Definition of romantic love psychology

What Is Romantic Love? | Psychology Today

Source: Pixabay/panajiotis

What is love? The word love has been used synonymously with enjoyment, enthusiasm, attachment, affection, sexual attraction, care, concern, loyalty, devotion, etc.

It's important to distinguish: romantic love (also known as romance) has a more specific meaning, and refers to “intense attraction that involves the idealization of the other, within an erotic context, with the expectation of enduring for some time into the future.”1 In today’s post, I examine four ways of looking at romance.

1. Romantic love as an evolutionary adaptation.

Let me start with one of the less romantic views of romantic love, which suggests love is a product of forces that increase the chances of passing on one’s genes to future generations.

Some readers may be thinking that passing on one’s genes requires sex only, so what’s love got to do with it (as Tina Turner might say)?

To explain, let me first note we often seek romantic partners who have high levels of certain qualities (e. g., health, beauty, wealth). Assuming we succeed in acquiring a partner with those qualities, however, we face two problems.

One, those qualities do not last (e.g., our partners grow old, get ill, lose their high-paying jobs). Second, we may be tempted by individuals with greater positive attributes (e.g., richer, younger, smarter, prettier).

So, what would keep an individual from divorcing or cheating on their significant other? According to the evolutionary psychologist David Buss, the answer is love.2-4

Love evolved as a solution to what Buss calls the “problem of commitment.” It is only when we love our partner that we refuse to leave them even if they lose what we value in them (e.g., money, looks, abilities) or if someone “better” comes along.

2. Romantic love as what unites us with our partner.

Switching now to what may be the most romantic view of love, let us talk about soulmates. In Plato’s The Symposium, Aristophanes gives the following famous story as the origins of soulmates:

Aristophanes says human beings were initially round (their sides and backs formed a circle), had four arms and legs, and one head with two faces which looked in opposite directions. As such, humans were very powerful. So Zeus decided to “cut them in two [so] they will be diminished in strength.”5

We human beings, as these split bodies, spend our lives seeking our other halves, so we can be whole again. It is this “desire and pursuit of the whole” that we call "love."

The idea of us looking for our other halves—and the idea that like attracts like—makes sense to many people because we often find ourselves attracted to those with whom we share much in common.

Research also supports this view. For instance, a 2006 study, in which participants rated various aspects of a married couple based on pictures of their faces, found “perceived age, attractiveness, and some personality traits [such as extraversion and conscientiousness] were similar between partners.” 6

3. Romantic love as a blind force.

They say love is blind but is Cupid blind, too? In other words, do we fall in love with random people?

If love is a blind force, then romance might be triggered by chance encounters with random individuals—not by recognition of meeting a potential soulmate.

This view has also received research support. For instance, attraction is influenced by proximity. According to Zajonc’s “mere repeated exposure” theory, when we have regular contact with a stimulus, we develop a preference for that object, person, etc.7 This means we are more likely to feel attracted to—and form a romantic relationship with—our coworkers, classmates, or neighbors than with strangers.

Of course, proximity alone is rarely enough; proximity-based romantic relationships may not survive if missing other important ingredients (e.g., positive emotions).8

Nevertheless, evidence showing that our choice of romantic relationships is influenced by proximity may pose a challenge to the more starry-eyed views of romantic love as possible only between soulmates.

Source: 3194556/Pixabay

4. Romantic love as a sociocultural construct.

Could it be that how we define love says more about our society and culture than it does about some absolute and universal concept of true love? Perhaps.

For instance, intimacy is an important element of romantic love, but what we consider intimate relationships in America arose in the early nineteenth century; they did so in the context of rapid modernization and urbanization, and the separation of the world of home from work. As one author put it: “Individualism and intimacy are the Siamese twins of modernization.”9

Nonetheless, even if we were to assume the essence of romantic love is universal and refers to the same thing today as it did many years ago, evidence suggests romantic love was often much less important in the past.

