What Does Love Mean in Today’s Society?
Psychologists Cindy Hazan & Philip Shaver, created a questionnaire asking people to identify with one of the following :
when in love I…
A: I find it relatively easy to get close to others and am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I don’t worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me.
B: I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry that my partner doesn’t really love me or won’t want to stay with me. I want to get very close to my partner, and this sometimes scares people away.
C: I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to others; I find it difficult to trust them completely, difficult to allow myself to depend on them. I am nervous when anyone gets too close, and often, others want me to be more intimate than I feel comfortable being.
The options above refer to three main attachment styles, originating from the Attachment Theory by John Bowlby (1950).
A: Option A exhibits a secure attachment, so love & trust are easy for you.
B: Option B shows anxiety — you long to be intimate & vulnerable with someone yet you’re scared of heartbreak. As a result, you project your insecurities onto your partner, and fall into counter-productively aggressive behavior as a defense mechanism.
C: Option C means you avoid. You feel it’s easier to avoid the dangers of intimacy & vulnerability and so you prefer to stay in solitude or emotional withdrawal.
The first step is to recognize which one you are and attain a higher level of self-awareness. We’re all insecure in love by either falling into the avoidance & anxiety camps or by choosing to fall in love with someone from those. This process only exacerbates our defense mechaninisms.
Some develop secure attachments, but a lot of us exhibit anxiety or avoidance types of attachments. Part of the answer resides in our childhoods & our unexplored paths of psyches in pursuit of emotional maturity. The conflict arises between what we say we want in a partner versus what we are capable to receive.
For example, in most cases, we tend to replicate the past subconsciously. Your parent might have been aloof or absent as you were growing up so you set out looking to receive warmth and presence.
However, once you actually receive love and presence & attention, it might feel deeply uncomfortable and unfamiliar. So you might opt out and choose some distance instead because it seems easier. And so, without realizing, you end up recreating your past. You subconsciously produce the same behavioral relationship pattern.
On top of our potential childhood traumas, we also have several cognitive distortions about love, loving & falling in love.
Through cinematography & a high dosage of romanticism, society has managed to completely blow love out of proportions. Most are convinced that love is meant to be a “shooting star moment” — a rarity similar to the eye witnessing of a unicorn.
Love is ordinary
“I can’t possibly be in love after just one week lol”
Love is a natural state and can occur in any moment after any amount of time. Love is just a matter of emotional availability & openness.
IV. LOVING VS FALLING IN LOVE
Drawing in from the attachment styles & cognitive distortions concerning love, the final chapter worth dissecting is the mythical difference between falling in love versus loving.
Is there a difference?
Someone asked me way back and this is how I responded:
One is dependent whereas the other is independent — egoic love versus soulful love.
I think people that aren’t evolved fall in love and create bondages, destroying each other’s freedom (all on very subtle planes). Mature people love and create freedom for their partner — they help each other destroy bondages.
Someone who falls in love is someone who was always ready to fall: someone that cannot stand alone. Being in love/ falling in love is experienced by those who fear actual love because actual love makes you feel and makes your walls crumble. You feel vulnerable and uncomfortable and your darkest sides are exposed. It’s something real and many think that love is rainbow and butterflies and only smooth sailing but it’s not. That’s false. We’re addicted to feel real things yet scared shitless of that, so we redefine “love” as something easy and go find it in movies, books, sex, pointless relationships, toxic friendships, or adrenaline inducing activities. Those are the people that fall and are in love: those who are addicted to feel yet are not prepared to understand and feel their deepest, darkest sides of themselves with someone else. That is love.
When you love someone (truly), when you are sufficiently mature to not fall, you love unconditionally with no strings attached. And that is the paradox of our existence: when two mature people love each other, they are together yet very much also alone. They are together to the point that they are one (they are in perfect synchronicity with one another). They find comfort in their own discomfort and have the willingness to explore it together. That love is a bond and a connection that will never break.