermined. It has also been suggested that people are attracted to faces similar to their own. Case studies have revealed that when a photograph of a woman was superimposed to include the features of a man’s face, the man whose face was superimposed almost always rated that picture the most attractive.  This theory is based upon the notion that we want to replicate our own features in the next generation, as we have survived thus far with such features and have instinctive survival wishes for our children. Another (non-evolutionary) explanation given for the results of that study was that the man whose face was superimposed may have consciously or subconsciously associated the photographically altered female face with the face of his mother or other family member.

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Evolutionary psychology of love:

From the perspective of evolutionary psychology the experiences and behaviors associated with love can be investigated in terms of how they have been shaped by human evolution.  For example, it has been suggested that human language has been selected during evolution as a type of “mating signal” that allows potential mates to judge reproductive fitness. Miller described evolutionary psychology as a starting place for further research: “Cognitive neuroscience could try to localize courtship adaptations in the brain. Most importantly, we need much better observations concerning real-life human courtship, including the measurable aspects of courtship that influence mate choice, the reproductive (or at least sexual) consequences of individual variation in those aspects, and the social-cognitive and emotional mechanisms of falling in love.”  Evolutionary psychologists have long theorized that the emotion of love developed from a need to propagate the species and as such determining the appropriate mate. Evolutionary psychologists speculate that the tendency to be attracted to physically attractive people is adaptive. In those attracted to males things that are attractive are a muscular body and tight, firm buttocks, showing that the male is able to defend his territory and thrust really hard. Many cultures value particular aspects of physical attractiveness, such as facial symmetry and a small waist-to-hip ratio. Evolutionary psychologists point out that facial symmetry can be an indicator of good health, since many developmental abnormalities tend to produce facial asymmetries. A small waist-to-hip ratio, which produces an “hourglass” figure, indicates high reproductive potential. As predicted by the parental investment theory, men tend to be more interested in their partners’ youthfulness and physical attractiveness. Evolutionary psychologists think that this is because these characteristics indicate that women will be able to reproduce successfully. Women, on the other hand, tend to value partners’ social status, wealth, and ambition, because these are characteristics of men who can successfully provide for offspring. Evolutionary psychologists also believe that music and dance has come into anthropological culture for the purposes of displaying oneself to the greatest advantage to a potential mate. There is also considered as evidence that dancing leads to sex.   

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“HurryDate participants are given three minutes in which to make their judgments,” the psychologists wrote in the science journal Evolution and Human Behavior, “but they mostly could be made in three seconds.” What the researchers discovered was that men and women chose their dates on the basis of “generally agreed upon mate values,” the mating market hypothesis. Another finding: Both sexes relied mainly on physical attractiveness, largely disregarding factors such as income and social status. Evolutionary psychology sees the mind as a set of evolved psychological mechanisms, or adaptations, that have promoted survival and reproduction. One branch of evolutionary psychology focuses on the distinct mating preferences and strategies of men and women. For example, because our male ancestors were easily able to sire numerous children at little cost to their fitness, the theory says, they were inclined to short-term mating with multiple partners. In choosing mates, they gravitated toward youth and physical attractiveness — markers of fertility and health. By contrast, females, for whom conception meant pregnancy and the need to care for a child, were more selective, searching for long-term commitments from males with the resources and willingness to invest in them and their offspring.

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 A landmark study was conducted by psychologist David M. Buss and colleagues in the 1980s, involving 37 cultures and 10,047 individuals. Buss, now professor of psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, found marked similarities across cultures, including a female preference for men with resources and status that persisted even when women had considerable resources of their own. Women are programmed to seek out men who are breadwinners, whereas men are wired to detect breeding potential signaled by big hips, youth, healthy skin, bright eyes and lustrous hair. Overall, women valued financial resources in a mate twice as much as men did. Up until that time, everyone believed that these things were very tethered to individual cultures and that cultures were infinitely variable.  In recent years, Darwinian feminists and others have developed a more nuanced view of the complexities of female behavior. Women, it seems, aren’t quite as monogamous as their partners might wish. They too sometimes pursue short-term mating strategies, though not everyone agrees on why. Randy Thornhill, professor of biology at the University of New Mexico, said he has discovered that women, in an unconscious bid for better genes, will choose “extra-pair copulation” — that is, have affairs — with men who are more attractive (though perhaps less likely to commit) than their long-term mates. Other research indicates that women make different choices at different points in their menstrual cycle, opting for better-looking, more symmetrical and more masculine-appearing men when they are at their most fertile. 

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Male female difference evolutionary psychologically:

To state the obvious, men and women are different. “Different” however, does not imply “better.” Evolutionary psychology offers an explanation for how and why men and women differ in their behaviors. According to evolutionary psychology sex differences in human behaviour evolved because of differences in the parental investment needed to ensure the reproductive success of males and females.  Of course, there is a wide variety of behavior within each gender; just because men on average behave in a certain way does not necessitate that a certain individual male will behave in a prescribed manner. Understanding a general “male” behavior is not a license to discriminate for or against an individual male, who may not express that particular trait. The biological definition of female is the organism that contributes the larger sex cell. The larger sex cell is “more expensive” in terms of resources, and is therefore more scarce. In mammals, this reproductive scarcity is magnified by the fact that female biological resources nurture the fertilized egg until birth, and provide care and nutrition for some time thereafter. Males produce millions of sperm and could inseminate thousands of women during their lifetime. Females produce relatively few eggs, pregnancy and lactation extends overall several years which restricts the number of children they can bear. Consequently Men can increase their inclusive fitness by mating with many healthy females who are likely to give birth to a healthy baby. Evolutionary psychology suggests that males have evolved an approach to mating that leads them to seek multiple copulatory partners.

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When they are asked how many sexual partners they would like over a certain period of time, men report that they would prefer more partners than women. When they are asked if they would agree to have sexual intercourse with an attractive member of the opposite sex that they have known for varying lengths of time, men and women express different likelihood’s of consent. Men reported that they are not unwilling to have intercourse with a woman they had known for just an hour. In contrast, it is very unlikely that a woman would agree to intercourse after knowing a man for this length of time. So there is a sex difference in the attitude of males and females with respect to casual sex and this is explained evolutionary psychologically by difference in mating behavior between men and women as discussed earlier. However, the situation changes when long term mating-relationships are concerned.

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While women can produce 20 or so offspring in a lifetime, men can produce many, many more. Female reproductive availability is therefore scarce, and requires males to compete vigorously for it. Since the male reproductive contribution need not exceed a single ejaculation, one would expect males to be eager to engage in sex with as many females as possible. In short, evolution confirms the common observation that males are very eager for sex. Females, meanwhile, have a somewhat different view of things. Females want the best genes, and are therefore happy to let males compete with each other to “prove” the fitness of their genes. Women can increase their inclusive fitness by mating with men who are likely to donate sperm that will contribute to the birth of a healthy baby. While the mother nurses one child she cannot be pregnant with the next. With fewer potential offspring, it is relatively more important to females that each of those offspring survives to reproductive age. It would benefit the mother’s inclusive fitness if the father made a parental investment in her child. Likewise it would benefit the father’s inclusive fitness if he made a parental investment in his child. Females then seek Male Parental Investment (MPI). That is, males who stick around and help defend and nurture children greatly contribute to the survival of those children. It is readily apparent why genes promoting MPI would be successful, even for males. Females, meanwhile, face the uncertain task of determining beforehand which males will provide MPI. Obviously, the first question is, “Which males are capable of providing MPI?” High status males are preferable in this regard to low status males (anthropologists have correlated status to sexual opportunities, even though birth control may now sever the link between status and offspring). In short, a materially successful husband can provide more support to children than a poor one. Females also use other behaviors as rough indicators of the likelihood of MPI. Things like gifts, public and private professions and commitments, and displays of affection—much of what we today call “courtship.” Thus, the desirability of successful, high status males who demonstrate strong commitment. Females and males have a particular interest in selecting partners that will enhance their reproductive success and inclusive fitness.  Females have evolved mechanisms that enable them to detect men that will transfer resources to their offspring (i.e. health and paternal investment). These are sometimes referred to as ‘good provider’ and ‘good genes’ attributes in the male. Males have evolved mechanisms that enable them to detect females that promise rapid production of offspring, and a disinclination to mate with other men (i.e. health, fertility and faithfulness). Male paternal investment and female faithfulness have costs and benefits to both sexes that must be reconciled to maximize individual inclusive fitness.

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Evolutionary psychology of development of monogamous relationship:

Evolutionary psychology has attempted to provide various reasons for love as a survival tool. Human infants and children are for a very long time dependent on parental help for a large portion of their life-spans comparative to other mammals. Love has therefore been seen as a mechanism to promote parental support of children for this extended time period. Another factor may be that sexually transmitted diseases can cause, among other effects, permanently reduced fertility, injury to the fetus, and increase complications during childbirth. This would favor monogamous relationships over polygamy.

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Evolutionary biology of love:

Early maternal attachment, subsequent romantic love, and long-term attachments are all crucial from an evolutionary perspective. Fisher and colleagues have suggested that mammals and birds have evolved three primary inter-related emotional-motivation systems for mating (sexual desire), reproduction (attraction), and parenting (attachment); each is associated with a specific neuronal circuitry and behavioral repertoire.  Courtship attraction and partner attachment presumably operate more independently in non-monogamous species and in more promiscuous individuals. Indeed, under various circumstances, certain styles of social bonding may have particular survival value. An evolutionary perspective has also been used to theorize about gender differences in the neuronal circuitry that mediates romantic love.

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How did human love evolve? There are a number of candidates if one assumes that love evolved from a previous behavior, state or condition:

  • animal “love”,
  • empathy,
  • group feeling,
  • sexuality,
  • mother/infant bond.

To suggest that animals “love” in much the same sense as humans is, of course, to say that there is no separate problem of the evolution of human love, though there would still be a transferred problem of the evolution of animal love. But there are animal behaviors which look similar, for example, to monogamy and fidelity in humans as Lorenz (1968, p. 187) points out, but since the essence of human love is not behavior but state or feeling, a cognitive as well as an emotional relation to another person, we would be mistaken to infer from animal behavior the existence of animal love. Nonetheless, as noted by me in earlier paragraphs, that there is evidence of animal love. Also, evolutionary biologically, human brain does contain animal brain (limbic system) and therefore evolution of human love ought to be correlated to animal love. Empathy is a more plausible candidate for the evolution of human love. It undoubtedly exists in animals. It is essentially a mode of perception which relies on the interpretation of bodily features of other animals, to guide response and behavior. Like other forms of perception, empathy, however, is neutral; it may establish a sympathetic i.e. favorable attitude towards the creature with which one empathizes, it may produce a hostile reaction, for we can empathize hatred as well as affection, danger as well as attraction, fear as much as aggression; or it may in emotional terms be neutral, simply a deeper way of gaining information about other animate creatures in the environment. Empathy then is not love — but love can hardly start or continue without empathy, any more than it can start without visual perception. So empathy may be one of the precursors of love, one of the current components of love, but this by itself does not indicate how love evolved to make use of empathy. Group feeling is hardly an independent candidate as an evolutionary explanation of love; group feeling seems to depend heavily on empathy. The most obvious candidate as the behavioral configuration from which love might have evolved is sexuality, sexual desire and sexual behavior. Because of the contemporary confusion of sexuality with love — as in “making love” — a number of authors have assumed that in some way, love as a specifically human trait must constitute a continuum with sexual desire and sexual behavior. To see how plausible this is, one has to contrast the manifestations of sexuality with the state or experience of love. Amongst animals, there is certainly no necessary connection between sexuality and love; the praying mantis biting off the head of the male certainly does not display love as part of the sexual pattern, and for very many animals there can be no question of any feeling resembling love. Sexuality in most animals is more linked with aggression or hunger than with love; much of the behavior appears almost mechanical, a pre-set response to a complex of stimuli. Further, even in humans there is no necessary link between love and sexual desire or sexual behavior. Love where it exists modifies, even runs counter to the expression of sexual desire — and sexuality can be seen often as destructive of love. Nonetheless, sexual attraction is an important component of development of romantic love and dopamine plus oxytocin released during sex does enhance romantic love and attachment. Therefore in my view, sexuality and sexual behavior are component of evolution of love with the sole purpose of propagation of species. The remaining candidate as the evolutionary source of love is the mother/infant bond. This of course exists in higher animals — see E.O. Wilson’s(1975) discussion — and many animals at every level show considerable degrees of parental care. So the mother/infant relation in animals is to be thought of as the source or at least one of the most important precursors and components in human love, Clearly in this mother/infant relation, parental care, there is interaction and coordination between mother and infant, carer and infant, and clearly amongst the higher animals, e.g. primates, this depends on perception by the parent of the behavior and state of the infant, making use of empathy as a specially searching form of perception.  In terms of fitness, the mother/infant relation is central for many higher animals, the infants not surviving or not developing appropriately socially and emotionally without the mother/infant relation and interaction.

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The evolutionary justification for the mother/infant relation is obvious but why should there have been this to further development in the human of “love” starting from or incorporating the mother/infant bond? Why was love for the human evolutionarily necessary? How was the capacity for love built into the human genome by the processes of selection? Or was love a side-effect of a number of other evolving processes and capacities in the evolving human?  What else was evolving in the human in parallel with the extended mother/infant relation? There was the enlarging brain, which indeed may have been a cause of the altricial nature of the human infant, of the extension of the period of infant dependence, of the extent to which brain development and maturation takes place after rather than before birth. Then there were the less easily measurable developments in cognitive capacity, in communication abilities, in foresight and planning, in analysis and control of the environment, in language, that also must have been associated with the enlarging human brain. There must as an accompaniment or consequence of these developments have been the growing ability to perceive one’s own perceptions, to be aware of oneself as initiator of action, the development of thought processes, of consciousness, of modeling of the self and of the environment in the brain. Human love as we experience it, as it is reported and manifested, is essentially a relation between one person and another — not a bodily relation but a brain-relation, a neural relation. The existence and the structure of another person comes to be a prominent part of one’s own structure, to alter the patterns of motivation, to alter the way the world and other people are perceived and of course to alter how the other person — the object or subject of love — is perceived. Without the development of the self, of self-consciousness, of conscious thought, human love would not exist, or would have a completely different character. But what contributed to or constituted the formation of the self, of consciousness, of thought? The most obvious candidate is the development of language, a new resource to enable the individuals to categorize their world, to manipulate their perceptions of the world, to put a distance between immediate experience and “themselves”. Thus the development of language played an essential role in allowing the development of human consciousness, of the self, of the person, and that this development of the self through language was an essential preliminary to, or concomitant with, interacting with, the development of human love as the experienced relation between one’s self and the self of another human. So human love is evolved on the basis of the mother/infant relation, dependent on empathy as a mode of perception of the infant’s state and needs, with the primitive attachment manifested in many species of animals deepening into interpersonal love as, with the growth of self-awareness dependent in its turn on language, perception extended more and more profoundly into the self of the other. The survival value, the “fitness’ function of the mother/infant relation for altricial creatures is already generally accepted. As the social structure and interaction of human groups became more complex, the extended mother/infant relation would acquire a new importance as the stage at which the infant and then the child acquired the capabilities and the awareness necessary to be successful in the group. Most obviously the mother/infant relation would be the context in which the child acquired the communication abilities of the group, and the attitudes and patterns of behavior consistent with the needs of the group, if the group was to survive as such and be successful in competition with other groups or in dealing with the problems presented by the non-group environment more generally. Love then would become essential not only in increasing the fitness of the mother and of the child but also in increasing the fitness of the group as a whole, insofar as the success of the group, and thus of its individual members, depended on effective coherence of the group and on the pattern of its rituals, traditions, behaviors, skills, beliefs, and moralities.  

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The evolutionary cause of sexual reproduction vis-à-vis love:

At its core, sex is all about swapping genomes. Sex is a gene’s trick to ensure that they exist within bodies devoid of bad mutations, and with abundant coping mechanisms for parasites and changing environments. But regardless of why we have sex, humans do feel a type of love connected to sex. The evolutionary cause of sex is important because it will help scientists fundamentally alter it in desirable ways; but an evolutionary understanding of what love itself is may help a lot of people in their personal lives. Humans are biologically capable of engaging in the most intensely monogamous behaviour within the Order Primates, and perhaps the entire animal kingdom. Pair-bonding has really strong neurological effects that have been selected for, and offer us some really important long-term benefits. The reason we as a species are so well adapted to pair-bonding (and therefore can feel love connected to sexual union) is because our offspring take such a long time to rear. The reason our offspring take so long to rear is because our brains are so large. In between 2 million years ago and 200 thousand years ago, our genus experienced a massive encephalization burst. It was during this time that we probably started to form strong, semi-stable pair-bonds that lasted for multiple years. Of course, over all evolutionary time our life expectancy was between 20 and 30, so we didn’t evolve to pair-bond for much longer than 7-10 years.

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The evolutionary antecedents to love:  

Behaviors are adaptations to the physical, biotic, and social environments. Great diversity exists among vertebrates in reproductive behaviors and the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying these behaviors. Study of this diversity illuminates species, population, and sex differences in hormone-brain-behavior relations. It also can provide insights into how and why certain neuroendocrine mechanisms evolved. Discoveries in evolution and ecology, neuroscience and endocrinology, are complementary and interrelated, and when applied in behavioral neuroscience, the investigator’s perspective is less constrained by existing dogma. Naturally-occurring organisms not typically studied can be especially useful as their unusual adaptations illustrate alternative solutions to particular problems. Indeed, they ‘often force one to abandon standard methods and standard points of view’ with the result that, ‘in trying to comprehend their special and often unusual adaptation, one often serendipitously stumbles on new insights’ (Bartholomew, 1982). Thus, to ignore comparative research would greatly limit our understanding of the evolution of hormone-behavior relations. As Bullock (1984) admonishes, “without due consideration of the neural and behavioral correlates of differences between higher taxa and between closely related families, species, sexes, and stages, we cannot expect to understand our nervous systems or ourselves”.

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Evolutionary purpose of different kinds of love:

Close relationships involve mutual affection, equal investments, and fair treatment. Two components of the Triangular Theory of Love that combine to form companionate love are intimacy and commitment. After the initial passion fades from a relationship, these components may remain. Relationships grow stronger through deep intimacy. As our lives merge with our partner, passionate love matures into companionate love– an enduring, caring relationship. The fact that companionate love follows passionate love may serve an evolutionary purpose (Reis & Aron, 2008). Children may be a byproduct of passionate love, and companionate love may ensure the child’s survival by maintaining a long-term relationship. Companionate love is an intimate, non-passionate type of love that is stronger than friendship because of the element of long-term commitment. This type of love is often found in marriages in which the passion has left the relationship but a deep affection and commitment remain. The love ideally shared between family members is a form of companionate love, as is the love between close friends who have a platonic but strong friendship. Societies that do not rate passionate love as the most important factor in marriage are less likely to divorce (Levine et al., 1995).

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So in a nutshell, evolutionary biologically, love is evolved among humans based on many factors right from animal love to empathy to sexual attraction between man & woman to mother-infant bond to development of language. The human capacity to experience love has been evolved as a signal to potential mates that the partner will be a good parent, and likely to help pass genes to future generations. Evolutionary theory also suggests that love keeps two people together, and that this would help raise a child. The reason we as a species are so well adapted to pair-bonding (and therefore can feel love connected to sexual union) is because our offspring take such a long time to rear. The reason our offspring take so long to rear is because our brains are so large. Shared, mutual bonding between the sexes with shared parental care tend to have great reproductive success in raising altricial (helpless) young with a capacity to learn as they complete their prolonged juvenile stage, so the bonding behavior trait has been established in the gene pools of humans.

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Genes and love:

Genes propagate its own survival:

A male spider may mate and then become the female’s dinner, ending all further potential sexual opportunities for that male. This self-sacrifice is explicable if the nutritional advantage the male provides indirectly to his offspring through his sacrifice exceeds his likely additional reproductive success. The point of this is to enlighten the reader to look at the success of the genes, not necessarily the success (or demise) of the male spider. Genes may propagate not only through individual success, but also indirectly through the success of siblings and cousins.

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Love and Kin Selection: Genes ensuring their own survival:

One pat objection to evolution is the existence of love and sacrifice for others. This objection confuses the success of the individual with the success of the genes. For example, parents share 50% of their genes with offspring, as do full siblings. (Actually, they share far more) Genes that prompt a parent to defend offspring to the point of self-sacrifice may doom the parent, yet they proliferate through the protected offspring. Siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews likewise share significant amounts of genes. And sacrifice doesn’t have to be a life or death event. Sharing food or other resources is also a sacrifice. Evolutionary psychologists have suggested such willingness to sacrifice for kin—or “kin selection”—can be predicted by a simple formula: Sacrifice will occur when the cost of making the sacrifice to one person equals or exceeds the benefit to the other person times the degree of relatedness. People are more likely to give money to family members than to strangers. Ground squirrels are more likely to sound an alarm about an approaching predator (thus endangering themselves) when kin are nearby. The squawking ground squirrel may or may not survive the encounter; however, the genes that prompted the alarm behavior prosper through the squawker’s kin. Similarly, famous self-sacrificers such as ants and bees appear much less selfless when you consider that the members of a colony often share 75% of their genes. How then does evolution encourage such behavior in people? Not through rational thought, but through emotions. In particular, love. What better way to ensure that a parent cares for an offspring, or a brother protects a sister than to endow them with love? Right now, you are probably objecting to the cynicism that love is just your gene’s way of ensuring their survival. Yet what better way to ensure that love works than to make it appear self-evidently good to the individual, noble even? All of our emotions—noble and ignoble—exist because they directly or indirectly aided the survival of the genes that code for them.

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When we are attracted to somebody, it could be because subconsciously we like his/her genes, as perceived by his/her smell, body language, tone of voice and looks. It is to our advantage to mate with somebody with the best possible genes, ensuring that we have healthy children. When we look at a potential partner, we are assessing whether we would like our children to have their genes. Appearance is a strong indicator of the quality of a person’s genes. Research suggests that even if only subconsciously, men mostly look for facial symmetry, hour-glass figure (men prefer women with a waist to hip ratio of 0.7), and men and women alike look for ‘looks-like-me’ and ‘looks like my parents’. Some scientists believe that human pheromones, odourless chemicals and sensual signals detected by an organ in our nose could be the key to choosing a suitable lover. Pheromones are already well understood in other mammals, especially rodents, who when choose a mate, avoid partners with an immune system too similar to their own, so that their babies can fight off a wider range of infections. As in urine, human pheromones are also found in sweat. In 1995, Claus Wedekind of the University of Bern in Switzerland, asked a group of women to smell unwashed T-shirts worn by different men and discovered that women consistently preferred the smell of men whose immune systems were different from their own. At the University of Chicago, Dr Martha McClintock has shown in another sweaty T-shirt study that women mostly want a man who smells similar to their father. Scientists suggest that this makes sense, as a man with these genes would be similar enough to provide a tried and tested immune system for her offspring, yet different enough to ensure a wide range of genes for immunity.

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Please read my article on ‘Matchmaking’ where I have shown that it is the DNA which wants to mate with a suitable DNA to procreate a better DNA. Suitable DNA means dissimilar DNA because if DNA mates with similar DNA, it would procreate similar DNA and not better DNA. Neurochemical reactions in the brains of a couple determine how long the relationship last irrespective of all other factors and these neurochemical reactions are guided by genes (DNA) of the couple under influence of the environment. However, when man and woman have different values and backgrounds, there is a mismatch and human neo-cortex can then override neurochemical drive in brain leading to breakdown of relationship. Remember, it is the neo-cortex that can override lust under influence of culture, religion and societal norms. That is why there is a difference between consensual sex and rape. Animals do not have neo-cortex and therefore cannot override neurochemical drive and hence the distinction between consensual sex and rape is blurred in animals. 

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Genes of pair bonding: a study:

Gene associated with pair-bonding in animals has similar effects in human males. Males carrying even one copy of the allele 334 of the gene AVPR1A display less affection. Researchers also found that the female partners of men with one or two copies of allele 334 reported less affection…. Allele 334 is also associated with increased activity in the amygdala, a brain region involved in regulating emotions. AVPR1A in humans suggest a possible link with musical aptitude, autism susceptibility and certain social behaviors, such as altruism and now pair bonding. AVPR1A and OXTR polymorphisms are associated with sexual and reproductive behavioral phenotypes in humans. Associations were found between two alleles of the AVPR1A gene and age of first sexual intercourse in men and women while one allele of the OXTR gene correlated with the tendency to parent children at an earlier age in females.   

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Gene variants and love:

Variants in genes coding for various monoamine and neuropeptide systems, including oxytocin and vasopressin, may contribute to differences in parenting, reproductive behavior, and partner bonding. Such work, as well as ongoing research on the genetics of attachment style and affiliative behavior, and the association between the genetics of pro-social neuropeptides and brain imaging, deserves replication and expansion. In addition, early experiences are likely to modify subsequent attachments, and gene-environment analysis is needed.

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Neurobiology of love:

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Interpersonal neurobiology:

A new field, called interpersonal neurobiology, draws its vigor from one of the great discoveries of our era: that the brain is constantly rewiring itself based on daily life. In the end, what we pay the most attention to defines us. How you choose to spend the irreplaceable hours of your life literally transforms you. All relationships change the brain — but most important are the intimate bonds that foster or fail us, altering the delicate circuits that shape memories, emotions and that ultimate souvenir, the self. The mother says all an infant needs to hear, communicating through eyes, face and voice. Thanks to advances in neuroimaging, we now have evidence that a baby’s first attachments imprint its brain. The patterns of a lifetime’s behaviors, thoughts, self-regard and choice of sweethearts all begin in this crucible. We used to think this was the end of the story: first heredity, then the brain’s engraving mental maps in childhood, after which you’re pretty much stuck with the final blueprint. But as a wealth of imaging studies highlight, the neural alchemy continues throughout life as we mature and forge friendships, dabble in affairs, succumb to romantic love, choose a soul mate. The body remembers how that oneness with Mother felt, and longs for its adult equivalent.  As the most social apes, we inhabit a mirror-world in which every important relationship, whether with spouse, friend or child, shapes the brain, which in turn shapes our relationships. Daniel J. Siegel and Allan N. Schore, colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently discussed groundbreaking work in the field at a conference on the school’s campus. It’s not that caregiving changes genes; it influences how the genes express themselves as the child grows. Dr. Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist, refers to the indelible sense of “feeling felt” that we learn as infants and seek in romantic love, a reciprocity that remodels the brain’s architecture and functions. Does it also promote physical well-being? “Scientific studies of longevity, medical and mental health, happiness and even wisdom,” Dr. Siegel says, “point to supportive relationships as the most robust predictor of these positive attributes in our lives across the life span.” The supportive part is crucial. Loving relationships alter the brain the most significantly. Just consider how much learning happens when you choose a mate. Along with thrilling dependency comes glimpsing the world through another’s eyes; forsaking some habits and adopting others (good or bad); tasting new ideas, rituals, foods or landscapes; a slew of added friends and family; a tapestry of physical intimacy and affection; and many other catalysts, including a tornadic blast of attraction and attachment hormones — all of which revamp the brain. A happy marriage relieves stress and makes one feel as safe as an adored baby. No wonder “Baby” is a favorite adult endearment. People will be surprised to know that Esha Gupta considers me as an infant. Not that romantic love is an exact copy of the infant bond. One needn’t consciously regard a lover as mom-like to profit from the parallels. The body remembers, the brain recycles and restages.  