Case in point, in ancient Greece, marriage functioned as a means of reproduction and control over the inheritance of property; however, as societies changed over time so did the institution of marriage. Consequently, a new need arose for a type of love capable of bringing two people together in a “monogamous, lifelong, nuclear family-like bond,” a love that could take the place of “work previously done by patriarchal financial arrangements. ” Romantic love became important in part because society “created certain specific work for it to do.”10

See if you spot any similarities in how your family, friends, or strangers celebrate this holiday. Contemplate what these similarities tell you about traditions and societal expectations (wherever you happen to be living in 2020), the significance of romance, what it means to be romantic, and the right way to celebrate love (e.g., with chocolates, cards, flowers). Consider whether it is possible for you to celebrate love differently. What would such a celebration of love look like?

Facebook image: G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock

Romantic love | Psychology Wiki

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Part of a series on Love
Courtly love
Religious love
Grades of Emotion
Brotherly love
Sisterly love
Erotic love
Platonic love
Familial love
Puppy love
Romantic love
See Also
Unrequited love

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Romantic love is a form of love that is often regarded as different from mere needs driven by sexual desire, or lust. Romantic love generally involves a mix of emotional and sexual desire, as opposed to platonic love. There is often, initially, more emphasis on the emotions than on physical pleasure.

Romantic love can be returned or unrequited. In the former case the mutual expressions of love can lead to marriage or to the establishment of a permanent relationship, which in most cases will include passionate sexual love. Where the love is one-sided (unrequited) damage to the esteem and/or the psychological welfare of the spurned lover can result.

One aspect of romantic love is the randomness of the encounters which lead to love. It may be for this reason that some in Western society have historically emphasized romantic love far more than other cultures in which arranged marriages are the rule. However, the globalization of Western culture has spread Western ideas about love and romance.

Romantic love became a recognized passion in the Middle Ages, when in some cases insurmountable barriers of morality or convention separated the lovers. The effect of physical attraction and impossibility of intimacy resulted in an excessive regard of the beloved as extremely precious. Winning the love, or at least the attention, of the beloved, motivated great efforts of many kinds, such as poetry, song or feats of arms.

Properties of romantic love purported by Western culture that might or might not appear elsewhere include:

  • It must take you by surprise (the result of a random encounter).
  • It cannot be easily controlled.
  • It is not overtly (initially at least) predicated on a desire for sex as a physical act.
  • If requited it may be the basis for a lifelong commitment.
  • It is the highest form of self-fulfillment.


  • 1 Overview
  • 2 General definition of romantic love
    • 2.1 Within a relationship
    • 2.2 Historical definition of romantic love
  • 3 History
  • 4 See also
  • 5 Reference


Romantic love is contrasted with platonic love. All usages of platonic love precludes sexual relations, yet only in the modern usage does it take on a fully nonsexual sense, rather than the classical sense in which sexual drives are sublimated. Sublimation often tends to be forgotten in casual thought about love; it can be found in psychology and Nietzsche. Unrequited love can be romantic, if only in a comic or tragic sense, or in the sense that sublimation itself is comparable to romance, where the spirituality of both art and egalitarian ideals is combined with strong character and emotions. This situation is typical of the period of Romanticism, but that term is distinct from any romance that might arise within it.[1] Romantic love might be requited emotionally and physically while not being consummated, to which one or both parties might agree.

In romantic love, according to the more modern Western definitions of the term, lovers often transcend worldly qualities, not only seeking deeper love, but perhaps also raising questions about a more ultimate meaning (not an uncommon sort of question in any case). This criticism of love is far from new in philosophy, but owes a great debt to Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard. Schopenhauer wrote at length about the conflict between reproductive instincts and personal fulfilment, and preceded Freud in this regard. This area of concern, related to philosophical and religious questions of identity and personhood, is addressed below (5). Furthermore, romance is not only dispersed with and even inherently related to family life, but often is to some extent or entirely free, in the sense free of interruption, or in some more radical sense, as free from various customs and traditions.

Also, romance is, or has become, a major aspect of postmodernity, and its criteria primarily includes fashion and irony. Sexual revolutions have brought such changes about. Wit or irony encompass the inherent instability of romance, fine-tuned to its late modern peculiarities. This phenomenon is often expressed in popular culture as "throwing game." Love and marriage clearly were always ironic, but not to this degree. In Marxism the romantic might be considered an example of alienation. In his theory of mimetic desire, Girard attempts to make sense of such phenomena, focusing on the conflict between romance's individuality and jealousy. Yet in its independent mode (i.e., rather than as a change within a relationship) it tends to be a tragic region lying somewhere between on the one hand an ethical, and on the other hand an ascetic (or possibly debauched) life, combining significance with ennui.

