Revealing Secrets to Define Love, a Tale of Romance
The Article Inspiration
This article is inspired by a question at HubPages.com. The question is succinct; “What is your definition of Love?” My first thought is my definition is not the same as what it means to me. The first causes me to think about words for a meaning while the other asks me to share my feelings giving it meaning. I realized those two are like two unique peas in a pod all three separate, but intertwined as a whole.
The adventure began last year as a novice writer exploring the idea of a romance novella. Realizing I have:
- Observed it
- Read stories and novels
- Watched TV and movies
. . . I still felt lack. So, I began a study for how to define love through exploring. Although a portion is shared as essay, it is a tale of romance and friendship.
First, giving Love meaning
What I came up with for what it means to me is: “It is to experience and be cosmically connected to someone or something”. Cosmic, to me, is unexplainable, undefined, and is unique. It is mystical and magical.
To explain psychology says feelings are a result of an experience. That can be pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. I feel it is discovered in all three contexts. From the experience arrive feelings expressed as emotions. There is perception followed with a response. That can happen with the blink of an eye unless time given for observance. In the first case there is a reaction. The second there is thought followed by an action. So, I conclude those are synergistic. There must be a hidden, yet distinct connection I call cosmic.
We discover that through art, music, and written works. They give us an experience we react first with swiftness and then discern over time. To further share below is a poem to my beloved. Certainty says it is experiencing. I expressed my feelings and prompts emotions for self and the beloved. Each will read interacting with a cosmic experience of your own. And, each will have a unique set of feelings discovered through emotions. That will present meanings to you.
Words to my Beloved of Afar
Eyes awaken to night’s cast shadows of darkness,
Your sweet image paints my mind colorfully ardor,
Seeing Love I am encouraged of hidden amorous scent,
Perfumed I walk forward into the day’s tasks at hand.
I am greeted noticing your smile having savored coffee’s temptation,
Subtle conversations within mind begin with laughter shared,
Soon our friend rises higher creating light welcoming each of us,
A frizzy, furry friendship scurries alongside your feet a loyalty likened to us.
No matter countless miles separate ‘tis an experience of mind,
Held close are feelings of heart sharing joyous morning occasion,
Ponder asks if words fruitful while know certainly touches our souls,
Knowledge of eternal friendship’s love does not beg nor ask, simply shared.
'tis are love . . .
Different ways to express love giving it meaning
Which forms of expression do you like to give meaning to Love
How I define love is an interesting adventure
Before sharing the adventure, how I define it is:
"Love are phenomena of the spirit".
With that offered are these considerations:
- Love and Spirit are abstract nouns. “An abstract noun is not attached to anything real falling into the realm of indescribable.”
- Phenomena are the plural of phenomenon. “Phenomenon is anything that manifests itself through experiencing perception. It is what the senses or the mind notices.”
- ‘Of’ indicates relationship between a part and a whole or is holistic.
- ‘The’ indicates one or more somethings of common knowledge. That considers Spirit is an abstract noun.
- And, spirit is chosen over soul as I don’t adhere to them being one in the same. Soul is singular and spirit is inclusive. Yet, they interact and weave together cosmically.
- Thus, we discover how I feel while seeking a bigger picture with a definition. The following is a journey seeking to define it for me and is a story. I looked at a few in the perspective each is phenomenon:
- Philosophy – Grecian thought
- Religion – Christianity
- Culture – American
- Science – general concepts, biology, and psychology
We each will have our own respectful unique definition through experience and knowledge. There are over 800,000 books at Amazon for it. We realize how vast it is. It changes, matures, and evolves. As a writer I discovered its phenomena are elements for developing plot and characters for a story or novel.
Seeking to define with philosophy
A person’s philosophy may arrive through influences of religion, society, and education. There are many philosophers who have written about love. We will look briefly at Grecian thought. The Greeks wrote of it philosophically in literature with prose, poetry, and essay while introduced myths to explain. At its core it says there are four forms. Those are:
Storge – Empathy bond, fondness, and/or affectionate. It is independent of the others. It is a natural love
Eros – Erotic or romantic. There are two understandings for it. One is that of desire, which is egocentric and is selfish seen with falling in love. It involves sexuality, is of an erotic nature, and is distinguished from being in love. Its focus becomes the ends for lust through sexuality.
‘Being in love’ has a focus upon a singular ‘another’ and shifts away from falling in love. There is commitment and reasoning. There is a response to a person’s soul and to form – beauty. When falling in love is tempered with being in ‘Love’ Eros will occur more pure. It is independent of the others. It is a natural form.
Philia – Friendship or affectionate with common values, interest, and activities. It is freely chosen of no consequence. It is likened to brotherly and may be shared between many. It is independent of the others and is a natural. Plato said the best kind of friendship is through Eros.
Agape – Unconditional thought as from a greater source such as of the higher conscious, (Awareness – thought and perception) or a deity – God or gods. It is spontaneous, unmotivated, and rationally ‘incomprehensible’. A result value is created and reciprocating fellowship occurs.
Agape serves regardless of circumstance, which changes. It is virtuous and is charitable asking not any exchange for it. It is genuine. This form is less natural going against our nature having intent with motive. Agape is the greatest form.