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Biological basis of love:

The theory of a biological basis of love has been explored by such biological sciences as evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology and neuroscience. Specific chemical substances such as oxytocin are studied in the context of their roles in producing human experiences and behaviors that are associated with love. Biologist Jeremy Griffith defines love as ‘unconditional selflessness’, suggesting utterly cooperative instincts developed in modern humans’ ancestor, Australopithecus. Studies of bonobos (a great ape previously referred to as a pygmy chimpanzee) are frequently cited in support of a cooperative past in humans. The biological capacity for love is one way the brain prepares us for offspring who are born young and helpless and need tending to have the slightest hope of survival. That tending comes in the form of social bonds—between parent and child, between parents, among the extended social family members who help raise the child. The glue that keeps those bonds strong is the feeling of pleasure and reward and satisfaction that our brains concoct for us when we enter into loving relationships. The conventional view in biology is that there are two major drives in love: sexual attraction and attachment. Attachment between adults is presumed to work on the same principles that lead an infant to become attached to its mother. People are usually in ‘cloud nine’ when they fall in love. Flushed cheeks, a racing heart beat and clammy hands are some of the outward signs of being in love. But inside the body there are definite chemical signs that cupid has fired his arrow. When it comes to love it seems we are at the mercy of our biochemistry.

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Limbic Resonance as mechanism of love:

Limbic resonance is the theory that the capacity for sharing deep emotional states arises from the limbic system of the brain. These states include the dopamine circuit promoted feelings of empathic harmony, and the norepinephrine circuit originated emotional states of fear, anxiety and anger. In A General Theory of Love, three professors of psychiatry from UCSF provide an overview of the scientific theories and findings relating to the role of the limbic system in love, attachment and social bonding. They advance the hypothesis that our nervous systems are not self-contained, but rather demonstrably attuned to those around us and those with whom we are most close. This empathy, which they call limbic resonance, is a capacity which we share, along with the anatomical characteristics of the limbic areas of the brain, with all other mammals. Their work builds on previous studies of the importance of physical contact and affection in social and cognitive development, such as the experiments conducted by Harry Harlow on rhesus monkeys, which first established the biological consequences of isolation. 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.

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Cognitive-Affective Neuroscience:

There is a growing understanding of the cognitive-affective neuroscience of maternal love, romantic love, and long-term attachment.  Love and attachment may involve both high level cognitive-affective processing (e.g., concepts of the other and memory) as well as more basic level processing (e.g., experiences of reward and desire), and so may be mediated by a broad range of different neuronal circuits.  When attraction is high, there may be significant overlap of and interaction between the neurocircuitry involved in mediating bonding, and that involved in mediating reward. Conversely, in separation and depression, when there is loss of attachments, overlapping circuitry may also be relevant.  

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Love: an emergent property of the mammalian autonomic nervous system:

The evolution of the autonomic nervous system provides an organizing principle to interpret the adaptive significance of mammalian affective processes including courting, sexual arousal, copulation, and the establishment of enduring social bonds. According to the Polyvagal Theory (Porges, 1995, 1996, 1997), the well-documented phylogenetic shift in the neural regulation of the autonomic nervous system passes through three stages, each with an associated behavioral strategy. The first stage is characterized by a primitive unmyelinated visceral vagus that fosters digestion and responds to threat by depressing metabolic activity. Behaviorally, the first stage is associated with immobilization behaviors. The second stage is characterized by the sympathetic nervous system that is capable of increasing metabolic output and inhibiting the visceral vagus to foster mobilization behaviors necessary for ‘fight or flight’. The third stage, unique to mammals, is characterized by a myelinated vagus that can rapidly regulate cardiac output to foster engagement and disengagement with the environment. The mammalian vagus is neuroanatomically linked to the cranial nerves that regulate social engagement via facial expression and vocalization. The Polyvagal Theory provides neurobiological explanations for two dimensions of intimacy: courting and the establishment of enduring pair-bonds. Courting is dependent upon the social engagement strategies associated with the mammalian vagus. The establishment of enduring pair-bonds is dependent upon a co-opting of the visceral vagus from an immobilization system associated with fear and avoidance to an immobilization system associated with safety and trust. The theory proposes that the phylogenetic development of the mammalian vagus is paralleled by a specialized communication, via oxytocin and vasopressin, between the hypothalamus and the medullary source nuclei of the viscera vagus, which facilitates sexual arousal, copulation, and the development of enduring pair-bonds.

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Love and vagal tone:

The vagus nerve’s potential for love can actually be measured by examining a person’s heart rate in association with his breathing rate, what’s called “vagal tone.” Having a high vagal tone is good: People who have a high “vagal tone” can regulate their biological processes like their glucose levels better; they have more control over their emotions, behavior, and attention; they are socially adept and can kindle more positive connections with others; and, most importantly, they are more loving. In research from her lab, Fredrickson found that people with high vagal tone report more experiences of love in their days than those with a lower vagal tone. Historically, vagal tone was considered stable from person to person. You either had a high one or you didn’t; you either had a high potential for love or you didn’t. Fredrickson’s recent research has debunked that notion. In a 2010 study from her lab, Fredrickson randomly assigned half of her participants to a “love” condition and half to a control condition. In the love condition, participants devoted about one hour of their weeks for several months to the ancient Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation. In loving-kindness meditation, you sit in silence for a period of time and cultivate feelings of tenderness, warmth, and compassion for another person by repeating a series of phrases to yourself wishing them love, peace, strength, and general well-being. Ultimately, the practice helps people step outside of themselves and become more aware of other people and their needs, desires, and struggles—something that can be difficult to do in our hyper individualistic culture. Fredrickson measured the participants’ vagal tone before and after the intervention. The results were so powerful that she was invited to present them before the Dalai Lama himself in 2010. Fredrickson and her team found that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, people could significantly increase their vagal tone by self-generating love through loving-kindness meditation. Since vagal tone mediates social connections and bonds, people whose vagal tones increased were suddenly capable of experiencing more micro-moments of love in their days. Beyond that, their growing capacity to love more will translate into health benefits given that high vagal tone is associated with lowered risk of inflammation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.

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Neuro –psycho-biological study of love:

Romantic and maternal love are highly rewarding experiences. Both are linked to the perpetuation of the species and therefore have a closely linked biological function of crucial evolutionary importance. The newly developed ability to study the neural correlates of subjective mental states with brain imaging techniques has allowed neurobiologists to learn something about the neural bases of both romantic and maternal love. Both types of attachment activate regions specific to each, as well as overlapping regions in the brain’s reward system that coincide with areas rich in oxytocin and vasopressin receptors. Both deactivate a common set of regions associated with negative emotions, social judgment and ‘mentalizing’ that is, the assessment of other people’s intentions and emotions. Human attachment seems therefore to employ a push–pull mechanism that overcomes social distance by deactivating networks used for critical social assessment and negative emotions, while it bonds individuals through the involvement of the reward circuitry, explaining the power of love to motivate and exhilarate. Yet the biological study of love, and especially romantic love, must go beyond and look for biological insights that can be derived from studying the world literature of love, and thus bring the output of the humanities into its orbit.

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Basic animal studies and human imaging studies have contributed to our understanding of the psychobiology of love and attachment. There are overlaps and distinctions in the neuronal circuitry of maternal love, romantic love, and long-term attachment. In these circuits, important molecules, which have been demonstrated to play a role in the psychobiology of social bonding include dopamine, serotonin, opioids, oxytocin, and vasopressin. Particular genetic and environmental variations contribute to social-bonding phenotypes, consistent with an evolutionary perspective on the value of these behaviors. Advances in the psychobiology of social bonds have led to hypotheses about the pharmacotherapy of disorders of attachment.

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Fisher’s model of love as a mammalian drive:

Biological models of sex tend to view love as a mammalian drive, much like hunger or thirst.  Helen Fisher, a leading expert in the topic of love, divides the experience of love into three partly overlapping stages: lust, attraction, and attachment. Lust is the feeling of sexual desire; romantic attraction determines what partners mates find attractive and pursue, conserving time and energy by choosing; and attachment involves sharing a home, parental duties, mutual defense, and in humans involves feelings of safety and security. Three distinct neural circuitries, including neurotransmitters, and three behavioral patterns, are associated with these three romantic styles. Lust is the initial passionate sexual desire that promotes mating, and involves the increased release of chemicals such as testosterone and estrogen. These effects rarely last more than a few weeks or months. Attraction is the more individualized and romantic desire for a specific candidate for mating, which develops out of lust as commitment to an individual mate forms. Recent studies in neuroscience have indicated that as people fall in love, the brain consistently releases a certain set of chemicals, including pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which act in a manner similar to amphetamines, stimulating the brain’s pleasure center and leading to side effects such as increased heart rate, loss of appetite and sleep, and an intense feeling of excitement. Research has indicated that this stage generally lasts from one and a half to three years. Since the lust and attraction stages are both considered temporary, a third stage is needed to account for long-term relationships. Attachment is the bonding that promotes relationships lasting for many years and even decades. Attachment is generally based on commitments such as marriage and children, or on mutual friendship based on things like shared interests. It has been linked to higher levels of the chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin to a greater degree than short-term relationships have.  Enzo Emanuele and coworkers reported the protein molecule known as the nerve growth factor (NGF) has high levels when people first fall in love, but these return to previous levels after one year. Romantic love is not simply an emotion – coming from a Dopamine and Norepinephrine ‘high’ that we experience when we meet a suitable person – it is more a drive, a motivation system, and part of the reward system of the brain. It’s a need that compels us to seek a specific love partner, all the while; our prefrontal cortex is assembling data, putting information into patterns, making strategies and monitoring the progress toward life’s greatest prize – true love. Romantic love is a stronger craving than sex.

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Helen Fisher has proposed that we fall in love in three stages and each involving a different set of chemicals:

These three distinct types or stages of “love” are:

  1. Lust, or erotic passion
  2. Attraction, or romantic passion
  3. Attachment, or commitment

When all three of these happen with the same person, you have a very strong bond. Sometimes, however, the one we lust after isn’t the one we’re actually in love with. The evolution of these three emotion-motivation systems contribute to contemporary patterns of marriage, adultery, divorce, remarriage, stalking, homicide and other crimes of passion, and clinical depression due to romantic rejection.

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Neurochemistry of love:

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Stage 1: Lust:

When we’re teenagers, just after puberty, estrogen and testosterone become active in our bodies for the first time and create the desire to experience “love.” These desires, a.k.a. lust, play a big role both during puberty and throughout our lives.  The first phase often is the all-important sex drive, which is part of procreation and includes the cultivating of an optimum number of partners. The hypothalamus and pituitary, which lie at the base of the brain, signals the gonads to release testosterone and estrogen which stimulate libido, an important component during the “lust” phase of a relationship.  Lust is driven by the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Testosterone is not confined only to men. It has also been shown to play a major role in the sex drive of women. These hormones as Helen Fisher says “get you out looking for anything”. The hormone testosterone triggers sexual desire, which usually activates the senses in a particular order – vision, sound, smell and taste. Other symptoms include: increased pulse, dilating of pupils, salivation, erect penis and wet vagina. Pheromones, looks and our own learned predispositions for what we look for in a mate play an important role in whom we lust after, as well. Without lust, we might never find that special someone. But, while lust keeps us “looking around,” it is our desire for romance that leads us to attraction.

Duration of lust phase = few weeks or months.

Testosterone:

Testosterone, the principal male sex hormone, can be blamed for that crazy, aggressive, and just generally bizarre behaviour that becomes males around the fairer sex. Since falling in love is a little like going crazy, what better chemical to blame it on than testosterone? Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group, secreted from the male testes and the female ovaries. It is thought to be involved in general health and well-being, playing a key role in libido, energy, immune functions and protection from osteoporosis, among others. In a unique study in 2004, Marazziti and Canale, noting the lack of data in this field, undertook to determine whether any significant hormonal changes underlie the subjective experience of falling in love. They measured hormone levels in a group of 12 men and 12 women who said they had fallen in love in the past six months (referred to as the Love group). The Control group consisted of 24 people who were either single or in stable long-term relationships. Their findings were intriguing. Levels of LH, estradiol, progesterone, DHEAS and androstenedione (both androgenic steroid hormones) were consistent across the groups. Interestingly, men from the Love group had lower levels of testosterone than men in the Control group, while women from the Love group had higher testosterone levels than Control-group women. Marazziti and Canale, 2004, suggest that perhaps in the falling-in-love stage of a relationship, these converging hormone levels serve as a mechanism of temporarily eliminating some differences between the sexes. The softening of male features affected by testosterone (aggression, sex drive) and the enhancement of these features in women may aid in facilitating pair bonding, a term often used in animal studies to describe the temporary or permanent association formed between a female and male during courtship and mating (Carter, 1998). Though these possible explanations may be intuitively attractive, further research is needed in this area to gain any conclusive results.

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By now it is well established that testosterone is an aphrodisiac for both sexes, perhaps through the release of dopamine. Women need much less testosterone to sustain their sex drive, perhaps because estradiol and testosterone synergize so powerfully. For instance, estrogens dramatically increase the density of testosterone receptors in the genital area. Testosterone then governs the erectile function of this tissue (and of nipples). The perception that testosterone is a “male” hormone is badly in need of revision, since testosterone-deficient women badly need this magnificent hormone. In men, testosterone is extremely sensitive to stress, and to feelings of winning or defeat. In the average male, testosterone is released in pulses every twenty minutes or so, and is perhaps the most psychoreactive of all hormones. The feeling of being a loser, a failure in life, can really castrate a man. Conversely, successful, socially dominant “alpha males” tend to have higher testosterone levels than same-age subservient men. Being related to dopamine release, testosterone has an obvious influence on the dopaminergic Stage II of love. Hence some see it as related to always seeking new lovers in pursuit of that dopaminergic high of new romance. But because testosterone also increases sexual sensation (something Viagra does not do), it could also be argued that the pleasure provided by the regular mate is keener in high-T men, and thus thanks to more satisfying marital sex they also experience more bonding.  A T-deprived woman tends to sink into sexless lethargy. Feeling she is now a libidoless lump, “invisible” to men — only makes her all the more depressed. Besides stress, depression, obesity (too much estrone production) and aging, another big factor in low testosterone levels in men is low-fat vegetarian diet. If a man is poorly muscled, becomes impotent before the age of fifty, and is diagnosed with osteoporosis at sixty or even sooner, it is no surprise when he explains that he’s been following a strict vegan diet. Both saturated and monounsaturated fats (olive oil) tend to raise testosterone levels. Weight lifting also increases testosterone levels in both sexes — apparently testosterone is needed for muscle building, and the brain responds to the call from the muscles for more testosterone. Excessive exercise, however, acts like all excess stress: it lowers the levels of beneficial steroids, including testosterone.

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Estrogens:

In animals, the role of estrogens seems fairly straightforward. The female is not receptive to mating until a surge of estradiol brings her into estrus. When it comes to humans with their year-round mating, we are not sure if we really understand the role of estrogens in female sexuality. Obviously, they are needed for maintaining secondary sexual characteristics, such as the feminine fat distribution, full lips, bushy hair (you can think of it as the opposite of androgenic baldness), and soft, smooth skin. They make a woman smell sweet (possibly an antioxidant effect). They make her feel wonderful to touch (estriol?). They keep her voice expressive and feminine-sounding. Possibly they affect personality, making the woman more gentle and serene (estradiol is in the main a relaxing hormone). The Eternal Feminine?  Naturally, estrogens play a role in maintaining supple genital tissue (estriol is said to be a particularly effective estrogen for this purpose). And they create receptors for testosterone. Hence with higher levels of estrogens, you need a mere dab of testosterone cream to enjoy a lively libido and keen sexual sensation. Also estrogens increase oxytocin levels.

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Stage II: Attraction: Romantic love: Romantic passion:

While the initial feelings may (or may not) come from lust, what happens next — if the relationship is to progress — is attraction. When attraction, or romantic passion, comes into play, we often lose our ability to think rationally — at least when it comes to the object of our attraction. The old saying “love is blind” is really accurate in this stage. We are often oblivious to any flaws our partner might have. We idealize them and can’t get them off our minds. This overwhelming preoccupation and drive is part of our biology. Research recognizes the second phase as intense romantic love, an evolutionary step that seems to support monogamy as a way to achieve efficient use of mating time. This is the phase for all those inexplicable behaviors: obsessive thinking and focus on the loved one; the racing heart; diminished attention span; the need to ascribe significance to even minor encounters or communications; and the ability to see only positive qualities of the new partner. This is the phase in which the neurotransmitters PEA, dopamine and norepinephrine come into play, as well as the “stress hormone” cortisol and a substance called nerve growth factor. As brain scans show, these substances can be as powerful as addicting amphetamines. MRI scans show the brains of lovers, like cocaine users, “light up” in this phase, leading researchers to conclude that romantic love can be addictive. And as occurs with many addictions, in intense romantic love, the brain experiences: tolerance, which makes it need more exposure to the love object; withdrawal, the pain that occurs when the love object is gone; and even relapse; if a break-up occurs and — even months later — if the other person reappears, thanks to a resurgence of dopamine and norepinephrine, the partner is once again in love. This is the truly love-struck phase. When people fall in love they can think of nothing else. They might even lose their appetite and need less sleep, preferring to spend hours at a time daydreaming about their new lover.

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The real secret of true love is that it is not an affair of the heart, but rather chemistry of the brain. A gushing forth of adrenaline-like neurochemicals flooding the brain fuels the attraction between two people. Of course it is all tremendously complicated. Looking at the chemistry, however, is useful, because it shows us that there are indeed different chemicals at work depending on the stage of love. These chemicals — PEA or phenylethylamine (which speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells), Dopamine (the feel-good chemical) and Norepinephrine (which makes our heart race fast) — are responsible for that energized and euphoric feeling that new lovers experience. The initial feelings of attraction are heavily associated with the phenylethylamine (PEA) and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine triggers the breakdown of glycogen and triacylglycerols, which provides the body a boost of energy. The stimulant functions by binding to the surface of liver cells, signaling them to produce cyclic AMP (cAMP). This molecule then breaks the active parts of protein kinase A (PKA) away enabling them to alter certain proteins. The exact nature of these proteins, once altered, is uncertain and currently under investigation. What is not uncertain is their end result on the human psyche. Clinical studies have found doses of PEA, which induces the entire cycle, relieve depression in 60% of patients. Patients noticed improvements in energy, attention and mood as well. Anyone smitten could attest to all of these symptoms.  Some drugs appear to inhibit PEA. Lithium, an anti-depressant, blocks the manic highs associated with the stimulant. Recently lithium has been shown to affect reactions involving the removal of a phosphorous group, however it is still unclear exactly how lithium works. Many patients report they are less likely to be attracted to someone while taking Lithium. It’s a rather strange concept that a pill or injection can make you less susceptible to infatuation or love.  Chocolate has long been rumored to promote infatuation as it contains PEA. However, the digestive system brakes down phenylethylamine. Studies in people found that eating up to two pounds of chocolate a day causes no increase of PEA in urine or the blood stream. People in the initial stages of attraction have increases in both. The fanciful effect noted by chocolate-lovers is a simple result of extremely large amounts of caffeine and sugar. Protein increases dopamine synthesis, since dopamine requires the precursor amino acid tyrosine, abundant in meat and dairy. That’s why the pleasurable surge of energy after a high-protein meal.

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PEA (phenylethylamine):

PEA is an amine structurally related and pharmacologically similar to amphetamine. PEA is found in chocolate, in the oil of bitter almonds, and in trace amounts in our brains, where it acts as a neurotransmitter, releasing dopamine and producing an antidepressant effect. Due to its admirable ability to induce positive mood changes, PEA was associated with one of the earliest hypotheses on the biology of falling in love (Marazziti and Canale, 2004).  Feelings of well-being, alertness and energy, as well as improved capacity for focused attention, rapid heartbeat and loss of appetite characterize PEA high… However, no empirical data has been found to date that strongly supports the PEA theory of romantic love, and it has subsequently been suggested that different physiological mechanisms are involved in the early stages of falling in love (Marazziti and Canale, 2004). Orgasm is another way to increase PEA levels.  PEA can also surge in response to visual stimuli.  Watching a romantic movie can also raise PEA. So can romantic fantasies. Among supplements, phenylalanine is known to increase PEA levels. If romance ends abruptly, one is liable to show signs of PEA withdrawal, which resemble those of amphetamine withdrawal. The stimulation of these chemicals has the power to override the activity of the part of the brain that governs logical thinking. And, as many distraught parents and friends have found, no amount of logical discussion can persuade someone that the person they think they are in love with is “all wrong for them.”

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Dopamine:

Dopamine is at the core of our sexual drives and survival needs, and it motivates us to do just about everything. This mechanism within the reward center of the primitive brain has been around for millions of years and has not changed. Rats, humans—indeed, all mammals—are very similar in this respect. Dopamine is behind a lot of the desire we associate with eating and sexual intercourse. Similarly, all addictive drugs trigger dopamine to stimulate the pleasure/reward center. So do gambling, shopping, overeating and other, seemingly unrelated, activities. Go shopping: dopamine. Smoke a cigarette: dopamine. Computer games: dopamine. Heroin: dopamine. Orgasm: dopamine. They all work somewhat differently on the brain, but all raise your dopamine. You get a bigger blast of dopamine eating high-calorie, high-fat foods than eating low-calorie vegetables. You may believe that you love ice cream, but you really love your blast of dopamine. You’re genetically programmed to seek out high-calorie foods over others. Similarly, dopamine drives you to have sex over most other activities. With dopamine as the driving force, biology has designed you to engage in fertilization behavior to make more babies, and urges you to move on to new partners to create greater genetic variety among your offspring. Your primitive brain accomplishes these goals of more progeny and promiscuity by manipulating your brain chemistry, and thus your desires and thoughts. High levels of dopamine increase sexual desire, encouraging you to behave recklessly. The thrill of a new affair and the rush from using pornography are examples of high dopamine. Unfortunately, consistently high levels of dopamine lead to erratic behavior and compulsions that are not conducive to survival.  Most mammals, therefore, evolved with defined estrus periods when they “go into heat.” The rest of the time they are more or less neutral about sex.

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Humans, however, don’t have a period of “heat” followed by a long period of indifference to sex. Unlike all other mammals, we have the potential for on-going, dopamine-driven sexual desire. Yet we, too, self-regulate. An “off switch” kicks in after too much passion. Two events happen simultaneously. Dopamine plummets and prolactin soars. Dopamine is “go get it!” and prolactin is “whoa!” This mechanism shifts your attention elsewhere: to hunting and gathering, taking care of babies, building shelters, and so forth. Without this natural, protective shutdown, you would pursue sex to the exclusion of all other activities. This event (drop in dopamine and rise in prolactin) is the cause of the emotional separation that so often follows in the days or weeks after a passionate encounter.

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The point is that conventional sex can play havoc with your neurochemistry. Much of the time, your dopamine levels will be uncomfortably high or uncomfortably low.

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How dopamine’s unnerving high/low cycle tends to promote emotional separation between mates:

There is a common biological mechanism at work behind such diverse phenomena as the one-night stand, the sexless marriage, high rates of infidelity, and porn addiction. It produces the universal experience that “the honeymoon never lasts longer than a year,” a reality confirmed in a recent study of the healthiest, happiest four percent of 2200 newlywed couples (Kiecolt-Glaser, 2001). That is why close friendships that bloom into love affairs so often turn sour. Essentially, humans are programmed to lose interest and then seek the stimulation of a novel partner, thereby increasing their offspring’s genetic variety. Biology uses powerful neurochemicals to achieve its agenda. For example, at a neurochemical level, falling in love is a lot like taking recreational drugs according to anthropologist Helen Fisher (Fisher, 2004). She shows how we are wired for three programs: lust, romantic love, and attachment. However, all too often mates find that they are also wired for a fourth program: emotional separation. Even when this built-in urge to separate doesn’t split couples apart, it can kindle frustration, disharmony, a sense of stagnation, and cravings for other partners or for addictive substances. When couples drift apart, they cheat themselves of the most beneficial gifts of intimacy. Studies show that close, trusted – and especially, harmonious – companionship is associated with increased longevity (Young, 2004), faster healing (DeVries, 2004), and lower rates of illness (Coyne, 2001), depression and alcoholism. (Horwitz, 1996) In short, biology asks us to make costly sacrifices just for a few more shots at genetic immortality. In Love & Survival, Dean Ornish points out that love and intimacy are more powerful determinants of health than improved diet, stopping smoking, genetic make-up, more exercise, or prescription drugs. If companionship came in drug form, doctors who failed to prescribe it would be guilty of malpractice. (Ornish, 1998) Research suggests that oxytocin is behind these gains. Experience reveals that lovers can train themselves to produce steadier supplies of oxytocin, while eluding the high/low separation trigger entirely. What neurochemical mechanism drives intimate partners apart with such predictability? Astonishingly, it is built right into fertilization-driven sex. Over-stimulation of the limbic system triggers sexual satiation neurochemicals, which radically change our outlook toward each other. Unlike other mammals, who confine their mating frenzies to periods of estrus, humans can become sexually aroused at any time. Unfortunately, the blasts of dopamine that accompany sexual climax are potentially highly addictive and would interfere with other evolutionary priorities, such as hunting and gathering or feeding infants. To protect against this result, humans, too, possess a mechanism for sexual self-regulation. Ours, however, is more akin to starting and stopping in heavy traffic, leaving us vulnerable to intense cravings and relationship friction. What evidence is there that sex over-stimulates the brain? In 2003, a Dutch scientist reported that brain scans of people having orgasm resemble scans of a heroin rush (Holstege, 2003). Dopamine soars during copulation and orgasm. (Putnam, 2001) These natural highs are only the first part of a neurochemical roller coaster ride – a ride that is essentially a subtle form of the cycle of all addictions. As we will see in a moment, after orgasm, dopamine plummets, prolactin soars, and androgen receptor activity drops off for up to a week. In short, “what goes up must come down,” returning us to homeostasis (dopamine hangover). Sadly, these subsequent neurochemical shifts lead to radical changes in perception, coloring our perception and altering our behavior. When the neurochemistry of passion pounds between our ears, we see “Mr.” or “Ms. Right.” When the hangover kicks in, we may see “Mr. Hyde” or “Medusa.” Or we “need space,” overreact to remarks, feel needy, or find third parties compellingly attractive. During this natural recovery period we may also experience intense cravings, as we unconsciously seek to raise our dopamine levels again. When dopamine drops after orgasm, it falls below ideal levels, and can change our whole outlook on life. Low dopamine is associated with depression, feeling unable to love, and, again, addictions, as sufferers desperately seek to feel better. Fertilization-driven sex, in effect, pushes us back and forth from one dopamine extreme to the other. Either extreme can bring out the worst in us, or the resulting mood swings themselves can make intimacy bewildering. As dopamine drops after orgasm, prolactin immediately rises in both men and women, acting as a sexual satiation mechanism. (Kruger, 2003) In men, it no doubt contributes to the “roll over and snore” phenomenon. In women, its effects may affect mood. Researchers do not yet know how long prolactin levels stay up in humans after orgasm, but in female rats prolactin surges continue for two weeks after mating, even if they are not pregnant. (Polston, 2001). During withdrawal from cocaine (another high-dopamine activity), prolactin levels rise and require two weeks to return to normal levels. (Contoreggi, 2003) Prolactin may influence our mating behavior beyond serving as sexual brakes. Like dopamine, it affects our moods and behavior. Prolactin is touted as a pleasant, satiation neurochemical (in relation to sex), but it has many jobs in the body, and it appears to be a stress hormone, associated with feelings of despair. For example, when first caged, wild monkeys showed high levels of cortisol for a couple of days while they tried to escape. Once they realized they were trapped, prolactin levels rose. Those tested at seven months had the highest levels of prolactin. (Suleman, 2001) High prolactin could be contributing to the long-term discouragement that seems to overtake so many intimate relationships. Jeremy Heaton, MD maintains that as we learn more about sex and aging, prolactin will be a major player. (Heaton, 2003) Certainly, the conditions associated with high levels of prolactin closely resemble the list of things that couples complain about as their honeymoons end.

