Michael Hoerger What is Love? Introduction “Work and love, that’s all there is” – Freud Finding love is a key developmental event in early adulthood Psychologists and the public use the word “love,” so it must have some meaning Today’s lecture is intended to challenge your preconceptions and help you to establish a working definition of love Monogamy Only 5% of species, those where both parents needed for child’s survival Pair-bonding: having an emotional attachment to another Oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine release during sex; feels addicting Good feelings associated with partner (classical conditioning) Tells you “Gee sex with this person feels great” rather than just “Geez sex feels great” Montane vole Pair-bond vs. Prairie vole No pair-bond Sternberg’s Triangular Theory Love is multifaceted, with up to 3 central components 1. Passion: intense longing for another person 2. Intimacy: feeling connected, enjoying one’s company and support 3. Commitment: obligations and responsibilities to one another Peck’s Criticisms of “Love” Falling in love (passion) ≠ love Excitement related to new, attractive person “We fall in love when we are consciously or unconsciously sexually motivated” The honeymoon always ends Dependency ≠ love “I need him” or “I’d die without her” “What you describe is parasitism, not love” Love is based on choice, not necessity Love ≠ a feeling Love is an action, characterized by treating someone well Having strong feelings that someone is important or needed doesn’t mean you love them Myth of Romantic love Story that two people are “meant to be,” that it is predetermined “in the stars” If it doesn’t end up working out, people say it wasn’t “true love” after all (hindsight bias) Realistically, there are many suitable partners Love is… An action, not a feeling Attention A risk of rejection Independence, not dependence Commitment Self-disciplined …hard work Happy Couples Partner’s know each other’s hopes, quirks, likes, dislikes Secret Weapon: ritualized “repair attempts” to prevent increased negativity Shared, deep sense of meaning 5 : 1 ratio Unhappy Couples Arguments characterized by… Harsh setup: negative and accusatory 4 types of negative interactions: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling Flooding Stonewalling Failed repair attempts Bad memories Love Quotes “I define love thus: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth” - M. Scott Peck “Love is the subtlest force in the world” - Mahatma Gandhi “By accident of fortune a man may rule the world for a time, but by virtue of love he may rule the world forever” - Lao-tzu “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend” - Martin Luther King Jr. “It’s a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous, that you realize just how much you love them” - Agatha Christie “One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night” - Margaret Mead “Love is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own” - Robert Heinlein “Whoso loves… Believes the impossible” - Elizabeth Barrett Browning “Love doesn’t have to feel dizzying” - Michael Levine “Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out. You cannot touch the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything” - Annie Sullivan “Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh” - W. H. Auden “Sympathy constitutes friendship; but in love there is a sort of antipathy, or opposing passion. Each strives to be the other, and both together make up one whole” - Samuel Taylor Coleridge “True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked. - Erich Segal “Love talked about can be easily turned aside, but love demonstrated is irresistible” - W. Stanley Mooneyham Michael Hoerger To cite this lecture: Hoerger, M. (2007, March 28). What is Love? Presented at a PSY 220 lecture at Central Michigan University.
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