All About Love

Love is a basic human emotion, but understanding why and how it happens is not always easy. Many people confuse the various types of love, often leading to hardship and hurt. Chemicals and the way that our brains are wired allow us to be drawn to certain people at various times in our life. These same chemicals lead us to build a relationship or simply terminate it when the ‘love’ wears off. Understanding the different types of love – or lust – can helps us create healthy relationships with others.

Romantic Love

Romantic love is characterized by intensity. There is an intense passion, pleasure, or emotional desire. When experiencing romantic love, we often go through the various motions of real love – the caring, the sharing, the attentiveness – but we often separate romance from real love as we learn about our partner’s characteristics. Romantic love is usually temporary for this reason. It is based on fantasy and as we continue to spend time with the person, we learn that our partner’s actual traits are different than those we had projected in our fantasy.

It’s certainly true that romantic love can have a place in our dating lives and in any loving relationship. It can be helpful to understand the nature of romantic love, and not mistake true love for romantic infatuation. Romantic love can break down healthy barriers, as we are so focused on our partner and our relationship that we forget to maintain our own identity. After experiencing this kind of disillusion, you have the choice to terminate the relationship or try to build a mature relationship.

Compassionate Love

Compassion is a virtue, allowing one person to feel empathy, sympathy, and other emotions as part of love itself. It is a state of pure awareness where one actually pays attentions and listens. Your state of mind is in the present, and you are not worried about the future or the past, but what is possible now. When you have compassionate love, you are full of love because your perception is open to your partner.

Sometimes the most compassionate type of love is not actually doing or saying anything, but caring deeply and waiting for the precise moment to act. Each person must find their own balance, and their own ways to reach a state of compassionate love. Compassionate love is characterized by mutual attachment, respect, trust, and affection. It usually develops out of feelings of understanding for one another.

Your Brain on Love

Love, attraction, and relationships are fueled by actual chemicals in the brain. The chemicals that are responsible for our relationships and love belong to a class of neurochemicals. Those first “sparks” that we have when falling in love are caused by a combination of three primary neurochemicals – norepinephrine, phenylethylamine, and dopamine. More mature and long lasting relationships are guided by another two types of neurochemicals – serotonin and oxytocin.

Oxytocin is a hormone that is released into the bloodstream during various types of touching, such as kissing, cuddling, and hugging. The physical effects of oxytocin include an increased heart rate, sensitivity of nerve endings, muscle contractions, and an urge to touch. Oxytocin promotes bonding, designed to encourage people to stay together.

Love or Lust?

Love is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but the idea of being “in love” is an entirely different concept all together. True love is an emotion that is reserved for those who are capable of returning love. Love can bring us up or drag us down to the depths of despair, but one thing is certain; every person needs it. To many, love is more biological – having more spiritual properties than scientific.

Lust can have similar symptoms to love, allowing us to obsess over people and create a need for having them in our lives. The most important difference between love and lust is that lust is primarily sexual in nature. For example, a healthy-minded person would not feel ‘lust’ for their parents or pet, but the same person could easily feel ‘love’ for those things due to emotional investment. Lust involves being attracted to someone for pleasure, rather than for a long-term partner.

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