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In short, biology’s mechanism for regulating sexual behavior sets up a cycle of highs and lows that drives a wedge between lovers. Indeed, when anthropologists studied two hunter-gatherer cultures believed to be representative of our distant ancestors (the Kung of Africa and the Mehinaku of South America), they found exactly this pattern at work: lots of romance and impulsive sexual behavior – and lots of churning and heartache in intimate relationships. Unless we consciously intervene, our neurochemistry programs us for intense passion followed by emotional alienation. Helen Fisher estimates that humans are designed to stay together less than four years, the time it takes to get a child on its feet. Across 58 cultures worldwide, she found that divorce rates peaked at this point. (Fisher, 1995).

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This is why the ancient Taoists and other sages throughout history have recommended making love without conventional orgasm. By avoiding the extreme highs that over-stimulate the nerve cells in the primitive brain, you also avoid the temporary lows that accompany recovery. You keep your dopamine levels within ideal ranges. This produces a sense of wellbeing, which promotes harmony in your relationship.

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Unpredictability and novelty raises dopamine:

Richard Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times about suffering in romantic relationships. His specific focus was on-again/ off-again love affairs, and he argued that one reason people are drawn to them is that our neurobiology is particularly susceptible to unpredictable rewards. The reason this happens is simple. The brain’s reward circuit has evolved over millions of years to enable us to recognize and extract various rewards from our environment that are critical to our survival, like food and a suitable sexual mate. Unlike predictable stimuli, unanticipated stimuli can tell us things about the world that we don’t yet know. And because they serve as a signal that a big reward might be close by, it is advantageous that novel stimuli command our attention…. If you are involved with someone who is unpredictably loving, you might not like it very much — but your reward circuit is sure going to notice the capricious behavior and give you information that might conflict with what you believe consciously is in your best interest. This is reminiscent of something Robert Sapolsky described about research on monkeys who were given a reward for completing some task. When the reward was given out only 50% of the time (compared to 100%), the uncertainty caused a much larger surge in dopamine, as the monkeys anticipated getting the reward. As Sapolsky put it “‘maybe’ is addictive like nothing else out there.” Many have noted how the role of dopamine has been oversimplified, and that it has many functions. Among those functions, it is more appropriate to see it as having a ‘pay attention’ effect than a pleasure effect. 

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The Coolidge-Effect:

In experiments with rats it has been observed that after vigorous copulation with a new partner, male rats soon completely ignore this partner, but when a new female is introduced, they immediately are revitalized – at least sufficiently to become sexually active once more. This can be repeated again and again until the male rat is completely exhausted. This phenomenon has been called the “Coolidge Effect” after an American president. On a visit to a farm his wife had been shown a rooster who could copulate with his hens all day-long day after day. She liked that idea and asked the farmer to let the president know about this. After hearing it, President Coolidge thought for a moment and asked: ‘Does he do that with the same hen?’  “No, Sir” answered the farmer. “Please tell that to Mrs. Coolidge” said the president.  Not only has the Coolidge effect been observed in all tested male animals, but also in females. Female rodents for instance flirt more and present themselves more attractively when observed by new males than in the presence of males with whom they had already sex. Another experiment indicates that the cause of this effect may be a rush of dopamine. When rats were taught to pull a lever to stimulate their own reward center, they would forgo eating and copulating, and just continue to stimulate themselves until they were totally exhausted. The basis of extra-marital affair in humans is this Coolidge-effect where a novelty (new woman) makes dopamine soar in the brain of a married man.   

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Nerve Growth Factor (NGF):

The neurotrophin (NT) family is a group of proteins in mammals, consisting of nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophins 3 and 4 (NT-3, NT-4). NGF is secreted by neural targets, and helps to direct growing nerve terminals to make the appropriate connections. What, you may ask, does this have to do with love? Though these molecules were originally only described as playing roles in neural development and synaptic plasticity, they have recently been implicated as mediators in anxiety, emotional responses and changes in behaviour (Emanuele et al., 2005). Research has also demonstrated that NGF can increase concentrations of hormones such as corticosterone in the plasma, thereby activating the HPA axis (Emanuele et al., 2005). Given the postulated involvement of the HPA axis in the physiological changes that occur when an individual is in love, this raises questions about the role of NTs in this process. Following the precedent set by Marazziti and Canale in 2004, Emanuele et al. carried out a study in 2005 examining the effects of early-stage romantic love on plasma NT levels. The study’s subjects were again separated into a Love group, consisting of individuals who had fallen in love in the past six months, and a Control group including individuals in long-lasting relationships and singles. Their findings were just as intriguing.  Levels of BDNF, NT-3 and NT-4 remained constant between the Love group and both subgroups of the Control group. Curiously, the Love subjects showed greatly elevated levels of NGF when compared to the controls. Individuals who said they were in love had on average 227(n=14) pg/ml NGF, versus 123(n=10) pg/ml for long-lasting relationships, and 149(n=12) pg/ml for singles. However, perhaps most interestingly, Love group subjects who remained in their relationships showed a return to normal levels of NGF when tested 12-24 months later. Study subjects were also required to fill out the passionate love scale (PLS), developed by Hatfield and Sprecher (Emanuele et al., 2005). The PLS is thought to be a reliable means of quantifying the intensity of romantic love. After analysis, a significant positive correlation was found between plasma NGF levels and intensity of the romantic relationship as assessed by the 15-item PLS. The results of this study are both exciting and mystifying, and it is clear that the role of NGF as a mediator of affective states is yet another area that requires further research.

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Serotonin:

It is one of love’s most important chemicals and one that may actually send us temporarily insane. Getting respect feels good because it stimulates serotonin. In the animal world, social dominance brings more mating opportunity and more surviving offspring. Animals don’t dominate because of conscious long-term goals. They dominate because serotonin feels good. Your love is pure and untainted by social status, of course. But in other people, you can easily see that status magnifies the neurochemical power of love. In yourself, you have to admit that the romantic attentions of a higher-status person trigger strong feelings. And if you fall for someone who just happens to raise your status, you can’t deny that it feels good. But your brain always wants more respect to get more serotonin. Your loved one may give you that feeling at first, by respecting you or helping you feel respected by others. But your brain takes the respect you already have for granted. It wants more respect to get more good feelings. That’s why some people constantly make more demands on their loved ones, and others constantly seek out higher status partners. We’d be better off if we understood the origins of our neurochemical impulses.

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Does love change the way you think?

A landmark experiment in Pisa, Italy showed that early love (the attraction phase) really changes the way you think. Dr Donatella Marazziti, a psychiatrist at the University of Pisa advertised for twenty couples who’d been madly in love for less than six months. She wanted to see if the brain mechanisms that cause you to constantly think about your lover, were related to the brain mechanisms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. By analysing blood samples from the lovers, Dr Marazitti discovered that serotonin levels of new lovers were equivalent to the low serotonin levels of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder patients.

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Dopamine vs. serotonin:

The idea that serotonin is all we need to feel happy and peppy misses the point completely. What we need is a good neurotransmitter balance, with good neuropeptides thrown in. If one neurotransmitter, be it dopamine or serotonin, is artificially raised, expect trouble. Dopamine has been called our “reward chemical.” It delivers an emotional high. You feel pleasurably excited, energetic, sexy, passionate, euphoric. Crenshaw goes so far as to say that “dopamine addicts you to the person you love.” Serotonin, on the other hand, is the tranquility chemical, and it lowers sex drive. In addition, while dopamine lowers insulin, serotonin increases insulin. Now, in men, higher insulin means lower testosterone. Carbohydrates increase serotonin only if they produce an insulin surge that pushes tryptophan into the brain. Note that you don’t have to rely on carbohydrates and insulin surge to increase serotonin. There are non-fattening ways to more serotonin.

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In this second stage, couples spend many hours getting to know each other. If this attraction remains strong and is felt by both of them, then they usually enter the third stage: attachment. The feelings of passionate love, however, do lose their strength over time. Studies have shown that passionate love fades quickly and is nearly gone after two or three years. Love junkies are addicted to that love ‘high’. They need the amphetamine-like rush of dopamine and norepinephrine. But because the body builds up a tolerance to these chemicals, it begins to take more and more to give them that ‘high’ feeling and they go through relationship after relationship, trying to get their fix. Romantic love is our strongest drive. However, we couldn’t possibly stay in this stage forever, otherwise we would never get any work done and we would all die of sexual exhaustion… so the feelings of passionate love naturally lose their strength over time. The chemicals responsible for “that loving feeling” (dopamine, norepinephrine, phenylethylamine, etc.) dwindle. Suddenly your lover has faults. Why he or she has changed, you may wonder. Actually, your partner probably hasn’t changed at all; it’s just that you’re now able to see him or her rationally, rather than through the blinding hormones of infatuation and passionate love. At this stage, the relationship is either strong enough to endure, or the relationship ends. If the relationship can advance, then other chemicals kick in. Endorphins, for example, are still providing a sense of well-being and security. Additionally, oxytocin is still released when you’re having sex, producing feelings of satisfaction and attachment. Vasopressin also continues to play a role in attachment.

Duration of attraction stage = 1.5 to 3 yrs

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Stage III: Attachment:

Somewhere between six months and three years, above mentioned chemicals gradually stop flooding the brain and the relationship either dies or develops into the next stage, which is true love. Should real love develop, then at this stage a new group of chemicals take over. Driven by Oxytocin and Vasopressin, attachment is a bond that keeps couples together, giving them the desire to stay faithful and protect each other. Endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers also play a key role in long-term relationships. Attachment accounts for long-term relationships; promotes tolerance of spouse and child long enough to rear an infant to adulthood; linked to higher levels of oxytocin and vasopressin. Important role oxytocin plays in the reproductive life of mammals. The hormone facilitates nest building and pup retrieval in rats, acceptance of offspring in sheep, and the formation of adult pair-bonds in prairie voles.

Duration of attachment = many years to decades.

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Endorphins:

Though not as exciting or heart-throbbing as the infatuation chemicals, endorphins, which produce feelings of calm, warmth, intimacy and dependability, are steadier and more addictive. In fact, the longer two people are in love, the stronger the endorphins become.  It is the absence of endorphins that make long-time partners yearn for each other when apart and can, in extreme cases such as death, result in the surviving partner dying of a “broken heart.” According to Mark Goulston, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, “Adrenaline-based love is all about ourselves; we like being in love. With endorphins, we like loving.”  Like dopamine and norepinephrine, endorphins are released during sex; they are also released during physical contact, exercise and other activities. According to Michel Odent of London’s Primal Health Research Center, endorphins induce a “drug-like dependency.”

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In attachment, the research-identified third phase of human relationships when couples bond and rear children, studies find that the hypothalamus and pituitary release hormones like oxytocin. In women, oxytocin stimulates uterine contraction during birth and allows milk to flow during an infant’s suckling, and is important for maternal bonding. The biochemical objective in this phase appears to be to foster calm, peace and security for the young. This is what takes over after the attraction stage, if a relationship is going to last. People couldn’t possibly stay in the attraction stage forever, otherwise they’d never get any work done! In romantic love, when two people have sex, Oxytocin is released, which begins creating an emotional bond – the more sex, the greater the bond. Oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety and feelings of calmness and security around our partner. Attachment is a longer lasting commitment and is the bond that keeps couples together when they go on to have children.

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Oxytocin: 

Affectionately called the ‘cuddle chemical,’ oxytocin is a hormone well known for its roles in birth and lactation in the post-partum period, and the establishment of maternal-infant attachments (Carter, 1998). It is also released during orgasm in both sexes and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, facilitating bonding and the formation of trust. Hormones such as oxytocin can reduce fear or behavioural inhibition, and promote the expression of social behaviours, such as pair bonding, and sexual and maternal behaviours (Carter, 1998). Oxytocin appears to alter brain signals related to social recognition via facial expressions, perhaps by changing the firing of the amygdala, the part of the brain that plays a primary role in processing important emotional stimuli. In this way, oxytocin in the brain may be a potent mediator of human social behavior.

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Reptiles release oxytocin during sex, but mammals produce it all the time. That’s why reptiles stay away from other reptiles except when mating, while mammals form attachments to relatives and herds. The more oxytocin you release with a person, the more attached you feel. More touch, more oxytocin, more trust. But trust gets complicated in the human brain. You trust a person to live up to your expectations, and don’t realize how complex your expectations are. Eventually, your loved one fails to meet your expectations, and you fail to meet theirs. To your mammal brain, any loss of trust is a life-threatening emergency. When a sheep is separated from its flock, its oxytocin dips and its cortisol surges. Cortisol is the feeling we experience as fear, panic, or anxiety. It works for sheep, motivating them to re-connect with the flock before they’re eaten alive. In humans, cortisol turns disappointed expectations into emergencies. Oxytocin, ‘the cuddle-hormone‘, is also released during hugging in both sexes and is involved in social recognition, the formation of trust between people, generosity and the ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships and healthy psychological boundaries with other people. Oxytocin is also associated with mother/infant bonding, uterine contractions during labor in childbirth and the ‘let down’ reflex necessary for breastfeeding. Because a response is enhanced by estrogen, women tend to have stronger reactions to oxytocin.

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It also plays a very important role in romantic love. Often called the “cuddling chemical,” oxytocin makes both men and women calmer and more sensitive to the feelings of others. Cuddling and calming are actually Phase II of oxytocin’s effect. Phase I is its power to arouse. In women it signals orgasm by stimulating uterine contractions. Women may be more capable of having multiple or whole-body orgasms as a result of oxytocin overload. In men, moderate concentrations of oxytocin facilitate both erection and ejaculation. Its production is cued by a lover’s voice, a gentle touch, a familiar fragrance, or a certain look. The more partners touch one another, especially the breasts (and, by the way, men’s breasts are even more sensitive than women’s breasts), the more oxytocin is produced resulting in increased arousal and a better likelihood of achieving orgasm. Other oxytocinogenous zones are the earlobes, lips and nose. Following the ecstasy, oxytocin promotes the desire to cuddle and may even play a role in inducing high quality REM sleep.

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Emotional pain causes our bodies to produce an elevated level of endorphins which in turn lowers the level of oxytocin. Therefore, relationship failure leads to pain, which leads to elevated endorphins, which leads to lower oxytocin, the result of which is a lower ability to bond. Many in this increased state of emotional pain and lower oxytocin seek sex as a substitute for love which inevitably leads to another failed relationship, and so, the cycle continues. The excitement of sex is partly credited to endorphins exciting opiate receptors. As a human relationship matures, fewer endorphins are released, but if the sexual relationship is well bonded, the oxytocin response maintains the excitement despite how few endorphins are released. This keeps excitement present between oxytocin-bonded couples. Some don’t have the ability to stay bonded, even in seemingly good relationships. People who have misused sex to become bonded with multiple persons will diminish their oxytocin bonding within their current relationship. In the absence of oxytocin, the person will find less or no excitement and will then feel the need to move on to something that looks more exciting.

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Lack of oxytocin can cause serious emotional barriers and attachment problems. Research shows that women who were seriously abused as children have low oxytocin levels as adults and the stress of being isolated also causes drops in oxytocin levels.  Missing oxytocin or vasopressin receptors in the brain could be responsible for the worldwide rise of singles. The inability to secrete oxytocin and feel empathy is linked to sociopathy, psychopathy, narcissism and general manipulativeness.

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Studies on oxytocin:

Stydy-1:

Diane Witt, assistant professor of psychology from New York has showed that if you block the natural release of oxytocin in sheep and rats, they reject their own young. Conversely, injecting oxytocin into female rats who’ve never had sex, caused them to fawn over another female’s young, nuzzling the pups and protecting them as if they were their own and these behaviours can be completely abolished by treating with oxytocin antagonists.

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Study-2:

According to studies by Larry Young, a social attachment researcher at Emory University, when prairie voles mate, like humans, they release the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, have the needed receptors in their brain for these hormones in the regions responsible for reward and reinforcement, and they form a bond with their mate. That bond is for that particular vole based on its smell – sort of like an imprint. As further reinforcement, dopamine is also released in their brain’s reward center when they have sex, making the experience enjoyable and ensuring that they want to do it again. And because of the Oxytocin and Vasopressin, they want to have sex with the same vole, again and again. The montane voles however, who are almost entirely the same as the prairie voles, except the fact that they do not have receptors for Oxytocin or Vasopressin in their brain, continue with their one-night stands, as these bonding chemicals have no effect. Seminal research on vole attachment has found that in the promiscuous montane vole, there is less expression of receptors for oxytocin and vasopressin in reward areas, while in the monogamous prairie vole there are more receptors. In prairie voles, infusion of antagonists of these neuropeptides into reward areas prevents partner preference formation, and leads to promiscuity. Conversely, transfection of the pallidum of montane voles with the (structurally different) prairie vole vasopressin receptor gene, leads to upregulation of vasopressin receptors, and exclusive mating. Genetic analysis showed that both species of vole possess identical receptors for oxytocin and vasopressin, leading investigators to believe the difference was in the placement of the receptors. If an area of the brain contains these receptors the activity associated with that part of the brain would become stimulated if vasopressin or oxytocin were introduced. In the prairie vole, oxytocin receptors were found in different locations of the brain than the Montane vole. Researchers have therefore theorized that the section of the brain enabling monogamy is present in the area of the brain possessing the receptors of oxytocin and vasopressin in prairie voles. Researchers have likewise theorized that the area of the brain containing vasopressin receptors in Montane voles is responsible for grooming habits.   

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Study-3:

Oxytocin helps humans accept others:

Oxytocin is often referred to as the ‘love hormone’ because of its ability to promote mother-infant attachment and romantic bonding in adults. Researchers found that oxytocin can sharpen the brain’s self-other differentiation – a function that has been shown to play a crucial role in social bonding, successful social interactions and the tolerance of others. They also found that oxytocin helps to increase our positive evaluation of other people. This further supports the role of the oxytocinergic system in the empathic response and the modulation of social cognition. Social bonding, mutual support, mate preference and parental investment are all mediated by the oxytocinergic system, which is heavily reliant on a person’s ability to appreciate that self and others are both different and valuable.  Participants in the study were shown videos of their own face morphing into an unfamiliar face and vice versa, and were instructed to press a button as soon as they felt that they saw more features belonging to the incoming face. Of the 44 participants, those given oxytocin before the task were significantly faster at identifying the new face, regardless of whether it was their own or that of a stranger. The placebo-treated participants were also more likely to rate their own face as being more pleasant to look at than an unfamiliar face, according to Colonnello and Dr Markus Heinrichs from the Department of Psychology at the University of Freiburg in Germany. The oxytocin-treated participants, on the other hand, rated both their own face and others faces as similarly pleasant. The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.  

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Oxytocin’s Many Benefits:

In the course of his analysis, Gary learned that oxytocin is the answer to the question, “What is the mechanism by which love and affection positively affect our health:

— Oxytocin reduces cravings. When scientists administered it to rodents who were addicted to cocaine, morphine, or heroin, the rats opted for less drugs, or showed fewer symptoms of withdrawal. (Kovacs, 1998) Oxytocin also reduces cravings for sweets. (Billings, 2006)

— Oxytocin calms. A single rat injected with oxytocin has a calming effect on a cage full of anxious rats. (Agren, 2002)

— spilled wine. Oxytocin appears be a major reason that SSRIs ease depression, perhaps because high levels of cortisol are the chief culprits in depression and anxiety disorders. (Uvnas-Moberg, 1999)

— Oxytocin increases sexual receptivity and counteracts impotence, which is why this other way of making love remains pleasurable. (Pedersen, C.A., 2002), (Arletti, 1997)

— Oxytocin counteracts the effects of cortisol, the stress hormone. (Legros, 2003) Less stress means increased immunity and faster recovery.

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Oxytocin and orgasm:

The bonding, soothing qualities of oxytocin explains why companionship can increase longevity – even among those who are HIV positive (Young, 2004). Or speed recovery: wounded hamsters heal twice as fast when they are paired with a sibling, rather than left in isolation (Detilliona, 2004). It may also explain why, among various species of primates, care-giving parents (whether male or female) live significantly longer. (Cal Tech, 1998) It also reduces stress: Incidentally, a surge of blood-level oxytocin often accompanies orgasm, which sometimes causes people to conclude that more orgasms must lead to tighter emotional bonding. Who knows? First, researchers suggest that oxytocin’s role during orgasm is solely to bring on the contractions that move semen to various strategic locations, just as oxytocin causes smooth muscle to go into birth and nursing contractions. (Vignozzi, 2004) It is not clear that oxytocin levels surge at orgasm in the limbic system – where bonding occurs. In any case, they soon drop, as does the other neurochemical most important for sustaining bonds: dopamine. This is why orgasms may not keep you in love. Second, oxytocin is a less reliable marker of orgasm than the “shutdown” neurochemical, prolactin (Kruger, 2003), which means that oxytocin does not always rise at orgasm. In any case, when dopamine drops too low (after a passion bout), so does oxytocin – and lovers lose their desire for closeness. By contrast, when dopamine stays at ideal levels, it helps maintain oxytocin levels as well. The interplay between these two neurochemicals is generally overlooked, which causes some to assume blindly that we can consistently have high dopamine and high oxytocin. Finally, even if a surge in bloodstream oxytocin at orgasm does somehow encourage bonding, it should be obvious that something even more powerful is eroding that bonding in most long-term relationships. If orgasm cemented relationships, then marriages would be more stable, not far less stable, than they were 50 years ago.

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The table above shows Oxytocin and vasopressin effects. Oxytocin and vasopressin are small peptides that have similar structures. They may have evolved from the same ancestral peptide and thus are functionally and structurally interrelated. Both are involved in social attachment formation, prosocial and reproductive behaviors, including sexual and parental. They play a role in reward processes and may therefore be associated with endogenous opioid and opiate signaling, since this autoregulatory signaling system is crucial for attachment, pleasure induction, response to separation and stress reduction.

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Vasopressin:

Vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone, is another chemical that has been associated with the formation of long-term, monogamous relationships. Dr. Fisher believes that oxytocin and vasopressin interfere with the dopamine and norepinephrine pathways, which might explain why passionate love fades as attachment grows. Oxytocin causes a woman to be forgetful, decreases her ability to think rationally and causes an incredibly strong emotional attachment to form with the man she is with. Men also produce some oxytocin during sexual intercourse. But their bodies also produce a hormone called Vasopressin. Vasopressin, ‘the monogamy molecule’ kicks in after sexual activity, and its impact is to heighten a man’s sense of responsibility. When a man’s Vasopressin level is sufficient, it creates a desire in him to stay with his woman, inspires a protective sense and drives him to protect his territory and his offspring. The value of such tendencies toward the maintenance of marriage and family can easily be anticipated. Although men may have a desire to have sex with multiple women, Vasopressin helps them to counteract this tendency. It causes men to be jealous toward a woman with whom he has been sexually active. It also causes him to be loyal.

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Therapeutic role of oxytocin in love:

As scientists understand the chemistry of love more and more, drugs to manipulate the process may not be far away. In fact, studies support the idea that oxytocin may help human couples get along better. Swiss researchers gave 47 couples a nasal spray containing either oxytocin or a placebo. The couples then participated in a videotaped ‘conflict’ discussion. Those that got oxytocin exhibited more positive and less negative behavior than those given the placebo. Oxytocin was also linked to lower secretion of cortisol, our stress hormone. Oxytocin nasal spray is the closest thing to a love drug. It help couples enjoy a closer, bonding, loving relationship and helps to have more intense orgasms, particularly in women. Further, it also helps in cases of depression, drug addiction, autism, anxiety, schizophrenia, pain (particularly fibromyalgia) and even as an aid to weight loss (through appetite reduction). The typical oxytocin doses for pleasure and sociability are 10 IUs (International Units) in the morning and repeated again in the evening; or 10 to 20 IUs 2-hours before sex. Whether this will really help our love life is still an open question.

