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What is Love?

Is There a Definition of Romantic Love?

Sometimes people who are dating and getting very involved with their new partner ask themselves (and others) the question, "Am I in love?"

A typical answer often given in reply is "You'll know when you are in love. If you have to ask then you are not." Of course the matter is complicated by the fact that people in this situation want to be in love. Most people carry in their heads the romantic idea of a 'whirlwind romance' in which they fall in love with someone wonderful and the rest of their lives are a 'fairytale romance'.

That we use terms such as 'whirlwind romance' and fairytale life' do in themselves show what most would love to experience. My point is that the desire to be in love can confuse the issue. But what is love, anyway?

We can look for a definition of love easily enough. A straightforward search for a definition of love provides Google's own definition as "an intense feeling of deep affection". This is a start, but there is much more to it than this.

Wikipedia provides a thorough examination of the definition of love, considering factors such as different kinds of love, historical views about love and the biological basis of love. Reading this may enlighten you or it may not. But, in the context of this page at SingleDating.com, naturally we are interested in the question of what romantic love is.

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So what is romantic love, that is the love between two people that usually leads to a lifelong relationship, the production of children and so on? In considering this I am going to share with you my own thoughts about romantic love, leaving aside definitions of other kinds of love.

So here goes. First of all there is attraction, the attraction between two people. If it is strong enough then it is sometimes called 'love at first sight'. This attraction may exist in one person but not in the other -- in which case it is traditionally called unrequited love -- or it may exist in each of the people at the same time, the attraction in each one centered on the other.

Another term for unrequited love, particularly if the one who feels the attraction is younger than the object of his or her affection, is a 'crush'. This is quite a negative term in some ways and can be used as a put-down or as a belittling of the emotions involved.

Attraction can be very strong indeed, it can lead people to extreme acts (as portrayed in Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliette') but it is also fickle. It can switch from an overpowering force to one of mild dislike, disappointment or even disgust with very little change in circumstances. It is because it is such a powerful emotion that is felt that the person feeling it may invest much belief in the person it is felt for, which if not returned or if the person is later found wanting in some way, then it can so easily turn into a feeling of bitter disappointment and being 'let down'. Sometimes people who are the object of such great attraction are told by the person feeling it for them that they have let them down when in reality they have done nothing at all. Such is the nature of the emotion.

Long-lasting relationships, life-long relationships may or may not begin with this 'love at first sight' but what sustains them is a relationship. The 'r' word is the key here. A relationship in which the individuals concerned trust and admire each other as well as finding each other physically attractive is what sustains a couple for year after year. It is the 'closest' kind of relationship in which they share their innermost secrets and their destinies that is the basis for real romantic love rather than some imaginary dream.

So there you have it, now you know. You can judge your current relationship against these ideas if you choose, but remember that everyone's ideas are different and these are just mine.

Copyright Feb 2014 (c) 2012 Stephanie Constantina. All rights reserved.


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