Hello again everyone,
This week, I am going to look into age and love, how we fall in love, the foundation for love, and who can fall in love. Let's get right into it, then!
First, how do people fall in love?
When we experience pleasure (love included), dopamine is released into the brain. Dopamine is basically the "happy chemical, and it increases the testosterone produced by the body, which is a reason that people sweat around people or experience a heightened sex drive around people they love. Women in love produce norepinephrine (adrenaline), a chemical that increases focus and creates a euphoric feeling. This heightened focus contributes to the tunnel vision on one person when falling in love with them, why people feel extra alert waiting for a reply from a love interest, or even why some have trouble focusing on anything other than their interest. The final chemical produced is oxytocin, which is produced at various points of physical contact including cuddling and sex. Oxytocin makes people feel comfortable around one another and what creates connection or attachment between people falling in love. When one's romantic interest is absent, that individual is not producing as much of these chemicals, so they want more; thus, you can actually become "addicted" to the person you're dating. (1,2,3,4,13)
All of these chemicals work alongside one another to create a craving for that feeling of love, that rush of those chemicals. However, chemicals alone don't make love. Love is psychology alongside these chemicals. Not every person responds to chemical mixes in the same way, and not everyone has the same "attachment style". Hard science like chemistry and biology claims that if you perform certain actions you can make someone fall in love with you. However, "soft" science like psychology claims that those actions don't always produce the same result. That is, even if you have two dates that seemed to go really well, one of them might run away where the other one clings tight to you. There are four "attachment styles": (1,5)
-a person is alright relying on others and having others rely on them
-comfortable being on their own
-not overly clingy (won't stalk you trying to get another second of together time)
-not going to avoid you when conditions are less than perfect
-won't resort to manipulation or other inappropriate means of attention-grabbing (1,5)
-a person has lower self-esteem, less secure in themselves
-not opposed to intimacy, maybe wants more than is strictly appropriate for your relationship
-a person who is quickly attached to another, will believe that (instantly after starting to date) you two are an "exclusive couple"
-obsessive, clingy, demanding
-want a "fantasy bond" (1,5)
-prefers being on their own
-does not want a relationship, so when they get a sense of attachment they pull out
-a person who does not want to have feelings for another person, so they will do anything to push them away
-have the ability to shut down emotionally and turn their feelings off, even during a heated interaction ("I don't care") (1,5)
-a person who probably experienced trauma or abuse as a child
-afraid of attachment with others
-perhaps see themselves as unworthy of affection
-question others' motives for wanting to be with them ("why do you love me?") (1,5)
If you're interested in looking a little more into these attachment styles, you can take a quiz here to get an idea of which one you fall into.
The first stage of falling in love plain and simple attraction. This is the time when you are steered towards people you could see as potential mates: those with good genes to help you make a healthy baby. This attraction can develop itself in many ways, such as fertility cues (ratio of fat between hips, waist, and buttocks), sensitivity to smells and facial changes displaying testosterone, displays of dominance, even signs of status or wealth, or much more. During this period, however, you are also steered by your brain towards people you consider similar to yourself. This is to ensure that your mate is safe and predictable as opposed to being unknown and unpredictable. We are even drawn to people with slight physical similarities such as skin tone, eye colour, lip thickness, ear lobe length, and even lung volume. Nonetheless, we are still strongly attracted to risk, difference, and danger due to a desire for genetic diversity. (22,23)
The second stage, actually falling in love, is described differently from person to person, but bares eerily similarities between most stories. They say they feel passion, obsession, and feel high. Sometimes there are even hallucinogenic beliefs that make you idealize your romantic interest. You believe that the love will last forever. You feel "bursting" with love and desire, "puffed up", and want to "fill up" your senses when you are around them. The final stage of love is attachment, which is simply being in love. You feel everything is good in the world, and you really genuinely care for the other person. This attachment is shaped by your relationship with your parents when you were younger. Did their love give you such safety that now you can give such a thing to someone else? (22)
Abraham Maslow says that love is one of the basic human needs (on his pyramid of needs below) necessary to meet "self-actualization." This can be interpreted as meaning that love motivates us to achieve things, and when people are not motivated, their drive to meet their basic-needs is weak. Love is seen as a "D-Need" or a "Deficiency Need"; that is, when we lack it, we are motivated due to a desire to achieve it. The longer the need for it is denied, the more motivated we are to achieve it. Even those who are not very social still need love to hold esteem, motivation, and happiness in their lives. This does not mean that someone needs to be in love romantically to have a purpose; they can love a family member, an object or animal, or a romantic interest. (7,17)
Something interesting to note about this is the motivation behind receiving love is said to"decrease as needs are met." (17) In other words, the more love you experience, the less motivated you are to try to receive love. I think this is extremely true in a number of circumstances. First, when people take love for granted, i.e. being mean to their friends or family due to the belief that "it doesn't matter, I can always come back to them, they're always there for me." Next, the common theory/belief that the easier someone is to woo into a relationship, the less desirable they are. This plays into that commonly heard idea of "playing hard to get." Additionally, it could apply to relationships, too. When we have one lover, we don't feel the need to have another because our craving for love is satisfied.