General definition of romantic love

Within a relationship

Romantic love is a relative term, that distinguishes moments and situations within interpersonal relationships. There is often, initially, more emphasis on the emotions (especially those of love, intimacy, compassion, appreciation, and general "liking") rather than physical pleasure. But, romantic love, in the abstract sense of the term, is traditionally referred to as involving a mix of emotional and sexual desire for another as a person. However, Lisa Diamond, a University of Utah psychology professor, proposes that sexual desire and romantic love are functionally independent[2] and also, as an additional claim to the topic, that romantic love is not intrinsically oriented to same-gender or other-gender partners; and that the links between love and desire are bidirectional as opposed to unilateral. Furthermore, Diamond does not state that one's sex has priority over another sex in romantic love, because as already mentioned Diamond's theory seems to purport the idea that it is possible for someone who is heterosexual to fall in love with someone of the same gender, and for someone who is homosexual to fall in love with someone of a different gender.[3]

If one thinks of romantic love not as simply erotic freedom and expression, but as a breaking of that expression from a prescribed custom, romantic love is modern. There may have been a tension in primitive societies between marriage and the erotic, but this was mostly expressed in taboos regarding the menstrual cycle and birth. [4]

Before the 18th century, as now, there were many marriages that were not arranged, and arose out of more or less spontaneous relationships. But also after the 18th century, illicit relationships took on a more independent role. In bourgeois marriage, illicitness may have become more formidable and likely to cause tension.[How to reference and link to summary or text] In Ladies of the Leisure Class, Bonnie G. Smith depicts courtship and marriage rituals that may be viewed as oppressive to both men and women. She writes "When the young women of the Nord married, they did so without illusions of love and romance. They acted within a framework of concern for the reproduction of bloodlines according to financial, professional, and sometimes political interests." Subsequent sexual revolution has lessened the conflicts arising out of liberalism, but not eliminated them.

Anthropologists such as Claude Levi-Strauss show that there were complex forms of courtship in ancient as well as contemporary primitive societies. But there may not be evidence that members of such societies formed love relationships distinct from their established customs in a way that would parallel modern romance.[5]

Romantic love is then a relative term within any sexual relationship, but not relative when considered in contrast with custom. Within an existing relationship romantic love can be defined as a temporary freeing or optimizing of intimacy, either in a particularly luxurious manner (or the opposite as in the "natural"), or perhaps in greater spirituality, irony, or peril to the relationship. It may seem like a contradiction that romance is opposed to spirituality and yet would be strengthened by it, but the fleeting quality of romance might stand out in greater clarity as a couple explore a higher meaning.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

The cultural traditions of marriage and betrothal are the most basic customs in conflict with romance[How to reference and link to summary or text], however it is possible that romance and love can exist between the partners within those customs. Shakespeare and Kierkegaard describe similar viewpoints, to the effect that marriage and romance are not harmoniously in tune with each other. In Measure for Measure, for example, "...there has not been, nor is there at this point, any display of affection between Isabella and the Duke, if by affection we mean something concerned with sexual attraction. The two at the end of the play love each other as they love virtue."[6] Isabella, like all women, needs love, and she may reject marriage with the Duke because he seeks to beget an heir with her for her virtues, and she is not happy with the limited kind of love that implies. Shakespeare is arguing that marriage because of its purity can not simply incorporate romance. The extramarital nature of romance is also clarified by John Updike in his novel Gertrude and Claudius, as well as by Hamlet. It is also found in the film Braveheart, or rather in the life of Isabella of France.

Romance can also be tragic in its conflict with society. Tolstoy also focuses on the romantic limitations of marriage, and Anna Karenina prefers death to being married to her fiancée. Furthermore, in the speech about marriage that is given in Kierkegaard's Either/Or, Kierkegaard attempts to show that it is because marriage is lacking in passion fundamentally, that the nature of marriage, unlike romance, is explainable by a man who has experience of neither marriage nor love.

