What is love?

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What is love?

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  • Hayley Matthews Hayley Matthews
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    What_is_a_user
    What_is_a_user
    Participant
    July 11, 2015 at 5:02 am #82638
    What is love?

    What does it mean to like someone? How do you know if you have a crush on someone?

    I used to know the answers. There was always some girl I had a crush on in grade school, and I knew exactly what it felt like back then. In my early teens, though, I somehow lost touch with those feelings. Despite hard work and experimentation, I’ve only grown farther out of touch in subsequent years. Now, I’m a man in my late 20’s with atypical numbness and elusive questions.

    Since I’ve never fully experienced romantic love first-hand (not even close as a teenager or adult), I’ve tried to understand it a priori in a few different ways. My current train of thought goes something like this…

    What_is_a_user
    What_is_a_user
    Participant
    July 11, 2015 at 5:03 am #82639

    Many people would say a crush is a feeling that someone is “really cool” or “special”. It’s plain, simple, intuitive testimony, but it’s incomplete because it doesn’t take sexual orientation into account. If specialness/awesomeness is the thing that really matters, then why do self-aware, out-of-the-closet people always marry members of their sexually preferred gender(s)? Why isn’t everyone pansexual?

    What_is_a_user
    What_is_a_user
    Participant
    July 13, 2015 at 8:13 am #82640

    To extend the “really cool”/”special” theory, one option is to say love = special + sexy. It now accounts for sexual orientation, but it’s immediately less satisfying because people say they experience love as a single feeling, not two simultaneous feelings. There are multiple reductionist theories of love with this same disadvantage. In his 1986 paper, Rob Sternberg deconstructed love into “passion” (chemistry, infatuation, the category that includes the “spark”, the lust, etc.), “intimacy” (friendship, familiarity), and “decision/commitment” (the “decision to love”, formalizing a relationship through marriage, etc.). This “triangle of love” is useful in psychology and sociology, but not for understanding one’s own day-to-day experience or lack thereof. Alternatively, I’ve tried to make linear combinations out of my closest approximations to love: platonic friendship, empathy, compassion, and libido, the last of which is the only way I know I’m a straight guy.

    What_is_a_user
    What_is_a_user
    Participant
    July 13, 2015 at 8:14 am #82642

    How do you experience romantic love? How would you explain it? Why and how, specifically, does it happen for you? Why doesn’t it happen for me? What do I not see?


    Allie
    Participant
    July 13, 2015 at 5:23 pm #82723

    I can’t give you a concrete answer, but I can say this: you WILL fall in love with someone one day. When you see a beautiful woman, get to know her, and develop feelings for her, you’ll know.