by Horia Varlan
What is love?
Is it possible to quantify the sporadic beat of our hearts, the watering of our mouths, the butterflies in our stomachs or the tickling of our ears when we think of our beloved?
Is love simply a product of our physiology, and if love is quantifiable, can its effects be duplicated at will?
Some of the very same questions have been posed by the scientific community regarding whether or not meditation and other stages or states of consciousness can actually be measured; and the answer to both the former and the latter is, yes.
In order to determine whether or not love can be scientifically or psychologically proven is to identify what it is that one feels when they feel loved. The neuroscientific community has contributed a great deal to our understanding of the neuroscience behind love by pointing out some of the basic chemicals that are released into the brain whenever a person feels as if they are in love.
Robert Palmer had it right.
One thing is for certain, the research that is available helps to shed light on why divorces and breakups hurt so badly; love is a powerful drug and it’s highly addictive in nature. Some of the same good-feeling chemicals that are released by your brain during the love-process are some of the same chemicals that are released when a drug user gets high. Therefore, the experience of separation from the person that you love mimics the withdrawals that a drug addict exhibits when they are being weaned off of drugs.
During what I would call the “love moment,” not only are specific chemicals released in the brain, but our brain experiences various degrees of strong cognitive activity as well. For example, during states where individuals describe the feeling of being in love, certain areas of the brain associated cognition are stimulated, and chemicals such as oxytocin are released throughout our body systems.
So, to say that love is blind would not be completely accurate; a more truthful statement would be that love can make a person one-tracked. Similar to the feelings of a drug addict that yearns for their next fix; someone consumed by the grips of love could be tempted to forsake all others just so that they can reach that high.
Psychologically speaking, love, in terms of selecting a mate, is best viewed as a human emotion exchanged between two or more persons. The emphasis on the humanness of love is because if you ask anyone that’s been through the initial stages of what we would call, romantic love, they would describe it as a super-human, out-of-this world feeling.
The problem with that description is that like all other highs, romantic love only lasts for a moment.
One of the major problems with romantic love is that it forces an individual to project divine qualities onto the object of their affection. At that moment, which is often found in the beginning of a relationship, the person receiving the projection seems perfect, god-like, and beyond scrutiny. Romantic love doesn’t consider how bad a person’s breath smells when they awaken in the morning, or their terrible mood swings. Romantic love places individuals far beyond what an average person could ever hope to become, which is why it can be misleading if it is the sole reason as to why you decide to form a bond with someone.
There are individuals in the dating world that love being in love, and as a result of love being their drug of choice, they spend their entire lives, bouncing from one relationship to the other. Romantic love or eros is not strong enough on its own to sustain a long-term relationship.
If you analyze most long-term relationships, the love they exhibit has a more humanistic quality; meaning that their relationship has a foundation rooted in storge-philia, which are Greek words used to roughly describe a strong friendship and embrace of someone’s complete self, including their faults. Once that foundation is cultivated, you could easily add just enough eros to keep things spicy and fun.
If you are really searching for your ideal mate; one in which you could love without limits, it would be best to look for someone that complements you.
Whenever you are searching for someone that completes you, the biggest message in your awareness is that you are not whole.
Carl Jung suggests that at that moment, one would be tempted to project parts of their anima or animus, which is a contrasexual, masculine/feminine soul energy within your unconscious, out into the realm of experience. This act of desperation happens almost unconsciously because of the ego’s need to self-correct.
You see, our egos are not our enemies.
In fact, our egos (“I am”) have a bodyguard-like character, which prevents us from doing anything to disrupt the deepest layers of who we are. Therefore, individuals are inwardly forced to make up for their belief of being incomplete by unconsciously searching for a suitable candidate that reflects what they already contain deep within their soul.
Love is a path on the road to individuation, which is described as complete acceptance of who we are as perfectly-imperfect beings. The ideal relationship in which a healthy love can express itself is one in which mates complement each other by supporting one partner’s weaknesses with their strengths. So you don’t have to chase everyone you meet; deep inside of you, there’s an awareness that recognizes that you are already built for love and you are complete just as you are.
Your complementary mate is right around the corner; get to know your strengths and weaknesses and you will quickly discover what they look like!
Jesse Herriott is an ordained priest; writer and adjunct professor in Atlanta, GA and his work bridges both Psychology & Spirituality. Jesse’s writings have been featured in ASANA international Journal of Yoga, Transformation Magazine, The International New Thought Magazine and other Indie Publications. He is also a regular contributor to Unity.org and Jesse hosts a weekly radio broadcast on Unity Online Radio entitled, “Living on Purpose.” Check out the show online, like us on Facebook or Twitter and visit www.jessherriott.com.
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Asst. Ed.: ShaMecha Simms/Ed: Kate Bartolotta