One philosopher says of importance is the attitude given with each. In other words it is more than a strong liking with core values. It is how one identifies with another where they become the beloved. There is justification for loving through evaluation. There will be private knowledge and public behavior.
Love as a robust concern. It in essence concerns caring for a partner for their sake to be a part of what it is to love the partner. At its core it is “neither affective (Emotional) nor cognitive. It is volitional (Desire)”. In a sense this rejects love as union.
Love as union. This is the desire to form some kind of significant connection or there becomes a ‘we’. It is a new entity. Both do not give up their identities. It develops into its own autonomous identity.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.— 1 Corinthians 13:13
Defining with religion
There are many religions to consider while at times several affect a definition. Each have texts and will have their theology, doctrine, and dogma. The following is only touching briefly on Judaism and Christianity. They relate to me and my tale. Perhaps others seeking definition will find value. For a better understanding each individual for any religion should do research with study.
Views with Judaism
For Judaism the most common word for Love is Ahava. Its meaning is for an interpersonal form with God and God’s creations. That is loving-kindness. The Torah tells how to love God with deeds and willingness to sacrifice. It is non-committal with serious transgressions and grateful in times of adversity.
There are two views how to obtain those. One is considering with meditation upon divine deeds. The other is through witnessing the gift of nature. With partnership within it there is romantic and that is likened to what is imparted from God. The book of Psalms has been said to have some of the greatest songs and poems including erotic context. A saying for guidance by Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler is "giving without expecting to take", which is echoed as brotherly.
Views with Christianity
Christianity places emphasis on Agape with its New Testament text. It is influenced by the Old Testament text also used by Judaism. At its core is Agape having an attitude of charitable, altruism, selflessness, and unconditional. The second is Philia. That is brotherly love, which is the human response to something delightful.
There is delineation from lust. The scholar St. Augustine for lust said “I was in love with love” meaning an overindulgence. Christian theologians see God as loves main source. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “. . . to will the good of another”. It is in the context of Agape and Philia together. A view may arrive that it is not focused upon self, but upon another. At the same time one receives it from God providing for self. There is a relationship between Need Love and Give Love. That is within the context of brotherly and the ultimate Give Love seen arriving from God.
The greatest emphasis is the belief of love with completeness aims toward God, another, or others. It is described as being virtuous with quality and characteristics. Those are patience, kindness, humbleness, and hope. It does not seek harm. As it grows so do virtue with quality and characteristics seen with authenticity and integrity.
Define with culture
Culture is how we define ourselves, follow shared values, and contribute to society. Each nation and region will have one and subcultures with customs. We will look at a small portion of American. Yet, there are many subsets. Its study is far more complex than this brief overview.
In the U.S. we will notice being an immigrant nation theirs will have an impact. Other influences are the smaller subcultures like hippies and the free love of sexuality from the sixties. Another today is we have online life with love with its development and growth. And, those of different generations may conflict or adapt contributing to the whole. For instance the once valued romantic form as a twenty year old may become lechery for one aged sixty.
Our American culture values romanticism. It arrived as romance through the Western traditions of medieval courtship. The story of Galahad and Guinevere comes to mind. It transcends to an experience of both the erotic and sacred as we relate to a significant other.
Stephen Mitchell writes, romance “generates emotions, stimulates imaginative play, and nurtures devotion to ideals. Romance emerges in relation to love. It is a particular sort of love, in which there are powerful erotic currents. Romance is closer to ‘falling’ in love than being in love”. It dismisses the entertainment subculture of fantasy revealed through novels, TV soap opera, and cinema becoming real.
We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.— Luciano De Crescenzo
It is at odds with the American sense of obligation and a pledge. There are basic beliefs for marriage through courting, happiness, and success influenced by religious morals. In other words live happily ever after within a heavenly sense. That is an ideal and held sacred as the basis for an enduring bonding. We celebrate that publicly with anniversaries honoring those that achieve twenty years and onward.
But, as individuals we create conflict because of the belief of self. Love becomes a paradox of spontaneous inner freedom. That contrasts permanent commitment embodied by obligations transcending immediate feelings. Thus, culturally divorce dances with being more normal than not. It is a solution set to lack of romance with perceived relationship problems of promises.
The American culture adapted to that moving trend. It followed close to the introduction of free love in the sixties with cohabitation. The traditional sense of custom was dating, engagement, and then marriage. It evolved to where engagement is substituted with living together, but is a first formal stage of committal. That presents the perspective of trial and error without a perceived consequence. The marriage ideal remains sacred.
With culture we discover the contrast of ‘falling in love’ with ‘true love’. The latter has a pursuit seen with long lasting marriage. Yet, there is paradox between needs of the emotional heart and pragmatism of the mind. Ideological obligations to a set of values arrive through variances of religion or today’s thoughts of spirituality. We see both romance and the trials & tribulations of responsibility given homage. That is seen with songs and ballads within many genre of music. And, those are revered with social exchanges expressing aspects of love.
Elton John; ‘Your Song’ (4:07 min.)