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Neuroscientists link oxytocin to both love and autism-spectrum disorder:  

In a new study, researchers at New York University Langone Medical Center have discovered a link between the “love hormone” oxytocin and autism-spectrum disorder (ASD). It turns out that our ability to focus and pick up on social cues is directly linked to oxytocin’s ability to promote social and parental bonding. On the flip side, a lack of oxytocin is now linked to the social disconnection created by ASD. As a neurohormone, oxytocin not only reduces background noise, it also allows people to pick up on important interpersonal signals. These findings are relevant to how we create intimate bonds and helps unravel the neurobiology behind the social disconnection created by autism, which affects 1 in 88 American children. Brain imaging of people with ASD shows that a lower level of oxytocin impairs even the most rudimentary transmission of sensory signals. “Oxytocin has a remarkable effect on the passage of information through the brain,” says Richard W. Tsien, the Druckenmiller Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Neuroscience Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center. “It not only quiets background activity, but also increases the accuracy of stimulated impulse firing. Our experiments show how the activity of brain circuits can be sharpened, and hint at how this re-tuning of brain circuits might go awry in conditions like autism.” The current NYU study expands on a Swiss study from 30 years ago which found that oxytocin acted in the hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in memory and cognition. Back in the 80s researchers in Geneva found that oxytocin stimulated nerve cells – called inhibitory interneurons – to trigger the release a neurochemical called GABA. As a neurotransmitter, GABA is an ‘anti-anxiety’ molecule because it dampens the activity of the adjoining excitatory nerve cells, known as pyramidal cells. The NYU researchers found that continually activating the fast-spiking inhibitory neurons – which are necessary for reducing background noise – causes GABA-releasing synapses to fatigue. Accordingly, when a stimulus arrives, the tired synapses release less GABA and excitation of the pyramidal neuron is not dampened as much, so that excitation drives the pyramidal neuron’s firing more reliably. The researchers were perplexed to discover that oxytocin was selective in how it stimulated brain spikes and one’s ability to focus on specific social and environmental cues. Dr. Tsien explains, “From the previous findings, we predicted that oxytocin would dampen brain circuits in all ways, quieting both background noise and wanted signals. Instead, we found that oxytocin increased the reliability of stimulated impulses – good for brain function, but quite unexpected.” To find the answer to this riddle, the researchers honed in on a particular type of “fast-spiking” inhibitory interneurons which are responsible for the finely tuned effects of oxytocin. The mystery of how oxytocin drives these fast-spiking inhibitory cells to fire, yet also increases signaling to pyramidal neurons, was solved through studies with rodent models.

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Hypothalamic digoxin, hemispheric dominance and neurobiology of love and affection:

The human hypothalamus produces an endogenous membrane Na+-K+ ATPase inhibitor, digoxin, which can regulate neuronal transmission. The digoxin status and neurotransmitter patterns were studied in individuals with a predilection to fall in love. It was also studied in individuals with differing hemispheric dominance to find out the role of cerebral dominance in this respect. In individuals with a predilection to fall in love there was decreased digoxin synthesis, increased membrane Na+-K+ ATPase activity, decreased tryptophan catabolites (serotonin, quinolinic acid, and nicotine), and increased tyrosine catabolites (dopamine, noradrenaline, and morphine). This pattern correlated with that obtained in left hemispheric chemical dominance. Hemispheric dominance and hypothalamic digoxin could regulate the predisposition to fall in love.  

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Oxytocin receptors on nucleus accumbens (brain reward centre):  

The love hormone- oxytocin- is involved in a broader range of social interactions than previously understood, a new study has revealed. Oxytocin is the focus of intense scrutiny for its apparent roles in establishing trust between people, and has been administered to children with autism spectrum disorders in clinical trials. The new study pinpoints a unique way in which oxytocin alters activity in a part of the brain that is crucial to experiencing the pleasant sensation neuroscientists call “reward.”  The findings not only provided validity for ongoing trials of oxytocin in autistic patients, but also suggested possible new treatments for neuropsychiatric conditions in which social activity is impaired. Some genetic evidence suggested the awkward social interaction that is a hallmark of autism-spectrum disorders may be at least in part oxytocin-related. Certain variations in the gene that encodes the oxytocin receptor – a cell-surface protein that senses the substance’s presence – are associated with increased autism risk. “From this observation sprang a dogma that pair bonding is a special type of social behavior tied to the presence of oxytocin receptors in the nucleus accumbens. But what’s driving the more common group behaviours that all mammals engage in – cooperation, altruism or just playing around – remained mysterious, since these oxytocin receptors were supposedly absent in the nucleus accumbens of most social animals,” the researchers said. The new discovery shows that mice do indeed have oxytocin receptors at a key location in the nucleus accumbens and, importantly, that blocking oxytocin’s activity there significantly diminishes these animals’ appetite for socializing. As the Stanford team found, oxytocin acting at the nucleus accumbens wasn’t simply squirted into general circulation, as hormones typically are, but was secreted at this spot by another nerve tract originating in the hypothalamus, a multifunction midbrain structure.  The researchers said that they think their findings in mice are highly likely to generalize to humans because the brain’s reward circuitry has been so carefully conserved over the course of hundreds of millions of years of evolution. 

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When Love Fades:

High levels of oxytocin and vasopressin may interfere with dopamine and norepinephrine pathways, which may explain why attachment grows as mad passionate love fades. The antidote may be doing novel things together to goose the two love neurotransmitters. Meanwhile, elevated testosterone can suppress oxytocin and vasopressin. There is good evidence, Dr Fisher said, that men with higher testosterone levels tend to marry less often, be more abusive in their marriage, and divorce more regularly. The reverse can also be true. If a man holds a baby, levels of testosterone go down, perhaps in part because of oxytocin and vasopressin going up.

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The table above shows neurochemicals released in ‘various specific brain areas locally’ vis-à-vis love stages and the next segment of neuroimaging will show how various specific brain areas lit up on imaging studies performed on someone in love.

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The passion of love creates feelings of exhilaration and euphoria, of a happiness that is often unbearable and certainly indescribable. And the areas that are activated in response to romantic feelings are largely coextensive with those brain regions that contain high concentrations of a neuro-modulator that is associated with reward, desire, addiction and euphoric states, namely dopamine.

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The figure above shows some brain areas involved in love.

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Some of these regions become active when exogenous opioid drugs such as cocaine, which themselves induce states of euphoria, are ingested. Release of dopamine puts one in a ‘‘feel good’’ state, and dopamine seems to be intimately linked not only to the formation of relationships but also to sex, which consequently comes to be regarded as a rewarding and ‘‘feel-good’’ exercise. An increase in dopamine is coupled to a decrease in another neuro-modulator, serotonin (5-HT or 5-hydroxytryptamine), which is linked to appetite and mood. Studies have shown a depletion of serotonin in early stages of romantic love to levels that are common in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders. Love, after all, is a kind of obsession and in its early stages commonly immobilizes thought and channels it in the direction of a single individual. Oxytocin and another chemically linked neuro-modulator, vasopressin, seem to be particularly linked to attachment and bonding. Both are produced by the hypothalamus and released and stored in the pituitary gland, to be discharged into the blood, especially during orgasm in both sexes and during child-birth and breast-feeding in females. In males, vasopressin has also been linked to social behaviour, in particular to aggression towards other males. The concentration of both neuro-modulators increases during the phase of intense romantic attachment and pairing. The receptors for both are distributed in many parts of the brain stem which are activated during both romantic and maternal love.

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Neuroimaging vis-à-vis attraction, love and lust:

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Scientific evidence that love occurs inside brain:

Thanks to increasing insight into our own neurobiology, we now know unequivocally that love lives not in our hearts but in our brains. In fact, and somewhat amazingly, we even know where in the brain this exhilarating emotion resides. Essentially, when any part of the human brain is activated (by a thought, a movement, a drug, an external stimulus, etc.) we can track that activation with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans. (These scans measure, among other things, increased blood flow to activated regions of the brain.) Using this technology, monitoring and mapping things like sexual arousal and romantic love has become a relatively straightforward endeavor. Unsurprisingly, a whole lot of scientists have decided to hop on this particular research bandwagon, producing uniformly similar results.

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Neuroimaging of attraction:

You can love at First Sight: Scientists discover Brain Region responsible for Instant Attraction:

It is possible to love at first sight. Using brain scans scientists found that different parts of the medial prefrontal cortex, the region the at sits near the front of the brain, make snap judgments about physical attraction and whether the person is likely to be a compatible match all within milliseconds of seeing a new face. Researchers explained that the while the paracingulate cortex, the region that lights up when people view pictures of faces generally considered attractive, appeared to be doing the heaving lifting in terms of determining potential partners people are going to accept and other they are going to reject, the rostromedial prefrontal cortex is determining whether the potential date will match them on a personal level. The latest findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, show that in the first few milliseconds of meeting someone, physical attractiveness is evaluated by the paracingulate cortex and the rostromedial prefrontal cortex is responsible for making deeper judgments about the other person’s social compatibility.

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Neuroimaging of love:

It is only relatively recently that neurobiologists have started to probe into the neural basis of one of the most powerful and exhilarating states known to humans, namely love. In this, they have been aided by the advent of imaging techniques which allows them to ask questions about the neural correlates of subjective mental states which, given their subjectivity, had been impervious to objective scientific investigation. What we can say today about those neural correlates is therefore, of necessity, limited and sketchy but it is almost certain that rapid advances in this field of research will be made in the coming years. In probing the neurobiology of love, neurobiologists of the future will also be looking into evidence derived from the world literature of love, since that literature is itself a product of the brain and its careful study gives strong hints about how the romantic system in the brain is organized.

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Romantic Love is not an emotion proved by fMRI study:

Helen Fisher joined forces with US researchers Arthur Aron from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Lucy Brown from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York to investigate the neural manifestations of early-stage romantic love. Essentially, they set out to establish whether love works like a fundamental emotion such as fear or whether it is produced by the feedback loops of the brain’s reward system in a similar way to cocaine addiction. The researchers recruited ten women and seven men who claimed to have been intensely in love for between 1 and 17 months, and assessed them by interviews before and after the fMRI study. During the imaging experiment, each participant was shown a photo of their romantic partner and asked to recall any cherished memories linked to that person. As negative controls, they were also shown photos of other friends and family members and asked the same question.  

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Group activation specific to the beloved under the two control conditions occurred in dopamine-rich areas associated with mammalian reward and motivation, namely the right ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the right postero-dorsal body and medial caudate nucleus as seen in the figure above. Activation in the left ventral tegmental area was correlated with facial attractiveness scores. Activation in the right anteromedial caudate was correlated with questionnaire scores that quantified intensity of romantic passion. In the left insula-putamen-globus pallidus, activation correlated with trait affect intensity. The results suggest that romantic love uses subcortical reward and motivation systems to focus on a specific individual, that limbic cortical regions process individual emotion factors, and that there is localization heterogeneity for reward functions in the human brain. By comparing the scans the researchers were able to pin down several key regions of the brain that appear to be involved in intense romantic feelings but not, for example, in face recognition. Specifically, they recorded activation of the right ventral midbrain, around the so-called ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the dorsal caudate body and caudate tail as seen in the figure above. All of these regions are unrelated to primeval instincts and emotions such as fear, but they are linked to the reward system that can get us addicted to drugs. Based on these findings, the research team concluded that romantic love is in essence a goal-oriented motivation state rather than a specific emotion. In other words, individuals who are “in love” feel strongly motivated to be with their beloved because being with that person causes a high level of emotional (read neurobiological) reward. So, basically, we want to be with the person we love because it feels good. No surprises there, but then scientific folks tend to like to prove things that the rest of us already know–so now we all know for certain that love exists, and that it can even be measured and analyzed. It’s a real thing.

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Brief outline of the neurochemistry of romantic love vis-à-vis neuroimaging:

The areas that are involved are, in the cortex, the medial insula, anterior cingulate, and hippocampus and, in the subcortex, parts of the striatum and probably also the nucleus accumbens, which together constitute core regions of the reward system as seen in the figure below:

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Activity (shown in yellow and red) elicited when subjects viewed pictures of their loved partner compared to that produced when they viewed pictures of their friends. The activity, restricted to only a few areas, is shown in sagittal (left), transverse (central), and coronal sections superimposed on slices taken through a template brain. ac, anterior cingulate; cer, cerebellum; I, insula; hi, posterior hippocampus and the coronal section activity in caudate nucleus (C) and putamen (P).

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Neurobiological overlap of lust and romantic love:

Fisher’s pioneering work into the neural substrates of love identified three distinct yet overlapping systems for love:  the hypothalamus for lust, the ventral tegmental area (VTA) for romantic love and the ventral pallidum for attachment.  And in terms of confusing love and lust, she says that the two are very closely aligned, both in experience and biology. Jim Pfaus, a researcher at Concordia University, has also looked at the brain in love and lust.  Like Fisher, he’s found that love and sex are distinct, yet overlapping.  But he believes that lust can often lead to love. And it all comes down to our striatums and insulas. Pfaus has found that love and desire activate different parts of the striatum.  Lust may not just impact the hypothalamus, but also the ventral striatum, an important part of the brain’s reward system. But he also found that love was linked to insula activation. The insula (sometimes referred to as the insular cortex) lies deep within the cerebral cortex.  It is responsible for giving meaning to emotional states.  A meta-analysis linked sexual desire to romantic love. This research analyzed the results from twenty separate fMRI trials, each of which examined brain activity while subjects were engaged in tasks like viewing pornographic photos, photos of their significant others, and non-pornographic photos of familiar but not beloved people and/or strangers. After pooling this data, the authors of the study were able to “map” exactly where and how both sexual desire and romantic love stimulate the brain. As it turns out, sexual desire and romantic love both activate the striatum (the brain’s pleasure center), yet only romantic love (and not porn use) also activates the insula (the part of the brain that organizes and makes sense of our emotions and social connections). Thus, the striatum is responsible for sexual desire and initial attraction, and the insula is responsible for transforming (giving value) to that desire, and turning it (potentially) into love. In other words, love is co-created by and “lives within” the striatum and the insula — inside our heads.

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Functional neuroimaging studies of sexual arousal and orgasm in healthy men and women: A study:

Orgasm consumes as many as 30 parts of the brain, including those involved in touch, fantasy, memory, and reward. As you can see in image below of an orgasm experienced in a brain scanner, the climax burns through the brain like wildfire, setting alight the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex (while smothering other parts, like the left orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in decision making). Orgasm releases dopamine, oxytocin and opioids. One can see that the genital area of the sensory cortex becomes active first – what the researchers say is a response to being touched in the genital area. Then the limbic system comes into action – this part of the brain is involved in long-term memory and emotions. When the orgasm is about to arrive, the cerebellum and the frontal cortex become much more active due to muscle tension. Activity reaches a peak in the hypothalamus during orgasm – oxytocin is released, a pleasure-inducing chemical that makes the uterus contract in women and coincides with ejaculation in males. The nucleus accumbens, a region in the brain linked to pleasure and reward (dopamine) also becomes very active. After the orgasm subsides, so does activity in all the stimulated brain regions. Researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey used brain scanners to look at which parts of a woman’s brain become active when they are aroused. When it comes to sex, women have at least two pathways to pleasure. They found one of the pathways is activated when a woman is alone and fantasizing (arrow A). The other one takes over when she is with a lover (arrow B).

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A meta-analysis found that in heterosexual men, sites of cortical activation consistently reported across studies are the lateral occipitotemporal, inferotemporal, parietal, orbitofrontal, medial prefrontal, insular, anterior cingulate, and frontal premotor cortices as well as, for subcortical regions, the amygdalas, claustrum, hypothalamus, caudate nucleus, thalami, cerebellum, and substantia nigra. Heterosexual and gay men show a similar pattern of activation. Visual sexual stimuli activate the amygdalas and thalami more in men than in women. Ejaculation is associated with decreased activation throughout the prefrontal cortex.

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During orgasm, researchers see activation of the dopamine target region, which is the nucleus accumbens, and activation of the oxytocin-producing region of the hypothalamus. What that means is that during orgasm, ther’re not measuring dopamine or oxytocin directly, but they’re measuring the activity of brain regions that respond to dopamine and the brain regions that produce and release oxytocin. Dopamine gives feeling of pleasure and oxytocin promotes attachment and bonding.

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Why orgasm anyway:

The link between longevity and orgasm frequency show that married couples who enjoy a regular, satisfying sex life with frequent orgasms are less stressed, less depressed and generally more well physically, mentally and emotionally. This level of satisfaction and well-being is reflected in the marriage in which they share. The depth of connection and the bonds of trust that a shared orgasmic experience builds is a visceral insurance policy for long-term commitments to one another. However, if orgasm cemented relationships, then marriages would be more stable, not far less stable, than they were 50 years ago. Orgasm in men is associated with ejaculation of semen and hence its reproductive utility is obvious. The most obvious explanation for the female orgasm is that it motivates women to have more sex, resulting in more babies (“reproductive success”). Another intuitive theory is that it serves to cement feelings of love and intimacy, thereby supporting parental investment. Then there’s also a “sperm upsuck” theory — that uterine contractions during orgasm help draw the floating sperms. The link between orgasm in women and reproductive utility fails on many accounts. Many married women had no orgasm in sex, yet they conceived. Violent rape where woman resisted and fought with rapists occasionally got pregnant. Artificial insemination technique made women pregnant. Women also frequently get orgasm without any vaginal sex. So it’s the “byproduct” theory that has been held in increasing esteem by researchers. The thinking behind the “male nipples” explanation is that women have the tissues and nerve pathways needed for orgasm simply because of their shared embryological origins with males, whose orgasms serve a clear evolutionary purpose.  This theory states that female orgasm is similar to the male nipple: it is so strongly necessary and therefore selected for in one sex that due to similarities in embryological development it appears in the other sex. This theory doesn’t assume that orgasm has to accompany penile-vaginal sex, and it explains why female orgasm is so infrequent: if a trait has no effect, positive or negative, on an organism’s fertility, the rate at which is appears from individual to individual won’t necessarily be standard.  Biologically orgasm in men serves reproductive purpose while orgasm in women serves no reproductive purpose.   

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Romantic and maternal love are highly rewarding experiences. Both are linked to the perpetuation of the species and therefore have a closely linked biological function of crucial evolutionary importance. The newly developed ability to study the neural correlates of subjective mental states with brain imaging techniques has allowed neurobiologists to learn something about the neural bases of both romantic and maternal love. I have already discussed neuroimaging of romantic love including lust & orgasm; and now I will discuss neuroimaging of maternal love:

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Neural correlates of maternal love:

Equally interesting is that this pattern of areas activated by romantic love shares parts of the brain that also become active when mothers view pictures of their own children, as opposed to other children as seen in the figure below.

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The figure above shows brain activity produced by maternal love and romantic love (in both males and females) (shown in red and yellow). Note that there are considerable areas of overlap, although there are as well regions that are activated only by maternal or romantic love. Abbreviations: aC, anterior cingulate cortex; aCv, ventral aC; C, caudate nucleus; I, insula; S, striatum (consisting of putamen, caudate nucleus, globus pallidus); PAG, periaqueductal (central) gray; hi, hippocampus.

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Maternal and romantic love share a common and crucial evolutionary purpose, that of maintaining and promoting the species. They also share a functional purpose, in that both require that individuals stay together for a period of their lives. Both are thus calculated by nature to ensure the formation of firm bonds between individuals, by making of them rewarding experiences. It is not surprising to find that both sentiments share common brain areas. But, given the neurological axiom stated above, that if you can tell the difference it is because different brain areas are involved, it is also not surprising to find that the pattern of brain activation that correlates with maternal love is not identical to the one that correlates with romantic love. An interesting difference lies in the strong activation of parts of the brain that are specific for faces in maternal love. This may be accounted for by the importance of reading children’s facial expressions, to ensure their well being, and therefore the constant attention that a mother pays to the face of her child. Another interesting difference is that the hypothalamus, which is associated to sexual arousal, is only involved in romantic love. The commonly activated regions between the two types of love are located in the striatum, part of the reward system of the human brain.

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Another study found effects specific to the intensely loved, long-term partner in: (i) areas of the dopamine-rich reward and basal ganglia system, such as the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and dorsal striatum, consistent with results from early-stage romantic love studies; and (ii) several regions implicated in maternal attachment, such as the globus pallidus (GP), substantia nigra, Raphe nucleus, thalamus, insular cortex, anterior cingulate and posterior cingulate.

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Love’s brain chemistry: millions of years in the making:

Research into “the brain chemistry of love” indicates that when a person sees a potential mate, it takes as little as a fifth of a second for the brain to launch a complex “love-related” chain reaction involving multiple areas of the cortical and more primitive subcortical portions of the brain. Activation of some of these areas launches a host of neurotransmitters, hormones and proteins into action. Studies in humans have shown a great deal of similarity with the processes that occur in lower species, suggesting that the systems have evolved over millions of years in order to maintain procreation. The cerebral cortex receives inputs from all the senses. Attractiveness noted through visual cues, a pleasing voice transmitted through the hearing apparatus, touch through nerves in the skin, and, possibly, the detection of pheromones through the sense of smell are instantly integrated by the cortex, which then signals other areas of the brain. The main area of the brain responsible for the early, swift love response is the caudate nucleus, a large C-shaped region near the center. It is very primitive–part of what is called the reptilian brain because it evolved long before mammals proliferated, some 65 million years ago. Our brain scans showed that parts of the body and the tail of the caudate became particularly active as a lover gazed at the photo of a sweetheart. It plays a key role in the brain’s reward system and is responsible for general arousal and pleasure sensations. When this area of the brain gets activated, we’re not only flooded with positive feelings and sensations, we’re motivated to keep getting them; we do and say whatever seems appropriate to keep compliments and positive reinforcement coming our way. When researchers, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), scanned brain activity of test subjects who described themselves as “madly in love,” the more passionate they were about their new partners, the more active were their caudate regions. Of interest, activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is hyperactive in depression, is turned down during this phase of early romantic love. The other region central to the “love response” is the ventral tegmental area, also a key component of the brain’s reward circuitry and home to cells that manufacture dopamine, the neurotransmitter that enables obsessive focus, feelings of elation and even mania. Dopamine is most prevalent in one particular part of the love process. And though not every relationship evolves in the same way and feelings seem to rage out of control, the release of particular brain chemicals seems to be present in three distinct phases of love that optimize the continuation of the species.

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Neuroanatomically:

Love = caudate nucleus + ventral tegmental area modulated by insular cortex

Emotions like fear/anger = amygdala modulated by pre-frontal cortex

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Suspending rational judgment: love is blind:

By using the fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) technique, researchers can see which specific part of the brain is activated when we perform certain tasks, by assessing the oxygen flow to its component parts. Zeki and his co-workers studied the fMRI responses of 17 healthy male and female volunteers when they were shown pictures of their romantic partners compared to pictures of their friends. They found a distinctive difference between the way people responded to friends and to romantic partners. While both activated the expected areas in the brain that are associated with positive emotions, certain portions of the brain were significantly deactivated when pictures of the romantic partners were presented. Portions of the prefrontal cortex (which governs judgement and social behaviour) and middle temporal cortex (which regulates negative emotions) were deactivated, as is usually the case when we are happy. But, the more interesting finding was the deactivation of the amygdala which controls fear, sadness and aggression. Friends activated this part of the brain, but lovers deactivated it. When in love, we temporarily take leave of our senses. We suspend rational judgement, we are fearless and we think only positive thoughts. We can swing between euphoria, anxiety and depression, within minutes. It’s almost like we’ve consumed a narcotic drug. And here’s the rub. Another interesting finding of the study was that the same portions of the brain that get activated by the narcotic drug cocaine are also activated by romantic love. The biological explanation of all of this is that a temporary suspension of their judgment of each other is desirable to increase the likelihood of two human beings to reproduce. When in love, we suspend rational judgment of the person, and this helps ensure that love is sustained through the years and guarantees a lasting relationship. Newly smitten lovers often idealize their partner, magnifying their virtues and explaining away their flaws says Ellen Berscheid, a leading researcher on the psychology of love. Functional imaging studies point to overlapping areas of deactivation during attachment and love. Thus, there may be decreased activation of frontal, parietal, and temporal areas (including the amygdala) in maternal and romantic love as seen in the Figure below. It is noteworthy that the neurocircuitry of love and attachment overlaps in part with that which mediates sexual arousal, including some similarity in areas of de-activation.  Zeki has argued that these findings are consistent with the universal concepts that “love is blind” or that there is “unity in love”; during attachment, love, sex, and other rewarding states there may be a relative suspension of judgment.

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The figure above shows cortical deactivations in the cortex (shown in yellow and red) produced when subjects viewed pictures of their loved partners.

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It is also true that in maternal love, no less than in romantic love, judgment is somewhat suspended, in that mothers are a good deal more indulgent with their children and perhaps less likely to fault them. Once again, we find that there is a pattern of cortical de-activation produced by maternal love which is remarkably similar to the one produced by romantic love and in particular the frontal cortex that is involved in the formation of judgments as seen in the figure below.

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The figure above shows deactivated regions with maternal and romantic love, shown in red and yellow. Abbreviations: mt, middle temporal cortex; op, occipitoparietal junction; tp, temporal pole; LPF, (ventral) lateral prefrontal cortex.

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Regional brain activity during early-stage intense romantic love predicted relationship outcomes after 40 months: An fMRI assessment:

 Early-stage romantic love is associated with activation in reward and motivation systems of the brain. Can these localized activations, or others, predict long-term relationship stability? Researchers contacted participants from a previous fMRI study of early-stage love by Xu et al. after 40 months from initial assessments. They compared brain activation during the initial assessment at early-stage love for those who were still together at 40 months and those who were apart, and surveyed those still together about their relationship happiness and commitment at 40 months. Six participants who were still with their partners at 40 months (compared to six who had broken up) showed less activation during early-stage love in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, right subcallosal cingulate and right accumbens, regions implicated in long-term love and relationship satisfaction. These regions of deactivation at the early stage of love were also negatively correlated with relationship happiness scores collected at 40 months. Other areas involved were the caudate tail, and temporal and parietal lobes. These data are preliminary evidence that neural responses in the early stages of romantic love can predict relationship stability and quality up to 40 months later in the relationship. The brain regions involved suggest that forebrain reward functions may be predictive for relationship stability, as well as regions involved in social evaluation, emotional regulation, and mood.

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Love and stress:

While investigating love’s effect on hormones, Marazziti and Canale 2004, also noted differing levels of cortisol between the Control and Love groups. Cortisol, the primary hormone product of the adrenal glands help restore homeostasis after a state of stress, which could definitely include, but is not limited to, stressful states caused by a not-so-understanding significant other!  Heightened arousal and increased stress levels are unsurprisingly associated with creation of new social contacts and specifically, the establishment of new relationships (Marazziti and Canale, 2004). Accordingly, Marazziti and Canale found raised cortisol levels in their Love group as opposed to the Control subjects, with no difference between the sexes. It is noteworthy however, that when hormone levels were measured for Love subjects still in the same relationship 12-28 months later, both cortisol and testosterone had returned to levels identical to the controls. This temporary hypercortisolemia could be viewed as a non-specific response to physiological changes induced by the stress of a new relationship. The apparent change in cortisol levels involved in falling in love suggests the involvement of the hypothalamus in this process, as cortisol synthesis is controlled by hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (Nelson, 2003). Many neuroendocrine studies reveal a strong association between increased levels of activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and expression of social behaviour and attachments (Carter, 1998). Moderate levels of stress have been previously demonstrated to promote attachments, in both humans and in animals. Research on prairie voles has found that both corticosterone (the animal equivalent to cortisol) and stress facilitate the formation of pair bonds (De Vries et al., 1996). There are also numerous examples of stressful events, ranging from broad global-scale events to personal crises, which bring people together and create strong social bonds. Literature on both human and animal behaviour consistently implicates stressful or threatening situations, as well as interaction of HPA hormones, with the formation of strong social attachments and pair-bonding (Carter, 1998). In recent reviews on the role of stress in human attachment, it has been discussed that stressors can trigger a search for pleasure, proximity and closeness, i.e., attachment behaviors, thereby promoting the re-balancing of altered physiological and psychological states. It is surmised that some degree of strong, yet manageable, stress may be necessary for very strong bonds to form. However, if socializing “in the face of stress” does not occur, diseases may be introduced. Forced isolation, anxiety, fear, and other forms of stress are associated with increased levels of stress hormones like cortisol, i.e., enhanced hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity. Such conditions or experiences normally tend to encourage social interactions as seen in the figure below.

