Love is probably the most complicated emotion on earth; love is opposite- on the spectrum of emotions- to fear, and love has often caused or contributed to many of the greatest advancements and accomplishments of mankind.
Just a few of the definitions for the word love are: an intense feeling of deep affection, a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone, or a great interest and pleasure in something.
But, do any of these definitions really do justice to a word that can reduce the strongest man to tears, or turn an otherwise rational woman into an emotional train-wreck?
Many different opinions exist on what describes love best, and science has even been able to show many interesting things about love.
Brain scans reveal that love can stimulate the same parts of the brain as people who have addictions to drugs, and we have also learned that love creates a series of neurotransmitter and hormone releases that can affect our overall mood.
Some psychologists believe that love is actually a mental disorder, and most of us have probably felt this way at times in our own lives as well. Ever pulled one of these sort of stunts below…?
Some Buddhists believe that love is a bad thing, because it is a form of attachment-and attachment causes suffering.
Surely though, most everyone can agree: love is one of humanity’s biggest displays of the human condition. Few things can bring out the vulnerability and emotions of a person like love can.
Love is enough to make you feel insane, but does it make you insane?
Love has the potential to cause hundreds of ailments to the person that feels it: fear, heartbreak, a sense of longing, pain, strange behaviors, lying, and even murder; other times, passion, joy, increased energy, intense fulfillment, and unbounded freedom.
There are two different types of love and a person can have both at the same time or they can have one or the other.
The first type of love is what I would call the “love of attachment”, and it is by far the most common type of love. The second type of love is “unconditional love” and is much less common, but it does still exist.
The “love of attachment”
The “love of attachment” is love for the benefits that a person provide you. It is loving the gifts that they give you, rather than loving the person themselves. This often happens due to a lack of self love, low self esteem, or due to low confidence.
Often times when we “love” someone, we are actually in love with what they provide for us. Maybe we love them for all the nice things they do for us, or we can simply love them for the way they make us feel when we are with them.
If you buy into the idea that love is a complex system of chemical releases and emotions in our brains then it would be easy to see how we could actually become addicted to being in love with someone- dependent upon the feelings that being with them provides us.
In the “love of attachment” we love something or someone because of our attachment to them. We may do kind things for them or make sacrifices for them, but in this type of love our attempts to please them usually centers around our own desire to please ourselves.
Imagine for a second, a past relationship with someone that you loved but it didn’t work out. It probably started out with passion (most relationships do); you felt an overwhelming sense of happiness and fulfillment and suddenly you felt you could conquer the world together. The person was probably attractive, smart, witty and everything you could ever dream of.
They cared about you and made you feel complete.
Things were great for a while, but eventually everything lost its sparkle, they started changing, you started feeling angry and you eventually grew apart.
Several things were at work here: complacency- you built up resistance to the chemicals your brain used to produce when you were around them, you likely “loved” the person for the feelings that gave to you- so when the butterflies stopped coming you stopped loving, and you loved them for the idea of what they were and provided you- rather than loved them for who they actually were.
“Love of attachment” is really about loving an image- an idol- a certain way that someone or something makes you feel.
In the “love of attachment” we usually don’t love the object or person, but we love the feelings or benefits that they offer us.
An addict doesn’t love heroine…they love the fix. They hate what heroine does TO them, but they love the way it feels- just like someone stuck in a toxic or abusive relationship.
The “love of attachment” is about loving whats attached to a person rather than loving them for who they are-loving what comes along with being with them.
The hidden print in the contract of “love of attachment”
“Love of attachment” can be likened to hidden fine print in a contract: we give others love, affection, gestures, or compliments, but our gifts have a hidden message in the fine print: love us in return, and give us the same.
Buying a girl flowers and opening the car door for her doesn’t entitle you to sex, and giving a man a scrapbook or cleaning the house doesn’t mean he has to commit his entire life to your needs and concerns.
Many of us have hidden expectations in our relationships and these expectations usually boil down to our partners doing something for us or behaving a certain way so that we can be happy.
When we feel an attachment for something and it creates intense feelings for us, we often mistake those feelings for love, but “love of attachment” is really more like fear: we give love because we fear losing the feelings that we have become attached to.
Even in it’s truest and least selfish form “love of attachment” is still a selfish, taking, clinging, and sometimes suffocating love.
Even the most enlightened individuals often will still experience feelings of attachment for people and things- it is nearly inevitable, but being aware of this condition can make us better at realizing what real love is.
Often, if we can identify our feelings of attachment, we can attempt to let them go slowly and replace them with true unconditional love.
“Unconditional love” is very rare, although many of us will experience unconditional love from time to time, we often don’t realize the gift that we have been truly given.
Unconditional love is just that: its unconditional, its unattached to outcome, results, idols, or emotions.
When we love someone unconditionally, it means that whoever they are, whatever they may do or become, we will still love them regardless.
Unconditional love is giving, while love of attachment takes; unconditional love is not dependent upon someone else’s actions toward you, love of attachment is always dependent upon your feelings for them.
Unconditional love does not change as your partner changes- you always seek to make them happy- not only seek happiness for yourself. Unconditional love can be tricky, because often times we give to people and expect something in return, but true love: unconditional love never asks for anything in return.
Unconditional love is free from attachment (though you care deeply for the people that you love), it is desire for the absolute best for someone- even if that means that they can’t be with you.
Unconditional love is treating someone as an honored and special guest in your life that you appreciate exactly as they are.
We should all seek to give people more unconditional love, and as our ability to love grows so will our relationships and happiness. We will begin to affect others around us in special ways and we become capable of truly enriching another persons life.
Love can be beautiful or ugly, it can be calming or cause chaos, its both suffocating and its freedom at the same time.
So is love a chemical signal in the brain, a fools paradise, an addiction or mental disorder, or is just pain crazy?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that love is certainly something that unites every person on this plant- for we have all loved and been loved.
Maybe love IS crazy, but maybe its part of what makes us human too.
Love is a lot of things, but like everything else in your life, love is what you make it.
Couples coaching can also be just what your relationship needs!
A better you is just s step away.