Defining with Science
General concepts of science say there are two considerations for love. One is impersonal, which is one-sided. This view points to a strong liking for an object, principle, organization, or a goal. Something is strongly valued and there is commitment. Altruism is akin to it. The other is interpersonal and is a strong liking. That is the form between human beings while some include pets. It is not one sided and there is responsibility.
What biology says
According to the biological view it is the functions of sex and sexing. That is a result of natural biological drives just as is hunger and thirst, but with a social context. Offered are three parts – lust, attraction, and attachment. With these phases are physiological responses.
Phase one – lust: There is arousal seen with one or more of these:
- Increase in heart rate
- Hastened breath
- Changes at the genitalia
The brain releases hormones – testosterone or estrogens, and neurotransmitters – dopamine, adrenalin, and vasopressin. Those are released in 1/5th of a second. That is as fast as the blink of an eye. It also occurs over duration of a short time span lasting days. That has the same impact as cocaine. This phase may be experienced as a high while their effects may last for months, although is temporary.
Phase two – attraction: This stage also is accompanied by arousal and arrives with an assessment for a mate. Released are neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The protein molecule Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) will have higher levels. That effect lends to be more of a pleasant experience with duration. It, too, is a temporary phase.
Phase three – attachment: This is a period of bonding promoting and forming long lasting relationships. Higher levels of oxytocin and vasopressin are released with a greater constant. Cognition functioning regard bonding with its value becomes greater.
...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid.— Félix J. Palma
What psychology says
Psychology studies innate behavior and those resulting from cognition – thinking and memory. They are related to sociological factors. Many theories developed, of which one by psychologist Robert Sternberg says three components exist. Those are:
- Passion – It has a companion; sexual attraction. They are seen with romantic and infatuation.
- Intimacy – Common to romantic and friendship. There is sharing in confidence while key is personal details. Compassion is introduced.
- Commitment – This stage has a sense of permanency to it. The relationship will last.
Next, he delineates between those as forms having one or more of those elements. His theory is supported by another saying “Attachment, caring, and intimacy” are stages. Those are:
- Non-love is absence of love
- The empty form is commitment only
- Liking is only intimacy
- Infatuate is only passion
- Romantic is passion and intimacy
- Fatuous has passion and commitment
- Companionate is intimacy and commitment
- Consummate is all three elements – passion, intimacy, and commitment
Notably stated by him are "people having a strong tendency to be attracted to another of similarity; traits, personality, and interpersonal affection". The psychologist Scott Peck shares there’s a “‘concern for the spiritual growth of another,’ and simple narcissism”. Subsequently there is noble activity. In like manner awareness leads that consideration through thoughts and feelings that have an effect with behavior.
Eric Fromm points out another view stating, “The feeling is superficial compared to one's devotion to another via a series of loving actions over time”. Thus, discovered is experiencing love compared with acts previously experienced with thoughts through memories. Under those circumstance decided are past actions with intimacy leading toward committal. Implied is a conscious choice in early stages somewhat of involuntary sensations. Later, those are without that dependence or are independent of biological factors seen with cognition and/or free will. As can be seen devotion is a choice with actions and shown by deeds.
Summarizing phenomena as actions
Before the definition offered can be considered, accepted, or denied reverence should be considered for the abstract nouns Love and Spirit. Each will have a definition and meanings for them. That results by a personal life journey. The definition offered takes the perspective each phenomenon stands alone. Yet, they interact through synergy within the realm of spiritual. That may occur with a breath or seen through reflective thought. Hopefully, pleasant experiences will trigger feelings revealed through emotions. Those tie with giving meaning through an action like giving a card, writing poetry, or simply sharing feelings.
With thought we can explore those interacting. A person first is captured by another seen as an image of a preconceived form. Desire is experienced while simultaneously in 1/5 of a second there is a biological response affecting the brain leading the body. In effect a high is experienced. Then the influence of Eros furthers psychological desire. The familiarity of culture gives cause to the next step – romanticism.
The phase of passion and intimacy is considered through hope a learned religious context. Culturally one introduces one self, asks for a phone number, and interacts seeking a date. That should lead to a strong connection ultimately culminating with an ideal – a lasting relationship.
Or, psychologically another phase may be entered – infatuation, as that high is experienced. Psychology introduces strong desire with a sexual goal, which is the other component of Eros – lust, accompanied by passion. There is experiencing falling in love. No matter of each that meeting is dependent on reciprocation. Yet, love is the phenomena of the spirit of the other.
If time is given considering each phenomenon of the spirit (Character development) we can explore the life of love over a relationship’s life. We observe it matures and/or evolves. At the same time it moves from one form to another in a continuum of experiencing while gaining knowledge (Plot development). That leads toward the companionate or consummate psychological phase (Story Ending).
Physiology assists releasing chemicals of the brain – Oxytocin and vasopressin. Philosophical stages of it moves between Eros and Philia laced with Agape. That is influenced by religion staging its growth within its context of a higher form – God or gods. And, then there’s living within a culture such as American and/or a subculture. Acceptability is led by customs giving credence to the validity of a relationship. Each separate phenomenon interacts with each other. Thus, Love are phenomena of the spirit.
© 2017 Tim Mitchell