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However, excessive stress (i.e., chronic) that could compromise health and survival, e.g., (hyper)intense grief, may lead to depression or the breakdown of social relationships. This correlation between chronic or massive stress could finally inhibit the new forming of bonds and attachments, leading to social and physiological deprivation, or regulatory imbalances and inflexibility, thereby compromising healthy (auto) regulation. However, within a homeostatic range, stress related physiological processes, including hormones of the HPA axis, can promote the development of social bonding. In addition, positive social interactions may help to create physiological states that are anxiolytic and stress reducing, i.e., health promoting. Thus, balance is a key concept in social bonding and love, including related neurobiology.

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Love, hate and fear:

The opposite of love is hate; but the obstacle to love is fear. So let me discuss love vs. hate and love vs. fear. 

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Brain has thin line between love and hate:

A new study reveals that the brain’s “love” and “hate” circuits share identical structures. Both include regions known as the putamen and insula which are linked to aggression and distress. Significantly, the putamen and insula are also both activated by romantic love. This is not surprising. The putamen could also be involved in the preparation of aggressive acts in a romantic context, as in situations when a rival presents a danger. “Previous studies have suggested that the insula may be involved in responses to distressing stimuli, and the viewing of both a loved and a hated face may constitute such a distressing signal.”  A marked difference in the cortical pattern produced by these two sentiments of love and hate is that, whereas with love large parts of the cerebral cortex associated with judgment and reasoning become de-activated, with hate only a small zone, located in the frontal cortex, becomes de-activated. “This may seem surprising since hate can also be an all-consuming passion, just like love. But whereas in romantic love, the lover is often less critical and judgmental regarding the loved person, it is more likely that in the context of hate the hater may want to exercise judgment in calculating moves to harm, injure or otherwise extract revenge.” The activity of some of the structures varied according to how much “hate” a volunteer said he or she felt.

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Dopamine is also closely linked to feelings of hatred. If a loving relationship deteriorates and includes a lot of disappointments. If you find yourself experiencing too many negative feelings about another person, consider working to reduce your dopamine, by deliberately avoiding the things that increase it for a little while.

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Love-hate relationship:

A love–hate relationship is an interpersonal relationship involving simultaneous or alternating emotions of love and hate – something particularly common when emotions are intense. The term is used frequently in psychology, popular writing and journalism. It can be applied to relationships with inanimate objects, or even concepts, as well as those of a romantic nature or between siblings and parents/children.  A love-hate relationship has been linked to the occurrence of emotional ambivalence in early childhood; to conflicting responses by different ego states within the same person; or to the inevitable co-existence of egoistic conflicts with the object of love.  Research from Yale University suggests love–hate relationships may be the result of poor self-esteem.  A love-hate relationship may develop when people have completely lost the intimacy within a loving relationship, yet still retain some passion for, or perhaps some commitment to, each other, before degenerating into a hate-love relationship leading to divorce.  

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Love and fear: [read my article on ‘Matchmaking’ and ‘Fear’ posted earlier]

In the novel concept of ‘fear brain cells’ and ‘comfort brain cells’; fear cells cause increased production of cortisol—the adrenal hormone which, when in excess, feeds the chemistry of energetic depletion, fear, agitation, and anger. The comfort cells, by contrast, produce oxytocin and dopamine—the brain hormones that bring love, compassion, and enlightenment.

 

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Love and fear are the only emotions we as human entities are able to express. All the others are just sub-categorical emotions. For example, on love’s side there is joy, peacefulness, happiness, forgiveness, and a host of others. On the other hand, fear reflects: hate, depression, guilt, inadequacy, discontentment, prejudice, anger, attack, and so on. Love and fear cannot coexist. Where one is, the other can’t be also. The one will leave immediately, should the other enter its presence. If you find yourself in a situation where you are experiencing great joy, and are suddenly overtaken by fear, the joy is gone! But it works the other way too: If you are terrorized, frightened, or otherwise threatened in any way, all you need to do is turn to the love within, and the fear disappears.  Remember fear of the partner is the most important sign of abusive relationship and neurochemically, it is proved that fear (cortisol) and love (oxytocin) are contrasting each other. Love and fear are mutually exclusive and therefore never marry a person whom you fear.

Choice between love and fear: 

If you had a choice between love and fear, which would you choose? If you think the answer is obvious, then you might just be surprised. If you were offered a choice between feeling and acting out of fear or out of love, which one would you pick? No question about it, most people don’t even hesitate before they say, “Love!” But this is not a hypothetical question. It is a choice each of us is faced with every day of our lives. And all too often, whether consciously or not, we choose fear.  When you avoid success, harm your physical health, or hold back your attractiveness, you are choosing fear. When you fail to set goals, or give up your power to a boss, mate, friend or authority figure, fear is motivating you.  When you deny the truth, feel afraid to say ‘no,’ ignore your feelings or focus on negative feedback, you do it out of fear. In fact, all negative emotions can be traced to some form of fear. And the truth is that you can’t feel both love and fear at the same time. So when you act out of fear, in effect, you are choosing to shut out love. Becoming aware of this process is the first step toward change. It takes work, persistence, and a certain willingness to risk, but it can be done – and it’s worth it!  Get help if necessary, but don’t wait even one more day to begin. Choose love, and choose it with your whole heart!

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Is love addiction?  Yes, early phase of romantic love does mimic cocaine addiction:

The striatum and the insula, where love resides (vide supra), are also the parts of the brain most directly associated with the formation and maintenance of addictive disorders. Indeed. The same process of anticipation, craving, and reward upon connection that occurs with the pursuit of intense romantic love also occurs in a very similar way with substance and behavioral addictions. As Concordia University Professor Jim Pfaus, co-author of the study linking sexual desire and love, states, “Love is actually a habit that is formed from sexual desire as that desire is rewarded. It works the same way in the brain as when people become addicted to drugs.” This is not to say that the experience of love is in any way pathological or that everyone who falls in love is “addicted” to the object of his/her affection. To qualify as an addiction we need to see not only obsession and compulsion, but also directly related and repeated negative life consequences. And thank goodness most people who fall in love don’t experience those unwanted consequences. For most of us, the process of falling in love is healthy, joyful, and life affirming (not to mention necessary for the survival of our species). So even though the feeling of being in love might show up in the brain looking like some form of emotional crack cocaine, in reality love doesn’t necessarily lead people down the merry path of addiction the way that crack nearly always does. Rather, the early focused intensity of romantic love helps to push us forward into the more intimate challenges of a long-term meaningful relationship. In other words, the “rush” of early love encourages us to become temporarily obsessed and therefore to stay around the other person long enough to form the attachment bonds necessary for sustained love and intimacy (also securing the safety of any newborn progeny that might come out of this love). So while the beginning stages of a relationship — the period of time when how the other person walks, talks, eats, and thinks is the subject of endless fantasies and late-night phone calls — may look and feel like addiction, this particular neurochemical cascade is in reality a temporary, transitory state that exists to lead us into long-term intimate relationships. True love — lasting, meaningful attachment — is built over time in the brain, as the insula assigns increasing value to our connection with that very special someone.

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One component of love that science may soon be able to explain fully is the heartache involved with a romantic breakup, which may be a type of withdrawal. In some addictions the nerves become satiated with certain signals. Cocaine abuse produces an example of such a withdrawal. Neurotransmitters carry the signal of a nerve impulse over the synapse or space between nerve cells. Cocaine blocks these neurotransmitters form being removed from the synapse. This effect produces a prolonged excited state. To compensate, the nerve cell receiving the neurotransmitter will reduce the number of receptors it has to prevent over stimulation. Once cocaine is removed, the nerves will still lack these receptors and be unable to sense the now reduced signal in the synapse. The body would then need the drug to function properly and feel a desperate need for the drug. This could result in a rebound as with alcoholics. When animals addicted to alcohol in a laboratory setting are deprived for more than 2 days and then allowed access to alcohol, their consumption significantly increases. People exhibit this behavior in relationships as well. Examples of this can be seen in any airport terminal. People don’t greet their loved ones with as much excitement every day as they do when returning from a long period of separation.  Another phenomenon associated with relationships is the addiction to PEA. The “rebound” phenomenon is therefore a rush to satisfy a neurological addiction. Other people tend to go from the initial stages of one relationship to the next as soon as the temporary effects of PEA begin to wear off. Infatuation seems to be more responsive to changes in PEA levels as opposed to steady states of high or low concentrations, which would explain a large amount of indecision in dating. As mentioned earlier, Lithium may be useful in breaking these cycles and relieve extreme withdrawal symptoms of love.

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There’s little difference in your brain chemistry between falling in love and addiction, according to experts. “Love is an addiction,” Fisher contends. “If you aren’t addicted to someone, you are probably not in love. The brain region that lights up when you are in love is the reward system, the brain system associated with wanting, seeking, craving, elation, focused attention, obsession, motivation and possessiveness. These are the same brain pathways that become active when you feel the rush of cocaine.”  When we fall in love, a “tiny factory” at the base of the brain called the ventral tegmental area (VTA) kicks in and begins to produce dopamine, a natural stimulant that gives you the feeling of motivation, craving, obsession and other feelings generally associated with addiction. “Suddenly, that person is the center of your life,” Fisher explains. “Everything about your beloved is special. This person’s car, the street he or she lives on — all of these take on a special quality. You feel intense energy, mood swings into despair when things are going poorly, elation when things are going well. You crave contact and are highly motivated to win this person over. You’ll distort reality. If he or she smiles at you, you decide that means this person likes you.” None of this is inherently a problem. Falling in love is generally considered one of life’s most pleasant and exciting experiences. “Love addiction is a very natural state of being in love with someone,” says Fisher, “if someone loves you back, no problem. The two of you are off having the time of your lives. The addiction becomes unhealthy when the other person doesn’t love you back.”

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The Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous web site describes sex and love addiction as a “progressive illness, which may take several forms — including, but not limited to a compulsive need for sex, extreme dependency on one or many people, or a chronic preoccupation with romance, intrigue, or fantasy.”  SLAA literature generally categorizes love addicts into the following types:

•Codependent Love Addicts — These are people attached to one particular partner and unwilling to let go, even when the relationship is destructive. Codependent love addicts’ behavior is often characterized by caretaking, enabling and rescuing.

•Relationship Addicts — These who are no longer in love with their partners but still refuse to let go.

•Narcissistic Love Addicts — These people use dominance, seduction and withholding to control their partners. Often they appear aloof and uncaring until the other person threatens to leave.

•Ambivalent Love Addicts — These who desperately crave love but fear intimacy.

•Torch Bearers — People who obsess about someone who is unavailable.

•Saboteurs — These who destroy relationships before they can reach the attachment phase.

•Romance Addicts — People who tend to have a number of short-lived liaisons because they crave the excitement they feel during the initial courtship phase.

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Behavioral addiction:

 Behavioral addiction (as opposed to chemical addiction) is a form of addiction not caused by the usage of drugs. Behavioral addiction consists of a compulsion to repeatedly engage in an action until it causes negative consequences to the person’s physical, mental, social, and/or financial well-being.  Behavior persisting in spite of these consequences can be taken as a sign of addiction. Behavioral addiction, which is sometimes referred to as impulse control disorders, are increasingly recognized as treatable forms of addictions. The type of behaviors which some people have identified as being addictive include gambling, food, sex, viewing of pornography, use of computers, playing video games, use of the internet, work, exercise, spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion), cutting, and shopping. Obsessive love may be categorized as behavioral addiction.   

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Homosexuality and love:

Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. In sociology, homosociality describes same-sex relationships that are not of a romantic or sexual nature, such as friendship, mentorship, or others.  As an orientation, homosexuality refers to “an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectionate, or romantic attractions” primarily or exclusively to people of the same sex. ” It also refers to an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.” The authors of a 2008 study stated “there is considerable evidence that human sexual orientation is genetically influenced, so it is not known how homosexuality, which tends to lower reproductive success, is maintained in the population at a relatively high frequency”. They hypothesized that “while genes predisposing to homosexuality reduce homosexuals’ reproductive success, they may confer some advantage in heterosexuals who carry them”. Their results suggested that “genes predisposing to homosexuality may confer a mating advantage in heterosexuals, which could help explain the evolution and maintenance of homosexuality in the population”.  A 2009 study also suggested a significant increase in fecundity in the females related to the homosexual people from the maternal line (but not in those related from the paternal one). A review paper by Bailey and Zuk looking into studies of same-sex sexual behaviour in animals challenges the view that such behaviour lowers reproductive success, citing several hypotheses about how same-sex sexual behavior might be adaptive; these hypotheses vary greatly among different species.

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Bromance and womance:

In popular culture, the word bromance has recently been used to refer to an especially close homosocial yet non-sexual relationship between two men. Bromance is most often used in the case of two heterosexual partners, although there have been prominent celebrity gay-straight bromances (also known as homomances or hobromances). The female equivalent is a womance.

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Same sex love among heterosexuals:

Ever felt an intense burst of happiness when you see a friend of the same sex? You’re both straight, you don’t cuddle and you don’t grope each other. But somehow you just love this person, and you either have a man crush or a girl crush on this friend of yours. Same sex love is an emotion you’d feel for your friend or even a celebrity, but it’s got less to do with sexual attraction and more to do with awe, respect and admiration. 

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Homosexual and Heterosexual Love and Friend Relationships: A study:

A study explored homosexual and heterosexual friend and love relationships as measured by Wright’s (1984) Acquaintance Description Form-Final (ADF-F). It was hypothesized that homosexual relationships would vary from heterosexual relationships on certain aspects of the relationships. Homosexual subjects (N=78) responded toward a target person (friend and/or lover) using the ADF-F. The responses were compared to responses previously obtained from heterosexual subjects. The results indicated that male and female homosexual relationships appeared most similar to engaged heterosexual relationships, with the finding being most clear-cut for females. Contrary to expectations, homosexual love relationships were no less permanent or exclusive than were heterosexual love relationships. Male and female homosexual friendships were perceived as providing greater emotional salience when compared to heterosexual friendships. No significant differences were found when comparing male and female homosexual love relationships or male and female homosexual friendships.

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Is heterosexual love optimum and homosexual love perversion?

For heterosexuality to be the optimum means that other forms of physical sexual expression are perversions. We may find that perversions may be tolerable and useful under certain circumstances, but, either the optimum exists or it does not. Society’s general perception of what is perversion in this case is somewhat shallow and largely hypocritical. People say that heterosexual love is beautiful, because it is an element of procreation, and anything else is perversion? That standpoint is hypocritical, isn’t it? It would render 99.9% of heterosexual sex a perversion as well as it is not pursued for procreation, including the gentle kiss which isn’t an element of procreation at all. Nevertheless, the general perception is that a male to male kiss is perversion. From this view the question does indeed arise as to whether a distinct principle of heterosexuality exists that covers the whole sexual scene and becomes the determinant for what is beautiful and what is perversion. On the other hand one can also set a different standard for determining perversion, such as when what is deemed love drops below the level of affection and becomes depravity. The moral domain is inherently a transitional domain that is as widely open to our ascendancy to the beautiful and the sublime, just as it is open to the perversion of sex into depravity and a whole gutter full of filth, such as rape, abuse, violence, cruelty, exploitation, within and without marriage, and a whole lot more, much of which is also a part of the heterosexual scene. The gutter on this scene that so many men and women have been drowned in leaves one to wonder if heterosexuality really is that optimum in sexual relations that renders all other forms as perversions. So, where does the truth really reside? Will we ever know that for certain? Of course the truth is located in what does actually elevate civilization. But even that is hard to measure in a world that is deeply overlaid with learned perceptions and age-old traditions.

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Neuroimaging study proves that there are no differences between heterosexual & homosexual in love neurobiologically:

There are no differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals or between women and men in terms of the brain systems regulating romantic love, according to new UCL research published in the latest issue of PLoS One. The study, by Professor Semir Zeki and John Romaya from the Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology at UCL, is a continuation of earlier work from the same lab which described brain activity in terms of romantic and maternal love. In this latest study, 24 subjects were asked to view pictures of their romantic partners, as well as pictures of friends of the same sex as their partners but to whom they were romantically indifferent, while the activity in their brains was scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The subjects varied in age from 19 to 47, with their relationship lengths varying from 4 months to 23 years. Half of the subjects were female (6 heterosexual and 6 homosexual) and half were male (6 heterosexual and 6 homosexual). All reported being passionately in love and in a sexual relationship with their partner. All of the study participants were asked to rate their feelings towards their romantic partners both before and after scanning and declare their sexual orientation on the Kinsey rating which includes groups ranging from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual. The fMRI results showed a very similar pattern of activity between the different groups and involved activation of both cortical and sub-cortical areas, mainly in areas that are rich in dopaminergic (“feel good”) neurotransmitter activity. These areas included the hypothalamus, ventral tegmental area, caudate nucleus and the putamen, as well as the insula, hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex. Dopaminergic activity is strongly linked to other neurotransmitter activities – such as those mediated by oxytocin and serotonin – which are thought to be important in regulating emotional relationships and bonding between individuals.

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Lovesickness:

Lovesickness describes the informal syndrome of rejected or unrequited love or the absence of a loved one and covers physical as well as mental symptoms. It is not to be confused with the condition of being lovestruck. Lovestruck implies falling in love with great speed and intensity. Falling in love is common to both the lovestruck and the lovesick. Although typically harmless it can for some personalities lead to serious physical or mental illness, sometimes even culminating in attempted suicide.

Signs and Symptoms of Lovesickness

  • Anxiety sets in when they don’t call
  • You think about the person all the time
  • You can’t sleep and become an insomniac
  • Have no real appetite
  • Become unfocused and dreamy
  • Loose contact with friends and family
  • Wanting to spend every moment with the person you love
  • When you feel your love is not being reciprocated you can start to feel that you are possibly not good enough, or not attractive, etc.

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One might ask, why hasn’t the profession of psychology taken lovesickness more seriously, given its association with wet hands, dry mouth, insomnia, loss of appetite, rapid heart rate, confusion, awkward behavior, sexual addiction, obsessive thoughts, compulsive behavior, and even suicide?

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Frank Tallis, a clinical psychologist in London, examined the historical attitudes to love and mental illness, stretching back to the time of the ancient Greeks. Before the 18th century lovesickness had for thousands of years been accepted as a natural state of mind.  But for the last 200 years it has fallen out of favour with medical practitioners as a proper diagnosis, Dr Tallis said that love had been widely linked with “madness”, but this was more than just a poetic turn of phrase such as that often used in pop songs. Now lovesickness should be taken more seriously, and called for greater awareness among the medical profession.  Tearfulness, insomnia, loss of concentration – if these symptoms sound familiar chances are you could be diagnosed with love sickness. In the most serious cases the “disease” can also prove fatal, according to some experts. Dr Tallis said modern research suggested that the effects of being lovesick could be described in the latest diagnostic terms. Symptoms can include mania, such as an elevated mood and inflated self-esteem, or depression, revealing itself as tearfulness and insomnia.
Here are some of the possible symptoms to look out for:
Mania – abnormally elevated mood, inflated self-esteem, extravagant gift-giving.
Obsessive compulsive disorder – preoccupation, checking (such as of text messages), hygiene rituals (prior to dating), hoarding valueless but superstitiously resonant items.

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Difficult breakups:

And the “dark side” to this is that there is the danger of violence when one partner threatens to leave the other. Threats, no less than promises, must be backed up by signs of commitment. A desperate lover in danger of being abandoned may resort to threatening his wife or girlfriend. The best way to prevent her from calling his bluff is in fact not to bluff–to be the kind of hothead who is crazy enough to do it. Persons who have been in the “throes” of romantic love, and are subsequently rejected, can feel a sense of being overwhelmed.  And when rejected, some people contemplate stalking, homicide, suicide … This drive for romantic love can be stronger than the will to live, according to one researcher. It’s difficult for the legal system to become involved when lovers have disputes over romantic love; one writer in 1913 suggested against any sort of “official interference” when dealing with the course of romantic love. But the intensity of feeling when a breakup happens can be powerful, debilitating, and emotionally draining, and few situations which “provoke old wounds”.

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Neurochemistry of Heartbreak:

A kind of scientific anatomy of heartbreak, citing the familiar work of biological anthropologist Helen Fisher: There are two main stages associated with a dead and dying romantic relationship, which is so often tied to one partner’s infidelities. During the ‘protest’ stage that occurs in the immediate aftermath of rejection, ‘abandoned lovers are generally dedicated to winning their sweetheart back. They obsessively dissect the relationship, trying to establish what went wrong; and they doggedly strategize about how to rekindle the romance. Disappointed lovers often make dramatic, humiliating, or even dangerous entrances into a beloved’s home or place of work, then storm out, only to return and plead anew. They visit mutual haunts and shared friends. They phone, e-mail, and write letters, pleading, accusing, and/or trying to seduce their abandoner.’  At the neurobiological level, the protest stage is characterized by unusually heightened, even frantic activity of dopamine and norepinephrine receptors in the brain, which has the effect of pronounced alertness similar to what is found in young animals abandoned by their mothers. This impassioned protest stage — if it proves unsuccessful in reestablishing the romantic relationship — slowly disintegrates into the second stage of heartbreak, what Fisher refers to as ‘resignation/despair,’ in which the rejected party gives up all hope of ever getting back together. ‘Drugged by sorrow,’ writes Fisher, ‘most cry, lie in bed, stare into space, drink too much, or hole up and watch TV.’ At the level of the brain, overtaxed dopamine-making cells begin sputtering out, causing lethargy and depression. And in the saddest cases, this depression is linked to heart attacks or strokes, so people can, quite literally, die of a broken heart. So we may not be ‘naturally monogamous’ as a species, but neither are we naturally polygamous.

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Why does love hurt so much?

Falling in love is as much a physical reaction as it is an emotional one. In fact, the “symptoms” of being smitten – rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, dilated pupils – are the same as those of the “fight or flight” stress response we have in reaction to an adrenaline surge. Love is also mind-altering – researchers report that brain images of people looking at a picture of their beloved resemble those of people high on cocaine. It’s no surprise, then, that the mind and body are affected when love is unrequited or a romance goes sour. The impact on a person’s mood and behaviour can be dramatic. In various stages of love, people exhibit signs of mania (elevated mood, inflated self-esteem), depression (insomnia, tearfulness, loss of concentration), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (preoccupation, frequent checking for e-mail and text messages, pre-date hygiene rituals). Indeed, for thousands of years, lovesickness was accepted as a legitimate medical diagnosis, which gives the term “madly in love” a new dimension. Love can also be a real pain… in the heart. In 2005, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine reported that sudden emotional stress can cause severe but reversible weakness of the heart muscle. Stress cardiomyopathy, nicknamed “broken heart syndrome,” occurs when the heart is temporarily “stunned” by a prolonged surge in adrenaline and other stress hormones. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, fluid in the lungs, and heart failure, and are most often displayed by middle-aged or elderly women. Patients are often misdiagnosed as having a massive heart attack. Fortunately, unlike those who have had a heart attack, they recover completely within two weeks and there is no lasting damage to the heart. That doesn’t mean the lovelorn are out of danger. Studies show that it is possible to die of a broken heart. The first and most-cited report appeared in the British Medical Journal in 1969. Researchers followed 4,500 widowers aged 55 and older for 9 years. The risk of dying in the first 6 months after the death of a spouse was 40% higher than usual, with the most common cause being a heart attack. As time went on, the risk decreased to normal levels. These findings are supported by a larger study published in 1996. Researchers analyzed data from 1.5 million people aged 35 to 84. The risk of dying from a heart attack within the 6 months following a spouse’s death was 20-35% higher than normal, while the chances of dying from an accident, alcohol-related problems, or violence was 100% higher.

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In a study researchers showed that male prairie voles that had been separated from their female partners for four days—a much shorter amount of separation time than researchers had previously found to affect the voles’ physiology—exhibited depression like behavior and had increased levels of corticosterone, the rodent equivalent of the human stress hormone cortisol. Males that had been separated from their male siblings did not display any of these symptoms, implying the response was tied specific­ally to mate separation, not just social isolation. When the animals received a drug that blocked cortico­sterone re­lease, they no longer exhibited depres­sion like behavior following partner sep­aration, confirming that stress hor­mones were at the root of the response. In many ways, separation appears to resemble drug withdrawal. Studies have shown that in monogamous animals, cohabiting and mating increase levels of oxytocin and vasopressin—hormones that foster emotional attachments—and activate brain areas associated with reward. As a result, when prairie voles are separated from their partners even for a short time, they experience with­drawal-like symptoms, says Larry Young, a behavioral neuroscientist at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center and co-author of the study. “In the short term, I think [this mechanism] creates an aversive state so that the animals want to seek out their partner to hold that bond together,” Young says. In a recent study of human couples, social psychologist Lisa Diamond of the University of Utah observed minor withdrawal-like symptoms, such as irritability and sleep disturbances, along with an increase in cortisol in subjects after they were separated four to seven days. Participants who repor­ted high anxiety about their relation­ships had the biggest spikes in cortisol levels, but even those who reported low levels of stress and anxiety during the separation exhibited some degree of increased cortisol and physical discomfort. These results, like those from Young’s study, indicate a specific link between separation and increased cortisol, implying cortisol-blocking drugs may benefit people struggling to cope with partner separation, too. Researchers believe the pair bond evolved from the parent-child bond, which may ex­plain why we feel romantic attachments so strongly. The same neurochemicals—oxy­tocin, vasopressin and dopamine—have been implicated in both relationships, and the be­havioral patterns associated with parental and romantic bond formation and sepa­ration are also similar. “We think about parent-child relationships and adult ro­man­tic relationships as being funda­mentally different,” Diamond explains, “but it really boils down to the same functional purpose: creating a psycho­logical drive to be near the other person, to want to take care of them, and being resistant to being separated from them.”