In the following excerpt, from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Romeo, in saying "all combined, save what thou must combine By holy marriage" implies that it is not marriage with Juliet that he seeks but simply to be joined with her romantically. That "I pray That thou consent to marry us" implies that the marriage means the removal of the social obstacle between the two opposing families, not that marriage is sought by Romeo with Juliet for any other particular reason, as adding to their love or giving it any more meaning.

"Then plainly know my heart's dear love is set On the fair daughter of rich Capulet: As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine; And all combined, save what thou must combine By holy marriage: when and where and how We met, we woo'd and made exchange of vow, I'll tell thee as we pass; but this I pray, That thou consent to marry us to-day. "

--Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II

Romantic love, however, may also be classified according to two categories, "popular romance" and "divine"(or "spiritual") romance. Popular romance may include but is not limited to the following types: idealistic, normal intense (such as the emotional aspect of "falling in love"), predictable as well as unpredictable, consuming (meaning consuming of time, energy and emotional withdrawals and bids), intense but out of control (such as the aspect of "falling out of love") material and commercial (such as societal gain mentioned in a later section of this article), physical and sexual, and finally grand and demonstrative. Divine (or spiritual) romance may include, but is not limited to these following types: realistic, as well as plausible unrealistic, optimistic as well as pessimistic (depending upon the particular beliefs held by each person within the relationship.), abiding (e.g. the theory that each person had a predetermined stance as an agent of choice; such as "choosing a husband" or "choosing a soul mate. "), non-abiding (e.g. the theory that we do not choose our actions, and therefore our romantic love involvement has been drawn from sources outside of ourselves), predictable as well as unpredictable, self control (such as obedience and sacrifice within the context of the relationship) or lack thereof (such as disobedience within the context of the relationship), emotional and personal, soulful (in the theory that the mind, soul, and body, are one connected entity), intimate, and infinite (such as the idea that love itself or the love of a god or God's "unconditional" love is or could be everlasting, if particular beliefs were, in fact, true.)[7]

Historical definition of romantic love

File:Francesco Hayez 008.jpg

The Kiss by Francesco Hayez, 19th century.

In an article presented by Henry Gruenbaum, one argument is that many "therapists mistakenly believe that romantic love is a phenomenon unique to Western cultures and first expressed by the troubadours of the Middle Ages" (referencing Fisher, 1995). He continues stating also that "a recent survey of the anthropological literature by Jankowiak and Fisher (1992) found evidence of romantic love in every culture for which there were adequate data. For instance, an 80-year old Taita man recalled his fourth wife with words that could come from a Valentine card: 'She was the wife of my heart.'" Gruenbaum argues that it was mainly Christian theologians who historically wrote the most material about romantic love (referencing Solomon Higgins, 1991). He states that these particular "philosophers were primarily concerned about" romantic love's "allegedly subversive effects on society and the concomitant need to control such an irrational emotion." According to Gruenbaum, the definition of romantic love identifies three main features: "1. Feelings of longing for the other, including the desire to be intimate with them both sexually and psychologically, and feelings of loss and loneliness during separations. For example, Napoleon wrote to his empress Josephine: 'I have not spent a day without loving you; I have not spent a night without embracing you. .. ', 2.The experience of the beloved as special, idealized, necessary for one's happiness...,"[eg. "Zelda Fitzgerald asked F. Scott Fitzgerald shortly after they met. 'I feel like you had me ordered - and I was delivered to you.'(quoted in Fraser, 1976, p. 143)], and 3. The preoccupation with and overevaluation of the loved one."[8]

Historians believe that the actual English word "romance" developed from a vernacular dialect within the French language, meaning "verse narritve", referring to the style of speech and writing, and artistic talents within elite classes. The word was originally an adverb of sorts, which was of the Latin origin "Romanicus", meaning "of the Roman style", "like the Romans" (see Roman.) The connecting notion is that Eurepeon medieval vernacular tales were usually about chivalric adventure, not combining the idea of love until late into the seventeenth century. The word "romance", or the equivilent thereof also has developed with other meanings in other languages, such as the early nineteenth century Spanish and Italian definitions of "adventurous" and "passionate", sometimes combining the idea of "love affair" or "idealistic quality. "

The more current and Western traditional terminology meaning "court as lover" or the general idea of "romantic love" is believed to have originated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, primarily from that of the French culture. This idea is what has spurred the connection between the words "romantic" and "lover", thusly coining the English phrase "romantic love" (i.e "loving like the Roman's do".) But the precise origins of such a connection are unknown. Although the word "romance", or the equivilents thereof, may not have the same connotation in other cultures, the general idea of "romantic love" appears to have crossed cultures at one point in time or another.


