Tessa Schlesinger developed an interest in human behaviour and ethics while studying anthropology at the University of South Africa in 1975.
Bogart and Bacall: A Love Story
The world, it is said, revolves around love. Everybody seeks it, some find it and some don’t. The ancient Greeks had six words for love. They were eros (sexual passion), philia (love between friends), ludus (love between children or young lovers), agape (love of humanity), pragma (life-long love), and philautia (love of self). When most people talk about love, they are generally speaking about romantic love – eros.
What is Love?
The best definition of love is a state in which the boundaries between people no longer exist. The two (or many) have become one. The thoughts of both are melded, each comfortable with the choices, values, and being of the other. Love is a sort of connectivity glue. In eros love, there is the additional component of chemistry.
Can Everybody be Loved?
Some people are easier to love than others. Because love requires for there to be a connection at core level, a certain amount of openness and similarity is required. The more one’s interior self is representative of one’s exterior self, the more likely one will be to meet people who will love one. Remember that it is the ability to gel with someone else that is responsible for love. Love seeks to join with others and the way it does that is to find compatible characteristics.
The Beginnings of Love
It’s a catch 22 situation. If one has never been loved from birth, it’s difficult to attract love for the rest of one’s life. The reason for this is that a) one doesn’t know how to be loved, b) one doesn’t know how to love, and c) one doesn’t recognize the beginnings of love. Also, if there was trauma involved during early childhood, then there is fear of love, because love involves trust. When trust has consistently being abused, it is virtually impossible to trust again. Trust is vital to love, because without trust, one does not open up to others.
Why Do Pretty People Get More Love?
Human beings are drawn to beauty – beauty of Mother Nature, beauty of character, beauty of the human form, beauty of animals, beauty of art, and many other forms of beauty. Those who have been blessed with beauty do draw more love. That is the reality of life. Life is not fair. It has no natural justice. The beauty of the humanity is that it tries through its laws, charters, and constitutions to make life more fair.
Animals in Love
How Can People Without Love Find Love?
It’s a long journey and it requires a willingness to deal with the hurts through self-honesty. Only when one is honest with one’s self can one find the strength to allow others to see oneself as one is.
It means being willing to admit that one is jealous of others, and then to find ways of accepting without rancour that it’s okay for others to have more than one has. It’s being willing to accept that one has an ugly nose or an ugly butt and that will (probably) mean that the good looker across the street will never be attracted us. It requires an acknowledgement that our particular character might need to be more in line with the characters of others.
Remember that the essence of love is unity, and while it is said that opposites attract, what opposites really attract is compensation, not love. In other words, if one person is shy to the point of phobia and the other person is crass to the point of rudeness, they might well compensate for each other’s shortcomings, but compensation is not love. In fact, as they both heal, it’s quite possible that they grow apart because they are different people.
Love requires openness and if one is busy hiding because one lives in shame or fear, one will not find love. Those who do not readily reveal themselves will not draw love to themselves.
Characteristics that Repel Love
Even if one is open, there are characteristics that repel love.
Anger will not draw one to someone who is peaceful. That’s because in some way we do not yet understand, love takes place at an ethereal level. We cannot touch it or examine it or hold it. We simply feel it. The way we feel the love of another is through some sense that is intangible. It is that essence in us that automatically attaches to someone who is compatible. A person’s whose essence is peace will not connect to a person’s whose essence is anger.
There’s another factor as well. While those with an inner core of peace will draw each other, those with an inner core of anger will repel each other. Some characteristics are compatible with each other while others are not. Generally negative characteristics repel each other while positive characteristics draw each other.
So, yes, there are people who are unlovable. Not everybody will draw love.
Are All Types of Love Equal?
The answer to that is yes. All love comprises the glue that connects one person to another. What is not equal is the status that one love has above the other love. This is a perception. So Eros love, the sexual love between a man and a woman is put on a higher pedestal than other loves.
This is because romantic love has an additional component – chemistry.
There is a theory that the reason romantic relationships are difficult is because there are three different aspects to it – chemistry, character, and value system. To find all three can be difficult.
Chemistry tends to happen instantaneously and has a lot to do with physical appeal. While everybody loves beauty in another, studies show that people are attracted to the kind of looks that they were exposed to in their formative years. The character of a person will either be compatible with one’s own or not. Someone who is generally honest will not do well with someone who lies constantly and someone who is open will not live happily with someone who is closed. Lastly, values make a difference. People value different things. Some people value money while others value their time. Still others value the ability to make their own choices while others prefer to live in authoritarian relationships where their choices are made for them. When value systems conflict, the connectivity glue of love will not be deep.