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Do not lose hope:

Decades of research show that people who are happily married live longer than singles. They enjoy better mental and emotional well-being, have lower rates of cancer, heart failure, and other diseases, and are less likely to be victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. They also have greater collective wealth and a larger support network, and are less likely to smoke and drink heavily. It takes time to find the right partner, but you can enjoy these benefits, too, if you survive the initial throes of passion and heartache. It seems that the prevailing theories are correct: of all the things that have been claimed about love, nobody ever said it was easy. So the best way to overcome lovesickness is to find another better love.

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Promiscuity in love:

While still warmly attached, in the bosom of the family, it’s common to be attracted to another available love object. Helen Fisher again: “It seems to be the destiny of humankind that we are neurologically able to love more than one person at a time. You can feel profound attachment for a long-term spouse, while you feel romantic passion for someone in the office or your social circle, while you feel the sex drive as you read a book, watch a movie, or do something else unrelated to either partner.”  Human mates who stay together are rewarded in evolutionary terms by the knowledge that their genes are being perpetuated. But adultery lurks constantly in the wings. Men make a huge investment in their offspring, and it would be unthinkable to see a rival’s genes prosper. In this sense, jealousy is an evolutionary strategy to prevent cuckoldry. “Sexual jealousy,” writes David Buss, “is activated when one is confronted either with signs that someone else has an interest in one’s mate or with signs of defection by one’s mate, such as flirting with someone else.” Despite strong motives and ideals for single attachment, human promiscuity is pervasive, especially among males (British heterosexual males admit to an average of six sexual partners in a lifetime, as opposed to an average of four admitted by women). Primate males, however, never refuse a chance to seduce an available female, and female primates are ready and willing should a forceful, attractive male appear despite fear of a walloping from her current mate. The ethologist Geoffrey Miller, in The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature, has an interesting take on defenses against sexual infidelity. While granting that romantic love “evolved through sexual selection, not least because it signaled fidelity”, and that romantic love lasts no longer than a matter of months, Miller believes that monogamy is actually encouraged by flirtation: “The human capacity for flirtation (sexually inhibited pseudo-courtship) is one of the modern world’s most underrated virtues, the principal spice of adult social life throughout history.” He believes sexual fantasy is of equal importance. “It permits sexual infidelity in the virtual reality of the imagination,” he asserts, “without offending one’s real sexual partner as much as a real affair would.” But here’s a paradox. Prospects for sexual success, with the promise of preserving one’s gene pool, favour sexual fidelity. Yet there are clearly reproductive benefits in promiscuity, especially for males. Obviously, flirtation is dangerous, since it can lead to mating. According to Miller, then, the clash of drives towards both monogamy and polygamy in the human animal creates a queasy tightrope walk. “We are not always sexually faithful,” he argues, “but that does not mean that our capacity for fidelity is a flawed adaptation. It may be perfectly adapted to a Pleistocene world in which the highest reproductive success went to those who were almost always faithful, except when a significantly more attractive option arose.”

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Love triangle:

The term “love triangle” usually refers to a romantic relationship involving three people but beyond that it comes in all shapes and forms. In some triangles, all three people know about the other; more common is when one person has two partners – each unknown to the other – on the go at once or when one person is completely public about one of his partners and has an affair with the second as an ongoing secret. The messiest and most complicated love triangles involve marriage and children, where the latter should be the biggest concern for all concerned. The relationships can be friendships, romantic, or familial (often other siblings). “Although the romantic love triangle is formally identical to the friendship triad, as many have noted their actual implications are quite different….Romantic love is typically viewed as an exclusive relationship, whereas friendship is not.” Statistics suggest that, in Western society, “wittingly or not, most adults have been involved in a love triangle”. Two main forms of love triangle have been distinguished: “there is the rivalrous triangle, where the lover is competing with a rival for the love of the beloved, and the split-object triangle, where a lover has split their attention between two love objects”. Within the context of monogamy, love triangles are inherently unstable, with unrequited love and jealousy as common themes. Though rare, love triangles have been known to lead to murder or suicide committed by the actual or perceived rejected lover. Psychoanalysis has explored ‘the theme of erotic love triangles and their roots in the Oedipal triangle’.  Experience suggests that ‘a repeated pattern of forming or being caught in love triangle can be much dissolved by beginning to analyze the patterns of the childhood relationship to each parent in turn and to both parents as a couple’.  In such instances, ‘you find men who are attracted only by married woman but who can’t sustain the relationship if it threatens to become more than an affair. They need the husband to protect them from a full relationship…as women who repeatedly get involved with married men need the wives’.  Love triangles are a popular theme in entertainment, especially romantic fiction, including opera, romance novels, soap operas, romantic comedies, manga and popular music.

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For all parties involved, it is hard to break away from the emotions that have been invested; no matter what side of the relationship they belong to. In budding relationships that started out as love triangles, two of the parties can be heavily focused on the competition of being victorious and claiming the partner for their own. The idea of competing and putting someone else before yourself is very unhealthy. It is not recommended but when someone believes themselves to be in love, they may as well be blind to any advice that is offered, even if they can see the good intentions behind it. At the heart of the triangle is the person who is stringing along the remaining two people. Although they are instantly slated for being “bad” and “unworthy”, all may not be as it first appears – even though their behaviour can not be excused. Perhaps they entered each relationship on a non-exclusive basis and when the commitment talks arrived, they didn’t have the heart to admit to another fling. The emotional confusion that can be felt when juggling two relationships, each asking to be exclusive without knowing the full story is an obvious disadvantage for the one who has to make a choice. Guilt, too, can play a large part in a love triangle and can be seen from all parties. At the tip of the triangle is the one who is at the center of it all, guilty for hurting the two loves in their love, and on the outsides of the triangle is the one left at home, guilty that for not doing all they can to keep their partner interested, and the one found more frequently in hotel rooms, guilty for tearing into a happy home-life but unable to find the strength to call it a day. Anyone keen to enter into the tangled mess that comes from sharing a partner of someone else may suffer from deep-rooted insecurities and self-esteem issues. It is nothing that can be called an advantage and, as the days pass by and the nights grow longer, their own loneliness is multiplied. Self-esteem – or the lack of it – can also be attributed to the main participate in the love triangle, who is neither happy with themselves nor what they had to start with. The answers and decisions are never easy once someone enters into a love triangle but that can only be said in hindsight. Prior to engaging in such activities, no one would see it as desirable but inevitably the situation of a love triangle happens, across the world, and cannot be pinpointed to either point of the triangle. Each of its players must share a third of the blame and this disadvantage is possibly the most heartbreaking of all.

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There are times in our life when we get ourselves caught in the middle of a love triangle. Relationships can be so difficult sometimes, and especially when our social scene resolves so much around intermingling with the opposite sex. It’s very easy to be casually dating and start progressing with two different people. So what should you do? Well it depends on who you are in the triangle. The key point to remember is that love triangles rarely end up with happy endings for all three people. In some cases, it ends with all three being unhappy. The reason that a love triangle is so dangerous is that its people’s feelings and emotions at stake. If you want to just casually date different people then don’t get into a relationship in the first place, much less two. Make your intentions known to those you are dating so that there’s no confusion, and it might be possible to sustain a casual dating lifestyle for a while. In the end though, even if you state your intentions clearly, there’s no guarantee that feelings won’t start to come about anyway. Love triangles are stressful on everybody involved, and it’s a lot to deal with. You really have to be sure that the person you’re waiting for is the person you’re supposed to be with in order to make it worth it. It rarely ever is. The best advice actually may be just to back off and let time take its course. You might be surprised at who else you find along the way, and how much better it is without the drama in your life.  

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Disadvantages of falling in love with a married man:

Most men will not leave their wives for their lover. Most men will live the adventure to its fullest and then put their lover into their personal recycling bin forever. This will hurt all those women that have thought that for once and for all he was really falling in love with them and that they had the power to revolutionize his entire life. Do not fall into this trap and remember that if he is cheating in first place then he is not somebody that deserves your trust. When it comes to dating married men there are many things to keep into consideration. All these bad sides of the story should extinguish the biggest “fires” before they develop.

•First of all, there is secrecy to respect. You cannot present yourself at his front door or start calling and asking his wife for him. You will not have freedom to go to close by restaurants or spend the evening with him at his home where neighbors and friends can report your presence. You will have to be sneaky and accept the fact that you are going to have to hide all the time. Some women may find it exciting to have their own little “dirty secrets” and “secret appointments” but all this will end up soon being a big nuisance to his and your reputation especially in small towns where everybody knows each other. Nothing is worse than having people talk bad behind your backs and even risking somebody telling your affair to his wife.

•Affairs with married men may as well end up being dangerous. If the wife should discover they may stalk you and threaten you. Sometimes they can end up being deadly as well in what are called “murders of passion”.

•You will have to deal with the thought of sharing him with someone else. These thoughts can be nerve wrecking. Just imagining him leaving you for the night and having dinner and sleeping with his wife can cause unimaginable heartaches. As humans in our culture, we can share food, we can share clothes but we cannot share a man without feeling terrible about it. And after all, his wife came first!

•Guilt. It will pop up every now and then even though you may hate his wife. True fact is that you are the intruder; you are the shadow threatening to destroy a marriage and the life of children if he has any. True fact is you wouldn’t want to be in his wife’s shoes and you may want a traditional monogamous marriage as most women.

•Get ready to be lied into your face. He is cheating, thus he is lying to his wife day and night. Meetings, traffic, over night job stays are the most common excuses. Lying is not a one way road, it goes both ways. His lies are oncoming and outgoing. Think it over when he says your are the most important thing in his life.

•Un-returned phone calls, loss of contact. This will happen, he tells you he will call but every time something happens and you remain all night waiting. He tells to meet him but then he had to take his son to a football practice session. Be ready to be waiting and waiting and waiting. This should be a wakening sign that you are after all, just a small chapter of his life.

•Not many people will be on your side to give you support. Friends, family may not approve your relationship and you may find yourself lonely and misunderstood. Many times he is the only one that can help you overcome your feelings. But he will not always be there for you.

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Love and marriage:

Marriage holds an important place in human relationships because it fulfills the basic need for love, companionship and family in a way no other relationship can. The phrase often used for this is “settling down”, words that seem more suitable for your stomach than for one of life’s most difficult adventures! It’s a game of chance but the upside of a successful match makes it a worthwhile journey to embark on. While a good marriage is an ideal framework to raise children in, choosing a suitable partner is the start rather than the end of a search. Whether you are newlywed or have been married for some time, nurturing the relationship is of paramount importance. First of all, you can love anyone, but that doesn’t mean they are suitable to be a marriage partner. And you can fall in love with someone, and you may think that they are the right person for you, but when you wake up you find that they are not.  Being in love is the state that we want to culture.  It takes time to shift from falling in love with someone, or simply loving someone, or caring for someone, to actually being in love.  Being in love is a feeling of connection, a special connection that gives rise to a feeling that you want to share your life with that person. Single people often ask, ‘how do you know if this is the one?’  The simple answer is that one day you just wake up and you know that this is the one.  And it’s not that feeling of infatuation, where you’re engulfed and you feel like you’ve fallen in love.  But you’ve taken time to see the good of someone and maybe the bad of someone and you’ve weathered some time together and you still feel that this is the person I want to share my life with.  That’s being in love.  And it happens through a gradual dating process, of gradually getting to know someone, being aware that at times you’re more attracted and less attracted to them, but then continuing to focus on your commitment, and over time, experiencing that you can get what you need in this relationship and your partner can get what they need.  With that foundation in place, and you are still in love, and you feel like you want to share your life together, then it is a good time to get married.  If you have been in a relationship and it didn’t work out, then it is important to understand why it didn’t work out so that you don’t feel like a victim of someone else, or a victim of yourself.  Often people doubt their own intuition after a few failed relationships. There is a simple universal phrase that seems to be true, ‘when one door closes, another door opens’.  Well, when one relationship ends, if you don’t understand why it ended without a lot of blame, then that “door” is still open. You’re still wondering why it went wrong.  An even better universal phrase is “good endings make good beginnings.” When you can understand why a relationship ends or fails, and you are able to do it in a loving way towards yourself and the other person, then you’ve completed that relationship the right way and you have fully closed that “door”.  And it’s at that time when you can open the “door” to a new and better experience in your life.  So it’s helpful to understand about previous relationships, even if you are looking for a new relationship.  New information will help us reevaluate our past, so we can make sure that we attract the right person in our life, to create a lifetime of love. Regarding why the divorce rate is so high nowadays is because we are under more stress than ever before in history.  As more women take on jobs that stimulate the male hormone testosterone, it actually increases stress in a woman’s body, while it lowers stress in a man’s. Recent research shows that when women come home, their stress level doubles. For a man, their stress level goes down. It’s important for us to understand this new challenge we face in our lives and learn to make the home and our relationship a way to lower the stress that we experience in the workplace, particularly for women.  If women do not learn how to balance the testosterone producing activities of the day, with oxytocin producing activities in their relationships in their home, then women will continue to experience higher levels of stress than men and lower levels of energy, which can be disastrous for a relationship and be the foundation for dissatisfaction, which leads to divorce.

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Why happiness & love in marriage does not last long?

In fairy tales, marriages last happily ever after. Science, however, tells us that wedded bliss has but a limited shelf life. American and European researchers tracked 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over the course of 15 years. The findings were clear: newlyweds enjoy a big happiness boost that lasts, on average, for just two years. Then the special joy wears off and they are back where they started, at least in terms of happiness. The findings of this study have been confirmed by several recent studies. When love is new, we have the rare capacity to experience great happiness while being stuck in traffic or getting our teeth cleaned. We are in the throes of what researchers call passionate love, a state of intense longing, desire and attraction. In time, this love generally morphs into companionate love, a less impassioned blend of deep affection and connection. The reason is that human beings are, as more than a hundred studies show, prone to hedonic adaptation, a measurable and innate capacity to become habituated or inured to most life changes. With all due respect to poets and pop radio songwriters, new love seems nearly as vulnerable to hedonic adaptation as a new job, a new home, a new coat and other novel sources of pleasure and well-being. Hedonic adaptation is most likely when positive experiences are involved. . Sexual passion and arousal are particularly prone to hedonic adaptation. Laboratory studies in places as far-flung as Melbourne, Australia, and Stony Brook, N.Y., are persuasive: both men and women are less aroused after they have repeatedly viewed the same erotic pictures or engaged in similar sexual fantasies. Familiarity may or may not breed contempt; but research suggests that it breeds indifference. Or, as Raymond Chandler wrote: “The first kiss is magic. The second is intimate. The third is routine.” There are evolutionary, physiological and practical reasons passionate love is unlikely to endure for long. If we obsessed, endlessly, about our partners and had sex with them multiple times a day — every day — we would not be very productive at work or attentive to our children, our friends or our health. Indeed, the condition of being in love has a lot in common with the state of addiction and narcissism; if unabated, it will eventually exact a toll.  Why, then, is the natural shift from passionate to companionate love often such a letdown? Because, although we may not realize it, we are biologically hard-wired to crave variety. Variety and novelty affect the brain in much the same way that drugs do — that is, they trigger activity that involves the neurotransmitter dopamine, as do pharmacological highs.  Evolutionary biologists believe that sexual variety is adaptive, and that it evolved to prevent incest and inbreeding in ancestral environments. The idea is that when our spouse becomes as familiar to us as a sibling — when we’ve become family — we cease to be sexually attracted to each other. It doesn’t take a scientist to observe that because the sex in a long-term committed monogamous relationship involves the same partner day after day after day, no one who is truly human (or mammalian) can maintain the same level of lust and ardor that he or she experienced when that love was uncharted and new. We may love our partners deeply, idolize them, and even be willing to die for them, but these feelings rarely translate into long-term passion. And studies show that in long-term relationships, women are more likely than men to lose interest in sex, and to lose it sooner. Why? Because women’s idea of passionate sex depends far more centrally on novelty than does men’s.  When married couples reach the two-year mark, many mistake the natural shift from passionate love to companionate love for incompatibility and unhappiness. For many, the possibility that things might be different — more exciting, more satisfying — with someone else proves difficult to resist. Injecting variety and surprise into even the most stable, seasoned relationship is a good hedge against such temptation. Key parties — remember “The Ice Storm”? — aren’t necessarily what the doctor ordered; simpler changes in routine, departures from the expected, go a long way. In a classic experiment conducted by Arthur Aron and his colleagues, researchers gave upper-middle-class middle-aged couples a list of activities that both parties agreed were “pleasant” (like creative cooking, visiting friends or seeing a movie) or “exciting” (skiing, dancing or attending concerts) but that they had enjoyed only infrequently. Researchers instructed each couple to select one of these activities each week and spend 90 minutes doing it together. At the end of 10 weeks, the couples who engaged in the “exciting” activities reported greater satisfaction in their marriage than those who engaged in “pleasant” or enjoyable activities together.  Although variety and surprise seem similar, they are in fact quite distinct. It’s easy to vary a sequence of events — like choosing a restaurant for a weekly date night — without offering a lot of surprise. In the beginning, relationships are endlessly surprising: Does he like to cook? What is his family like? What embarrasses or delights him? As we come to know our partners better and better, they surprise us less.  Surprise is a potent force. When something novel occurs, we tend to pay attention, to appreciate the experience or circumstance, and to remember it. We are less likely to take our marriage for granted when it continues to deliver strong emotional reactions in us. Also, uncertainty sometimes enhances the pleasure of positive events. For example, a series of studies at the University of Virginia and at Harvard showed that people experienced longer bursts of happiness when they were at the receiving end of an unexpected act of kindness and remained uncertain about where and why it had originated. Such reactions may have neuroscientific origins. In one experiment, scientists offered drinks to thirsty subjects; those who were not told what kind of drink they would get (i.e., water or a more appealing beverage) showed more activity in the portion of the brain that registers positive emotions. Surprise is apparently more satisfying than stability. The realization that your marriage no longer supplies the charge it formerly did is then an invitation: eschew predictability in favor of discovery, novelty and opportunities for unpredictable pleasure. “A relationship, Woody Allen proclaimed in his film Annie Hall, is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies.” A marriage is likely to change shape multiple times over the course of its lifetime; it must be continually rebuilt if it is to thrive. The good news is that taking the long view on marriage and putting in the hard work has calculable benefits. Research shows that marital happiness reaches one of its highest peaks during the period after offspring have moved out of the family home. The nest may be empty, but it’s also full of possibility for partners to rediscover — and surprise — each other again. In other words, an empty nest offers the possibility of novelty and unpredictability. Whether this phase of belated marital joy lasts, like the initial period of connubial bliss, for longer than two years is anybody’s guess.

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“There’s nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman; it’s a thing no married man knows anything about.” — Oscar Wilde  

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Modern love does not stay forever:

Modern love doesn’t exist in the way people think, a US psychologist has claimed. Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has dispelled Hollywood notions of true love and happy endings. Fredrickson said that people do experience love, but terms the emotional reaction as a “micro-moment of positivity resonance.” This means that people love their partners in micro-moments, and also experience the same love with friends, co-workers and complete strangers. “Thinking of love purely as romance or commitment that you share with one special person, as it appears most on earth do, surely limits the health and happiness you derive from love,” she says.

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Can true love last a lifetime?

Scientists have discovered that people can have a love that lasts a lifetime. Using brain scans, researchers at Stony Brook University in New York have discovered a small number of couples (10%) respond with as much passion after 20 years together as most people only do during the early throes of romance. The researchers scanned the brains of couples together for 20 years and compared them with results from new lovers. About 10 percent of the mature couples had the same chemical reactions when shown photographs of their loved ones as those just starting out. Previous research has suggested that the first stages of romantic love fade within 15 months and after 10 years it has gone completely. “The findings go against the traditional view of romance — that it drops off sharply in the first decade — but we are sure it’s real,” said Arthur Aron, a psychologist.

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What technology does to Meeting and Mating: Internet and Love:

The advent of online dating has created, at least in theory, the opportunity for singles the world over to find and connect with their most compatible matches. Dating sites have exponentially broadened our range of choices, but while unlimited choice may initially sound like an entirely positive thing, journalist Dan Slater has discovered otherwise. In his new book “Love in the Time of Algorithms,” Slater explores how online dating is changing society in profound ways, reconditioning our very feelings about courting, commitment, monogamy and even marriage. In fact, he questions whether the rise of online dating could mean an overall decrease in commitment. In conversations with the executives who run some of the biggest dating sites, as well as the love-seekers who patronize them, Slater discovers a possible inverse correlation between commitment and the efficiency of technology. After all, why should we settle for someone who falls short of our expectations if there are thousands of other options just a click away? “Authenticity, deception, commitment, intimacy, paranoia, sex, and trust — technology is changing all these aspects of relationships,” writes Slater. “In the past these changes have been fueled by the personal ad, the bicycle, the car, the movie theater, and contraception. Today it’s the internet.” Interestingly, Slater himself is the product of an online relationship: His parents met through an early computer dating service when they were in college. They divorced when he was 3, and though the matching algorithms employed by today’s dating sites have evolved in complexity, the likelihood that relationships initiated by them will stand the test of time seems low. “The future will see better relationships but more divorce,” predicts Dan Winchester, the founder of a free dating site based in the U.K. It seems both odd and disheartening that the potential for ever-better matches would lead to higher rates of divorce, but don’t despair. “The best marriages are probably unaffected,” offers Northwestern’s Eli Finkel. “Happy couples won’t be hanging out on dating sites.”

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Love of God:

Love of God can mean either love for God or love by God. Love for God (philotheia) is associated with the concepts of piety, worship, and devotions towards God. Love by God for human beings (philanthropia) is lauded in Psalm 52:1: “The steadfast love of God endures all the day”; Psalm 52:8: “I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever”; Romans 8:39: “Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God”; Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”;  John 4:9: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him”. The teachings of the Bahá’í Faith hold that the love by God (philanthropia) is the primary reason for human creation, and one of the primary purposes of life. The love by God purifies human hearts and through it humans become transformed and self-sacrificing, as they reflect more the attributes and qualities of God. The Old Testament uses a rich vocabulary to express the love of God, as a concept that appears in many instances. However, the exegesis of the love of God in the Old Testament has presented problems for modern scholars. The love of God appears in a number of texts (e.g. Hosea 1-3, and then in Ezek 16 and Isa 62). In Hinduism, in contrast to kāma, which is selfish, or pleasurable love, prema – or prem – refers to elevated love. In Krishnaism this deity is Krishna, sometimes referred as intimate deity – as compared with the numerous four-armed forms of Narayana or Vishnu. It may refer to either of the interrelated concepts of the love of God towards creation, the love of creatures towards God or relationship between the two as in bhakti. The love of God, and the fear of God, are two of the foundations of Islam. The highest spiritual attainment in Islam is related to the love of God.  The love of God has been called the “essence of Judaism”. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”     

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Note: Neurobiologically it is proved that love and fear are mutually exclusive and contrasting with each other; but religiosity supports such co-existence. You love God and also fear God as you may be punished by God for disobeying him.  So love is an area where science and religion differ. 

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Religious views of love:

There remains one special attribution of love, religious love. Can there be religious love? This is said in the Western Christian tradition to take two forms: love thy neighbor and love God. Other religions have developed intense practices of the “mystical” love of God, or of gods. The Christian understanding is that love comes from God. The love of man and woman—eros in Greek—and the unselfish love of others (agape), are often contrasted as “ascending” and “descending” love, respectively, but are ultimately the same thing. Saint Augustine says that one must be able to decipher the difference between love and lust. Lust, according to Saint Augustine, is an overindulgence, but to love and be loved is what he has sought for his entire life. In Christianity the practical definition of love is best summarized by St. Thomas Aquinas, who defined love as “to will the good of another,” or to desire for another to succeed. This is the explanation of the Christian need to love others, including their enemies. As Thomas Aquinas explains, Christian love is motivated by the need to see others succeed in life, to be good people. In Hebrew, Ahava is the most commonly used term for both interpersonal love and love between God and God’s creations. Chesed, often translated as loving-kindness, is used to describe many forms of love between human beings. The commandment to love other people is given in the Torah, which states, “Love your neighbor like yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). The Torah’s commandment to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) is taken by the Mishnah (a central text of the Jewish oral law) to refer to good deeds, willingness to sacrifice one’s life rather than commit certain serious transgressions, willingness to sacrifice all of one’s possessions, and being grateful to the Lord despite adversity (tractate Berachoth 9:5). Love encompasses the Islamic view of life as universal brotherhood that applies to all who hold faith. Amongst the 99 names of God (Allah), there is the name Al-Wadud, or “the Loving One,” which is found in Surah [Quran 11:90] as well as Surah [Quran 85:14]. God is also referenced at the beginning of every chapter in the Qur’an as Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, or the “Most Compassionate” and the “Most Merciful”, indicating that nobody is more loving, compassionate and benevolent than God. The Qur’an refers to God as being “full of loving kindness.” Ishq, or divine love, is the emphasis of Sufism in the Islamic tradition. Practitioners of Sufism believe that love is a projection of the essence of God to the universe. God desires to recognize beauty, and as if one looks at a mirror to see oneself, God “looks” at himself within the dynamics of nature. Since everything is a reflection of God, the school of Sufism practices to see the beauty inside the apparently ugly. Sufism is often referred to as the religion of love. In Buddhism, Kāma is sensuous, sexual love. It is an obstacle on the path to enlightenment, since it is selfish. Karuṇā is compassion and mercy, which reduces the suffering of others. It is complementary to wisdom and is necessary for enlightenment. Adveṣa and mettā are benevolent love. This love is unconditional and requires considerable self-acceptance. This is quite different from ordinary love, which is usually about attachment and sex and which rarely occurs without self-interest. Instead, in Buddhism it refers to detachment and unselfish interest in others’ welfare. In Hinduism, kāma is pleasurable, sexual love, personified by the god Kamadeva. In contrast to kāma, prema – or prem – refers to elevated love. Krishna-prema is considered to make one drown in the ocean of transcendental ecstasy and pleasure. The love of Radha, a cowherd girl, for Krishna is often cited as the supreme example of love for Godhead by Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Karuna is compassion and mercy, which impels one to help reduce the suffering of others. Bhakti is a Sanskrit term, meaning “loving devotion to the supreme God.” In the Bhakti tradition within Hinduism, it is believed that execution of devotional service to God leads to the development of Love for God, and as love for God increases in the heart, the more one becomes free from material contamination. 

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Canon Law:

The Catholic Church preferred that citizens abstain from sex altogether except for reproductive purposes, and provided a set of rules called the canon law. They contained descriptions of different sexual acts and their punishments, and these books were mainly given to members of the clergy so the public would not be exposed to actions they may not have thought of. The Church emphasized love as more of a spiritual rather than sexual connection.  