Historically, romances were stories about marvel-filled adventures, written in French language. These stories mostly included knights having heroic qualities, or about epic quests. Then later love started getting introduced to these stories, and that's when the word "romance" got coined to meaning this type of love.

See also

  • Biological attraction
  • Courtship
  • Erotomania
  • Erotophobia
  • Florence Nightingale Effect
  • Idealization of romantic love
  • Interpersonal chemistry
  • Limerence
  • Love-shyness
  • Marriage
  • Personal relationship
  • Platonic love
  • Romantic friendship
  • The Four Loves


  • Denis de Rougemont, Love in the Western World. Pantheon Books, 1956.
  • Francesco Alberoni, Falling in love, New York, Random House, 1983.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
  1. ↑ Beethoven, however, is the case in point. He had brief relationships with only a few women, always of the nobility. His one actual engagement was broken off mainly because of his conflicts with noble society as a group. This is evidenced in his biography, such as in Maynard Solomon's account.
  2. Lisa Diamond (2004). Emerging Perspectives On Distinctions Between Romantic Love and Sexual Desire. Current Directions In Psychological Science 13 (3): 116–119.
  3. Lisa Diamond. What does Sexual Orientation Orient? A Biobehavioral Model Distinguishing Romantic Love and Sexual Desire. Psychological Review 110 (1): 173–192.
  4. ↑ Power and Sexual Fear in Primitive Societies Margrit Eichler Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 37, No. 4, Special Section: Macrosociology of the Family (Nov., 1975), pp. 917-926)
  5. ↑ Levi-Strauss pioneered the scientific study of the betrothal of cross cousins in such societies, as a way of solving such technical problems as the avunculate and the incest taboo (Introducing Levi-Strauss, p. 22-35.
  6. ↑ The Marriage of Duke Vincentio and Isabella Norman Nathan Shakespeare Quarterly > Vol. 7, No. 1 (Winter, 1956), pp. 43-45
  7. ↑ Romance In Marriage: Perspectives, Pitfalls, and Principles, by Jason S. Carroll
  8. ↑ Thinking about romantic/erotic love: Journal of Marital and Familial Therapy, July 1997, by Henry Gruenbaum.

Psychology of love for life

The unity of strong love, sexual desire, and long-term attachment in a romantic relationship may seem like an illusion, but it is not as unusual and unattainable in marriage as we used to think.

“We were born to love,” writes anthropologist and author of Why We Love, Helen Fisher. “This feeling of elation, which we call romantic love, is deeply rooted in the mind. But can it continue?

Science says it can, and much longer than we think. Culturally, we tend to be rather cynical about romantic love (as opposed to passion and long-term commitment) that doesn't fade with time, overcomes obstacles, and for good reason. More than 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, with 2.4 million American couples divorced in 2012. And among those who have stayed together, marital dissatisfaction is common.

In long-term relationships between a man and a woman that develop successfully, love flows into partnership and relationships in a couple are more like friendship than love.

But no matter how cynical we are about the prospect of a lifetime of love, most Americans are still all for it. Romantic love is seen as an essential component in marriage. 91 percent of women and 86 percent of men reported that they would not marry a man they did not love, even if he (a) had all the qualities they wanted in a partner.

This type of love is equally good for marriage and for our health. Relationship psychology research has shown that romance—free of obsession and passion in the early stages of falling in love—can and often does exist in long-term relationships, and this correlates with marital satisfaction, individual well-being, and self-esteem.

Although science gives us some insight into the psychology of love and the nature of romantic relationships, this fundamental area of ​​human existence remains a mystery. Love, especially long-term love, has been called "one of the most studied and least understood areas in psychology."

At this point, there may be many more questions than answers, but nevertheless, we know that from a psychological point of view, love and marriage are good for physical and mental health. Psychologists who study love, marriage, and relationships have pinpointed a number of factors that contribute to long-term romantic love.

