Am I in love and how would I know?
Love. We all need it. “I am human and I need to be loved…..just like everybody else does.” Smiths lyric
If we have good parents we receive love from them and we ‘feel’ loved. We can feel loved by siblings, grandparents, aunties, uncles and friends.
Being ‘in love’ is a state of being immersed in feelings towards another. It is as though we become addicted to that other person with feelings of longing. This feeling has direct similarities to someone addicted to drugs. When people who are in love are shown pictures of the person they are in love with, the brain regions associated with addiction actually light up!
Day-dreaming about the loved person takes up a significant amount of brain power. It can be hard to think about other things because there is so much pleasure in thinking about possibilities with the loved person.
If one person falls in love with another and the feelings are not reciprocated or it is not possible to be together, this can put the person under significant emotional stress. Friends and family might say, “You need to move on with your life,” but this will be hard for the person to do because they believe that the fulfilment of their dreams can only come about when they are eventually with the person they are in love with.
The best scenario is when 2 people fall in love with each other. They are able to sense a shared understanding and complete trust in the other; a recognition that the other person is there for them at any time of day or night. There is a strong desire to be with one another exclusively and each person in the union may feel a sense of expansion, almost as though anything is possible with this person. Sex and passion is usually part of falling in love. It becomes natural and spontaneous and a deep empathy establishes between the couple.
The chemical processes involved in being ‘in love’ have been described by writers and poets, throughout the ages, as a form of ‘madness’. This powerful experience is nature’s way of creating a pair-bond that is so strong it can enable the couple to raise children together and stay strong against the adversities of life. Although the intensity of feeling tends to change, many people stay in love with the same person throughout their life.
There are also subconscious processes at work when we fall in love. We have ‘chosen’ that person for an unconscious ‘fit’.
There may be psychological reasons why a person may not be able to fall in love such as fears of intimacy or attachment issues. However, if you haven’t had the experience of falling in love yet, do not worry about it. The chances are you just haven’t met the person who feels right for you.
You may be in love with, or attracted to, more than one person. Living as a couple isn't the only model. The practice of Polyamory involves intimate relationships with more than one partner. So long as all partners involved can give informed consent and are happy with the arrangements, it can work well. Polyamory is accepted as being consensual and ethical because people are wanting meaningful relationships. Rather than looking for sex via one night stands, Polyamory can represent responsible non-monogamy.
Relationships are ‘people growing machines’ says Dr David Schnarch. This means that it is ‘in relationship to others’ that we can grow and develop our selves.