Romantic Love is Only 250 Years Old
Is Oxytocin, the Love Hormone, Only Secreted During Sex?
While there is a strong biological urge to be part of a pair, and the connection is rewarded by the secretion of oxytocin during intercourse, oxytocin secretion does not only happen during intercourse. It is the hypothalamus in the brain that produces oxytocin in a variety of situations. These include, but are not limited to, petting an animal, soaking in a hot bath, or simply giving a gift to another.
Oxytocin is responsible for the bonding one feels towards one’s partner. Some people secrete less oxytocin than others, so they do not feel so much of a bond with another.
Babies also bond with their mothers through taking in oxytocin in breast milk.
When we do something that satisfies us, oxytocin is secreted. That’s why it’s important to find things that make us happy (shopping is not a good one).
Do Other Types of Love Compensate for Lack of Romantic Love (Eros)?
Yes, they can.
Single women tend to live longer than single men. The reason for this is that women are more open to others, and people who are more open tend to receive love and affection more easily. Because men tend to compete more, they have more boundaries, and often these boundaries include a refusal to trust in case a competition is lost!
Studies also show repeatedly that single people with pets are happier. Who does not know someone who deeply loves their pet? Love is love!
Human beings are social animals and they need to be connected to others in order to live happily. As we live in an age where lifelong partnerships cannot be guaranteed, it’s important to be aware that all kinds of love are satisfactory. The important thing is belonging.
It’s also important to note that our societies have become combat arenas through political and economic strife. To trust others in this kind of environment becomes a challenge. To find a connection with someone who has a different political outlook when that outlook counters everything we believe in is virtually impossible.
Agape love, the kind of love that allows us to love all of humanity selflessly, is not an easy one. However, there is still love of strangers, family and friends. All love connects us to others, and it is in our connections to others that we find ourselves.
Long live love!
r3vcwdx on August 28, 2018:
Nell Rose on February 24, 2017:
I had never heard of Agape love, but to be honest I could never love like that. I have been with someone for over 30 years, and he drives me nuts, lol! but yes that's real love. Great read!
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on February 08, 2017:
The meaning of agape in ancient times did not mean the love of god. It is currently used by Christians to denote the love of man for god and visa versa. Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic priest in the 13th century, used it to mean the love of humankind.
I'm not sure what to say about Ludus and Pragma because I have found many sources for this. That doesn't mean it's correct, so I shall have to do further research.
Just found it. You are correct.
From a book published in 1973 called Colour Wheel Theory of Love.
Thank you for pointing that out. I will rewrite it to fix it.
Robert Levine from Brookline, Massachusetts on February 08, 2017:
In college I was taught that the Greeks distinguished among four kinds of love:
Patrios--love of country (the source of the word "patriot")
Agape--Love of G-d, or when the Greeks were pagans, the gods. Google Translate renders agape simply as "love" or "affection," but it's usually used to refer to love between humanity and G-d. "Ludus" is Latin, not Greek, and means "game." "Pragma" simply means "thing" in Greek.
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on February 08, 2017:
Really? Who told you that myth? In China, men outnumber men to women 115 to 100. In America, the older a woman gets, the more likely it is that there are 2 women for every man. In the UK, there are 105 men for every 100 women. In the past, as a result of wars, my own generation had far fewer men than women. Just mathematically, what you are saying is impossibl.e
Also, did you read the article before commenting? It isn't specifically about romantic love.
David Milberg on February 08, 2017:
There is someone out there for everybody. Remember that!
Faizan Pathan from New Delhi on February 08, 2017:
I didn't know love has got so much in it,but your article has opened my eyes and has educated me about love,well written and well researched.
Waltraud Grossmann from Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada on February 07, 2017:
Well researched and insight through personal experiences no doubt. My first marriage was one you described. Opposites, with me having the phobic shyness and my husband cruelest person I have ever encountered.
I remember a research page I did many years ago, involving dating. I read numerous studies that supported the theory that Opposites may attract, but those who are similar have a better chance of staying together. My parents basically set me up to become a battered wife. I had to change to finally attract a man who loves me as I am, not criticize and undermine my self-confidence. If you don't meet the right person, it is better to stay single.
Trust is a big factor, true, however, don't let the past take away all hope of finding the right companion.