Love has been one of the strongest human emotions for thousands of years, yet surprisingly, it is surprisingly new to psychologists. We tend to think of love as a physical bond between two people – a union of the heart, mind and body that grows stronger with each day. Yet love goes further than this, affecting not just the physical union but also the inner and outer structures of the body, creating a whole structure that the body, mind and spirit eventually link to. This process takes place in a life-long process called’saintification’, in which the spiritual substance of the human soul is lovingly recreated within the body through the process of gaining knowledge, expertise and experience that gradually empowers and directs it towards its ultimate destiny.
So where do we begin to understand the processes and mechanisms behind romantic love and passionate love? Much has been said and written about the brain, but very little seems to connect the dots from brain to behaviour. For instance, a recent study showed that people suffering from disorders such as autism were not showing any signs of increased serotonin; yet when they were engaged in romantic love relationships they did! The same was true for those with depression – they showed no signs of increased dopamine, but when they were romantically involved their brains became activated and energetic.
Is all this just a clever way of asking the question ‘how does one person love another person’? There is more to it than that. In fact, this is a science of its own: a scientific investigation into the brain’s mechanisms of identifying and reacting to love, which can be compared with the study of language and other human emotions. In the last decade or so, science has made enormous progress in studying the effects that intimacy has on the mind, body and spirit, revealing more about the inner workings of our emotional lives. As our understanding of the relationship between our bodies and emotions becomes more profound, a more encompassing view of love and romance will become possible, drawing together both the physical and non-physical components of what makes us feel love.
The results of this research show us that people who are most attached to their partners tend to have deeper emotional ties than those who are not so emotionally invested in others. This means that when we are romantically involved with someone we are investing not only our bodies but also our minds and spirits into the relationship, which is not unlike investing your money into an investment. This, explains the research on relationships: while having the physical aspect of a relationship is good, it is important to invest some of your time, feelings and energy into building a relationship with a partner, rather than just having it based upon lust alone. It is important to remember that even the most passionate couple has to work at building their bond. Romantic love is no match for the demands of parenting and practical life, but it is certainly better than having no emotional connection at all.
Some scientists believe that our very genes coded to encourage us to form close attachments with our partners are responsible for causing some of the differences we see in relationships. Some research has shown that identical twins, who share identical genes, experience no significant differences in their romantic attachment patterns. But studies of fraternal twins who do experience significant differences in their love languages find that there are clear differences between the love languages of identical twins. Similarly, one study which compared married men and women found that men who express more passion in their love language, tend to have more committed relationships and are happier with their relationships.
All of these findings suggest that being connected emotionally is much healthier than being intensely attached to a partner physically. If you can cultivate a healthy love language you will have a more fulfilling and rewarding relationship. Healthy love languages include emotional intimacy, caring, trust, honesty, and empathy. These are all qualities that can help you make a healthy relationship.