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Pope warns love of money is root of all evil:

The love of money is the root of all evil: that stark warning contained in St Paul’s first letter to Timothy was at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass in Santa Marta recently. Reflecting on the way in which greed can corrupt our hearts and weaken our faith, the Pope stressed we can never serve God and money at the same time. Money, the Pope went on, sickens our minds, poisons our thoughts, even poisons our faith, leading us down the path of jealousy, quarrels, suspicion and conflict. While money begins by offering a sense of wellbeing, if we are not careful wealth can quickly lead to vanity, self-importance and the sin of pride. I have already discussed love for money in my article on ‘Greed”.

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Valentine’s Day:

Valentine’s Day (Saint Valentine’s Day) is an occasion celebrated on February 14. It is the traditional day on which people express their love for each other by sending Valentine’s cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery. Valentine’s Day is also meant for the re-unification of the lovers who are separated by adverse circumstances. There were many Christians named Valentine. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, at least three Saint Valentines are mentioned who are associated with 14 February. The day probably took its name from a priest who was martyred about AD 270 by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus. According to legend, the priest signed a letter to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended and with whom he had fallen in love, “from your Valentine.”   

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Political views of love:

The term free love has been used to describe a social movement that rejects marriage, which is seen as a form of social bondage. The Free Love movement’s initial goal was to separate the state from sexual matters such as marriage, birth control, and adultery. It claimed that such issues were the concern of the people involved, and no one else. Much of the free-love tradition is an offshoot of anarchism, and reflects a civil libertarian philosophy that seeks freedom from state regulation and church interference in personal relationships. According to this concept, the free unions of adults are legitimate relations which should be respected by all third parties whether they are emotional or sexual relations. In addition, some free-love writing has argued that both men and women have the right to sexual pleasure. In the Victorian era, this was a radical notion. Later, a new theme developed, linking free love with radical social change, and depicting it as a harbinger of a new anti-authoritarian, anti-repressive sensibility. Many people in the early 19th century believed that marriage was an important aspect of life to “fulfill earthly human happiness.” Middle-class Americans wanted the home to be a place of stability in an uncertain world. This mentality created a vision on strongly defined gender roles, which led to the advancement of the free love movement. While the phrase free love is often associated with promiscuity in the popular imagination, especially in reference to the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, historically the free-love movement has not advocated multiple sexual partners or short-term sexual relationships. Rather, it has argued that love relations that are freely entered into should not be regulated by law. The term “sex radical” is also used interchangeably with the term “free lover”, and was the preferred term by advocates because of the negative connotations of “free love”. By whatever name, advocates had two strong beliefs: opposition to the idea of forceful sexual activity in a relationship and advocacy for a woman to use her body in any way that she pleases. These are also beliefs of Feminism. Laws of particular concern to free love movements have included those that prevent an unmarried couple from living together, and those that regulate adultery and divorce, as well as age of consent, birth control, homosexuality, abortion, and sometimes prostitution; although not all free love advocates agree on these issues. The abrogation of individual rights in marriage is also a concern—for example; some jurisdictions do not recognize spousal rape or treat it less seriously than non-spousal rape. Free-love movements since the 19th century have also defended the right to publicly discuss sexuality and have battled obscenity laws.    

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Philosophy of love:

Philosophy of love is the field of social philosophy and ethics that attempts to explain the nature of love. The philosophical investigation of love includes the tasks of distinguishing between the various kinds of personal love, asking if and how love is or can be justified, asking what the value of love is, and what impact love has on the autonomy of both the lover and the beloved.

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Why is love so important?  

Love is just as critical to human survival as the oxygen we need to keep living. It is very likely that love is the main ingredient of healthy and well-functioning relationships and families. Love is essential for the healthy functioning of body, mind and soul. Love has many functions. Nature made the emotional components of romantic love so appealing that men and women would be forever haunted by and drawn to each other in order to produce more human beings. Fact is “love” does keep our species going. We all know children can be conceived without love, however, there is no guarantee that people having sex that produces children will take responsibility for caring for those children and make sure they survive. Love is unlike sex in that it means “a commitment.” Love is what actually ensures the human species as parents care for their helpless infants. Researchers have found a link between loving relationships and better health. Study after study reveals connections between our emotions and our physical and emotional well-being. Numerous studies using babies and children as subjects reveal those who are deprived of love can develop a wide variety of problems such as depression, headaches, physiological impairments, and psychosomatic difficulties lasting sometimes all their life. Infants who are loved, touched and cuddled usually gain more weight, cry less and smile more. By contrast, a lot of stress in homes that might be due to demanding jobs or just plain unloving households contributes to high blood pressure. Unhappy marriages are most likely unhealthy because the stress can change levels of certain hormones in the blood and weaken the immune system. The result can be early age heart attacks and other debilitating illnesses. Love and intimacy is good medicines for the heart, mind and soul. Self-esteem grows from love. A solid foundation of loving family relationships creates children with self confidence able to face a tugging, stressful world outside their family circle. When people face death or terminal illnesses their chances of coping effectively is enhanced when surrounded by loving, supportive, caring family members and friends. By contrast, those without a secure foundation of love may experience more aggression, hostility, less self-confidence and more emotional problems. Examples are teenagers who run away from home are teenagers usually escaping a home without love, but filled with violence, abuse or incest. Abused wives can become fearful and untrusting as well as sometimes extremely bitter. Love can be painful at times, but it is also very enjoyable, exciting and comforting. It is fun when lovers plan to see each other. To love and to be loved is one of the most essential ingredients to human survival, emotional, physical and mental well being.    

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Health benefits of love:

Besides a heart full of love and a big smile, romance can bring some positive health benefits. Some scientific studies suggest that a loving relationship, touch and sex can bring health benefits such as lower blood pressure. Of course, no relationship can guarantee health and happiness, but being in love can give you some health boosts. Embracing someone special can lower blood pressure, according to researchers. In one experiment, couples who held each other’s hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20-second hug had healthier reactions to subsequent stress, such as public speaking. Sex could help you beat the stresses of 21st century living, according to a small study of 46 men and women. Participants kept a diary of sexual activity, recording penetrative sex, non-penetrative sex and masturbation. In stress tests, including public speaking and doing mental arithmetic out loud, the people who had no sex at all had the highest stress levels. People who had penetrative sex had the smallest rise in blood pressure. This shows that they coped better with stress. Plenty of people find that intimacy or orgasm without penetration helps them feel relaxed, as do exercise or meditation. It doesn’t have to be penetrative sex; it’s whatever works for you. One study of 10,000 men found that those who felt ‘loved and supported’ by their spouse had a reduced risk of angina. This was the case even if they had other risk factors, such as being older or having raised blood pressure.  Also, as discussed earlier, loving couple enjoy better mental and emotional well-being, have lower rates of cancer, heart failure, and other diseases. Studies show that close, trusted and especially harmonious companionship is associated with increased longevity, faster healing, and lower rates of illness, depression and alcoholism. Love and intimacy are more powerful determinants of health than improved diet, stopping smoking, genetic make-up, more exercise, or prescription drugs.   

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When the mother/infant relation fails or is distorted or inadequate, then the physical health of the child may be damaged — the mother may even transmit disease and addiction to the child — and even more importantly the child’s maturation into a sociable, potentially loving adult is damaged.

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Assessment/Evaluation of love:

There are a range of measures for assessing relationships, including attachment style. Several scales also focus on measures of romantic love; including the Passionate Love Scale, the Relationship Questionnaire, and the Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised scale.  Sternberg has argued that love comprises three components: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Various measures have been developed in adults and adolescents to assess these constructs.

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Measurement of love:

Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) developed a self-report questionnaire measure of Lee’s love styles, known as the Love Attitudes Scale (LAS). A shortened version of the LAS, presumably for researchers trying to keep their surveys as concise as possible, was later published, and other variations appear to have been used by some researchers. Respondents indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with the LAS items, examples of which include “My partner and I have the right physical ‘chemistry'” (Eros) and “Our love is the best kind because it grew out of a long friendship” (Storge). Depending on the version of the LAS one administers, there are from 3–7 items for each of the six styles described above.

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Pharmacotherapy/Psychotherapy of love:

Substances of abuse of course create a false sense of reward, and some substances may be used primarily because of the feelings of social attachment that they evoke. Conversely, disorders of love and attachment, such as erotomania, may require intervention with agents that inhibit such reward pathways. Advances in neurobiology may ultimately be relevant to developing novel treatments for disorders of social attachment; it is notable that oxytocin has been considered for the treatment of autistic disorder as well as a range of other conditions. As discussed earlier, a new study published in Biological Psychiatry supports that idea, showing that oxytocin may help human couples get along better.  Oxytocin was also linked to lower secretion of cortisol, a stress hormone.

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Therapeutic biochemistry:

As researchers on human attraction and relationships begin to see love, not merely as a fickle, indecipherable emotion but as a highly developed motivation and reward system wired into the human brain, they can try to apply their research to real life. They’re investigating if, by knowing that dopamine is triggered by novel situations, they can help long-time couples find ways to keep the romantic spark alive. Their studies may also lead to new treatments and therapies for couples in the military who endure long, painful separations, or for lovers who suffer debilitating insecurities or depressions after break-ups.

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Love as pain reliever:

The love affected the brain in the same way many addictive drugs do, by targeting the “feel good” chemical in the brain known as dopamine. This reward system has also been shown to be critical in pain management. Researchers found that intense feelings of romantic love affect the brain in the same way drugs like cocaine or powerful pain relievers do. So love can act as pain reliever. When someone is suffering from cancer pain, love of spouse can definitely reduce pain.

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Antidepressants and love:

Dr Fisher warns that antidepressants may jeopardize romantic love. As well as high dopamine and norepinephrine, she said, romantic love is characterized by low serotonin. Low serotonin would explain the obsessive thinking attached to romantic love. In her MRI study, her subjects reported that they thought about their loved one 95 percent of the day and couldn’t stop thinking about them. This kind of obsessive thinking is comparable to OCD, she said, also characterized by low serotonin. Serotonin-enhancing antidepressants, she said, blunt the emotions, including the elation of romance, and suppress obsessive thinking, a critical component of romance. “When you inhibit this brain system,” she warned, “you can inhibit your patient’s well-being and possibly their genetic future.”   Antidepressants may jeopardize romantic love as well as sexual function. They blunt emotions, including the elation of romance, and suppress obsessive thinking, comparable to OCD, a critical component of romance. Antidepressants also inhibit orgasm, clitoral stimulation, penile erection, and deposit of seminal fluid. A woman who can’t get an orgasm may fail to distinguish Mr. Right from Mr. Wrong. And a man, without an orgasm, will not have the dopamine and norepinephrine, oxytocin and vasopressin, testosterone and estrogen, FSH and LH contained in his seminal fluid and loses the ability to send courtship signals and will eventually stop dating. Women on SSRIs rated male faces as more unattractive, a process she calls “courtship blunting.”  Ironically, because antidepressants inhibit depression, patients may lose their ability to send an honest clear signal for social support and (for those with mild depression) lose the necessary insight to make hard decisions (the failure of denial factor). Dr Fisher said she didn’t want psychiatrists to stop prescribing serotonin-enhancing antidepressants for their patients, but did stress the need to take the love-relationship picture into account. She goes on to point out that serotonin-enhancing antidepressants also inhibit other evolutionary adaptive mechanisms for mate selection, such as orgasm. With orgasm, one of the main things that happen is that levels of oxytocin and vasopressin go up enormously in the brain. These are feel-good chemicals. They’re associated with social bonding, pair formation, and pair maintenance. So when men and women take serotonin-enhancing medications and fail to achieve orgasm, they can fail to stimulate not only themselves, but their partners as well. This neural mechanism, associated with partner attachment, becomes a failed trigger.”  Serotonin-enhancing medications can potentially blur a woman’s ability to evaluate mating partners, to fall in love, and to sustain an enduring partnership.

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Can love be placed high medically, regarding people needing help with it?

One of the most common assessments given by doctors and therapists is called a “Global Assessment of Functioning.” This assessment is designed to look at all aspects of a person’s life in order to see how well the individual is functioning. Love falls under the umbrella of social functioning. Problems with love and interpersonal relationships can be an indicator of major problems, so most professionals take this information very seriously. There has also been a recent surge in what is known as “attachment therapy.” This is a fairly broad term that refers to a number of therapeutic practices designed to help children develop normal attachments. There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding this practice because there have been a number of incidents of reported child abuse and even deaths associated with some extremely questionable therapy techniques. However, most doctors and psychologists agree that difficulty with love relationships ranks as a serious medical condition that demands some type of intervention.

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Music and love:

Music has a huge role in the perception of love too. It’s very hard to think of a song that is not about love or lust in some way. There are songs about falling in love, breaking up, wanting to get back together, one night stands, cheating, and pretty much any other situation you can think of. Lust is commonly confused with love. Jason Derulo has a song called Love Hangover. How could you love someone after just one night with them? This song is not singing about love, it is singing about lust. But many people see this as a love song. This is exactly how media creeps into our minds and twists our perception about love and lust into one thing. Another song that comes to mind is The Man Who Can’t Be Moved by The Script. This song is about how much the guy misses the girl after she leaves him. I have shown in my article on ‘Entertainment’ that the emotional response evoked by music is far greater than listening to speech sound because music invariably has a rhythm which gets entangled in various biological rhythms of the brain. Since love has its own biological rhythm manifested by neurochemical cascade in specific brain areas, music and love are are highly correlated.

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Can you influence biochemistry of love?

By better understanding the underlying biochemistry of the feelings of love, and by learning about ways to manage that chemistry, you can improve the quality and longevity of your relationships, and help make love last.

1. Make eye contact.

According to Dr. Barbara Frederickson, a prominent psychologist and researcher, eye contact with positive intentions can directly increase oxytocin and a sense of connection with the other person.  Oxytocin is the fundamental Love chemical most closely associated with longer term bonding and commitment. Make a conscious effort to make eye contact with your partner throughout the day, even from across the room. When your eyes connect, smile or maybe even flirt by winking.

2. Give or exchange affectionate touch.

A good hug can instantly give a boost to oxytocin. Even touching sensitive areas like breast, lips, ears and nose can increase oxytocin.

3. Exercise together, or even on your own.

Exercise stimulates dopamine production. Dopamine is associated with the ‘drunk on love’ feeling, infatuation, and blindness to the others flaws.

4. Bring novelty (surprise) and variety in daily life.

It boosts dopamine.

5. Eat healthy meals together.

Proteins found in meats and other founds are converted to the amino acid, tyrosine, which is the fundamental ingredient of dopamine.

6. Relax together with vanilla or lavender aromatherapy.

Both of these scents stimulate the production of endorphins. Endorphins are associated with pleasure, including the rush of sexual pleasure, and connect some sexual experiences with feelings of love.

7. Have sex more often. Sexual intercourse releases chemicals like oxytocin and vasopressin. Vasopressin contributes to a sense of bonding for men.

8. Understand the phases of love, and figure out which one you are in.

9. Learn to watch for changes in your biochemistry.

All these chemicals running around in your brain are often triggered without your conscious thought, and you are left with making sense of them and how they affect your decision making. When you feel the sensations linked with these chemicals, look more closely at what is going on, what you want to have happen next and what you want longer term.

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Final comments:

Love has always been a central preoccupation in individual human lives, but there has been little consideration of it by psychologists or other scientists and little attempt to explain it as an evolutionary phenomenon. It is humbling to consider that even the most sophisticated and noble of human behavior is rooted in mammalian biology. Rodent and vole research has elegantly delineated the psychobiology of mate choice. Human social bonds, although more complex, are also mediated by evolutionarily conserved neurocircuitry and neurochemistry. Abstract concepts, such as love and beauty, are, therefore, embodied in more basic and overlapping structures. Conversely, sexual choice contributes to shaping human nature. The biological sex-principle provides for ‘cross pollination’ as it were. What comes out of it is as rich in genetic diversity as can be achieved. Researchers have discovered that a large portion of the brain is devoted to facial recognition in which the recognition of beauty is built into, which no doubt also includes the recognition of specific sexual characteristics, and that those are subsequently ‘wired’ into other areas that evoke social responses. In real terms the procreation process begins long before the fertilization of the egg happens. It begins with a process by which we’ve become drawn into reactions with one-another that are rarely completely voluntary. We literally become pawns in a process that assures the survival of our species. The process has worked well of course, for millions of years, without which we probably wouldn’t exist. That’s something that is worth celebrating for what it is. Natural selection created a brain that rewards reproductive behavior with happy chemicals. Love promotes reproduction, so it triggers a lot of happy chemicals. Sex is just one aspect of reproductive behavior. It’s important—love motivates you to move mountains in order to be alone with that special someone. But the survivability of your offspring is what mattered to evolution. And that depends on building bonds of attachment, and competing for top quality mates. Of course, your love is above such biological banalities. But happy chemicals feel so good that your brain looks for ways to get more. Neurochemicals do their job without words, and we look for words to explain the crazy motivations they create in us. Future research in this area may contribute not only to our understanding of human bonds but also to the treatment of disorders of attachment.

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Romantic love both exhilarates and motivates us. It is also critical to the continuation of our species. Without the attachment of romantic love, we would live in an entirely different society that more closely resembled some (but not all) of those social circles in the animal world. The chemicals that race around in our brain when we’re in love serve several purposes, and the primary goal is the continuation of our species. Those chemicals are what make us want to form families and have children. Once we have children, those chemicals change to encourage us to stay together to raise those children. So in a sense, love really is a chemical addiction that occurs to keep us reproducing. The view of love as an emergent property of a cocktail of ancient neuropeptides and neurotransmitters raises important issues for society. For one thing, drugs that manipulate brain systems at whim to enhance or diminish our love for another may not be far away. Experiments have shown that a nasal squirt of oxytocin enhances trust and tunes people into others’ emotions. Internet entrepreneurs are already marketing products such as Enhanced Liquid Trust, a cologne-like mixture of oxytocin and pheromones “designed to boost the dating and relationship area of your life”. Although such products are unlikely to do anything other than boost users’ confidence, studies are under way to determine whether an oxytocin spray might aid traditional marital therapy.

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Implications of the Neurobiology of Love:

Monogamous mammals are found in many different taxa and in diverse environments. There are two neuropeptide hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin. These two are found exclusively in mammals, but they belong to a family of structurally related neuropeptides implicated in sociosexual behaviors of reptiles, amphibia, and birds. All neurohormones act via specific receptors. After it is released from nerve endings the hormone binds to receptors that initiate a series of intracellular events. There are few genomic differences between prairie and montane voles which makes prairie voles monogamous and montane voles polygamous. Humans have oxytocin and vasopressin; both hormones are released during copulation. We cannot say that attachment or altruism in humans involves oxytocin and vasopressin, but the phylogenetic tradition is impressive. Hormones from the hypothalamus, like oxytocin and vasopressin, may modify human behavior, but due to the dominance of the cortex; intellectual, societal, and cultural influences ultimately may determine human attachments independent of hormonal state. On the other hand, watch out for committing to “a lifetime of love” too early in a relationship, when the chemicals are making it hard to see potential long term problems. In the midst of intense emotions, our abilities to make rational decisions get impaired. Also, if your relationship is in trouble, consider the possibility of seeking professional help.  

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on love:

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Q: Why do we fall in love?
A: Human capacity to experience love has been evolved as a signal to potential mates that the partner will be a good parent, and likely to help pass genes to future generations. Love keeps two people together, and this would help raise a child. Romantic and maternal love are highly rewarding experiences and both are linked to the perpetuation of the species and therefore have a closely linked biological function of crucial evolutionary importance. Love motivates individuals to care for and protect one another which in turn confers a survival advantage. 

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Q: Why does being in love feel so good?
A: Because some of the most powerful brain circuits for pleasure are triggered. The main chemical involved is dopamine, which produces feelings of euphoria, energy, sleeplessness, and focused attention on your beloved. Biologically speaking, you’re experiencing something similar to cocaine high. The feeling of pleasure, reward and satisfaction that our brains concoct for us when we enter into loving relationships is the glue that binds mother & infant in maternal love and man & woman in romantic love. Both are linked to the perpetuation of the species.  

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Q: Is there such a thing as love at first sight?
A: Yes. It probably happens to men more than women because men are more visual, but we can all remember times when we felt an instant attraction to someone we barely knew. It has a practical purpose: In the animal kingdom you can’t spend three months discussing your résumé; you need to feel instant sparks to start the breeding process as estrus in female animal is only for a short period in a year or even few years as opposed to ovulation in women which is once a month. As far as humans are considered, our brains are hardwired to make love decisions quickly because our ancestors lived shorter lives than we do, and it was important in their brief time on Earth to mate and produce a healthy child to pass on their genes.   

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Q: Is falling in love all about timing?
A: Timing is important. The perfect partner can sit right next to you at a party, and you might not notice him or her if you’re too busy at work, enmeshed in another relationship, or otherwise preoccupied. But if you’ve just moved to a new city, recovered from an unsatisfying love affair, begun to make enough money to raise a family, are suffering through a difficult experience, or have a good deal of spare time, you are ripe to fall in love.

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Q: Is there anything we can do to make someone fall for us (or make ourselves fall for someone)?
A: Do new things together. Novelty, surprise, excitement and variety; all drive up the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. These neurotransmitters are associated with energy, elation, focused attention and motivation—central traits of romantic love. So as you do novel things, these chemicals hop into action and may just push you over the threshold to fall in love.

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Q: Is there anything you can do to make yourself stop loving someone?
A: Some people, especially women, tend to talk about a failed relationship so much that they re-traumatize themselves. Instead, get rid of your ex’s cards and letters. Don’t call or write. Get some sunshine and exercise, because both can change brain chemistry. The best way to overcome lovesickness is to find another better love, after knowing the reason of failure.

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Q: What’s the difference between love and lust?
A: Lust generally dissipates after having sex and returns hours or days later. You can feel it for several people at the same time and not necessarily feel jealous. But when you’re in love, you are very possessive. And romantic feelings don’t dissipate after having sex; in fact, they can intensify. There are different emotional and physiological components to both love and lust; nonetheless there is also some overlap. Romantic attraction and feelings of love for someone elevates our dopamine levels, which causes feelings of elation. When we get to the point of feeling attachment and a more long-term phase of love, our bodies generate more oxytocin. Lust, sex drive and an appetite for sex can visit during this process and is generated by increased testosterone levels in both men and women. Heightened levels of testosterone inspire a feeling of focused attention and sexual arousal. Sexual desire can be a part of romantic love and on the other hand, you can have a sexual relationship without any love.

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Q: Does having consensual sex make people fall in love?
A: Having consensual sex can trigger love—probably because after orgasm, there’s a peak in dopamine &oxytocin activities. So watch out if you casually bed down with someone—you might unintentionally fall for them. Nonetheless, no amount of dopamine or oxytocin is going to make you fall in love with somebody with whom you do not share your values and background. One night stand with commercial sex worker does not lead to love. 

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Q: Do feelings of love die over time, and is there any way to bring them back?
A: The first intense period of love can last one to three years. After that, these feelings subside. But if two people are compatible, there are many ways to renew a flagging partnership. Novelty can spur romance; sex can trigger it, too. Do some of the things that you used to when you were first dating.

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Q: How important role does chemistry play in love?
A:  When the chemistry of one personality meshes well with the chemistry of another, it will continually combust throughout the relationship—keeping both partners together and happy during dry spells when feelings of romance are low.

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Q: How do men and women experience love differently?
A: Men fall in love faster than women do. Women take longer because they have to create a “memory trail” of their mate’s behaviors. She has to remember what he promised, what he’s done for the partnership, and what he failed to do.

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Q: What do men look for in a mate?
A: Men are more likely to choose women who display signs of youth and beauty—the first time that they marry, men around the world tend to marry women who are three years younger than themselves. Men are also attracted to women who “need” them. Men want to be helpful.

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Q: What do women look for in a mate?
A: Women are attracted to partners with money, status, and ambition—one study found that American women seek partners who offered financial security twice as frequently as men do. If men look for “sex objects,” then women look for “success objects.”  No wonder bollywood babes dumped me as I did not have substantial wealth and status. Nobody should criticize them for what they have done. Anybody else in their place would have done the same thing.   

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Q: What’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to love?  Can love be mistaken in its object? 
A: Some people fall in love before they really know their partner and marry in this state of romantic rapture. They should probably wait until that intense early phase wears off so they can see the flaws in the relationship before they dive in for good. There can clearly be mistakes in the perception of the character, attitudes, etc. of another as there can be mistakes in all forms of perception. But if love establishes itself despite the mistaken perception, then the love is not mistaken, though expectations as to what may follow from the love may be mistaken. In particular, the belief that the other experiences love in the same way as one does oneself may be mistaken. But experiencing love does not require that love should be returned. We can love those who do not love us.  

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Q: Can you love two people at the same time? 

A: “If you love two people at the same time, choose the second. Because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen for the second.” ― Johnny Depp

Being in love with two people at the same time is possible. If you can love your two kids, why can’t you be in love with two people at the same time?  Just as you can be really great friends with two people; just as you can hate two people; just as you can adore two children equally, I believe you can be in love with two people. Not to say that you wouldn’t feel guilty about being with one and not the other, and not to say that I think it’s a good idea to love two people, but I certainly think it’s possible. The problem is with the definition of love and types of love. You can feel lust for more than one person, and you can have feelings of attachment for more than one person. However, you cannot have romantic love for more than one person at the same time.  

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Q:  Is infidelity a natural phenomenon?

A:  We definitely have the circuitry to be adulterous. There are Darwinian reasons why cheating has evolved. If a man has two children with one woman and more children with another, more of his DNA will be present in the next generation, which includes the genes associated with adultery! It perpetuates itself.

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Q:  Who are more adulterous, men or women?

A:  Roughly 25 percent of men and 15 percent of women will be adulterous during marriage. This is really hard to quantify, but it is fairly common in both sexes. What is interesting is that adultery seems to be decreasing.

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Q:  That’s surprising, why?

A:  Possibly because both men and women are more independent and can leave an unhappy marriage more easily these days. We also find that men and women are marrying later, divorcing more and living longer, leaving them single for more of their adult lives. They are less adulterous as a result of spending less time married.

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Q:  Do sex and love mean different things to men and women?

A:  Men are more inclined to have one-night stands, and women tend to connect love and sex to a greater degree. Women connect sex with romance and intimacy, while men focus more on body parts and functioning. What’s interesting is that men tend to consider sex a more intimate act than women do. From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense because women are actually giving men a gift during copulation — the opportunity to spread his seed. It is also easier for women to find sexual partners.

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Q:  Does age influence our sexual interests?

A:  Young men have 10 times more testosterone in their early 20s, and this is the peak of their sex drive. It tends to level out after that. On the other hand, a woman’s sex drive peaks in her late 20s and early 30s. As a result of decreased testosterone as men age, they tend to become more compassionate as their levels go down. Conversely, as a woman’s estrogen level decreases with age, she will become more assertive. This has to do with the fact that the proportion of testosterone in a woman’s system plays a larger role as the estrogen decreases.

