What exactly is love?
Are you aware that for most researchers love was considered a new invention? Lisa Diamond, an eminent theorist in the literature on love points out that ”no definitive test of true love exists” (Diamond 2004). It’s much easier to measure how much sex we have, think about, masturbation rates and desires.
But there is love! In the largest study of its kind William Jankowiak titled his book “Romantic Passion: A Universal Experience? Quite appropriately. After examining 166 societies he concluded that at least 89% experienced heartfelt passion and excitement which we call love. From small islands in the ocean, to the Amazon, the Arctic north, almost all people experience passionate love.
It was Helen Fisher and Art Aron and Lucy Brown that mapped the brain in love. Yes, both men and women’s brains look exactly the same when in love: like a drug addicted brain.
The big question is do we act the same? Yes we do! Men and women feel the same and have the same desires and hopes. Gay, straight, love bites all of us!
So what is love? Lovers intensely focus their attention on one another at the expense of other relationships or tasks, exaggerate their positive qualities and ignore the negative, work to win their approval with increased energy often pay particular attention to the moods and dispositions of their lovers or any cue or clue they can grapple with to feed the flame of love, experience euphoria when it is fed but mood swings and depression if it is not or the lover is away from them, depressed when love is not returned or love leaves. They have intrusive thoughts of the other person and think about their love object endlessly. They were jealous, protective, and seemingly faithful. Two interesting findings emerged; passionate love required sex and sex with only the love object was desired. For men and women faithfulness is a priority. Does that make you feel good?
I have a shocker- Do you believe in love at first sight? More men do! In 2002 it was found that men, not women were quicker to fall in love and to love at first sight as compared to women (Brantley, Knox, Zusman; Kanin, Davidson and Scheck 1970) In other studies men report more romantic idealizations than women (Sharp and Ganong 2000). The next shocker- men as opposed to women suffer more when love goes astray (suicide, depression health issues)and report much more jealousy (Buss, 2000). Women don’t come to family court with handguns. And you might have thought men can’t love.
So if men love so much why the hell do they have problems with commitment? You’ll have to wait….