The Anatomy of Love
Love is a group of behaviours and emotions characterized by emotional intimacy, romance, passion, devotion, and care. It involves physical closeness, emotional support, protection, concern, adoration, and admiration. It also involves an assortment of behaviors including caring, sharing, giving, receiving, communicating, listening, and making requests. However, love can differ in intensity at different times and can shift significantly over time.
During the course of human life, our attachment to another person or even a small animal hones and develops through a process of subtle bonding and communication, often without the conscious awareness of the individual involved. This initial connection develops into an intense form of romantic love that expresses itself in body language, emotions, songs, and even bodily movements. While this initial connection may appear to be superficial, it can be the foundation for much more complicated and rewarding relationships.
In human relationships love is most often expressed through a romantic attachment or sexual attraction that develops through our identification with another person. While these feelings may initially arise out of basic instinctual drives, they are often underpinned by feelings of love and care for another person. Over time, our brains develop neural pathways and connections that allow us to process information in a way that provides emotional content and experiences. As this neural circuitry becomes more refined, it provides more efficient pathways for experiencing and expressing romantic love.
Love does not need to be based on any emotion or concept. For example, our love for our parents may not have been based on any emotion, but we could still feel their love for us. Similarly, our attachment to our partners may not have been based on any emotion, but we could still feel their affection for us. As humans, our bodies tend to respond very powerfully to the feelings of love and affection we receive. When we receive love our brains send signals to our nervous system, which translates these signals to various parts of our body.
However, as time goes by, our brains receive less messages from our bodies, and so less of our bodies react to those feelings. Some people argue that love and affection are essentially empty words. However, if you ask someone who has been in a long term relationship whether they really love their partner or not, they will likely tell you that it is one of the most powerful emotions they experience. People who have been in long term relationships report that they feel loved even when they don’t get affection in return. When we engage in love relationships we are sharing deep feelings of contentment with another person.
Attraction is the process by which one person attracts another person to themselves. Love is the catalyst for attraction. Both love and affection are equally important in any long-term relationship. If one person’s love for another person is stronger than the other person’s then they will experience much more attractive thoughts and feelings. However, if one person’s love for the other person is weaker than the other person then they will tend to experience less attractive thoughts and feelings.