What is love? (And what is not)

Love is something that inspires and motivates all human beings, but it can also cause us a lot of suffering when it is not reciprocated. This is why many movies, songs and even novels revolve around this theme (both love and lack of love).

Defining love is extremely complicated because there are different types of love. (Depending on the intensity, depending on who you like, etc.). The truth is, this definition becomes a daunting task because love is socially influenced and there are many opinions and ways of approaching it.

Leaving aside other ways of loving (such as maternal love), in this article we will focus on what true love is and what it is not, again from the concept of romantic love.

Love research

Before getting into the subject, it is necessary to review a series of scientific findings which, at least in the West, they helped us discover the great mystery of our brain’s relationship to love and love. Some results claim that love and falling in love feed on a series of behaviors that help keep it alive.

But one of the most important discoveries of recent times is that love acts like a drug in our brain, and changes how it works, in the same regions as the drug, when we know the loved one. Obviously, cultural factors are important and, to a greater or lesser extent, are responsible for a series of chemical reactions occurring in the brain. Because love is nourished by the expectations and the concept of love that we learn throughout our lives.

Leaving aside the cultural factor, researchers found that, as with psychoactive substancesWhen we fall in love, a neurochemical marriage occurs in our head.

For example, we release large amounts of serotonin, which improves our mood and causes us to have obsessive thoughts, constantly reminding our partner. We also release a number of neurochemicals like adrenaline, which make us more energetic, or we release dopamine in high doses, which is implicated in drug addiction because it is involved in reinforcing pleasurable behavior. This neurochemical cascade, which can make us feel on the rise when we are in love, also causes serious problems when we are suffering from lack of love, as we can end up feeling depressed and obsessed with that person we loved so much.

  • You can learn more about this interesting topic in our article: “The chemistry of love: a very powerful drug”

Curious studies on love

Over the past decades there have been many studies on love and falling in love, and some of the results or conclusions may surprise you. Data found by scientists in recent years indicate that:

  • Christmas causes divorce, According to data from the General Judicial Council of Spain.
  • The little details matter most, according to a study commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK).
  • A study by Ronald Rogge found that romance movies are the best therapy for couples.
  • Social networks are the number one cause of divorce. At least, that’s what data from a survey by the US Academy of Marriage Lawyers concludes.
  • Research by Crystal Jiang and Jeffrey T. Hancock has shown that long-distance relationships can work.
  • A study from the Institute of Behavioral Medicine at Ohio University found that love makes you fat.

You can find all the information on these surveys in our article: “Love and falling in love: 7 amazing surveys”

What is love, according to Sternberg

One of the most recognized scientists in the field of love and love is Robert Sternberg, who with his “Triangular Theory of Love” describes the different elements that make up this phenomenon, as well as the possible combinations of these elements. different types of relationships.

The three key qualities of relationships are: intimacy, passion and commitment.

  • privacy: The closeness between the individuals who make up a relationship is what Sternberg calls intimacy. In other words, it’s the emotional connection. the affection and trust that exist between them.
  • passion: This author calls passion the energy and excitement that exist in the couple. It is the impulse and the need to be with the other. It is a physical attraction.
  • commitment: It’s a decision, wanting to be together despite the bad times. It is having a common vision of the future.

These qualities combine and give rise to different types of relationships. The most intense and gratifying expression of love is that of the meeting of these three aspects. Sternberg states that there are 7 ways to love, which are:

  • affect: Affection is true friendship. There is intimacy, but no passion or commitment.
  • capriciousness: It is characteristic of superficial relationships. There is passion but there is neither intimacy nor commitment.
  • empty love: It’s an interested relationship. There is commitment but no passion or intimacy.
  • romantic love: Passion and intimacy make the couple very attractive, but there is no commitment.
  • sociable love: There is intimacy and commitment, but no passion. It appears when the relationship loses its chemistry.
  • crazy Love: No privacy. People feel attracted and want to be together, but they don’t have much in common.
  • consummate love: The love consumed is the most intense and combines the three elements: intimacy, passion and commitment.

The love consumed has been called true love by other authors. In our article “Real Love Must Meet These 40 Requirements,” you can delve into the characteristics of this form of love.

What is not love: toxic love

One concept that has become popular today is what is called “toxic love”. Toxic love is characterized by a series of emotionally dependent or controlling behaviors that make the relationship harmful. Members of a toxic relationship also suffer day in and day out.

But … How is love toxic? Toxic love has the following properties.

Emotional addiction

At least one member of the couple has low self-esteem and their happiness depends on the presence of the other. He is afraid to meet.

emotional codependency

Similar to emotional dependence, but the emotional codependent is addicted to their partner’s dependence and therefore the need to help them and take care of their well-being.

Limited social life

The members of the couple put aside their friendships and pour themselves purely and exclusively into the couple.

Obsession with relationship

One member’s insecurity makes him too obsessed with the relationship.

It’s irrational and unrealistic

It is a love that lives on unrealistic expectations, which causes immense frustration among the members of the couple.

Need each other’s approval

As the person feels empty, they seek in the couple the security, stability and comfort that they lack in their own life.

Concern for change

One couple cannot tolerate things going well for the other, in large part because of their own frustration.

Possessive and controller

This type of love is not free love, but one of the couple interprets the other person as their possession and becomes a controller.


Jealousy and attempts at control are part of the couple’s daily life. Which makes them extremely unhappy.

it’s manipulative

It is manipulative love, in which there is emotional blackmail on the part of one or the other.

bad communication

Communication is not fluid and therefore the relationship is not cordial. Confidence has been lost.

excessive conflicts

The above points make the relationship toxic and conflict is the bread of the day.

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