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What is Love?
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What is Love?


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  • 1. What is Love?
  • 2. Introduction
    • “ Work and love, that’s all there is” – Freud
    • Finding love is a key developmental event in early adulthood
    • Psychologists and the public use the word “love,” so it must have some meaning
    • Today’s lecture is intended to challenge your preconceptions and help you to establish a working definition of love
  • 3. Monogamy
    • Only 5% of species, those where both parents needed for child’s survival
    • Pair-bonding: having an emotional attachment to another
      • Oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine release during sex; feels addicting
      • Good feelings associated with partner (classical conditioning)
      • Tells you “Gee sex with this person feels great” rather than just “Geez sex feels great”
  • 4.
    • Montane vole Prairie vole
    • Pair-bond vs. No pair-bond
  • 5. Sternberg’s Triangular Theory
    • Love is multifaceted, with up to 3 central components
    • Passion: intense longing for another person
    • Intimacy: feeling connected, enjoying one’s company and support
    • Commitment: obligations and responsibilities to one another
  • 6.  
  • 7. Peck’s Criticisms of “Love”
    • Falling in love (passion) ≠ love
      • Excitement related to new, attractive person
      • “ We fall in love when we are consciously or unconsciously sexually motivated”
      • The honeymoon always ends
    • Dependency ≠ love
      • “ I need him” or “I’d die without her”
      • “ What you describe is parasitism, not love”
      • Love is based on choice, not necessity
  • 8.
    • Love ≠ a feeling
      • Love is an action, characterized by treating someone well
      • Having strong feelings that someone is important or needed doesn’t mean you love them
    • Myth of Romantic love
      • Story that two people are “meant to be,” that it is predetermined “in the stars”
      • If it doesn’t end up working out, people say it wasn’t “true love” after all (hindsight bias)
      • Realistically, there are many suitable partners
  • 9.
    • Love is…
      • An action, not a feeling
      • Attention
      • A risk of rejection
      • Independence, not dependence
      • Commitment
      • Self-disciplined
      • … hard work
  • 10. Happy Couples
    • Partner’s know each other’s hopes, quirks, likes, dislikes
    • Secret Weapon: ritualized “repair attempts” to prevent increased negativity
    • Shared, deep sense of meaning
    • 5 : 1 ratio
  • 11. Unhappy Couples
    • Arguments characterized by…
      • Harsh setup: negative and accusatory
      • 4 types of negative interactions: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling
      • Flooding  Stonewalling
      • Failed repair attempts
      • Bad memories
  • 12.  
  • 13. Love Quotes
    • “ I define love thus: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth” - M. Scott Peck
    • “ Love is the subtlest force in the world” - Mahatma Gandhi
    • “ By accident of fortune a man may rule the world for a time, but by virtue of love he may rule the world forever”
    • - Lao-tzu
    • “ Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend”
    • - Martin Luther King Jr.
  • 14.
    • “ It’s a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous, that you realize just how much you love them”
    • - Agatha Christie
    • “ One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night”
    • - Margaret Mead
    • “ Love is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own”
    • - Robert Heinlein
    • “ Whoso loves… Believes the impossible”
    • - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • 15.
    • “ Love doesn’t have to feel dizzying”
    • - Michael Levine
    • “ Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out. You cannot touch the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything”
    • - Annie Sullivan
    • “ Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh”
    • - W. H. Auden
  • 16.
    • “ Sympathy constitutes friendship; but in love there is a sort of antipathy, or opposing passion. Each strives to be the other, and both together make up one whole”
    • - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    • “ True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked.
    • - Erich Segal
    • “ Love talked about can be easily turned aside, but love demonstrated is irresistible”
    • - W. Stanley Mooneyham
  • 17. Thank you