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Q: What is the role of eye contact in love?

A: When the neurobiology of love activates at birth (through eye contact, or skin-to-skin contact, pheromones coming from the baby’s head, etc.), mom and baby (and dad if he is present) can experience extremely profound levels of human bonding and human bliss. So important is this experience, that it can bond a family forever. Newborns and lovers have this in common – more than any other factor, eye contact is the main conduit for emotional connection. As babies, we use adults’ gazes to figure out what’s worth our attention. In a 2002 study published in Developmental Psychology, researchers found that infants followed people’s eye direction, rather than head direction. Eye contact also helps our younger selves with memory recall. Researchers at MIT discovered that four-month-olds were more likely to recognize someone later if he or she made direct eye contact. When those in love speak of the “entrancing gaze” of their lover, it’s not just a romantic notion—it’s a biological reality.  Your body has the built-in ability to “catch” the emotions of those around you, making your prospects for love — defined as micro-moments of positivity resonance — nearly limitless. Meeting eyes is a key gatekeeper to neural synchrony. Eye contact and a smile is an especially potent combination. Only voice interaction comes anywhere close to eye contact in this regard. Our voice carries more information than we think, and it can help facilitate an emotional connection, but it’s still a distant second to eye contact. A recent article in Biological Psychiatry postulated that oxytocin’s the reason we’re so inclined to make prolonged eye contact with our loved ones. And Dr. Kerstin Uväs-Moberg, the author of The Oxytocin Factor, believes that eye contact can bring about oxytocin release as well. Perhaps that’s why gazing into the eyes of someone you don’t feel emotionally close with, can feel so wrong—the oxytocin might be there, but it’s not for the right reasons. It’s also why eye contact is deemed so essential for couples trying to reconnect. Looking deeply into each other’s eyes might rekindle forgotten feelings. Over time, we learn the difference between eye contact that makes our hearts flutter and eye contact that makes us cringe internally.

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Q:  What role does attractiveness play in this love-lust equation?

A:  We find that highly attractive couples tend to divorce more — probably because they have more opportunities to form new relationships. In general, we tend to couple with people who have a similar level of attractiveness. Various studies showed that for short term mating (fling, one night stand, extra-marital affair, romantic affair), both men and women prefer physical attractiveness.  For long tern mating, we find that men still tend to fall for pretty faces, while women are highly attracted to men with fat wallets. From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense because men are looking to improve their gene pool while women are looking for men who will help to support their children.

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Q: What is the difference between “healthy love” and “obsessive love?”

A: Obsessive love is a confusing term. It really doesn’t have anything to do with “love.” Love, healthy love, is built on trust and mutual respect. Each partner in any love relationship, whether partners, siblings, parent and child or friendship, want the other person to be happy and secure. You want your partner to reach for and strive for their dreams and you are happy for their achievements. In an obsessive relationship, these dreams and achievements are instead a cause of insecurity; they are seen as a threat to the relationship. That is because obsessive relationships are built, not on love, but on insecurity and fear. The obsessive partner is afraid of losing the partner, afraid of being rejected, afraid of being abandoned.

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Q: How does one know when “passion” is crossing over the line into obsession? 

A: In the early stages of a relationship passion is high. In the beginning of a relationship, you want to spend every moment with the other person, you thoughts are filled with the other person, you can’t wait to be together – and although this is similar to an obsessive relationship, it is also normal. But there are some distinct differences. An obsessive lover often moves quickly, deciding early in the relationship that “you are the one and only.” He (and not all obsessive lovers are “he,” many women are obsessive as well) worries constantly about the relationship, do you love him as much as he loves you, do you want to date other men, when you go out with friends are you rejecting him? His insecurities become more important than your personal needs. He may begin panicking at the thought of not seeing you or losing you, needing constant reassurance that you are committed to the relationship.

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Q: Can there be degrees of love?

A: For the individual, the force of love depends on his/her own neural structure. In the same way as self-awareness may vary between individuals, perceptiveness may vary, empathetic awareness may vary. So between individuals, the degree of love may vary. The question remains whether for the same individual can there be degrees of love. Can we love someone a little, rather more, very much? If love is a restructuring to incorporate a model of the other’s self with one’s own self, then love is all or nothing.

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Q: What does love actually do?

A: There are the objective or external effects of love and the internal or subjective effects. As regards objective or external effects, in the mother/infant case love helps survival of the child and its emotional and social maturation. In an adult relation, the objective effect of love is to promote the interests, security and happiness of the loved person, creating a willingness to sacrifice everything, even life, for the loved person; also love results in mating leading to reproduction and propagation of species. As regards the subjective or internal effects, in the case of the mother/child relation love makes possible a heightened degree of perception, attention, concentration in the mother, organizes her responses for the benefit of the child, creates endurance of the stress of care for the infant. In the case of adult love, the internal subjective effect is the creation of a new directedness in the one who loves, an overflow of energy, a reduction in concentration on the self.

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Q: Is love genetic (biological) or cultural or a mixed product?

A: If love were a purely cultural invention, it would stand to reason that love would simply not exist in some cultures. However, anthropological research suggests that love is a universal emotion. Love is therefore most likely influenced by both biological drives and cultural influences. The capacity to love already exists in the human genome, insofar as the genome similarly encodes the capacities for consciousness, self-awareness, empathy, and language. Since the capacity for love is the resultant of a number of other evolving capacities — language, empathy, self-awareness, consciousness; the question reduces itself to how far each of these capacities is genetic or cultural. Empathy is genetic not cultural; the capacity for language evolved genetically with the structure of language evolving culturally; self-awareness flows from language. The conclusion perhaps is that the distinction between what is genetic and what is cultural, is one which it is not easy to make. Insofar as humans thrive, indeed can only exist, in groups, and “culture” is a group-related concept, and insofar as the fortunes of the group and the behavior of members of the group have directly genetic consequences, the tangle cannot be straightened out. While hormones and biology are important, the way we express and experience this emotion are influenced by our personal conceptions of love. Read my article on ‘Science against racism’ where gene culture co-evolution theory is discussed. In my view, love as a motivational drive to maintain, propagate and perpetuate species, can also be seen as one aspect of gene culture co-evolution. Culture does cause genes to change and genes can create a behavior of its own culture. Love is both biological (genetic) and cultural. 

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Q: Are infant-love and adult-love related?

A: The capacity for love evolved in the context of the mother/infant relation and love derived its first evolutionary importance from this. But the infant in the mother/infant relation was in due course the adult; the infant participated in the love-relationship as much as the mother; the infant in due course became the mother of the future; the child of a loving mother would be more likely to inherit the capacity to love of the mother and to have experienced development of that capacity as an infant. If love is an evolutionarily successful process, then it would increasingly be a constituent of adult behavior; adult love and mother/infant love on this view are expressions of one and the same capacity. Romantic adult-love and maternal love are highly rewarding experiences and both are linked to the perpetuation of the species and therefore have a closely linked biological function of crucial evolutionary importance.

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Q: Are phylogeny and ontogeny of love related?

A: Yes. Phylogeny means the evolutionary history of a kind of organism as it gets its genetic pool from its ancestors.  Ontogeny means the origin and development of an individual organism from embryo to adult by its genes. Phylogeny of love means the history of genes for love behavior as it derived from ancestors. Ontogeny of love means how love in infant grows into adult type of love as human grows under influence of his/her genes.  For the individual, the first experience of love is as an infant. The genetic capacity for love depends on the parents of the infant and the complex of genes bearing on the congeries of abilities etc. which make possible the capacity for love. Assume that an infant inherits the complex of genes which will make love possible: if the infant experiences love in the mother/infant relation, then the capacity for love can mature and the existence of this capacity will be manifest in the adult. If, however, as a result of the illness or death of the mother, separation, institutional upbringing; the process of maturation of the capacity for love is interrupted or crippled, the child may grow up into an adult without the neural structuring, behavioral structuring, necessary for the expression of the capacity to love. Lack of maternal love leads to depression, anxiety, bullying, poor achievement in school, violence, drug and alcohol addictions, illness, and anti-social behavior as child grows up. In earlier times an infant experiencing these situations might not have survived at all.  

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Theory of bio-socio-techno disharmony: 

Dissonance between biological program, technology and social development:

I have always felt that there is a disharmony between how we behave and how we are biologically programmed. There is rapid development in science and technology in last 200 years and human biology cannot change so fast to adapt to technological revolution and the social development mediated by technology. Biology has not been able to keep pace with technology and social development. Biology lags behind technology and social development. I have discussed in my article on ‘Obesity’ that obesity epidemic started in last few decades and since human genes & biology cannot change in such short time, the root cause of obesity is poor life-style choices like lack of exercise coupled with overeating of processed food, both available through technology. Technological innovation of 4 wheeler, 2 wheeler, computer, electrical appliances etc made physical work much less and technology made processed food available with high calorie content, highly palatable and cheap. Biology could not cope up with lack of physical work coupled with processed food resulting in obesity epidemic. I will give another example. Cell phone is a product of technological innovation. In India, even people belonging to lower socio-economic strata have cell phones. Many people do not have even toilet in their home but they all have cell phones. I see many patients coming to me for treatment of illness and I find that most of them talk on cell phone even when doctor is examining their body with stethoscope. They do not know that when doctor is examining their body to make diagnosis, they should not talk on cell phones, not to mention harmful health effects of misuse of cell phones. So their biology is harmed due to technological development mediated social behavior. The reason we as a species are so well adapted to pair-bonding (and therefore can feel love connected to sexual union) is because our offspring take such a long time to rear. The reason our offspring take so long to rear is because our brains are so large. Over during evolutionary time human life expectancy was between 20 and 30 years. For most of human history, the usual lifespan was considerably less than 50 years and averaged between 30 to 40 years. That is why, biologically, humans are programmed to lose interest after three years of romantic-sexual relationship and then seek the relationship with a novel partner, thereby increasing their offspring’s genetic variety. By that time, offspring of previous relationship is able to walk and feed themselves. So we didn’t evolve to pair-bonding for much longer time as life span was much less. Life expectancy increased only very slowly for two millennia and then almost doubled since 1800. It began to rise markedly in the 19th century, hitting 49 in the United States in 1900, and then took off in the 20th century due to improvement in the control of infectious diseases due to scientific revolution in the field of hygiene, health, sanitation and therapy. Obviously, biology of love cannot change in just 200 years. The biology lags behind social development. So even though life span of humans is around 65 years in 2013, biologically, romantic love and pair-bonding is programmed to last for few years rather than few decades. This disharmony between biology and social development is the root cause of break-ups, separations and divorces. We are now in a quite different evolutionary situation. Failures of love are not necessarily penalized by the death of unloved children. Failures of love at the adult level are not penalized by the exclusion of the unloved or the unloving from the ability to reproduce. The existence of adult love does not necessarily lead to the production of loved children (contraception, abortion etc.) The use of drugs may destroy the mother/infant relation without destroying the infant. The current problem is the relation of sexuality and love. Sexuality is constantly confused with love. The technology of sexuality has advanced, to stimulate, prevent, and distort the outcome of sexuality. One might say that, in the present evolutionary period, even though biologically sexuality is part of romantic love, socially love has become part of sexuality. The resultant conflict between evolutionary biology of love and social perception of love has created many negative consequences on human individuals and human societies. Biology is lagging behind technology and social development. Human cerebral cortex is constantly bombarded with sexuality from entertainment, media, internet and peers, and therefore sub-cortical biological drives of love have been modulated by cortex to keep it in ‘sex-only’ mode. No wonder many men and women of 21’st century wrongly think that sex is love and love is sex. The offspring is prevented due to contraception, aborted as family planning and neglected as parents are busy in job or sex or poverty. Such offspring when grow up in cell phone culture would be uncivilized and may show primitive and antisocial behavior. The gang-rape culture developed in India is a part and parcel of such antisocial primitive behavior where humans behave biologically as animals. Their brains think and functions like animals. Their neo-cortex cannot differentiate between noble and ignoble sexual behavior, and makes no effort to modulate sub-cortical biological drives. I wonder what would happen when such humans copulate to produce another set of offspring, far worse than their parents.     

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Before I end the discussion on love, here is a pearl…

If you’re still looking for that special person… here a simple guide on how to fall in love:

Find a complete stranger.

Reveal to each other intimate details about your lives for half an hour.

Then, stare deeply into each other’s eyes without talking for four minutes.

The love is there for you………….

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The moral of the story:

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1. Biologically love is a life-long learning process that starts with the relationship of the infant to his/her mother and then gradually withdraws from mother to search for another attachment; guided by goal-oriented mammalian motivational drive to pursue the love subject using sub-cortical mammalian reward/survival systems propelled by genes to sustain, propagate and perpetuate life using neurochemicals in the brain. In other words, individuals who are “in love” feel strongly motivated to be with their beloved because being with that person causes a high level of neurobiological reward (pleasure). So basically we want to be with the person we love because it feels good. Conventional psychology defined love as any number of emotions related to a sense of strong affection and attachment. Modern psychology defines love as a micro-moment of connection shared with another (positivity resonance). Love is an area where biology meets psychology and at that meeting point, love ceases to be an emotion.  

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2. The capacity & display of love is both biological (genetic) and cultural (environmental).

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3. Despite cultural differences in how love is displayed, romantic love existed in all cultures and all societies throughout recorded history.

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4. Evolutionary psychologically, men search for women who are faithful, fertile and healthy; while women search for men who are resourceful and healthy.

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5. Evolutionary biologically, human capacity to experience love has been evolved as a signal to potential mates that the partner will be a good parent, and likely to help pass genes to future generations. Love keeps two people together, and this would help raise a child. Romantic and maternal love are highly rewarding experiences and both are linked to the perpetuation of the species and therefore have a closely linked biological function of crucial evolutionary importance. The reason we as a species are so well adapted to pair-bonding (and therefore can feel love connected to sexual union) is because our offspring take such a long time to rear. The reason our offspring take so long to rear is because our brains are so large. The survivability of offspring is what mattered most to evolution. And that depends on building bonds of attachment, and competing for top quality mates.

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6. There is scientific evidence to prove that love exists between animals of the same species and between pets and their human caregivers.

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7. Love at first sight as a concept has been given credence through scientific research. Researchers found that neurochemicals associated with love can flood the brain in one-fifth of a second. Our brains are hardwired to make love decisions quickly because our ancestors lived shorter lives than we do, and it was important in their brief time on Earth to mate and produce a healthy child to pass on their genes. And it is these genes that encode neurons (brain cells) to release love chemicals fast in the first place. In other words, genes ensure their survival and love at first sight is just a mechanism hardwired in human brains to do that. Parents share 50% of their genes with offspring and therefore parental sacrifice (sharing food, sleepless night etc) for offspring is basically gene’s own way of ensuring their survival through the mechanism of parental love which in turn is coded by genes themselves. We the humans are pawns of our own genes and love whether romantic or parental is just a mechanism to ensure survival of genes.  

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8. It is the DNA which wants to mate with a suitable DNA to procreate a better DNA. Suitable DNA means dissimilar DNA because if DNA mates with similar DNA, it would procreate similar DNA and not better DNA. That is why women are attracted to men with different immune system to procreate babies that can fight off a wider range of infections; and this attraction is mediated by pheromones in the sweat of men guided by the genes (DNA) of men.    

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9. Evolutionarily love is a set of decision biases evolved to serve genetic interest (facilitate reproduction, caring of infant, survival of species) and these biases influence people’s attention, memory and decision-making.

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10. When in love (romantic or maternal), we temporarily take leave of our senses. We suspend rational judgment, we are fearless and we think only positive thoughts. This has been proved scientifically by fMRI studies which showed brain areas of rational judgment and negative emotions deactivated during intense love. The corollary is that if you have maintained rationality and do express negative emotions like fear, then probably you are not in love.      

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11.The neurobiological difference between romantic love and maternal love is that maternal love activate brain areas responsible for facial expression for reading child’s facial expressions, while romantic love activates hypothalamus for sexual arousal; otherwise both loves share common brain areas. The same neurochemicals—oxy­tocin and dopamine—have been implicated in both relationships, and the be­havioral patterns associated with maternal and romantic bond formation and sepa­ration are also similar.  

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12. The feeling of pleasure, reward and satisfaction that our brains concoct for us when we enter into loving relationships is the glue that binds mother & infant in maternal love and man & woman in romantic love. Both are linked to the perpetuation of the species. Love motivates individuals to care for and protect one another which in turn confer a survival advantage.   

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13. Scientific experiments showed irrefutable proof that maternal love is vital for normal childhood development and contact comfort given by mother to infant is far more important than mere nursing the infant.

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14. Maternal love leads to good development of the baby’s prefrontal cortex, which in turn enables the growing child to develop self-control and empathy. Lack of maternal love leads to depression, anxiety, bullying, poor achievement in school, violence, drug and alcohol addictions, illness, and anti-social behavior as child grows up.

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15. The brain is constantly rewiring itself based on daily life and loving relationships alter the brain the most significantly. Mother’s love to infant influences how the infant’s genes express themselves as the child grows.

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16. Even though romantic love is not a mental illness, events occurring in brain when we are in love have similarities with mental illness. An early stage of romantic love does mimic hypomania, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction; physiologically, psychologically and behaviorally.

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17. There is a genetic basis for variations in different love styles, with Eros being linked to the dopamine system and Mania to the serotonin system. We often look for others with the same love style as ours for a relationship and lovers with similar love styles tend to stay together more often than those with differing love styles.      

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18. Even though romantic love and sexual desire (lust) are distinct, there is overlap between them neurobiologically which is proved by neuroimaging studies. It is the neo-cortex in humans that can override lust (sub-cortical neurochemical drive) under influence of culture, religion, laws and societal norms. That is why there is a difference between consensual sex and rape. Animals do not have neo-cortex and therefore cannot override neurochemical drive and hence the distinction between consensual sex and rape is blurred in animals. In my view, men who rape women show animal behavior. Consensual sex between man and woman could be a part of passionate (romantic) love while rape is violence.

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19. Evolutionary biologically, lust is evolved for the purpose of sexual mating, while romantic love is evolved because of the need for infant/child bonding. Romantic love and sexual desire can exist independently of each other even though they are not mutually exclusive. Romanic love may include sexual desire and consensual sexual relationship may not have romantic love.  

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20. Different body gestures are associated with romantic love and sexual desire. Gestures associated with romantic love include smile, nod their head, gesticulate, and lean toward their partner. Gestures associated with sexual desire include lip biting, lip licking, sucking, touching your own lips, and protruding the tongue.

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21. Various studies showed that for short term mating (fling, one night stand, extra-marital affair, romantic affair), both men and women prefer physical attractiveness. Physical attractiveness especially of face is the most important characteristic of human attraction. Attractiveness helps create a positive first impression. A large portion of the brain is devoted to facial recognition in which the recognition of beauty is built into, which no doubt also includes the recognition of specific sexual characteristics, and that those are subsequently ‘wired’ into other areas that evoke social responses. Humans perceive attractive people to be healthier, happier, more sensitive, more successful, and more socially skilled. No wonder actors and supermodels are so popular. Evolutionary biologically, physical attractiveness is linked to health & fertility and thereby propagation of species. On the other hand, once you have fallen in love and continue to see your loved one often, their physical imperfections grow less noticeable and their attractiveness grows more.   

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22. For long term mating (e.g. marriage), men still prefer physical attractiveness along with average smartness and submissive nature in women while women prefer social status, wealth and trustworthiness in men.

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23.  The biological basis of extra-marital affair in humans is Coolidge-effect where a novelty (new woman) makes dopamine soar in the brain of a married man.  However, human neo-cortex can override sub-cortical dopamine (pleasure) drives. The human neo-cortex also tries to comply with socio-economic, religious, linguistic and cultural values. When clash of values occurs, neo-cortex can override the affair and man is back with his wife. However, during intense romantic love, neo-cortex is inhibited and therefore love proceeds despite clash of values. So if an affair becomes romantic love, man will abandon or divorce wife and live with the other woman. The same mechanism operates when a woman has extra-marital affair.   

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24. Studies show that close, trusted and especially harmonious companionship is associated with increased longevity, faster healing, and lower rates of illness, depression and alcoholism. Love and intimacy are more powerful determinants of health than improved diet, stopping smoking, genetic make-up, more exercise, or prescription drugs. However, researchers estimate that humans are designed to stay together for less than four years, the time it takes to get a child on its feet. Across 58 cultures worldwide, divorce rates peaked at this point. This is due to cycle of very high and very low levels of dopamine due to fertilization-driven frequent sexual orgasms. Essentially, humans are programmed to lose interest and then seek the relationship with a novel partner, thereby increasing their offspring’s genetic variety. It is our genes that want to survive through offspring even at the cost of harm to our bodies. You can overcome this by making love without conventional orgasm. Biologically orgasm in men serves reproductive purpose while orgasm in women serves no reproductive purpose. Indian marriages last longer than marriages in West because perception, craving, intensity and frequency of orgasms are far less in Indian couples than in Western couples. If orgasm cemented relationships, then marriages would be more stable, not far less stable, than they were 50 years ago. In fact, frequent orgasms over few years would lead to dopamine high/low cycle that promotes emotional separation between mates causing breakdown of relationships. Also repeated rise in prolactin can cause feelings of despair. By avoiding the extreme highs that over-stimulate the nerve cells in the primitive brain, you also avoid the temporary lows that accompany recovery. You keep your dopamine levels within ideal ranges. This produces a sense of wellbeing, which promotes harmony in your relationship. Also lovers can train themselves (by touching breasts, lips, earlobes and nose- oxytocinogenous zones) to produce steadier supplies of oxytocin for harmonious bonding. Looking deeply into each other’s eyes might rekindle forgotten feelings due to oxytocin release.          

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25. Humans are prone to hedonic adaptation (innate capacity to become habituated); and love is no exception as we are biologically hard-wired to crave variety and novelty (surprise). Variety and novelty (surprise) raises dopamine in the reward-pleasure center of brain. Therefore in order to be in love for longer period, the couple must bring variety and novelty (surprise) in their relationship [e.g. visit different restaurants, bring surprise gift].  

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26.  No amount of dopamine or oxytocin is going to make you fall in love with somebody with whom you do not share your values and background. One night stand does release dopamine and oxytocin but will not lead to romantic relationship unless you also like his/her values & background. Most people do not fall in love with commercial sex workers even though they may have dopamine and oxytocin released during sex. Neurochemicals released in brain only help a potential romantic situation move forward but cannot suo-moto create romantic love. Human neo-cortex can override sub-cortical dopamine (pleasure) and oxytocin (attachment) drives if values and background of two partners do not match. However, during intense romantic love, neo-cortex is inhibited and therefore love proceeds despite mismatch of values and background. Also, people who have powerful neo-cortex (e.g. scientists) can prevent inhibition of neo-cortex by sub-cortical neurochemical drive and thereby prevent falling in love bypassing values and backgrounds. It is very unlikely that a scientist will blindly fall in love just like lay people.    

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27. Psycho-biologically, ideal love has three component; passion (dopamine reward system), intimacy (limbic system) and commitment (neo-cortex).  As discussed earlier, it is the neo-cortex which tries to match socio-economic, religious, linguistic and cultural values of both partners for harmonious relationship. In other words, ideal love has activation of both cortical and sub-cortical areas; meaning synchrony and synergy between neo-cortex & sub-cortical drives, and not inhibition of neo-cortex. In colloquial terms, ideal love involves both heart and mind. Ideal love is rare.    

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28. High vagal tone is not only associated with lowered risk of inflammation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke; but also increased love experiences. You can voluntarily increase your vagal tone by love-kindness meditation.  

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29. The best way to overcome lovesickness is to find another better love, after knowing the reason of failure.  

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30. It is possible to have sexual desire and attachment for more than one person at the same time but it is not possible to have romantic love for more than one person at the same time.   

 

31. The best advice to anybody involved in love triangle is to back off because love triangles rarely end up with happy endings for all three people.

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32. If you fall in love with a married man, please remember that if he is cheating his wife then he is not somebody that deserves your trust.

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33. Serotonin-enhancing antidepressants may jeopardize romantic love and inhibit orgasm. If you have any problem related to love and/or sex, avoid antidepressants. 

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34.Oxytocin nasal spray help couples enjoy a closer bonding, loving relationship and helps to have more intense orgasms, particularly in women. Further, it also helps in cases of depression, drug addiction, autism, anxiety, schizophrenia, pain (particularly fibromyalgia) and even as an aid to weight loss (through appetite reduction). The typical oxytocin doses for pleasure and sociability are 10 IUs (International Units) in the morning and repeated again in the evening; or 10 to 20 IUs 2-hours before sex. 

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35. Love and relationship through internet leads to ever-better matches but ironically also lead to lesser commitment and higher rates of divorce.

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36. When you love someone, you tell them. The old notion that ‘I don’t need to tell him I love him because he knows’ is just plain wrong! 

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37. Lovers must reveal their core values (what is most important to them) to each other because core values drive their expectations and happiness is determined by how much these expectations are met by each other.

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38. According to my theory of bio-socio-techno disharmony, there is dissonance between biological program, technology and social development. This is because biology has not been able to keep pace with technology and social development. Even though life span of humans is around 65 years in 2013, biologically, romantic love and pair-bonding is programmed to last for few years rather than few decades. This disharmony between biology and social development is the root cause of break-ups, separations and divorces. Human cerebral cortex is constantly bombarded with sexuality from entertainment, media, internet and peers; and therefore sub-cortical biological drive of love has been modulated by cortex to keep it in ‘sex-only’ mode. The resultant conflict between biology of love and social perception of love has created many negative consequences on human individuals and human societies. No wonder many men and women of 21’st century wrongly think that sex is love and love is sex.

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39. Neurobiologically it is proved that love and fear are mutually exclusive and contrasting with each other; but religiosity supports such co-existence. You love God and also fear God as you may be punished by God for disobeying him.  So love is an area where science and religion differ.  

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40.  All of our emotions, instincts, and motivations—noble and ignoble—exist because they directly or indirectly aid the survival of the genes that code for them and these emotions, instincts and motivations affect our behavior often bypassing rationality.   Humans are the only species on the earth which has a powerful neo-cortex to override sub-cortical emotions, instincts and motivations by reason & logic. The more you override ‘the ignoble’, the more human you become. The less you override ‘the ignoble’, the more animal you become. What is noble and what is ignoble is decided by humans themselves and not by ‘God’. Remember, it is the neo-cortex that can override behaviors driven by genes and you can stop being pawn in the hands of genes.   

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Dr. Rajiv Desai. MD.

October 1, 2013       

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Postscript:

I am grateful to my German Mom who gave me maternal love during first few crucial weeks of my life. No wonder I have some amount of German-ness (fighting spirit) in me due to intimacy shared with her. This article is dedicated to her……   

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