Why do I love you?
It’s a valid question, and one that I’ve thought about on my times around the sun on planet earth. What is love, and how do we express it to the people in our lives, to the pets that we adore, to the things that we do? People want to know about love. We sing about it, spend millions of dollars making and watching movies about it, we write about it, I blog about it – especially when it breaks down. Love. People all over the world want to feel it, bathe in it, bask in it’s afterglow. But…what is it?
First thing to know: It’s all in your head. The folks at How Stuff Works” write:
The human motivation system is linked to the reward system in the brain. Once we achieve a goal, the brain releases dopamine into a region of the reward system called the nucleus acumens. We experience this as a profound sense of pleasure and excitement — the types of sensations one associates with the experience of romantic love.
In the 2005 study, researchers found that when 17 young participants were shown a photo of the person they loved, regions of the brain responsible for motivating and rewarding began to function. In other words, the study found that romantic love motivates people, and the motivation toward this goal — loving and being loved — is fueled by the brain’s reward system [source: APS].
The imaging also showed that while the emotional centers of the brain were active, no distinct pattern of emotions was followed. This finding counters the longstanding view that love is based in emotion; instead, it seems that love springs from our goal-seeking behavior and that the emotions we attach to it come second to our motivation.
But why are we hardwired to think so much about being “in love?” Scientists first chalk up the need to love and be loved to a more base nature – survival of the species. Not to long after maturation and often before, the mating rituals begin. Even though it’s not popular to say in mixed society, men are unconsciously looking for that woman that will provide offspring he can support. It’s like a lion in his pride, the family unit and being an alpha is the thing that Mr. Lion is after, although he probably doesn’t know it. He does all sorts of unconscious things like size up hip structure and breasts to ensure that the young are born and fed. Yes, very caveman like, but before we were here in our beautiful house driving the Audi, we were also plain dwelling American Indians or even ice age humankind.
Both we twentieth century types and our antecedents mated for the same reasons – the pack will survive. Testosterone, that aphrodisiac that gives the kiss the kick, is passed during that kiss from man to woman if he’s feeling the vibe – and all of a sudden, she’s thinking subconsciously about all the things she needs from the lion-king.
Is he broad shouldered? (This is a little subjective to the female’s size and discriminating taste, I think) Read: will he protect the cubs?
Is he able to knock the food in the head and bring it home?
Is be able to keep the other lions from the door?
Will he take care of the pack?
All these questions and more go though her mind – the part that wants to protect and preserve her as yet-unborn young. Sights, smells, confidence, posture – all of it plays into the concept of love. How is varies widely from person to person is a mystery – but somehow, we all seem to find that fit within one another. Here’s the real trick: when one partner evolves into something that is new and different, it can change how they perceive the original mate.
Ask any divorced couple that separated on somewhat decent terms and they will say “we just weren’t in love with each other anymore. I mean, I love him/her, but I need more.” What they are saying is “my need for fulfilling my base instincts is not being met. Counselors abound to help people actively talk that out and “fall back” in love – but complicated communication makes it difficult to do. Many people express the concern “all we have in common is our children. I don’t know what is going to happen when they’re gone.” This type of thinking has one great danger: some eighteen years later, regret and resentment has had time to grow as the fertile years of the female and the “prime” years of a man wane.
So if passion is elemental to the survival of the species, how come love cools off and becomes the person that your most comfortable with but …. truthfully, you could balance your checkbook and have sex with them at the same time. That initial spark, flame or thought has fallen into the deep dark night of life and you’re sentenced to a life of the ho-hum.
Researches say that this is natural also. The obsessive part of love will not last in most cases, although they also freely admit that couples with healthy communication and sexual desire tend to have the same intense, measurable reactions to the physical side of love as those newly in the throes of passion. Passion as it turns out, is a big distraction that will keep you from being successful on the plains of life.
In my experience, love is a lot like the air that I breathe. I have to be aware of it, or I will take it for granted. I have to be respectful of it, not poison it or let it be fouled by something that would hurt “the pack.” Other relationships, distractions, lack of communication – they can all mess up your air supply. My personal theory on passion is “ho-hum” isn’t mandatory. It’s all up to the trust and desire of the couple to engage in experiments together, to learn new things about and for each other. To stay able to do those wild things and make time to indulge your passionate senses. I have no idea where my checkbook is at the moment, but I can tell you lots of things that I have planned for our upcoming date night. Like the air I breathe, being aware of my hubster’s sexuality is a choice…. and I will leave the rest to your imagination about your spouse.
So original question. Why do I love….or why do you love…who you love?
Feelings of completion and support.
Feelings of adequacy and intimate approval.
Ability to live life in a safe and comfortable environment (definition varies by individual)
Possible contribution to children.
All are reasons that we love one another, but the top two for relationship vitality seem to be honesty and stability. In the early years of human psychological understanding, Maslow wrote that love was a basic human need. Without it, a person would fail to grow, to thrive or to sustain. Not just connection – but actual love. In the end, that is really what this is all about, love. The Greek bible uses the word “agape” meaning love that puts others needs higher than your own, and tells the truth, even when it hurts. It makes you special, unique, gives promise.
Put them together, and I think that we’ve come up with a working definition of “perfect” love.
“I love you because it is what I was made to do. You’re hardwired into me, and I want it that way. I think about making love to you and kissing you becasue it’s part of me to want to be close to you, closer than anyone else can be, to know you in a way that only you and I understand. I love that you communicate and affirm me – and that you need that from me, too. I want to give into you, to support you, to meet your needs – and to thrill you, chill you and everything in between. When I say that I love you, it’s everything that you can imagine, only better…becasue it belongs only to us. You + Me = a once in a lifetime story.”