Monday, July 05, 2010

Is Love Real?

And, in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make. ~Paul McCartney
I've been thinking about love quite a bit lately and wondering if there is such a thing.  I wonder whether there can really be a bond of feelings so strong between two people that are not blood related?

I do understand the love that a Mother will have for her offspring.  This makes sense to me and is evident across all of nature although mostly in mammals. A Mother will protect it's young at any cost as she has a vested interest in them, they are from her body, they are part of her. 

The male of the species has two goals, to survive, and to procreate. I'll dig in deeper and find references for this statement, but these are the general goals.

According to the definition of the word runs all the way from "a profound, tender, passionate affection for another person" to "enthusiasm, or liking for anything".  That's a pretty wide range!  No wonder I'm searching for what love really means.  It looks like the word has become overused for many different meanings through the years.

I stumbled across the origin of the word love and found it quite interesting.  Especially that it did not really come into use with relationships until around the 17th century.

In our modern society we usually relate the term "in love" with two people that are in a committed relationship.  This relationship usually happens through the game of courtship where the female will eventually choose the male, testing him at each phase.

The five phases of courtship are Attraction, Non-verbal Communication, Verbal Communication, Physical Touch, and ending in Sex.

The game is pretty simple when broken down and females will test the male's worthiness at each level to find out if they will "make good offspring" and can provide for them and their offspring.  There is no denying what I mentioned above, the female will make the decision to move through each phase, however the male can do things to build a strong sense of attraction to better the odds in his favor. It really is a game...

This is human nature kind of stuff, that happens and sometimes it's without us noticing.

There are some interesting articles out there that talk about couples that have been in relationships for a long time and still feel the same way about their mate as when they were going through the courtship phases. That, along with my personal experience of seeing couples stay together for long periods of time makes me think that there is "something", but I start to wonder whether this "something" is really just the attraction factor to that person and nothing more?  Think of all the couples who get together and get married, only to get divorced, some multiple times.  I bet every one of them would tell you they were "in love" at some phase of courtship.

My question comes back to me - Is Love Real?  If these things are programmed into us in our animal forms, then what is love and is there even such a thing?

I'll continue to research this and see if there really is such as thing as love or if love is really just an extreme side of a feeling, such as obsession with someone / something. 

What I do know as a fact is that one who is "in love" and going through the feelings that come with this generic term, can easily be influenced to believe that which is not true or does not exist in reality.  Which makes me wonder whether this leads to an unhealthy state of mind?  Does one talk themselves into being "in love" when influenced by these feelings? Since we all make our own reality, is love a unique feeling for each person?

I believe the answer to the last question is "yes".  The reason I believe this is because I don't think "love" is always a mutual feeling.  One person may feel much stronger feelings for their mate than their mate feels for them and I believe that these feelings can change over time, I also believe that the change is usually a decline in feelings.

I think there will always be people who will just prefer to get lost in their emotions and not try to understand why they feel the way they do... if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm not one of those people.  :)

Comments and thoughts welcome....


kimmnes said...

Just a thought...

English limits our definition of "love." Other languages have more than one word for different kinds of love. (For example ancient Greek had four: agape, eros, philia and one more than I can't remember and can't look up right now.) So sure, love is a feeling, but it also takes many other forms. I remember a few years ago some mom who was bragging about her Harvard degree wrote an article about how she loved her husband more than she loved her children. It got a lot of attention and even got her on Oprah. All I could think was, "This woman is bragging about how smart she is and she doesn't recognize that the love she has for her husband is different from the love she has for her children!? Sick b****!" (Then I decided she was brilliant for turning such drivel into publicity for herself.)

If I ever claim to love my husband more or less than I love my kids I hope someone calls me on it. Those two loves can not be compared. The feelings are different, the commitment is different, the sacrifice is different, the rewards are different... They're only related in that they're covered by the same English word "love."

Like I said, just a thought.

kimmnes said...

a few more thoughts...

The change of feelings over time is not a decline in feelings for everyone. Sometimes it's just a change, an evolution of feelings.

To answer your questions, yes, love is real. Feel better now?

Love can be hard to give, hard to receive, and often complicated. The trick is to know that you are deserving of love.

It's hard to discuss the origins of love without delving into religion. Not sure where you stand on that.

Chris said...

Jason, it will be interesting to see where you go with this! I agree with a lot of what you say, especially with the events of the past 1 1/2 years in my life.

I think, though, that there is another angle to consider, one I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on. Love is a choice. This kind of love is outside of "feelings", and I think it's what keeps those long-lasting couples together. I may not "feel" "loving" toward someone right now, but I can CHOOSE to love them anyway. (And this can be towards a partner, a friend, a coworker, a total stranger.) And the funny thing is, if you keep at that, eventually, your overall feelings start to change toward it.

It's a mind set I've had for years - to choose to love, regardless of how I'm feeling, and it's given me peace, even when the love has not been returned. As you know, this year that philosophy has been seriously challenged, but I'm still trying as much as I can, and I think that choice has been a strength to help me withstand everything else. And watching my friends choose to love me, despite my struggles this year, has also been a real strength.

Nadon said...

First - thanks for the insightful comments! It's nice to actually have someone comment on a post every now and then, and it also helps battle the truth of the calendar image that is hanging on my office wall related to blogging. :)

Now - on to the good stuff.

