Love can be a very beautiful force that we humans have the ability to feel. It can improve our wellbeing and consciousness. The love we manifest has a great deal of influence on the people around us and vice versa. We, and the many or few people in our lives, are like nodes in a network, either lifting each other upward or pulling each other down. But too often we get caught up on the love we feel towards other people that we forget love is much bigger than two people. We can also fall in love with ideas and concepts. Humans invented democracy in Athens and the telephone in the United States. These were amazing accomplishments for us humans that all started with an idea. Love is an eternal force.
An eternal force… what?
It sounds fancy but really all it means is that love was here long before us and will be here long after we die. People loved their beautiful architecture in ancient Babylon over 3,000 years ago, the Spartans loved their warrior culture over 2,000 years ago and people will be loving their AI caretakers long after we die. Love in all of its forms is bigger than us.
The world, however, is by no means benevolent. There is no doubt that love comes leaves us vulnerable to a great deal of elements. Good or bad, it can consume us. But we can reduce potential damage by seeking to understand love and its many forms, not only in others but in ourselves.
Love is such a powerful force that the encounters we have with its many forms of manifestation, as a child, can play a drastic role in shaping our personality. This love typically comes from our mothers, as in most cultures a baby spends most of its time with its loving mother. This is called Attachment Theory and was brought forth by John Bowlby in the late 1950’s, which was further elaborated by others.
What is attachment theory?
Attachment Theory borrows from cybernetics: the study of how mechanical and biological systems can regulate themselves to achieve preset goals while the environment around them and inside them change. John Bowlby brought forth irrefutable evidence, after conducting many experiments on chimps, showing that two basic goals guide a babies behavior.
Safety & Exploration
If a baby is safe(ensuring survival) then it can explore(gather valuable information and play) as it wants. If the baby doesn’t feel safe it cannot explore, if it isn’t safe then it could die. And this is where mom comes into the picture. Mom acts as a safety base for the baby to explore as it wants. We can see this in action if we are ever around a mother and her child. If they are at a playground or park we can observe the small baby as it goes out and plays and occasionally returns to the mom before returning to play again. This is the safety mechanism leveling out the level of exploration that is taking place. If the mother is not in sight then we can expect the baby to become frantic and scared. No exploration can take place under these circumstances. We all experienced this as babies.
Somewhere along the way as babies we built up an internal working model of the relationship between us and our mother. If our mother was always there for us then we were bold with our exploration. If our mother left us on occasion then we are nervous to be left again and our exploration was limited. This is what dictates our attachment style. It’s important to note that our attachments were only on our parents until about 14–17 years old. When we reached adolescence a shift of attachment transferred from our mother to our peers. And this is where we can witness our attachment style in action.
Below are the 4 attachment styles. See which one sounds more like you and keep in mind that these are not edged in stone. Once you find yours be sure to read the other three as you may encounter these other types in your relationships. Being aware of these attachment styles can give you great insight to both your partners actions and your own. These characteristics are alive in all of us. This is why it is important to reflect inward and making sure you understand yourself before seeking to understand the outside world.
- Desires but resists intimacy.
- Struggles to have confidence in others or relying on them.
- Pushes people away.
- Has very few close relationships.
- Highly suspicious of others.
- Tends to have a positive view of interactions with others.
- Being alone or with someone is not a problem.
- Capable of setting strict boundaries.
- Has no problem showing intimacy and receiving it.
- Drama oriented.
- Dislikes being alone.
- History of unstable relationships.
- Requires a lot of ego stroking and show of affection.
- Somewhat reluctant to trust.
- senses negative undertone in partner, mostly projected.
- Extremely self-sufficient.
- Somewhat passive aggressive.
- Tends to avoid intimacy as it brings vulnerability.
- Prioritizes a great deal of things before a relationship.
- May have a problem with commitment.
- Very few close friends but a lot of acquaintances.
While most people lean towards one style over the rest, it is entirely possible for us to move across the spectrum over time.
These laws govern human nature.
Love can sometimes leave an individual broken, hurt and unable to love again. This typically happens when one or both parties are ignorant of the laws that dictate our experiences. Knowing is half the battle here.
Yeah, I just used a G.I. Joe reference so what?
Why is this important?
The love, or lack thereof, that we experienced as a child has a big impact on how we respond to love. Once we are aware of how we react to love we can begin to look outward at love itself.
When it comes to the love that we experience with our partner(s) there are only two types.
Passionate Love & Companionate Love
Passionate love is typically the love we experience when we first meet someone and begin to spend time with them. We feel completely infatuated with the other person and think about them constantly. This can be an intense feeling of sexual attraction. It is not uncommon for those experiencing passionate love to talk about marriage and spending the rest of their lives together. We experience euphoria. Passionate love is like a raging fire, and just like fire it usually fades.
