- Mental Health
Eight Aspects of Love
Taking Love Apart
In this article there will be no mention of the religious concept of divine love, or love between parents and their children, also love between siblings, or pets and their owners---but exclusively the one between partners-in-love, whether straight or gay, without specifying any difference.
We might as well recognize something like a "myth" of love being examined in everything that follows; but it doesn't mean non-existence of the emotion of love, but a total misconception of it being popular in everyday jargon, as well as in poetry, music, and elsewhere.
More precisely, in our emotional repertoire I found eight aspects of our being driven into an emotional closeness, each being possibly the dominant, or weak, or fading away, or completely absent from the combination of others in that "package of love".
You will find all of them very familiar; however, possibly never suspecting that when people talk about love, they may be talking about an abstraction created by our collective consciousness which doesn't have much respect for individual differences between people.
Others' love may look similar to ours, just like at first sight all fingerprints look the same; and yet we are all talking about a different "combination of love" without knowing it. Love is a highly individual experience, and, as you will soon realize, it's also of a different intensity due to matches and mismatches of those eight aspects.
So you may exchange your qualitative experience of your love with your close friends, while not being aware that their intimate parameters of what you are talking about may be very different and closer to their own "emotional fingerprints" than to yours.
As you are reading about each of the eight aspects of love, you may derive some fun from applying that analysis to your own present or past romantic experiences. I hope you will be just amazed as I was long time ago as I hit upon these different aspects from my observing others' loving, and my own as well.
1) Physical Attraction
It doesn't need much describing, as we all know what it's all about. What may have escaped from the attention of some of us could be the fact that physical attraction---while carrying the strongest emotional charge in all of the eight aspects of love---also provides the weakest fundament for a lasting romantic relationship.
In order to mean more than that passion which, by itself, usually doesn't pass the test of time and maturing crises, it needs a backup of some other stronger among the eight aspects of love. Unfortunately, as we may know from personal experience and observation, most of loving relationships start as a passion, only to fade away, either abruptly or gradually.
Then we wonder if that was love at all. Yes it was, but in its most unstable form, because our passion hijacked our reasoning which would normally check for some other of the eight possible aspects and cornerstones of a lasting relationship being present in that version of love.
As we talk about friendship, we never normally think of it as having anything to do with romantic love. But that's where we fail to see the inner connection. Namely, within our emotional repertoire, it may represent the strongest glue that could tie us to another person.
Many romantic relationships start from friendship. When they do, they have a potential to last indefinitely, mostly because of what friendship actually means---namely enjoying each other's company because of some undefined and subconscious attraction; and also because of the trust and loyalty.
When friendships are true, they also mean some other very important components---mutual respect, compassion, support, and empathy. So, love can sprout out of such friendship when friendship is added to a discovered physical attraction or any of the other aspects of love.
Then, in any individual combination of aspects of love, friendship doesn't have to be the most prominent, but merely present in a certain lower intensity---but that presence always adds to the stability of the relationship.
Not treating your love partner for any less than you would treat your best friend enormously adds to the quality of that love. Just combined with some passion and maybe another one or two of the eight aspects of love may mean celebrating a happy "Golden Anniversary" one day.
3) Family Planning
There are couples that "fall in love" for the main reason of discovering a similar or identical passion for raising a family. Look, they don't even have to be particularly "crazy about each other" in a strictly sexual sense, and yet, in the unconscious preferences of both there is this prominent desire to have a partner with whom they can enjoy a family life with several kids, a dog, a house with a rose garden...that kind of stuff.
It's another solid basis for a lasting relationship. Folks who in the beginning start that way may later on discover more of the common qualities between them, simply because they are willing to look for them. Just like it is in case of a strong friendship.
Then the appearance of kids further forges their strong tie. They always leave an impression of people who know what they want from life, usually making excellent friends and reliable business partners. They may invest that same love for each other into every detail of caring of the house and its needs. So, their priorities will always be tied to their home. Usually they are instinctually great parents, instilling good values into their kids.
4) Shared Views
Those could be folks who fall in love out of an identical religious or political convictions; or they could be some sort of activists, or humanitarians---while their joint inner call may be beyond any other of the eight aspects of love that brought them together. They inspire each other, and their favorite topics of daily interaction enhance their version of love.
Other of the eight aspects of love may be present in a lower and supporting intensity--- like a physical attraction; although to their dominant passion in life that could be a matter that's put on a back burner, and merely "satisfying their bodily needs". Something like their "fast food diet" which replaces their interests for home cooking for which "they don't have time".
Social rebels of all sorts may fall in this category, and they always have some imaginary radical change in mind. They may be the loudest cheering voices at political conventions, or religious fundamentalists, where their love for each other picks some ingredients from their holy book.
They are the people "with a cause" or "on a mission to make a difference", and that's the glue that keeps them in a deep relationship. Couples like that may grow old together never really having time to think about something like "anniversaries", but they may know all American presidents by heart, or give you a full report of the current political events.
5) Common Ambition
Here we have a couple of intellectuals pursuing similar ambitions in the same or similar fields; but probably much more common are those business partners-in-love who share a dream of amassing a good fortune and be the envy of everyone among family and friends.
