Is love necessary for a healthy relationship?
- Rutgers scientist Dr. Helen Fisher says that romantic love can be broken down into three categories, each with its own set of hormones: lust (testosterone and estrogen), attraction (dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin), and attachment (oxytocin and vasopressin).
- A 2010 Stanford Medicine study found that love can lessen the effects of pain, and it can “block pain in ways similar to painkillers or illicit drugs like cocaine.”
- According to research from Syracuse University, it only takes about one-fifth of a second to fall in love with someone.
- Eighty-eight percent of those polled in a Pew Research Center study said that love is a “very important reason to get married.”
It can be tempting to believe that love can be the foundation of a healthy relationship, but research and anecdotal experiences suggest otherwise. Love is often not enough to sustain a healthy relationship without the presence of other crucial components.
Experts like Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, told Elite Daily, 'Love is the most powerful but least defined element of a relationship. It cannot create all the skills and actions that are needed to keep a relationship healthy.'
One reason for this is that love does not equal compatibility. For instance, you can be completely in love with someone yet still have a rocky relationship with them. This is because how you feel about someone is often a poor indicator of how well a relationship can blossom. Sometimes people who only 'like' each other can have better relationships than people engulfed by passionate love.
For a relationship to sustain in the long run, values need to align. If you love someone but believe in opposite things, affection simply may not be enough. For example, if one partner wants children or would like to have a large family, but the other partner does not, then love alone isn't enough to bridge such a significant needs gap.
Psychologically speaking, Maslow's hierarchy of needs suggests we value safety more than love and belongingness. This means that feeling comfortable with your partner, irrespective of the degree of affection, can sometimes be more important than how much you love each other.
So love can be a part of a healthy relationship but not the foundation of it.
Without love, partners' commitments to each other are challenged, and ultimately, a relationship may not last. Love is one of the crucial elements that keeps a relationship going, and its absence entails that a partner is more likely to cheat or even end a relationship. Love truly is the groundwork for a healthy relationship and is the catalyst for two people to want to share life's experiences together.
Love not only forms the foundation of a relationship, but it also allows for partners to look past one another's faults--faults that would otherwise spell doom for a relationship. Psychology professor Garth Fletcher says that love's rose-colored glasses are 'a commitment device... Positive bias allows us to overlook small problems and to invest in our partner once the relationship has started.'
Love also creates respect in relationships by encouraging partners to make each other feel valued and understood. When you love someone, you are inclined to respect them, their boundaries, and who they are. Further, love entails wanting the best for your partner, and that is most elegantly expressed by developing the utmost respect for them--a factor that is essential to healthy relationships.
Finally, love is motivating and drives people to envision a future with their partners. As a 2005 study revealed, 'love activates the parts of our brain which control goal-oriented motivation. When in love, we are motivated to attract or please the person with whom we are in a relationship.' Love encourages people to fight to make a future happen with their partners, and it's no secret that being able to make long-term plans is part of a healthy relationship.
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