Kim - I agree with what you say about English limiting the definition of the word love. Per my early points and supporting articles, I just think it's overused and has lost what power it may have had. It's a lost word to me... I can't relate it to anything and until I figure that part out I guess I'll just move away from the definition of the word.

About the feelings a mother has for her children - I absolutely agree, and that is part of what got me thinking about this topic lately. I understand this concept, because it makes sense to me. I believe that there could be no tighter bond than that of blood relation to something that is part of you. Where I start to stray in my total belief is on the male side of the species, but I'll hold there until I have some better supporting information.

I think of the words companionship, trust and commitment when I think of what relationships are between a man and a woman. Perhaps it's just a collection of many things that people feel that are grouped into the generic term "love" ... but I still can't help feeling that it's kind of a throw away term anymore, so I still struggle to dig deeper into the meaning and how the meaning might differ between males and females, because I believe that it does.

Until I can fully define "love" I won't agree that we're all worthy of it. I will say that we're all worthy of respect and should treat others the way we wish to be treated. I also believe that we need to be accepting of ourselves and supporting of all positive thoughts to keep moving forward and progressing towards our goals.

Nadon said...

Chris - Very interesting angle. "Love" is a choice... let me think on this a bit. I would agree with you, but I'd be putting the word "love" out there to describe other things that I feel are better defined. When I first read your comment the word "appreciation" came to mind. How you can stand back and appreciate something for what it is... or for who someone is ... and I agree that there is a choice there, but is that love? There is always a conscious choice since our feelings and thoughts affect us much more than they affect others, although I think that there can be unconscious choices as well, that if we're not aware of can mess with us.

When you mentioned total strangers, it made me wonder more about "compassion" or "empathy" in the case of someone you want to help or back to "attraction" for someone that you've never met but feel "something" for... maybe you could describe more of what you meant here and how you choose in the situation of a stranger?

I guess the original thought for my post would have been directed at the other type that you mentioned with is partner and whether "love" is real or can be real between two non-blood related people. I think there can be strong feelings, but I think these are different from the ones felt by maternal feelings. As Kim said, I don't know if these can be compared since they are different, but we group them all under the word "love". If I was to describe the strongest form of these feelings as "love", then I would say that there is a love between mother and child. That leaves me with the definition of what exists between a man and a woman and back to my original thought which is can that really be classified as "love"...

As for friends, I have a pretty strong belief that friends / acquaintances come into your life for a purpose. To teach you something, to help you experience something new, to support you or to test you. I also believe that friendship is a relationship that has a beginning, middle and end, although there are some that linger but offer little value. It's my opinion that once the purpose has been fulfilled, most friendships will fade to the end stage. There are of course, those special friendships where stronger feelings of family exist and you can go years without interacting with the person and pick things up just like you left off. :)

This brings me to Kim's mention of religion, and I'll throw society on top of that since all things that I can think of have the external influence from Church and State.

Could it really all come down to the thought that relationships between man and woman follow the hard-wired rules of courtship for them to be created and then give into external influences to define them further?

For this NOT to be true, wouldn't the relationship between the man and the woman would need to stronger than any outer influence, including Church and State?

I'm not sure that I could believe in that... as it seems similar to believing in magic. :)

If this is true, then I don't think this would be classified as the same love described between mother and child and therefore, it's just "something else", but it's not love.


Nadon said...

After reading Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich", I've been given the gift of a different view on the "Love" topic. Love is just one of many emotions we are hard-wired to feel. Others that exist are fear, faith, desire and the sex emotion to name just a few. There are different levels of this emotion, because it is a spiritual "feeling" and not something that we can see / hold. However when mixed with other emotions, the strength of this feeling towards someone or something can be magnified. To quote a small part of the book - "Love is whimsical and temperamental. Its nature is ephemeral, and transitory. It comes when it pleases, and goes away without warning. Accept and enjoy it while it remains, but spend no time worrying about its departure."

Desires change, fears can affect out thoughts and feelings and interfere with our end goals in a way of self sabotage. I believe this is why love can come and go. The love for a partner would be something that would have to be nurtured and both would have to a strong feeling of love to sustain any long term relationship.

The book goes into great detail to show how man can be lifted to genius level accomplishments when driven and backed by the love of a woman. He will do anything in his power and sometimes above his power to please her. If this love is backed by a woman who just a deeply has the feelings of love for him, this is the perfect match as it will be the most productive of relationships.

Nadon said...

I also feel that the love that I spoke of for a child, is still the same emotion, however it may be mixed with the natural protective instincts of a mother for her young and that would be the difference between the love for a child and the love for a partner.

Nadon said...

"Love is an emotion with many sides, shades, and colors. The love which one feels for parents, or children is quite different from that which one feels for one's sweetheart. The one is mixed with the emotion of sex, while the other is not.

The love which one feels in true friendship is not the same as that felt for one's sweetheart, parents, or children, but it, too, is a form of love.

Then, there is the emotion of love for things inanimate, such as the love of Nature's handiwork. But the most intense and burning of all these various kinds of love, is that experienced in the blending of the emotions of love and sex. Marriages, not blessed with the eternal affinity of love, properly balanced and proportioned, with sex, cannot be happy ones--and seldom endure. Love, alone, will" - Napoleon Hill