Especially those latter ones I often symbolize as "we-against-the-world" type. Their ambition is so strong that it may overshadow any other passion in life, including sex, or raising a family, or having a bunch of loyal friends. To them everybody in life is there to play a role towards their desired goals.
We might see them as cold and calculative, somewhat like that deserved-or-not stereotype caricature of a Jew. They live in their own world of prestige, and that's where they find a match in their love partner. I have personally seen a few of that kind, and some were not even hiding their "clan-like", closed attitude of "we-against-the-world".
Their type of love may include raising a family, or being politically active, but their political "idealism" is strictly gravitating towards their possible benefits, not the one of the masses. Deep down they are just careerists and elitists, seeing the majority of the populace as worthless second-rate humans.
And, even with those morally low values, it's surprising how well their love may function. Well, no one is completely morally poor---allegedly, even Hitler loved his loyal German shepherd.
6) Emotional Co-Dependence
This particular aspect of love usually is strong between those emotionally unstable individuals who get attracted to each other for a shared world of suffering and mutual emotional support. They also get to be each other's consolation, as it helps them not to feel alone in a better functioning world.
They both thrive on incessant complaints about just about everything from "dirty politicians" to "pervert priests", to "doctors who know nothing", to "this non-respectful younger generation", to "high cost of living"...you name it.
They may also get on each other's nerves, but to them it's "normal", and the more they are bitching the more they "love" each other. Now, I am not being sarcastic here---they truly care for each other, as they have found a suffering alter-ego in this "poor crazy bastard" and this "old crazy bag", as they may call each other out of endearment, not to mention those more colorful names they may have for each other.
Then, there is another kind of emotionally co-dependent folks in love, who may share a vice or two like alcoholism or drug abuse, or overeating junk foods. They too have their own little world that bonds them together through all those crazy episodes and "trips", some of them possibly being quite unpleasant.
Of this "darker" variety, we could also mention those who "need" a partner for their arguments. So they fall in love for that quality of their partner of assimilating all the verbal abuse without ever threatening with a divorce. If it "takes two to tango"---they have found a perfect match in each other.
7) Artistic Style of "Multi-Love"
A typical example for this kind of lovers would be easily found in the world of artistic eccentrics---whether we talk about actors, painters, dancers, sculptors, writers, musicians, philosophers, or any others of that creative breed of humans.
They may be some highly paid and famous professionals, or bohemians and amateurs---but they share this one quality of leading an unstable romantic relationship, almost as a rule. Their idea of having a family may be having kids with different partners---which perfectly matches their promiscuous type of sexual activity.
What makes it a sort of funny is their usually high opinion about values of true love and a good relationship, except that they just can't follow those values, due to their somewhat whimsical mentality. Like a slippery fish, you can't grab them by either head or tail.
Many of them are genuinely crazy people, some of them pre-psychotic, having lost a full contact with reality, with a conscious field narrowed by that flood of colorful emotionality and its wide range of possible eccentricity.
They are one kind of people that society appreciates for their artistic or literary contribution to the culture---and when I say "appreciate", I also mean "tolerate". Namely, many of them may get away clean after paying a fine, for the same offence that you and I might end up in a jail. They are "people with a special status", and so is their way of loving.
For example, an ordinary Joe would be quite embarrassed for his dirty laundry being exposed in magazines and tabloids---while an artist only gains in value for his displays of craziness. You want to marry one? Go ahead, you'll be a queen for a few nights.
8) Addictive Version of Love
Believe it or not, but some folks find a version of love by becoming addicted to each other---an addiction that they can't break. They may argue, they may temporarily even split apart, but they get together again---possibly more than once.
Such folks may even have very little in common, but, while "putting their love to test" for some time they get emotionally hooked on each other, unable to say good-bye. Couples like that may have some traces of affection between them, but they basically "learned to love each other so-so as they went along" while sharing the same roof.
Many fell in love merely because the life got too monotonous and there was a need for a company. Perhaps they met on the job, so they quickly got on the same page criticizing bosses and gossiping about co-workers. Then the cafeteria became unsafe place for the volume of their passionate hobby, and they replaced it with a nearby restaurant.
So, their love basically meant that life became "less boring than before". At one point they jumped in bed more out a need to give some spice to their routine of badmouthing co-workers and possible their respective families.
Before you knew it, it was the wedding bells to break the monotony of jumping in bed. Then it all became just another habit. Vive l' amour!
For a Final Word
To round it up, like I suggested back there at the beginning---maybe you could find some fun by assessing your own present or past love relationship under the scope of these eight aspects of love. Perhaps to see which of them are strong, weak, fading, or altogether absent---or, which of them were common to both, making you compatible, and which carried a distant taste of an "unanswered love".
For, we may love our partners in a different way than they love us back, and it may be educational for us to analyze a little what were our contact-areas, and what were the ones that left us with a feeling of being "not-completely-loved".
I hope you liked this little taking love apart for a purpose of finding out which gears are meshing, which ones are "just there doing nothing", or missing.