Decoding the universal phenomenon of love
Is Love in your check-list? Are you a hopeless romantic waiting for a knight in shining armor/princess of your dreams?
We human beings are gregarious by nature and living in isolation is not in our nature, it doesn’t come to us naturally. We like to stay connected hence the idea of family and love holds significant importance for us. We want social companions to spend time with and the desire to feel loved is fundamental.
Love is an all-encompassing, universal phenomena. Be it the love between parent-child, siblings, friends, romantic partners, mentors, teachers, pets or inanimate objects.
While talking about romantic love, we desire the companionship of someone other than ourselves in order to feel appreciated, acknowledged and cared for.
Most of us are in love with the idea of love. We focus on the fairytale concept of finding Prince or Princess Charming or the initial phase where we are overwhelmed with a heady cocktail of emotions and hormones like endorphins, also called the happy hormones. We should have clarity about the underlying processes of love and not just the concept. It takes hard work, commitment and effort to sustain, nourish and grow in love.
WHY DO WE ALL SEEK LOVE?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs-According to renowned humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow love and belongingness is the third most important priority after fulfillment of physiological and safety needs. Without the fulfillment of one level of need, an individual is unable to move further in the hierarchy and satiate the next level of needs.Many become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and clinical depression in the absence of this love or belonging element.
Image source – Simply Psychology
Validation– We feel the need to seek for validation by finding a life partner. We look for recognition or affirmation that our existence is worthwhile and that we are worthy of love and attention.This validation is fulfilled by receiving affection and support from family members, friends and romantic partner which also serves as an ego- boost and adds to our self-respect.
Feeling Complete– Why is it that if we do not find romantic love then we feel there’s something missing even if we have an amazing close circle of friends, prestigious job and enriching hobbies and passions?. Childhood fairy tales, the exhaustive amount of literature – both prose(romance novels) and poems and movies have instilled in us an ideal picture of love and Mr./Ms Right who will complete us and it has conditioned in us that we cannot have a happy ending without finding true love.
Loneliness – Even if we have thousands of friends and relatives, there would come a point in time when they would not be there for us or be unavailable when we need them. Even our close, best friends would get busy living their life, raise a family of their own along with new roles and responsibilities at different phases in life. At the end of the day, no one likes coming home to an empty house, we all prefer coming home to someone who will welcome us and with whom we can share about our daily events. Even if we have loving pets, human connection and intimacy cannot be replaced by the warmth and affection of our furry, feline or feathered friends.
Societal Pressure– Societal pressure to be in a relationship. We might think that it is imperative to date or get into a relationship which we know isn’t enriching and long-lasting out of the need to belong or the pressure of conformity or fear of being left out and ridiculed. According to researchers at University of Missouri-Columbia(2009), women getting reminded and inquired about single status from people that she is on different life path than most of the other women during events, including social gatherings and weddings, leads to the pressure to find love due to which they might end up settling for the ‘’wrong one’’ or start making compromises.
Perceived lack of time– According to the aforementioned research, the stigma associated with women giving preference to their career and being single after reaching 30s has not diminished. Why do we have a timeline to find love?. Does everybody find love in the same ages or only once in their lives?. The status quo of accomplishing certain milestones like finding a romantic/life partner and settling down is not challenged. It is taken as an unsaid rule that one has to conform to.
Less prospects- As individuals achieve a certain age there starts a pressure to cross the hurdle of finding a suitable partner or the common perception is that with age the chances of finding the one starts dwindling.
Biological clock– Reproduction in order to create progeny and ensure the survival of the race is the law of nature. Also for women, motherhood is considered the zenith of womanhood for which conventionally she needs to find a partner. According to researcher Larry Ganong, awareness of shifting reality as one becomes older; for example, the shrinking pool of eligible men and increased pregnancy risks, adds on to the pressure.
What about the rest of the population that feels fulfilled and settled in their lives without romantic love and willingly wish to stay single like spinsters, clergy members? Does it in any way indicate that their life is in any manner less satisfactory or they themselves are not content individuals?
Is love a decision or an involuntary phenomenon? Either way, why force it?
Before embarking on the journey to search for love, we should be clear about what it means for us as love in itself cannot be captured in a single mould. It has different meanings and parameters for each one of us. The end result otherwise would be that we feel disillusioned and wind up searching for it in all the wrong places. Also, we should ponder upon and have the clarity of the reasons for seeking it.
Last but not the least before finding love in another, we all need to love ourselves first. The rest will follow
Love is not a checklist, it would come to you when you are ready.
Source – Science Daily https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323110057.htm