Before we can answer the question ‘why do we love?’, we must first know what love is. According to dictionaries, love is a feeling of affection, sexual passion or desire for another person. But I think that there are a lot of definitions for this concept called love. If you ask people around the world from different countries, cultures and lifestyle what love is, you will get a lot of different answers. This is why I personally think that love is a very beautiful concept. People show, receive, interpret and appreciate love in their own ways. This makes every relationship unique.
What we all have in common when it comes to this concept of love, is that we all have the need to love and be loved. But why ? I’m going to answer this question by involving different approaches.
If we take a look at the evolution theory in psychology then we can interpret love as a concept that is necessary to survive. With other words, those who receive and give love are most likely to live longer than those who don’t. This theory is clearly visible in practice. Most lonely people who don’t get any love, suffer from depression and don’t live as long as those who do get love from others. Also, those who do not have the opportunity to give love to an other human being, live an unhappy/desperate life. In rare cases some people live a normal and happy life without the concept of love involved. But then what is normal and what is happiness?
We observe love, whether it’s in our household, at school, on the internet or on the streets and we practise what we observe. Also, we pass our expectation of love to our children. That’s why a children who had never been loved has difficulties with showing love to others, in most cases.
Social media plays a major role in the society approach. If you are a member of Facebook, than you must be familiar with Facebook memes about relationship goals, best friends forever, family etc. The social media community has a big impact on one another. People get influenced very easily. If a very good friend of yours shares a post that says: “Love is someone who makes you laugh more and worry less”, than it’s very easy to get influenced by this definition of love. You will unconsciously adapt your expectation or definiton of love.
There are three major drives when it comes to love. Those three drives are libido, attachment and partner preference. Neurotransmitters, sex hormones and neuropeptides are the primary neurochemicals that manage these drives. Testosterone, oxytocin, estrogen, vasopressin and dopamin are a few examples. Scientists have also proven that conscious thoughts about a romantic partner, activate the brain areas that are related to reward and motivation.
Women produce more oxytocin than men. Scientists suspect that this is a reason why women are more likely to stay monogam, next to a lot of other (non-biological) reasons of course. But this hypothesis has yet to be further investigated.
I think that these three approaches form the basis of why we love. We yet have a lot to discover about love.
I wrote this article based on the knowledge that I’ve gained so far from my education and my curiosity in general for this kind of subject and my personal opinion. If you would like to read more about this subject in the literature I would recommend these books:
- The psychology of love written by Michelle A. Paludi
- Biological psychology written by Kalat
- Evolutionary psychology written by Workman & Reader
- Group dynamics written by Forsyth
- Why zebras don’t get ulcers written by Robert M. Sapolsky
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