“Love is not a matter of degree; it’s not some abstract thing abstract and impersonal. Love is the comprehension that there is no difference in kinds.” ~ Dr. Larry Dossey – Bestselling Author & Executive Coaches
Love is a powerful emotion that controls brain circuits and our physiological responses to pleasure, pain or other significant stimuli. Love encompasses a spectrum of optimistic and negative emotional states, from the highest spiritual virtue or divine pleasure, to the easiest personal pleasure, the least intense passionate love. It is an essential life experience, shared by millions of people, regardless of culture and religion. In our daily lives, love takes the form of physical, emotional, and sexual connections with others-feelings that are generated by brain activity.
Love is a feeling or state of being attracted to another person or to a type of object that evokes a strong response from one person who feels intensely drawn to another. An object, event or situation that evokes a strong liking or affection is commonly referred to as “love material”. Materials that are loved or desirable often stimulate cortical activity in multiple brain regions responsible for creating and experiencing pleasure and arousal. This allows the experiencing of love to continue or even increase, when the stimulus ceases. Love is also a complex neurological mechanism that involves more than simply physical attraction.
Some types of romantic love are described as loving feelings, friendliness, empathy, attachment, companionate love, sympathetic love, devotion, and sexual desire. The most common characteristic of romantic love, however, is attachment. Attraction is a complex mechanism that includes both conscious and unconscious processes. Arousal occurs when the brain generates a sensation that activates the limbic system, which then sends signals from the nervous system to the brain regarding potential relationship potential. These signals often evoke a desire to return to a partner or a friend, rouse alarm in the part of the person associated with the sender, and/or evoke an emotional response.
In general, the dominant attachment style(s) experienced by a person during his/her lifetime is determined by the experiences and events that shaped his/her early development. However, there can be significant variation between peoples’ attachment styles. Some people are very attached to their parents, while others are very close friends. The degree of attachment to a parent is highly related to one’s ability to form healthy relationships, as well as to the quality of the relationships that were formed in the early years of a relationship.
Another mechanism that underlies romantic love is shared deep affection for another person. People who have a deep affection for another person may spend long periods of time attached to that other person without becoming romantically involved with that other person. This type of emotional bonding is sometimes referred to as “spousal love” and is extremely rewarding for both partners. Spousal love can also lead to marital intimacy, though most of these relationships are considered to be platonic. In some cases, a person may have romantic feelings for someone who is not his or her spouse but has become deeply attached to the person because of shared affection.
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