Recognizing the Two Types of Love
Love is a broad collection of emotional behaviors and feelings characterized by emotional intimacy, passion, commitment, and emotional love. It typically involves close sharing, caring, intimacy, trust, protection, affection, and romance. Love is frequently associated with a host of positive emotions, such as excitement, happiness, joy, peace, and fulfillment. In rare instances, love can also include fear or anger.
It’s important to note that love is really just one of these “conditions.” People can fall in love with one person in a long-term relationship and remain deeply in love with another person only for a short time period. And neuroscientists have proven that when a person enters a committed relationship, the brain consistently creates a pattern that enables your mind to respond with desire and sexual interest. This may be one reason that lovers often find it difficult to fall out of love.
Love and relationships are not symmetrical, so it’s possible to fall in love more easily than to maintain a long-term relationship. While long-term relationships require time and effort, falling in love is much simpler. The primary difference between long-term relationships and love is that love requires more time and patience. While falling in love is often experienced as if you’re just falling off of a honeymoon, this feeling is actually a neurological trigger that signals the body to release certain chemicals (especially oxytocin) that produce feelings of affection and intimacy. However, in a relationship, these hormones are released in a regular and ongoing cycle.
Neuroscientists have theorized that people who demonstrate high levels of intimacy and closeness are more likely to exhibit characteristics of psychological attraction (the desire to be around someone). According to this theory, people who are attracted to one another tend to project to the outside world a version of their own innermost beliefs and hopes. As these feelings are realized, their physical bodies also begin to behave in similar ways, which can sometimes lead to the development of physically and emotionally abusive behaviors. By viewing their own behaviors as inappropriate, partners in long-term relationships can feel like they’re being pulled into an emotional vortex – one that’s only getting worse as they spiral further into each other’s arms.
When James Burke describes his real love, he says it comes from the hero instinct. Because James has spent his entire life hiding his true nature, he says that his “Hero instinct gives him the confidence to accept himself as a person of exceptional importance, regardless of how close he is to people.” To this end, James often communicates his view of love through metaphors: when he’s feeling strong and secure in a relationship, he pictures a starry sky and a confident, unclouded sense of self. When he’s insecure and seeking a sense of belonging, he sees himself as a victim of circumstance. In these metaphors, we can learn about James’ hero instinct and how it can help us find our own security and happiness.
In addition to recognizing love’s many forms and descriptions, however, one needs to be willing to see oneself as an inherently valuable and significant person. This may sound corny, but it’s absolutely true. Recognizing one’s own worth and value is one of the most difficult skills to learn in any relationship, let alone one that’s supposed to last for a lifetime. Real love recognizes that one person is capable of loving another and being a significant person in their lives. Recognition of this truth is the first step toward letting go of hurtful feelings and developing genuine feelings for others.