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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]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, writer, & plant-based food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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