Love is a very broad concept that also covers many types of love. But really … what is love? Is there an exact definition I could define?
It has been described as an emotion, an instinct, or a construct. The truth is, this is a rather subjective and complex reality. Which is for some love, for others selfishness or submission, for some happiness and for others suffering. And it is possible that love is part of all of this.
What do we mean by love?
The French writer Stendhal defined it as a flower growing before the abyss, showing that speaking of love is not an easy task.
However, it is an element of great importance in the development of people and with a lot of influence on psychological well-being. For some people, there is no pain comparable to what can be caused by problems with love.
It is also becoming one of the biggest motivations in life., In something always to chase. For love or in the name of love, we know that the most heroic and noble deeds, the greatest madness and also the most brutal atrocities can happen.
In dealing with the different types of love, we will focus here on love within the couple and their influence on the relationship.
Perspectives on love
To begin with, let’s say that love can be understood from different perspectives, be it from philosophy, science and biology, poetry and art, different psychological currents, evolutionary perspectives, etc.
For example, philosophy, great thinkers like Plato and Aristotle show their divergence from what is love for them. Aristotle would say that it is the most important feeling of the human being and that the simple act of feeling produces a pleasure that is unlike any other; love for him would be like one soul living in two bodies.
Plato, for his part, would say that there is in love a desire to possess what one does not have, and then when it is necessary to reject it and to desire it again.
Spinoza, meanwhile, would be in the middle of the two positions and would say that love is which produces joy which comes from an external stimulus which makes others love more than oneself.
For Smith, a philosopher and economist, love is the rather mysterious response to something that pulls us out of another person’s mind and body. And we could still see positions that show us the complexity of their definition.
In art and literature, love will become muse and inspiration, and from there will sometimes be born an idealized love., Full of romance; it becomes a gift of everything for the loved one, sometimes being represented as dramatic and passionate.
From a biological point of view, this would be a means for the survival of the species influenced and mediated by chemicals and brain mechanisms. Starting in the 1990s, psychiatrists, anthropologists and biologists discovered strong correlations between the levels of hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin and states of love like sexual attraction, falling in love and stable love.
Several studies show that when we fall in love, serotonin levels drop and the brain’s reward centers are overwhelmed with dopamine, producing a drug-like effect.
On the other hand, the psychologist Robert Sternberg published in 1986 the Triangular Theory of Love, the influence on psychology has become quite noticeable. According to him, relationships are made up of three fundamental elements, intimacy, passion and commitment, which would occupy the tops of a supposed triangle that would show the different forms of love that can arise in a couple, depending on the way they connect them. Components.
From cultural psychology, culture and history determine the mental states and psychological processes of people, and therefore also love. For Erich Fromm, love is an art, a voluntary action that can be learned, not a passion that is imposed against the will of those who live it. Love would be according to him; decision, choice and attitude.
Love and the couple
As we can see, it is not easy to speak of love and especially to delimit the term. Love is something that is influenced by multiple factors that interact with each other and it is not a static and permanent thing, but it can vary over time, and more particularly within a stable relationship, Affecting those established lifestyles in which two people commit to sharing their existence in every way.
We must also consider the role played by eroticism and sexuality, a subject that we will not tackle for the moment, by focusing more on love as a link seen in couple therapy, and as this subjective form of The estimate that each has, with that of the other, will generate a certain type of relationship, with its particular conflicts and satisfactions.
The topic is quite broad, so I’m going to stick to those processes that I have observed the most in the clinic, which have to do with self-esteem and unconscious movement.
Love for others and our own self-esteem
To be able to love, you must first love yourselfYou must have walked the path of narcissism, a necessary step in the development of the personality to achieve self-esteem.
The first relationship that we have with love comes from the mother, the father or the figure who takes care of us, and this will be how we will have perceived this love and this fundamental appreciation in our way of loving. Later this will influence the achievement of successes, which can be social or academic. This usually happens during the period of adolescence, when the relationship with peers is fundamental; this step will influence our whole life and our relationships. And finally, we have the appreciation and esteem of others as something fundamental for healthy self-esteem.
It’s not so much how it all happens, but how it is perceived by the person, which will lead to a certain way of loving ourselves which in turn will influence the way we love ourselves. This perception may not have been appreciated or may not have been loved, with which seek unconditional love for the other to heal this wound.
Sometimes, in a love that is never enough, we also observe an insistent need to be valued and recognized by the other, the couple is trying to give us what we ourselves do not have.
I call these mechanisms that I observe in therapy and whose basis is unconscious, being necessary a focused work to be able to disentangle these mechanisms which act.
It consists in attributing things to oneself to another person. When this mechanism is present in the way of loving a partner, it happens that the other things of the self that are hated are attributed to the other, promote feelings of rejection, attack and continual blameFeeling that something else is bothering you deeply, sometimes in an unwarranted way, without knowing exactly what it is.
Asymmetrically established love bond
In couples, as in any relationship formed by a bond of love, support and attention are of the utmost importanceSometimes one is able to care, give and support more than the other.
Not knowing how to differentiate between what is one and what is the other
It also has to do with bonding, in this case a symbiosis between the members of the couple.
The interpretation of love
And finally, another of the problems that I have observed the most in couples therapy is something that this is the interpretation of the love that each member of the couple has, Their perceptions and expectations placed on the relationship, which also have to do with affection, with this need for human love that begins in the first years of life and will continue throughout life.
These can be:
- Security in the other.
- Of doubt or ambivalence, for fear of losing the other.
- Distrust, favoring distancing in the couple.
How could couples therapy help?
In the first place, it would be necessary unravel these unconscious processes that act in the discomfort of the couple to educate them and be able to do something with them.
It is important that the couple understand what each has to do with what the other is complaining about.
Knowing how to differentiate between what is one and what is the other is an important step to take, as well as the recognition of mutual dependencies that may exist.
Helping to identify what each wants and wants from the other is sometimes as easy as talking about it and asking for it, but for that you would need to know it without deception or confusion, because if we ourselves are confused, how to convey it to the other person will be ambiguous and uncertain, Generating in others misunderstandings and defensive behaviors of distancing and coldness.
There is no doubt that couple love is totally different from other types of love. and that it is a difficult thing to define, it is not a simple eroticism, nor a simple desire to be with the other person, nor a simple concern of the couple.
It is also important to differentiate states of love from love. The first state, although it carries very pleasant emotions, is that it has a tendency to fade over time and on contact with the reality of everyday life, something that does not hold up well, because this love is based on the idealization of the other, to highlight their qualities and avoid or not see the faults, for this reason that love is blind, the presence of the other becomes a necessity to be happy, to feel – he’s in disgrace if he’s not here.
It is a way of loving based more on oneself than on the other, on one’s own pleasure, satisfaction, feeling of fullness, as all this is given to us by this state.
Love, unlike falling in love, occurs when the interest is placed on the well-being of the other, When in addition you try to help in your individual development, and by that I do not mean that love dissolves the differences or conflicts that can arise in a relationship, but if it provides a solid basis for doing so face.
You need help?
If you need help with any feelings or relationship issues, don’t hesitate to ask, remember how to relate both with ourselves and with others will be fundamental for psychological well-being. It is important for this to know yourself, to know what you are thinking and how you relate to your own feelings, even if they are not consistent.
I can help you with individual and couple therapy, being able to attend in person or online.