What is love anyway?

August 1, 2007 at 11:47 pm (Love)

Ya’ll must be wondering why I’m such a slacker and haven’t posted after the initial flurry of activity. I won’t give you the standard “I’ve  been busy” response (although I have). The truth is I’ve been struggling with the question I’ve posed here. Love is such a huge topic to tackle. But hey, I’ve never shyed away from a challenge. So here goes.

In previous posts I’ve referred to the idea of love as an emotional connection, stomach butterflies, being magnetically drawn to somone, or being “weak in the knees.” Dictionary.com defines love simplistically as “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” But what does all that really mean? And why do we experience such physically intense reactions at the onset of love? Furthermore, why do these intense feelings seem to wane or cool over time?

I propose that love is essentially the joy we personally feel when we see ourselves through the eyes of others. And new love feels so intense because it brings us a fresh glimpse at the attributes we possess, but perhaps have forgotten or lost touch with.

Let me share an example of how I’ve experienced this with a recent relationship. Because ours was a new and blossoming relationship, my sweetheart and I spent considerable time sharing the details of our lives and marveling in awe at the amazing features of the other person. It was an incredible and somewhat addicting feeling to visualize myself through his eyes. Suddenly I felt more beautiful, smarter, and funnier than I had in years.

In contrast, my husband has been rocked by my beauty, intellect, and witty sense of humor for a number of years. But because I’m so familiar with his reaction to me and I’ve seen myself through his eyes for so long, I suggest–whether right or wrong–that I react differently to his attention. Perhaps this is the reason the intensity of new love appears to subside over time.

I realize these may be thought-provoking notions. Again, I don’t claim to have the right answers. Mine is simply a perspective. Although I did find a delightful quote that implies I may not be the only one who looks at love this way:

“Perhaps love is the process of my gently leading you back to yourself.”
                                                                   – Antoine de Saint, Exupery

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5 Comments

  1. Ero said,

    While I delight in the idea that having a new lover helps bring one back to themselves in such a was as to make new what has become old and stale–to make alive what had been dormant, it stands to reason that if this is the only benefit of a second love, it is a high price to pay insofar as the newness can’t last and the self seeking affirmation shall once again, in time, have to find another to make things new leaving two old loves to contend with the brilliant light which must, by definition, now be shining on and from the new chosen one.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to imagine that a new love, rather than bringing one back to the self (which is certainly a part of it) actually brings out of the self new things? Hence, it might not be about completion and wholeness as much as it is able spontaneous generation and increased surface area.

    I so agree that a new love can’t stay new. This is perhaps the crux of the whole multi-lover gambit. Unless one is a serial monogamist, having multiple loves at various stages maturity poses geometric problems over time. Yet with all that said, I would like to go on record as saying that love is possible in SL especially if one sees this in line with Ronny Cammareri (Nick Cage in Moonstruck) : Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and *die*. The storybooks are *bullshit*. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and *get* in my bed!

  2. Love? Did you say, “What is love?” « VirtualArgyle said,

    […] A friend asks this question. As it happens, I’ve been thinking about this one a good bit, too, kinda parked at the intersection of sl and rl. So this is a response, but it’s mo’ n’ dat, too. If you hate to wax philosophical, just quit reading now. You should prolly also quit if you love to wax philosophical but are put off by incoherence, because coherent I ain’t. At least not always… […]

  3. argyleboi said,

    I think your friend Antoine has just about got it.

    Of course, I have much more to say…

    More on that at http://virtualargyle.wordpress.com/2007/08/03/love-did-you-say-what-is-love/

  4. Just me, nothing more said,

    I am glad to see you are questioning what love really means. Since you have confessed you have loved many. I question whether you know what love is. And just to clear the air, I am not sure I really know either.

    All I know is that to me, love is sacred. It is not something that will come and go with the night. Anyone that can love someone after only a couple hours/days of discussions or someone that has “loved” several in the period of a few months loves to easily, in my opinion.

    As I said previously in a post, I think people are mixing up loving an idea versus a person. Not that this would ever happen (lol), but I could write all this and someone say….”He is a thinker, I would like to get to know him better.” Well words are a great start in getting to know someone, but there is more to a person and alot of times you cannot learn about those other things unless you spend time in real life with that person to undertand their mannerisms, their habits (good and bad) and how they react to reality.

    Just remember……We are all unique, just like everyone else. 🙂

  5. Mike said,

    The phenomenon you describe of “reacting differently” to the attentions of your long-term love – even if they are exactly the same as the attentions from a new lover – sounds to me like what my psych classes called “attenuation”. (Well, I could swear it’s a different word than “attenuation”, but for the life of me I’ve always mis-remembered it as “attenuation” for the past 20 years. Probably some complex psychology term behind *that* phenomenon as well.) As I interpret it, it helps account for why the intensity of your reaction to the repeated incoming stimuli (even those as pleasant as attention from a partner) wanes over time. It’s apparently a healthy adaptation in most circumstances, but it’s hell on a LTR.

    I find that the attentions of someone new can not only resurrect long-dormant feelings and thoughts in myself, but they also help re-calibrate the attentions from an existing partner. It’s almost like the attention from new loves helps me understand and “turn up the amplification” on existing attentions (not just a partner, but even from friends). I guess it’s a way of reinforcing the “truth” of things that (when heard from people you’ve known for quite a while) get ‘old’ – helping to scrape off the barnacles of doubt that inevitably accumulate.

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