Here is where Companionate love rises into fruition. Companionate love is a mutual respect for your partner. This love is not as intense as passionate love, but it is still love. This is a more ideal form of love as it can last a lifetime. While passionate love is more of a facade, as we typically project our ideal partner onto the other person, the latter is more realistic and grounded as you appreciate and love the other persons presence. We forget that they are human too and have flaws just like us. Companionate love acknowledges the other persons shortcomings and accepts that they are not perfect. Companionate love is like a vine that slowly grows.
“Love means that you accept a person with all their failures, stupidness, ugly points, and nonetheless, you see perfection in imperfection itself.” — Zizek Slavoj
One should not get discouraged when passionate love wears off. It is just a stepping stone to something much greater.
Plato of ancient Greece would argue that the love we experience with others is just a small fraction of a much bigger eternal love.
And I agree.
Love is not only experienced through other people. Love can be felt when we are reading a book that entices us or on a hike surrounded by natures vast creations. It can be felt while listening to a beautifully composed song with heart-touching delivery, or when we are working on a personal project and get “in the zone.” No one can refute this. Love is an eternal force. Plato then presents us with a ladder of love, demonstrating how one can move towards an eternal Love.
The ladder of Love
It starts with a love for a person. A physical attraction, usually sexual. — This is passionate love.— We love a persons face and body. Then, we begin to see beauty in all other people. This is typically when we discover our type or expand our sexuality. Then this leads us to the love and appreciation of souls. — This can be companionate love.— We begin to develop and appreciate deep bonds and the sophistication of each person. Which then leads us to the love of activities, institutions, laws and science. This is the love for the systems that govern us like a political apparatus or society. This then leads us to the love of knowledge. Knowledge and truth compose the political system, that make the laws that shape society and improve the wellbeing of each citizen. After this we reach Eternal beauty. This is only described to us metaphorically as Plato says nothing can compare to it.
Plato was right.
Love is an eternal force. It is not limited to one person. But if we wish to become better partners to the one person whom we are committed to, we must experience the love that Plato talked about.
Up the ladder
We can do so by enriching our lives with knowledge. We can always seek to learn and never growing complacent with ourselves and always be on the eternal journey of wisdom. There has never been a time like this in history where one person can access a consolation of knowledge and wisdom through an internet connection. One would be foolish to let such access to go to waste. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. The answers to most of our problems have been discovered by our ancestors. Some still remained unanswered of course but that should not discourage us from seeking the truth.
We can learn to love something we do. This can be an activity like a martial art or a game of chess. We can fall in love with our work wether it be a job, artistic venture, goal we need to achieve or something we need to create. With phenomenon of spoken language sometime in the distant past came the ability for us to speak things into existence. We can communicate what we think in our heads with others and can work together to accomplish great things.
One can begin to expand their knowledge of society and the mechanisms which shape our daily lives. We can get involved in our communities or join a movement which we know to be just. These are are things that we can fall in love with that can improve our quality of life.
“Love makes us whole, again” — Plato
Experiencing love in all of its forms can shift your attachment style to lean more towards a secure style. This will improve not only your relationships but your life in general.
Love should be a positive force in our lives
In Victorian times marriage was a beneficial bond between two people. It was strictly strategical. Families would arrange marriages that would result in more money for their family shop or an alliance between two powerful countries. Marrying out of love was seen as immature and a wasted opportunity.
We should adopt a quasi-Victorian attitude, not towards marriage but relationships in general. Relationships should be strictly strategical. They should lift us up and improve our life since they have the power to do so. Relationships should not bring you down. Obviously no relationship is perfect and they come with their ups and downs. But we can get a general sense of which way they are headed. It is up to us to terminate any unhealthy relationship before it begins to degrade us. This requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves. We must scrutinize both our partner and ourselves. Our wellbeing depends largely on the people whom we spend most of our time with.
It is worth noting that we don’t choose to fall in love, it just happens. But even a basic understanding of love gives us a better chance of thriving in its turmoil than our ignorant counterparts. We must remain attentive to its invisible grasp and its influence on us.
Love can be a positive force in our life, but it can also be dangerous if we are not aware of its pitfalls. An alert and informed individual can prevent unwanted suffering. We have all experienced love in our lives but we hardly ponder its nature and potential. Our love is not limited to physical bodies but to ideas, souls, institutions and knowledge. Too often we get caught up on the love that we feel towards one person and begin to lose sight of what love really is, an eternal force bigger than two people. If we wish to be better partners we can begin by scrutinizing ourselves and our forces that govern our lives.