Advertising
Advertising

Love: What Everyone Wants but Never Really Understand

Love: What Everyone Wants but Never Really Understand

We’ve all experienced the gut wrenching, plot flipping, sweaty palm emotion that we’ve come to know as love. But love is much deeper than these panicky reactions. In fact, once you have a chance to get comfortable and let those feelings pass, you’ll know if it was truly love; or something else.

So, what does love mean?

The concept of love is very easily mistaken for its similar counterparts; lust and infatuation.

The feelings we experience during the beginning stages of any of these tend to blur our judgment; mistaking something casual for something very deep and meaningful. But there are a few very prominent distinctions that can help you to decide what it is that you’re actually feeling.

Love: an intense and constant feeling of deep affection.

  • Happens over time.
  • Lasts, gets deeper with time.
  • Accepts the person as a whole, flaws and all.
  • Deeper than physical attraction.
  • Energizing.
  • Improves overall deposition; brings balance to your life.
  • Survives arguments.
  • Considerate of the other person.
  • In love with the actual person.

Lust: very strong sexual desire.

  • Happens instantly.
  • Tends to be fleeting.
  • Completely superficial, only involves an individual’s personal appearance and performance.
  • Very fickle; won’t last in the face of conflict.

Infatuation: an intense but short-lived passion for someone or something.

  • Occurs instantly.
  • Powerful but fleeting.
  • Idealized image of partner, only showing them your good side.
  • Focus on physical attraction.
  • Emotionally draining.
  • Brings out jealousy & possessiveness.
  • May cause you to neglect other relationships.
  • Avoids arguments.
  • Selfish.
  • In love with the feeling of love.

The Greeks answered the question “what does love mean” with 7 types of love.

“According the Greek Mythology, humans were originally created with two heads, four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate beings, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other half” — Plato

The Ancient Greeks had strong theories and explanations when it came to love and how we love. The quote above is in relation to soul mates, if only we could all be so lucky as to find that one person who we feel truly completes us. Unfortunately, you’re on your own in that department. Luckily, we are all capable of deciphering the type of love that we are, or the lover that we happen to be at the moment, as it tends to change. The Greeks broke up the different types of lovers and love into seven categories.[1]

Advertising

1. Agape: Known as the unconditional love, but also a universal love. A love for your fellow man, children, God, nature, whatever it is that makes them swoon. This love is accepting, regardless of flaws, in fact the flaws are embraced. They can still love without liking the object of their affection at the time. It is a unselfish love, sacrificing without the intention of receiving. It is a translation of love in the verb form; it is love being demonstrated by another.

2. Phileo: An affectionate kind of love. Warm and tender. Typically a platonic love. Phileos desire friendship, and strive to make deep bonds with their acquaintances. It is translated as love in the noun form.

3. Storge: The love of family and friendship. It is the love that parents feel for their children. It is the love that causes best friends to fall into a romantic love, and for lovers to transition into best friends. This love is unconditional, and accepting of flaws. This love is committed, sacrificial, secure, comfortable, and safe.

4. Eros: A passionate and intense love that arouses deep romantic feelings. This love triggers feelings of euphoria, and makes you want to profess your love to your partner. (Perhaps sometimes a bit too soon.) It is deeply emotional and sexual. This love tends to be fleeting and fizzle out quickly. It is more infatuation that it is true love.

5. Ludus: Playful, uncommitted love. A lustful love. Acts of this love may be through dancing, teasing, flirting, and seducing. This love is noncommittal and requires absolutely no strings attached.

Advertising

6. Pragma: Practical love, focused on duty or long-term interests. Sexual attraction takes a back seat while variables such as personal qualities, compatibilities and goals are the priority.

7. Philautia: Self-love. A person with high self-esteem and a deep respect for themselves.

Falling in love can make you feel neurotic and strung out, almost as if you’re coming down from drugs- because technically you are.

According to Anthropologist Helen Fisher of Rutgers University[2], who studied 166 societies and found that the concept of romantic love was prevalent in 147 of them. She deciphered this information by comparing MRI scans of individuals who were very newly but madly in love. She broke down the similarities into 3 stages of falling in love based on our brain chemistry. Although love may on some level have some deep and spiritual elements that are not tangible enough for study, one thing is for certain.

