Defining Romantic Love
Define love.....How do you define it? Romantic love that is.
This isn't a particularly easy topic since love can be defined differently from person to person. Even though we as humans look for one easy definition that encompasses everyone.
The dictionary definition is an intense affection for another. This kind of love covers the broad scope of family, friends, etc. But what about a romantic partner, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend?
I wouldn't be the most obvious person to ask since romantic love for me has always been fighting, fussing and screaming at each other. But I would dare to say this is probably love for many couples. However, most people do not want or strive for this kind of love this is more normal than most want to believe. The idea that there will be no fighting, fussing and disagreements is a fairy tale. Although you don't have to tear the house down.
The above version of romantic love is mostly an unhealthy love. It does nothing to build the other person up or make your significant other feel good about himself/herself. Shouting matches usually result in name calling and put downs if not directly, indirectly. No one in the beginning of a relationship would engage in this kind of behavior as it would result in an immediate dismissal of any thought of a possible relationship but as time goes by and we feel more comfortable with the person we are with we let our guard down and allow ourselves to act in a manner we wouldn't with anyone else. So why do we do it with a romantic partner? It might not result in the immediate dismissal that very second but it will end the relationship eventually.
Truly defining love is not an easy task. A friend defines love as the recognition of your counterpoint in another. Is this romantic love? In my opinion, no. However, I do believe that any relationship must have balance to work. To be able to find someone that not only you work well and are a good fit with and are romantically in love with is not easy. Most people can find romantic love or what they believe is love but finding that person you fit with and are in perfect sync with is an arduous task. So how do you find that person? There is no good answer unfortunately. Sometimes you find it and sometimes you don't. This is why you see so many that settle. Those people that end up with someone they can't live with and they can't live without. This is a nonstop merry go round, roller coaster ride with no end. This has been my experience with romantic love. And there really isn't a fix for this. You either learn to live with it or leave it. Then there's the opposite side of the spectrum which is a relationship without romantic love. Both are difficult and if I had to choose(if I were in a position of having to) I'm certain I would choose the fighting relationship with love over a loveless relationship and the reason for this is because two people in love can go to therapy and possibly fix their problems or at least some of them but there is no fix for a loveless relationship unless there is some way of learning to be in love with your partner and quite honestly the feelings are either there or they're not. But I must say the only way to avoid a relationship of constant fighting and yelling is to end it once it becomes the normal end result or fix it.
There's no doubt a relationship can work without romantic love but the big question is whether you want it to or not. Often times, once the romance wears off a person will go looking for those same feelings elsewhere ending up on a continuous cycle of look, find and leave. The reason for part of this is that the brain excretes certain chemicals and hormones during the romantic love/infatuation stage. One such hormone is oxytocin and is sometimes referred to as the bonding hormone. You can read about it in it's entirety here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin. Another such hormone is dopamine(Complete Definition) and is present in a variety of addictive drugs. Almost any type of reward increases dopamine levels. So it's understandable why dopamine levels would increase during a romantic love relationship. Yet another brain chemical is PEA, a naturally occurring amphetamine substance.
It is believed that love is mostly biology based and while this may be true it is purely an evolutionary concept independent of factors outside of arousal, attraction and bonding. It takes a lot more than these three things to make a love relationship work. It is referred to as the three brain system theory. How The Brain Falls In Love. While an interesting conceptual article it's entire basis is that of evolution without considering creationism.
In my opinion there are five types of love relationships. One where both romantic love and actionable love exist in it's purest, truest form which can be referred to as unconditional love and is quite difficult to find. Two, where love exists but unconditional love is only striven for. Being that I'm a cynic it is hard for me to embrace either of these definitions but I'm working to support a new attitude. Then there's three and four on the love scale and those are: where romantic love exists and where it does not. I personally believe that actionable love cannot exist without striving for unconditional love and unrestricted love most definitely can't survive without action. Lastly, the relationship that espouses no love of any kind.
Before you ever consider a relationship without love and romance ask yourself if you can live without complete intimacy and parallel with another person.
In the end, it is up to each individual and couple to decide what love means for them.
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