"Falling in love" and "Being in love" are common expressions that people use to described their passionate desire for one another. Passionate love may occur at almost any stage during life, although people involved in long-term cohabitation seem to experience a qualitatively different kind of love.
There are many kinds of love; sexual, parental, filial, fraternal and narcissistic, as well as love for a group, school and country. Although the factors that influence interpersonal attraction are complex and not fully understood, they all appear to involve social reinforcement. People learn to act in ways that reinforce friends and lovers in order to maintain and strengthen their ties.
Attraction is increased by positive evaluation of oneself by the other person's familiarity, similarity in looks, interests and attitudes. Couples tend to be similar in attractiveness, shared opinions and physical good looks.
A person is attracted to a potential mate for various reasons. The attraction may be purely physical and the relationship transient. A person may strive to fulfil a magical desire for the perfect lover, whose qualities are reminiscent of the idealized, qualities of parents or other past sources of love and affection. A person's expectations for a partner may or may not be realistic.
Steinberg's theory of love describes how different combinations of intimacy, passion and commitment give rise to lilting and different kinds of love. These elements may combine to form eight different kinds of relationships. For example:
a- No love involves not one of these elements.
b- Liking involves intimacy.
c- Romantic love involves intimacy and passion but no commitment.
d- Infatuation love involves only passion.
e- Empty love only involves commitment.
f- Compassionate love entails both intimacy and commitment, but no passion.
g- Fatuous love is a kind of love marked by complacency in the relationship. It entails truth, passion and commitment, but no intimacy.
h- Consummate love is the highest form of love and contains all the three elements.
A person able to give and revive love with minimum fear and conflict has the capacity to develop genuinely intimate relationships with others when involved in an intimate relationship. A person's expectations of a partner may or may not be realistic. One neurotic motivation is an inability to separate from parents. Another neurotic motivation is selecting a partner to compensate childhood needs. Every person and every marriage probably carries an element of such unrealistic experience. When these tendencies predominate and the couple acts mainly to exchange patterns of exploitation, or when interlocking complementary needs fail to bring sufficient security in happiness, discomfort and anxiety occur, and the relationship may break down.
From an evolutionary standpoint; love serves both procreative and child-rearing functions. Sociologists have observed that men and women differ with respect to social cues. Men prefer potential mates to be young and physically attractive because young, attractive women tend to be fertile. Women prefer potential mates to control socioeconomic resources because these resources are important to support the family.
In true intimacy, there is mutuality, a quality reminiscent of the first stage of life. Through the crisis of intimacy versus isolation, people transcend the exclusives of earlier dependencies and establish mutuality with an extended and diverse social group.
Erikson believed that meaningful work, procreation and recreation within a loving relationship represent utopia.
The successful formation of a stable marriage and family depends on the capacity to become intimate. The years of early adulthood are crucial for deciding whether to get married and to whom.
Gender identity determines object choice, either heterosexual or homosexual, but making an intimate connection with another person is a major task. People with schizoid personality disorder remain slated from others because of fear, suspicion, the inability to take risks or the lack of a capability to love.