“Love is kept alive by something basic in our biological nature.” — Richard Schwartz, Harvard Medical Professor

In other words, these emotions are nature’s way of encouraging procreation.

Advertising

Lust: The initial attraction.

You’ve just met someone, and you’ve decided that you’re into them. This is where the hormones estrogen and testosterone have come into play. You’ve decided that they make a suitable mate.

Attraction: This is when you start to experience the butterflies in your tummy.

And this is when the excitement to see them but the overwhelming anxiety as well. That’s because the neurotransmitters in your brain are firing off some pretty powerful stuff.

  • Adrenaline: activates your stress response, increase blood levels of adrenaline and cortisol.
  • Dopamine: simulates desire and reward, triggering intense pleasure, is comparable to the effects of cocaine on the brain.
  • Serotonin: alters your thought process, this is why you can’t stop thinking of your lover.

According to a study conducted by a Dr. Donatella Marazziti in Pisa, Italy involving 20 couples who are very newly in love, she found that the serotonin levels of the individuals were the same as someone who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Attachment: The bond that keeps couples together long enough to procreate.

Here, two of the strongest love drugs are released, rendering you physically addicted to your partner.

  • Oxytocin: a very powerful hormone that is released during an orgasm. It deepens the feeling of attachment after sex. The more sex you have with your partner, the deeper your bond will be because more of the chemical has been released.
  • Vasopressin: also released after sex. This aids in the feelings of long term desire.

Richard Schwartz and Jacqueline Olds, Harvard Medical School Professors and long term lovers found[3] that we have two neural pathways that decip her the judgment of negative and positive emotions. When the “love drugs” are administered, the neural pathway for negative emotions is hindered, thus proving that love is actually blind.

Advertising

They also found that if the love lasts for two years, the emotional roller coaster will eventually steady itself out. The serotonin and cortisol levels drop and normalize once more. Dopamine, the reward and pleasure hormone is still very prevalent and can stay the same even after 30 years of marriage; although the craving and desire for your lover does lessen. Love no longer is the stress, but becomes a defense mechanism against the stress. The love transitions from passionate to compassionate.

Don’t go looking for love. Let it come to you. Make yourself magnetic.

The best way to find love is to let it come to you. Sounds a bit unrealistic and incredibly counterproductive, but hear me out. If you put out the right vibe, it will attract the sort of energy that you want in your life.

1. Love yourself.

Let’s face it. You’re awesome. And just because you’re “alone” right now or haven’t met “the one” doesn’t change a thing. Commit to yourself to be the best that you can be. You can’t rely on anyone else to make you happy, and this practice will seriously hinder your personal growth.

So take the initiative. Get out there and be the boss that you know you can be. Instead of searching for a lover, search for your best self. You will be happy. You will radiate confidence and people respond positively. What you put out there has a huge impact on what you’ll eventually bring in.

2. Get to know your lover before taking the plunge.

Sure, these new emotions are so exciting and you want to jump right in and take this thing to the home stretch. But just one second. You’re glossing over all of the good parts. You’re missing out on the intimacy, which will eventually cause the destruction of your relationship in the long run.

Really get to know your prospective partner. Take the time to know their interests; see if they match with yours, or inspire you to expand your interests to encompass theirs. Build a genuine connection with someone before you let those three little words slip out. It will be all the more satisfying when you truly deeply feel it, and you know those feelings are reciprocated.

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: These Are the 7 Types of Love
[2]You Amazing Brain: The science of love
[3]Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute: Love and the Brain

More by this author

Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, freelance writer, & plantbased food enthusiast.

How We Are Confusing Self-Love with Narcissism In This Generation How Traveling Can Drastically Improve Your Interpersonal Skills 10 Best Lumbar Support Cushions That All Desk Workers Need See How Your Brain Can Ruin Any of Your Workout or Healthy Eating Plans. One Small Action Separates Success From Mediocrity.

Trending in Psychology

1How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits 2Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist? 3What Makes a Relationship Boring and How to Avoid It 4How We Are Confusing Self-Love with Narcissism In This Generation 5A Negotiation Is Like a Game, You Can’t Get the Best Deal Without a Strategy

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 20, 2018

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

Advertising

    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

      Advertising

      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

      Advertising

      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

      Advertising

      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1]Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2]Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3]Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4]Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5]Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6]The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7]Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

      Read Next