what love is

Global Love Report – October 13, 2021
by Margot Finley, Matchmaker and Relationship/Dating Coach

Last month we focused on how love is defined. This month, we consider the impact of differing views of love within a relationship. Does it matter if two people in a couple agree on what “to love someone” means?

This question alone would not have been asked 100 years ago. Today, in a world where marriage is often considered as a bond between equals, this equality may imply that compatible views of marriage roles and love would be relevant.

The shift from traditional marriages (male breadwinner/female homemaker) to modern marriages (men and women are equal) affects how we each define love today. A factor that cannot be overlooked in the changing personal concepts of love in modern marriages is that “both husbands and wives possess some degree of what might be considered masculine traits, such as means-ends problem solving, and feminine traits, such as emotional expressiveness,” per Rob Pascale and Lou Primavera Ph.D., authors of So Happy Together.

However, as we know, two people in a relationship do not always align on what love is, or what it is, if asked. To get an expert view on the question of ‘does agreement on love even matter’, I contacted Dr Terri Orbuch, The Love Doctor, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, research scientist and author, who offered this:

“Partners can differ in their view of romantic love AND how they want/desire romantic love to get expressed in the relationship. Similar views are not what is important.”

If similar individual views on love are not important to a couple’s success, can we just leave that topic untouched in a relationship? Dr. Orbuch says no.

“It is important to identify your own view, communicate that view to your partner, and fully understand your partner’s view,” she explained. “Any differences between you and your partner can be discussed and compromise may be necessary, depending on the differences and wants for the expression of that romantic love.”

How does The Love Doctor define love, I wondered? “Love is a very complex and multifaceted concept. Over the ages, the meaning of love has varied and hence, even today there is no one definition of love. Even psychologists differ in how they define and measure love. People have distinctive experiences of love.”

Singles share with me, their matchmaker, personal desires for the relationship they seek, which inevitably is characterized by a combination of attraction, passion and compatibility. Yet there remains a divide between those who prioritize passion and those who prioritize long term trusted companionship. What does the love doctor have to say about this?

“Research studies show that there appear to be two distinct types of love that occur in relationships: a love full of passion — that’s the first-blush love when the relationship is young — and a love filled with friendship that keeps relationships together and truly happy over the long-term.”

So it is reasonable to want both? In short, yes. “The level of passionate love is high early in a relationship because everything is new and exciting. But as time goes by, the rose-colored glasses come off, and passionate love decreases with intensity after about 12 – 18 months with each other.” While the decreasing passion that accompanies an exciting new relationship is unavoidable, Dr. Orbuch tells us that, “when passionate love does start to decline, it can be reignited by implementing simple small changes. Passionate love and companionate love can occur together in the same relationship.”

Dr. Orbuch says “Even though passionate love declines over time in a romantic relationship, there is good news at the end of the love tunnel. First, “companionate love,” which is characterized by friendship, intimacy, and commitment — has been found to actually increase over the course of a relationship. And, most couples who have been together for a long time say that it is companionate love that is the key factor in their longevity and happiness. Companionate love is what actually keeps couples together over time. Second, when passionate love does start to decline, it CAN be reignited by implementing simple small changes. So passionate love and companionate love can occur together in the same relationship.”

To learn more about Dr. Orbuch go to her website.

(Image source: Pexels, Rovenimagescom)