Love is the most sought-after feeling in the world. This is not at all surprising if you think about all the various ways in which it is idealized. Literature from ancient times to present day largely promotes it in vivid colors.
In real life, love is again widely promoted and idealized. Love at first sight, love is blind and love is all that matters are just few of the idioms commonly used. However, in the majority of cases, love leads to disappointment, disillusion, sorrow and heartache.
Sometimes love is unilateral. Other times, love is not enough to make a relationship work. Every so often, people run out of love. Yeah, this time it may be you. But next time, it may well be him. In the end, very few people manage to find true, enduring love and a seemingly happy ending to their quest.
Why is that? Why is true love so rare? Why do people look for it? And finally, is it really worth it?
Here are a few aspects you should think about before answering such ultimate questions:
1. People don't just fall in love.
Though it often may seem like it, love is not a trap. We don't fall into it, and it certainly doesn't just happen to us. All of the literature and film tales of "love at first sight" are just a trope.
Enduring love takes time to grow, and as anything else worthwhile in life, it takes effort.
The foundation of true love is a meaningful relationship. Naturally, for any relationship to work it requires two people determined and willing to meet halfway. Yes, it takes compromise, empathy, honesty, generosity, wisdom and many other positive traits in both partners.
It asks for many shared experiences and high levels of intimacy to turn your partner into the love of your life. It also demands maturity and self-awareness to treasure the constructive emotions and pass over the critical ones to finally reach complete understanding, compatibility and love.
Love is not about sitting around and waiting for the perfect partner to take your hand and make you happy forever and ever. It is about making an effort to find it, and discovering the power within to keep on believing in it, even when you've suffered time and time again.
2. The route to love is long and twisted.
If you want to find love and a meaningful relationship, you will certainly experience frustration, disillusionment and sorrow. This is how you grow as a person and as a partner. You cannot appreciate happiness when you've never been sad, just like you cannot tell true love if you have not had the opposite.
Though things do not work out like they do in fairy tales and romance novels, the common point is that life also has its set of trials. First, you have to experience several relationships in order to find meaning within yourself, and then in the connection itself.
Secondly, even when you “fall” in love with somebody, you will still have to endure several battles to foster and preserve it. How else would you be able to tell it's true and enduring?
3. Love is not ideal.
Literature, cinematography, media, some religious perspectives and social views do you a great disfavor by idealizing love. Hence, many people expect to be swept away by it. They expect to feel ecstatic and euphoric, completely fulfilled and "happily ever after" at last.
Reality is much different. Though infatuation might resemble the idealized version of the feeling, it's (most of the time) short-lived, and that is when people tend to lose hope and confidence in ever finding love.
The great psychologist, Robert Stenberg, sees love as a triangularly dimensioned sentiment, including passion, commitment and intimacy. Naturally, passion and sexual attraction is the initial phase that makes everything else possible. However, many opposite sex interactions start and end here.
Commitment is when two people find they are compatible and better off together long-term. Finally, intimacy promotes various feelings from attachment to complete confidence. This is where enduring love starts to grow from deep self-awareness, mutual trust and a profound connection.
4. Love is multi-sided.
All the feelings you have for the different people in your life (and also yourself) are singular. Logically, love is also of various types and dependent on many factors, such as the subject of your love, the circumstances, its age, etc. What's more, each person has his/her own style of loving and showing it.
Starting from the triangle of love, Robert Stenberg identifies seven faces of this feeling that the majority of successful couples experience in the long term:
1. The Liking/Friendship: When the partners feel close and confide in each other, yet intense passion and lasting commitment are not the underlying attributes of the relationship.
2. Infatuation: Typically the first stage a couple experiences, which is characterized by attraction and sexual appeal. In the best case scenario, it precedes romantic love and intimacy. Yet, in many situations, it disappears suddenly.
3. Empty love: Commitment prevails over passion and intimacy. Typically, older couples might pass through this phase, fall apart or rediscover each other again.
4. Romantic love: When the bond is based on passion and intimacy, but without supporting commitment.
5. Companionate love: The lasting commitment is the prevailing aspect of this type of feeling. Companionate love is similar to liking or friendship, with the essential difference that a powerful affection sustains the commitment. Still, passion is low-rated. Again, this is typical for older couples.
6. Fatuous love: When “a commitment is made on the basis of passion, without the stabilizing influence of intimate involvement.”
7. Consummate love: The full form of the feeling where passion, commitment and intimacy perfectly coexist and form a happy relationship. This is the ideal love that all people wish for and strive towards.
Surprisingly, Stenberg warns that it's harder to preserve than to achieve. In his words, “Without expression, even the greatest of loves can die.”
If you ask me, enduring love passes through all these stages, and every one of them has its role and lessons for us. Besides, they may substitute each other for a while only to rediscover another phase all over again.
Now that you've seen how easy (and at the same time, not so easy) it is to find and sustain love, are you willing to give up on it? Do you think it's all worth it, in the end? I've given you the tools, make the choice that's right for you.
Want more awesome advice? Visit my blog (HisDesires.com), get my free eBook and learn exactly how to meet and keep a quality guy in your life.