Six science-proven secrets for couples to keep their relationship romantic for decades and for life

Romance for life is possible

Despite the high rates of divorce, betrayal and dissatisfaction, not everything is so hopeless, on the contrary. In 2012, a study of couples who had been married for ten years, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Sciences, found that 40 percent of those surveyed said they were "very much in love. " The same study indicates that among couples married for more than 30 years, 40 percent of women and 35 percent of men answered the same way.

But don't be so sure based on what these couples reported - neuroscience studies have proven that strong romantic love can last a lifetime.

In 2011, a study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience looked at which parts of the brain are activated in people in long-term relationships (married for an average of 21 years) and compared them with those people who fell in love recently. The results showed similar brain activity in both cases, with high activity in the brain area responsible for reward and motivation, predominantly in the dopamine-rich ventral tegmental area of ​​the midbrain. This means that people can not only love each other for a long time - they can be in love with each other all the time.

According to positive psychology researcher Adore Durayappa-Harrison, sustaining romantic love over the years has a positive effect on the brain, which understands and continues to develop love as a cognitive reward behavior. “The key to understanding how to maintain a long-term romantic relationship is to understand a little scientifically,” Durayappa wrote in Psychology Today. “Our brain views long-term passionate love as a purposeful behavior to achieve rewards. This reward may include reduced anxiety and stress, a sense of security, a state of calm and union with the other.”

They support the feeling of "blind love"

When we first fall in love with someone, we tend to worship the ground they walk on and consider them the most attractive, intelligent, and experienced person of all. And although we end up taking our partner off this pedestal after months or years of being together, maintaining a state of "blind love" is essential for a passionate and lasting relationship.

The University of Geneva analyzed almost 500 compatibility studies, but could not even point out the combination of two personality traits in a relationship that would lead to lasting love, except for one. The ability to idealize and maintain a positive illusion about your partner - to see him as attractive, intelligent, funny and caring, or just catchy - allows you to remain satisfied with each other for almost any time.

They always try new things together

Boredom can be a major barrier to a romantic relationship, and happy couples find ways to keep things interesting. Psychological research shows that the couples who love each other the most are those who not only experience strong physical and emotional attraction, but also engage in new, challenging self-improvement activities together, reports Psychology Today.

“Out-of-the-box, provocative activity can awaken new uncharacteristic traits in a partner that are regarded as attraction, the return of the original spark,” writes Ami Gordan in Berkeley Science Review.

They avoid want by maintaining their own independence

According to psychologist and author of Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel, needing another person is the enemy of long-term desire (an important component of romantic love). In a popular TED conference, Perel asks, "Why does sexual desire tend to fade over time, even in great love?"

“The need and concern for a long-term relationship, which can easily lead to a partnership for security and stability, stifles the erotic spark,” Perel explains. “But if a couple can maintain their independence and watch their partner professionally do something on their own, then they continue to see each other in a new light.”

“When I observe that my partner is passionate about something on his own, I look at him and instantly change my perception,” Perel says, “we are open to secrets right in front of us ... The most interesting thing is that there is no need for another person in desire. There is no concern in desire. So if you want to keep that spark going, give your partner the freedom to do what they're good at and don't miss the opportunity to see them in their element, radiant and confident."

Their passion for life translates into relationships

Psychologists have found that a strong passion for life sustains passion in long-term romantic relationships. A 2012 study by Stony Brook University on personality traits that contribute to long-term passionate love found that people who care about everything life has to offer are more likely to succeed in romantic relationships.

“People who approach their lives with joy and intense excitement carry these strong feelings into their personal lives as well,” writes Susan Witborn, Ph.D. “If you want passion in a personal relationship, put that emotional energy into your hobbies, interests, even political activities.”

They see their relationship as a path to fulfillment

While individuals view marriage in terms of security and protection, the social standard has shifted in such a way that more and more men and women enter into marriage in search of self-actualization and self-realization of the individual. Such a marriage can satisfy both spouses, but requires more investment of time and effort from each in order to be successful.

