What is Love?
Love is a set of emotions that stem from feelings of strong or constant affection, protectiveness and respect for another person.
Love can also be used to describe non-human relationships including the love for your pets, love for political freedom or love for whatever higher power you believe in.
Benefits of Love:
- Fewer Doctor’s Visits
- Less Depression
- Natural Pain Control
- Reduced Anxiety
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Heal Faster After An Illness
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Falling in Love vs. Loving Someone
When you fall in love, it is a feeling that makes you want to be with someone. The initial spark that causes two people to fall in love is due to numerous factors including physical chemistry, sexual attraction and shared interests that lead to compatibility.
There’s a difference between falling in love and loving someone, but we use the word love to describe both. Falling in love can stem from feelings of infatuation, lust and obsession and after we fall in love feelings develop on the surface after you both start talking, holding hands, hugging and kissing each other.
Symptoms of falling in love include:
- Increased Energy
- Loss of Appetite
- Increase in Anxiety
The complex set of feelings that develop when you fall in love may last or they may not. Also, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll love that person forever, but the initial phase is a trigger for taking action.
When you truly love someone it goes beyond those initial feelings of infatuation, lust and obsession that leads to surface feelings. Over time you have a desire to see them grow, you start looking past their flaws and you start to motivate, encourage and inspire one another.
Why Do Some People Fear Falling in Love?
The most interesting thing about love is that it has something in common with fear. Both love and fear are governed by the hormone oxytocin.
What is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin is best known as the love hormone. It is secreted by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain when you’re bonding with someone whether you’re initially falling in love, cuddling, making out or hugging. Overtime it can make you feel like going all the way.
It’s interesting that oxytocin also goes to work when something socially stressful or horrible happens to you. When this happens the oxytocin enhances your memory of the event and sometimes the bad memory might be a past relationship that makes you fearful of falling in love again.
Reason why falling in love can be scary include:
Cynicism About Love: Cynicism or being cynical is a belief that people are motivated purely by self-interest and this leads to a general distrust of others. There’s a lot of cynicism about love; it’s part of a defensive posture we take to protect ourselves from being hurt. This can stem from a previous relationship when one partner cheats on the other and betray their trust and the anger and bitterness can make them fearful and cynical about love.
Fear of Being Vulnerable: Fear of vulnerability occurs when you’re afraid to open up emotionally partly due to fear of rejection or abandonment. This fear over time turns into a metaphorical wall that you build around yourself to minimize the risk of being hurt again. Also, a new relationship is uncharted territory and we are naturally fearful of the unknown because of the risk involved.
Unrealistic Expectations: Many fear falling in love again is due to a previous relationship falling apart because of unrealistic expectations. These unrealistic expectations can include one partner becoming fixated on making their partner conform to their idea of perfection and overtime this makes their partner resentful overtime. Some say that romantic comedies create a warped sense of how perfect relationships should be; expectations include love at first sight, real love is proven through grand romantic gestures, you’ll find someone who will complete and worst of all the expectation that every problem will magically disappear as soon as you enter a relationship. Also, these unrealistic expectations sometimes cause us to think that we’re not perfect or good enough to love someone.
Fear of Losing Them: The more someone means to us the more afraid we are of losing that person. This is a normal feeling to have, but it becomes a problem when you become preoccupied with loss and abandonment. When you allow this fear to consume you it will make you fearful toward getting close to someone.
Fear of Losing Yourself: Some see falling in love as a loss of our wholeness and our independence.
The Issues That Plague Modern Relationships
The way a lot of our generation sees relationships is not how our grandparents viewed them. Instead of describing love as something that you need to nurture like a flower and letting it grow, a lot of our generation describes love as a virus that you don’t want to catch.
We have a bad habit of falling in love too quickly, we start fighting too quickly and worst of all we give up on relationships too quickly.
Instead of taking responsibility for the flaws that make us who we are we force others to accept them and at the same time we expect others to change for us.
Biggest Problems Facing Modern Relationships Include:
Lack of Communication Between Partners: Since the main form of communicating between partners is texting other forms of communication have been cast aside such as talking on the phone and also listening.
Commitment Issues: Commitment issues in relationships are nothing new, but in modern relationships some see long-term commitment as a trap.
Influence of Dating Sites and Social Media: Dating sites and social media have led to FOMO (the fear of missing out). There’s something called the paradox of choice that causes decision paralysis when we’re constantly waiting for someone better to come along.
Constantly Chasing After Excitement: A lot of our generation craves newness or novelty. This is true when we’re looking for love and when we frequently meet someone new it excites us.
Manipulation: Relationships are supposed to be a shared emotion. However there are many one-sided relationships in which the person who could possibly care less about it and they know the other person would do anything to save the relationship. Forms of manipulation include guilt trips, passive-aggression, gas lighting, selectively showing affection and lying.
Everyone is Looking For “The One”: Unrealistic expectations about love cause us to fear inperfection and causes us to wait for “the one”. Many people do find the one, but others wait too long and they end up losing their window of opportunity.
Also, many of us are finding ourselves asking questions including:
“What is the point of getting married?”
“Is there someone better out there?”
“What does this text from my significant other or crush mean?”
“Do I want to be financially tied down to my partner”
“When will my partner grow up and stop playing video games?”
Love is something that was already scary and complicated. As the world grows more scary and complex due to changes in society, the economy and technology it may make people more fearful of love because of the potential consequences associated with modern relationships.
What To Do About Your Fear of Love?
Approach Love With Realistic Expectations: I mentioned above that we have unrealistic expectations about love and relationships. We expect instant gratification, but in reality bonding with someone takes time. We expect relationships to be easy, but they’re really hard. We expect a prince/princess, however it’s realistic to accept that people have flaws.
Get Out of Your Head: The phrase “being in your head” is a general metaphor for overthinking or overanalyzing something. Being in our heads too much leads to obsessive negative thinking that causes depression and anxiety. This negative thinking can cause us to doubt ourselves, and cause us to doubt whether the person who loves us loves us back and start questioning whether we’re worthy of love. The first step toward getting out of heads is reframing our negative thinking mentally reciting a mantra and sticking with it, for example if we’re frequently thinking that “We’re not good enough” can be replaced with “I’m an awesome person”. Also, it helps to keep your mind occupied as much as possible with activities that relax the mind such as hands-on hobbies such as woodworking, writing or cooking.
Seek Out Someone Who Shares the Same Relationship Values: One reason modern relationships are so fragile is confusing love with other feelings such as lust when we first fall in love. Also, modern relationships have lost sight of important factors such as mutual trust, compromise, dedication, patience and sacrifice, along with a factor frequently overlooked shared values. The values I’m referring to are trust, commitment, same lifestyle, same or similar beliefs and a general understanding of the same things.
Change Your Perspective About Your Fear: I mentioned in my previous blog post about fear is a condition about being afraid of something or being worried about a specific outcome. Fear can be a scary thing and hold you back from taking that step you need to take toward something positive. For example, the fear of rejection and the fear of failure can cause someone to become emotionally paralyzed and cause self-doubt. However, fear itself is not necessarily a bad thing it has a positive side. The fear of rejection and the fear of failure can be reframed, so they can teach us how to do better by reconsidering our goals and remind us that we’re human and that we make mistakes.
What Do You Fear About Love?
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