The Feelings of Falling in Love
What is Love? Is it attraction? Is it intimacy? Is it attachment? Love, in fact, is all of these things combined together. "Love is spiritual, not physical. It is a union of souls and hearts and minds, not something you can't put under your microscope and understand!" Love is an emotion combined with a series of feelings. These feelings can be immensely powerful and wonderful. Romantic love is defined to be an intense emotional state that one person experiences in relation to another. These types of feelings appear to be among the most intense that most of us are capable of, and at least in some cases, grow rather than diminish with time. Falling in love can be one of the most unexplainable feelings a person can endure.
There are two sets of feelings that are the basis of modern romantic relationships. The first is attraction. Attraction is the excitement you feel when falling in love. To better explain this feeling, attraction is what you feel when you have met someone new who really excites you and you begin to feel aroused when thinking about this person. Although this sounds very sexual, this feeling is just the first of what will most likely become a sexual passion. When in this first state of attraction, your body feels different - more bouncy, more energetic, and in need of less food and sleep. When in this state of attraction, one feels very happy and different every time that they are with this person. Frequently the presence (or sometimes merely thought) of the loved one can evoke specific physiological reactions. These physiological reactions include: erections for the male, wetness for the female, a lump in the throat, sweaty palms, weak knees, cold feet, a pounding heart. dizziness, and butterflies in the stomach. These physiological reations are completely normal when falling in love.
The second type of feeling that one endures when falling in love is attachment. Attachment is a bond or a special tie between people that are attracted to one another. Attachment helps keep people together and has more to do with feelings of security than of excitement. Romantic love requires attraction plus attachment. Someone can be very strongly attracted to another person but never become attached. Without some feeling of attachment, attraction is nonspecific. Once you have begun to fall in love with someone, this process becomes more and more important and you begin to feel more attached to this person. When in this state of attachment, each person would feel as if they are one person combined together. A special bond is shared and a sense of comfort and togetherness is felt in most any situation. This attachment is very normal in close relationships and healthy to a certain extent. Many times one person becomes more dependant on the other and this can be very unhealthy because everyone needs their own sense of identity. Without your own sense of identity, you might feel smothered or unable to funcion without your mate. Either way it is a lose-lose situation. For a healthy relationship, one needs to be able to function without total dependence on their mate.
There are three main aspects of love. According to the triangular theory of love, these three components include intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment. Intimacy is the feeling of being connected and close to another person. It is getting to know the person beyond the friendship level and understanding them on a romantic level. An example of this might be going to dinner or the movies with a prospective mate, rather than the casual encounters that someone might have with them in everyday interaction. Intimacy does not only pertain to specific acts, but also in verbal and non-verbal expressions of love. Although verbal expressions of intimate feelings through self-disclosure is important to relationship quality, the nonverbal expression appears to be more important. In general people rely more on nonverbal thanb verval cues to interpret messages. Some examples of these nonverbal cues include touch, gaze, gestures, and time spent together.
The next aspect of love is passion. Passion is the feelings or physical attraction and sexual consummation that people have for one another. This is more than idolization of a superstar such as Tom Cruise or Demi Moore. It is an attraction that one might have for a peer or a person with whom they are aquainted. Passion acts as the fire that helps the relationship function.
The last aspect of love is decision/commitment. Decision/commitment refers to the belief that one is in love and committed to a certain romantic relationship. This bond may be as informal as a phrase that states they want to date exclusively, or it might be as formal as a ring of gold that bonds them forever. This commitment is exclusive between partners which both need to feel an equal level of commitment which they need to decide together. These three aspects involve no certain amount of time. It depends on the person or persons and the level of the relationship. Time will only give the couple some room to grow and expand the feelings felt for one another.
Although these feelings are somewhat similar with most people who fall in love, there are different types of traits that most people tend to fall in love with. Trusting, caring, humor and friendship may be the best examples of features associated with healthy adult love relationships. To be cared for is one of the most rewarding feelings in one's life. In my life I know that I have many people that care about me but to be cared about by my boyfriend is completely different. This feeling is a sense of completeness.
Throughout an individuals life they will have the opportunity to experience many different relationships involving these types of feelings for love. Many of these relationships will not be true romantic love. However, hopefully they will learn form these relationships so they do not repeat their mistakes from the past or let others do the same to them. I am now in a relationship where I can say that I am truly in love. I know this because of the feelings I get when I am with this special person and I am definitely attached to him. All of these feelings can be very complicated at times but, when you are in the right relationship this emotional roller coaster is very well worth it to feel these powerful feelings of love.
"A loving relationship is like an ideal "home"- within it you can totally be yourself, be accepted, understood, trusted, and respected as a valuable being. It is a nurturing enviornment where effort is made to provide enough caring and security so that one can share hopes and fears and where one is encouraged to learn and grow."(Buscaglia, 46.)
Throughout this review of literature, the feelings of falling in love is explained in a factual matter. The relationship process is a complex amount of effort as well as feelings. Most every person will feel these feelings that I have described in some point in their life. When they do begin to feel these feelings of falling in love I wish them happiness and luck.
Beal, Anne E. and Sternberg, Robert J. Social Construction of Love, Vol 12 No. 3. London, Thousand Oaks, Ca. and New Delhi. August 1995. pg. 423. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Buscaglia, Leo. Loving Each Other: The Challenge of Human Relationships. New Jersey 1984. P. 46.
Kalbfleish, Pamala J. Interpersonal Communication: Evolving Interpersonal Relationships. New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. 1993. pg. 82.
Liebowitz, Micheal R. The Chemistry of Love. Canada: Little Brown and Company. 1983. Pg. 89.
Morrow, Gregory D., Clark, Eddie M. and Brock, Karla F. Individual and Partner Love Styles. Vol. 12 No. 3. London, Thousand Oaks, Ca. and New Delhi. August 1995. Pg. 376. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Perper, Timothy. Sex Signals: The Biology of Love. ISI Press. Philadelphia 1985. Pgs. 76 and 83.
Pope, Kennith. On Love and Loving: Psychological Perspectives on the Nature and Experience of Romantic Love. Jossey-Bass Publishers. San Francisco, 1980. Pgs 5, 121, 163.
THE FEELINGS OF FALLING IN LOVE:
A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
DR. KAREN SHAFER
NOVEMBER 19, 1996
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