“The average marriage today is weaker than the average marriage of old in terms of satisfaction and divorce, and the best marriages today are much stronger in terms of satisfaction and personal well-being than the same marriages of old,” wrote Jay Finkel, assistant professor of social psychology, for The New York Times, describing the transition from "friendly marriages" to self-expression in marriage. We now view marriage as a vehicle for self-fulfillment rather than the fulfillment of our basic needs for survival and companionship. This new directive promotes lasting romantic love, the strength of which depends on how willing and able the partners are to invest in the relationship.

“As marriage expectations rose in Maslow’s hierarchy, the psychological payoff increased,” writes Finkel, “and achieving those outcomes began to demand something more from partners.”

Caroline Gregoire

Romance | Psychosoma

In today's world, each of us has a standard package of worries. Build a successful career, keep in touch with family and old friends, pay off a car loan, etc. But, among other things, there is one problem that has always been and will always be relevant - how to create a strong and healthy romantic relationship with your loved one. Unfortunately, not everyone succeeds.

The essence of romantic relationships

Many generations of philosophers have tried to describe the essence of romantic relationships. Everyone wrote in their own way and for themselves. I propose to do the same and, for starters, decide what your life partner (or companion) should be like. We cannot always accurately describe what qualities our partner should have. Yes, and you should not be too zealous about this, otherwise you can come up with an ideal unattainable by any real person. It is much easier to write a list of qualities that you definitely cannot put up with.

For example, infantilism can be called a universal bad trait. If at the beginning of a relationship you notice that your partner is not able to make decisions on his own and constantly evades responsibility, it is best to break up with him immediately. You can't build a house with a big child. You can try to take on the role of "foreman", constantly giving advice and decrees on how to act to your beloved. However, if he beats his hand with a brick, the blame for this will fall on you. After all, every failure and mistake will return the arrows to you. And here there will already be two scenarios for the development of events: either you endure the stress of the responsibility to lead the lives of two adults (yourself and him), or point out your partner’s mistakes and try to re-educate him. In the second case, most likely, he will call his mother and complain about you (of course, she will feel sorry for him).

Another similar reason for incompatibility may be banal lack of education and lack of skills. Each of us has our own unique view of the world. Your beliefs about how to behave in a given situation, what a man or woman should be able to do and how to put oneself in front of others. Sometimes someone's eccentricity can seem cute and be exactly the trait that attracts in the first place. It's not bad. But, it also happens that the unusualness of a person has no boundaries and simply interferes with normal communication. If your partner too often acts out of line with your notion of "normality", makes a fool of himself and shames you, you should probably break up. So, with the partner sorted out. What about ourselves?

Romantic relationship. Beginning

The beginning of a romantic relationship is very similar for most people. But what follows him and how your relationship will develop (and whether it will be at all) is a big question. Many problems can interfere with them, some of which are problems with the personal "I". To yourself you should be no less, and even more demanding, than to your partner. Unresolved conflicts of consciousness with the subconscious, childhood traumas, our own incompetence in certain matters, all this can be found in the mental locker of each of us. As with any closet, here you need to put things in order and maintain order. If you're thinking, "This doesn't concern me!", "I'm fine, I get along great with everyone" with a high degree of probability, you are mistaken. A serious love relationship will provide a lot of challenges and situations that you have not had to deal with in your life before. A man and a woman in a relationship are like pieces from different puzzles, trying to connect into one picture. You have to go through many hardships and failures before their edges flatten and fit together. Just at this time of rapprochement, personality problems will begin to manifest themselves, even if they did not prevent you from living in any way before. Then you will have to work on yourself and do not be shy to seek help from a specialist if you cannot get things right in your thoughts alone.

To find happiness in love, first of all, you need to cultivate mindfulness and awareness in yourself. These two qualities will not allow any problem in a relationship to go unnoticed. True love is always preceded by falling in love - a feeling, rather, hormonal than spiritual. The production of oxytocin and dopamine by the body causes an immediate feeling of joy and attachment to a partner. The catch is that falling in love blinds, does not allow a sober assessment of the pros and cons of the union with the beloved, because all the cons are hidden from our judgment. Spontaneous decisions during this period may turn out to be a mistake of life. Falling in love passes, but does not always become love. Be aware of the shortcomings of the chosen one and do not force yourself to put up with them.

