What is Romantic Love within Love?
Romantic love is an experience many go through that may be easily experienced, accepted, and understood. Or, it may be daunting leaving one confused and mystified. Questions arise like why I feel this way and what is my mind trying to tell me. Romantic love may conflict with perceptions of love itself. Answers may come from what is learned through philosophies, religions, cultures, and science. They interact becoming the phenomena of the experienced romantic love. This article looks at the influences of Greek philosophy, Christianity, American culture, and science that do interact as the phenomena of experiences with romantic love as the dance to the orchestra of love.
Philosophy a Foundation
A person’s personal philosophy may arrive through influences of religion, culture, 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. Some may be familiar with the myths of Eros and Aphrodite and their influences on today’s culture. At its core, it says there are four forms of love. 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 of it. One is likened to falling in love is that of desire, which is egocentric and is selfish. It involves sexuality, is of an erotic nature, and is distinguished from being in love. Its focus leans on lust through sexuality.
The other is being in love. That has focused upon a singular ‘another’ and shifts away from falling in love. There are 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 with promise Eros occurs purer. 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, sisterly, or brother to sister and may be shared by many. It is independent of the others and is a natural. The Greek philosopher 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 of love.
One modern philosopher says of importance with romantic love is it may become true love. It is the attitude given. In other words, it is more than a strong liking. 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.
He continues, “love can be a robust concern such as romantic. 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 a union.
Love as a union. This is the desire to form some kind of significant connection or there becomes a ‘we’. It is a new independent entity. Yet, 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
There are many religions to consider while several affect revealing romantic love within love. Each has texts and will have their theology, doctrine, dogma, and teachers. The following is only touching briefly on Christianity.
Love with Christianity
Christianity places emphasis on Agape within the bible’s New Testament text. It is influenced by the Old Testament text from Judaism. At its core is Agape has an attitude of charitable, altruism, selflessness, and unconditional. The second is Philia. That is brotherly love, which is the human response to something delightful.
Yet, seen in the Old Testament romantic love is expressed with the Song of Solomon. That text is a poem about a young woman and her lover’s awakening to sexuality. It expresses the joy of discovery as gifts from God. We may liken it to the first part of Eros of Greek philosophy influenced by Agape. That scripture opens with:
1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
1:3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
1:4 Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
There is delineation from lust the first part of Eros from the big picture of love. The biblical 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. Romantic love mingles Need Love and Give Love of the lovers within the scope of both forms of Eros.
With the big picture, the greatest emphasis is the belief of love with completeness aims toward God, another, or others. Romantic love is toward another. 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.
American Culture Contributes
Culture is how we define ourselves, follow shared values, and contribute to society while exercising customs. Each nation and region will have one as well as its subcultures with their 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 their cultures will have an impact. Other influences are the smaller subcultures like the hippies and the free love of sexuality from the sixties. Another today is we have an online life with love with its development and growth. And, different generations may conflict or adapt contributing to the culture. 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 came from the Western traditions of medieval courtship. The story of Galahad and Guinevere arrived from Great Britain’s culture. Romance becomes an influence even within cinema beginning with films like Cinderella forming perceptions at an early age. Romanticism transcends the experience of the erotic to the 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.”
Morning without you is a dwindled dawn— American Poet, Emily Dickinson
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 anniversaries honoring those that achieve twenty years and onward. Here is seen philosophy and religion interacting with culture.
But, as individuals, we create conflict because of the belief of self. Love Romantic 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. Yet, 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 a 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 genres of music. And, those are revered with social exchanges expressing aspects seeking the endurance of romantic love within the scope of love.
Different Sciences Explains
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 experienced 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
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 as fast as the blink of an eye. That has the same impact as cocaine. It also occurs over the duration of a short time span lasting days. 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 being 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 the 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 for consummate 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 on 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, discovering is experiencing love compared with acts previously experienced with thoughts through memories. Here we see past experiences of romantic love interjected into love. Under that 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.
To answer the question what is romantic love may be seen with poetry and the short quips of cards with an image worth 1,000 words opening mind and heart to intimacy. Or, it may be the actual interactions and acts within a relationship that romanticizes it. It could be flowers given surprising the reciepent awakening Eros. We have seen romantic love awakens Eros particular to falling in love. It later is influenced by religious texts and teachings, the impact of culture, explained by the biology of our bodies, and the psychological aspects of our mind. Those all have an effect at times intermingling simultaneously as one experiences romantic love through the body and mind.
We have seen romantic love awakens Eros particular to falling in love. It later is influenced by religious texts and teachings, the impact of culture, explained by the biology of our bodies, and the psychological aspects of our mind. Those all have an effect at times intermings imultaneously as one experiences romantic love through the heart and mind.
Romantic love as the first part of Eros may be a moment sending waves of neurotransmitters interacting within the brain affecting the body while romanticism takes hold. Psychologically passion for another grows seeking both Need and Give Love. Eros shares it may be the very ends of sexuality that is the quest, yet romanticism haunts with the sacred virtue of marriage and the endurance of a relationship. Swiftly, passion dances with intimacy as hope seeks commitment as fleeting thoughts. Romantic love opens doors to the encompassing love of the body, mind, and soul of oneself with another interacting.
© 2017 Tim Mitchell