Romantic relationships in real life

Romantic relationships in real life are very different from what you can find in modern books, movies, TV shows and other pop culture, where love cannot be depicted without having a serious conflict in it. Of course, it is more interesting for us to follow how the heroes overcome difficulties, sacrifice themselves in the name of a higher feeling. The prince falls in love with a simple poor thing, quarrels with his family and renounces the inheritance with the title, just to live with his beloved. Or a girl whose boyfriend turns out to be a vampire renounces humanity in favor of a dubious gift, enters a mysterious society of bloodsuckers. What could be more romantic? Dramatic events are exciting to watch from the outside, but experiencing them in your own skin is a completely different story. In order to avoid suffering in the future caused by incompatibility with your partner, you should look into the past from time to time and analyze the experience of communicating with this person.

Another important aspect of a love relationship is the concept of personal space. In the modern world, it is not difficult to find a person for whom a romantic relationship will not be in the first place in life. Career, self-development, other people, like a brother or a friend, all this can be put above you. You should decide for yourself whether you are ready to put up with it. If the answer is yes, then it should be understood that it is necessary to give the partner freedom to implement his ideas and engage in activities that he values. This does not mean that at this time he disappears from your life. Ask how things are going, give advice if you can, and support him. But do not be intrusive, abusing the opportunity to call every half an hour! You need to keep a balance between the time you spend as a couple and the time you are independent. This statement is true even for those men and women who first of all want to build a serious relationship. After all, you can burn out during the period of passion for each other and love simply never comes.

Love and romantic relationships

Ideal love and romantic relationships can be in a couple in which the needs for personal freedom and spending time together are equally satisfied. But as we know, nothing is perfect. For frequent, men are more often eager for liberty. Women, just the opposite, want more attention to themselves, which is why the conflict occurs. A more demanding partner becomes dependent on a freedom-loving partner and often tries to control him. Alas, this decision is wrong and will only irritate both sides.

One must accept the fact of the beloved's independence and take an example from him. Take up a new hobby, immerse yourself more in work, or spend time with your friends. At first it will be difficult, as thoughts about the second half may not leave you. It is important to overcome this obsession and gain independence. You may have a question: why then have a boyfriend / girlfriend if we will not give ourselves completely to each other? But the bottom line is that love relationships should complement your world, and not completely replace everything accumulated in it. If a young man only dreams of how he and his partner will walk every day, hold hands and visit different places, then it is most likely too early for him to look for the love of life. Such a person should focus on self-development, the accumulation of wisdom and experience. Along with his personality, concepts of what to expect from romantic relationships will also form.

Romantic relationship between a man and a woman

An example of an almost perfect romantic relationship between a man and a woman can be found in the real world. Missionaries in Africa were amazed to find a harmonious hierarchical order in some seemingly world-famous Zulu tribes. As it turned out, couples from technologically advanced countries have a lot to learn from them. The German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger, the author of the system-family constellation method, observed life in the tribe and noted the reason for their success. The main rule is that in the development of relations, each side should invest a little more than each other, in turn. Thus, an ever-growing feedback with the partner is created. B. Hellinger called this the principle of "take-give" balance. You give - you must return with a surcharge. And again, it's your turn to cover.

Of course, don't take this too literally. Everyone has their own limit of possibilities, and a person cannot be expected to jump above his own head. It is important that the relationship is not one-sided. There are times when a person breaks off a relationship because of a sense of guilt of unreturned efforts on his part. Therefore, it is important to give space to express yourself, and not to crush with the pressure of boundless love.

Most quarrels can be avoided by setting the right priorities. Think about whether the subject of the dispute is worth a major scandal with your soul mate. When it’s petty, it’s better to give in (thus creating a debt for your beloved). But when the question comes to something really important, you need to stand your ground. If emotions take over during an argument, freeze the conflict, take time to cool down. After all, having lost self-control, you can cause irreparable harm to your loved one, injure him without the possibility of healing. Major scandals, unfortunately, can happen in any couple. If such an incident does take place, before continuing the dispute or making concessions, you should first apologize. The sooner, the better, ideally, before your partner. This will show him your willingness to work on the problem.

It is not always possible to reach an agreement. But resorting to the principle “neither yours nor ours” is fundamentally wrong. It’s better to make concessions and leave at least someone happy.

Also, it is important to correctly formulate thoughts and convey your feelings.

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