The desire to love is not only birthed from care for others, but it also is so powerful because love brings us fulfillment and happiness. That is, by hugging someone or saying "I love you" or showing affection towards another, you also are benefitting yourself. This also applies to small acts of kindness; in other words, spending money on others has been proven to bring you more happiness than you would have received from spending that money on yourself. Interestingly, the amount of money does not impact the amount of happiness or joy received from spending money on others: $5 and $20 for another person brings you just the same amount of joy. (8)
A funny thing that the writer of the article I was reading pointed out was this: if loving others and caring for others brings us so much joy, then why is it that (when asked "what would make you most happy") we say "money" or "being loved"? They argued that it is because we are hardwired into today's society to think that happiness lies in career success, fame, or fortune. What do you guys think? (8)
Although love is great and brings joy and happiness, evidence shows that in adolescents, romantic love can bring depression and anxiety. Data suggests that love in adolescents could bring great uncertainty and unpleasantness alongside being a critical (and sometimes happy and glorious) time. (9,10)
Don't let this bring you down, though! Love brings lots of good things, too. Love fights stress, can lower blood pressure (from hugging!), help you to live longer, can ease pain (specifically in women), and give you a teammate for life. (11,13,24) Additionally, love has been loosely found to make you happier than money would make you. (12, 8)
A survey on IllicitEncounters (https://www.illicitencounters.com/) (a dating site for married people? I'm confused too) surveyed 1000 people and found that 55% of people will fall in love for the first time between 15 and 18 years of age. 20% will between 19 and 21, and 8% will between 22 and 25. For 40% of people, their first serious relationship will last 1-5 years. (14) On debate.org, 77% of people say that teenagers are not too young to know what love really is. (18)
I could not find much other data or firm research to back up the age thing, but here are a couple of opinions on an open-answer site:
a. Context: 15-year-old thinks she is in love with her boyfriend, her family says they're too young to fall in love. (15)
"Hey girl, don't let anyone try and tell you how you feel. Love means something different to every person, and if you say you love him and mean it, then you do. My definition and your's may be totally different, as well as everyone elses"
"I'm only a few years older than you, so I'll try to be nice because I know where you are...The person you are today will be a thing of the past, and your likes and dislikes will completely change. The same thing will happen with your boyfriend. So, yes, at 15 you can love each other as 15 year olds can. But at this age don't assume that you will be with him forever. Yes, you might, because that happens too, but there is a better chance that as you grow and change, your relationship will change as well. You may realize you love him more, or you may realize that you are not as perfect for each other that you originally believed. "
"As an almost 30 year old, I can definitely say at 15 there is no way "love" in that context can be really experienced."
"At this age, I'd say your feelings are very close to love but not the kind of love adults experience."
"When you are young you are less experienced and everything is new. Life hasn't placed demands on you and when I think of young love or first love I think of love without responsibility. You can only love like that before life gets it's hands on you."
"Love has no number, i know people who met and dated when they were 14, and their still together after 45 years."
My thoughts on these: Some people who have experience with love argue that love cannot be felt at such a young age, or that the love you might feel is like a baby version of real love. It's a mimic of love, but it is just a whisper of the "real deal". However, some people are firm believers in the power of love. They say that love can be felt at any age and that love is experienced differently from person to person, so who is to tell you that you are not feeling it?
What do you guys think, is love something that can only be felt when you are an adult or do you think you can love someone as a teenager?
Alright everyone, that's all for this week! Next time I am going to look into
- What does love do to the brain?
- What does love do to our personalities?
- How does love impact us?
- When in love, why do we do things we would not normally do?
Thanks for reading, bye
(1) - https://theartofcharm.com/art-...ll-in-love-with-you/
(2) - https://www.bbc.co.uk/science/hottopics/love/
(3) - https://www.livescience.com/42...hat-is-oxytocin.html
(4) - https://www.everydayhealth.com/norepinephrine/guide/
(5) - https://www.psychologytoday.co...ts-your-relationship
(6) - https://dianepooleheller.com/attachment-test/#header
(7) - https://pairedlife.com/love/Why-Humans-Need-Love
(8) - https://www.psychologytoday.co...201401/the-need-love
(9) - https://www.tandfonline.com/do...&needAccess=true
(10) - https://www.psychologytoday.co...-love-make-you-happy
(11) - https://www.happyliving.com/20...ppier-and-healthier/
(12) - https://www.mariefranceasia.co...appiness-223271.html
(13) - https://profmed.co.za/press-re...ve-makes-yo-happier/
(14) - https://www.bustle.com/p/unexp...-walmartcom-16004175
(15) - https://answers.yahoo.com/ques...H8zVnfKjWQ9mFOfJR7dr
(16) -img- https://www.telegraph.co.uk/ne...-up-for-auction.html
(17) - https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
(18) - https://www.debate.org/opinion...-what-love-really-is
(19) -img- http://lovegurdz.com/advice-give-teenagers-love/
(20) -img- https://music.lovetoknow.com/Love_Songs_for_Teenagers
(21) -img- https://scienceofparkinsons.com/dopamine/
(22) - https://www.irishtimes.com/lif...ll-in-love-1.3376797
(23) - https://www.businessinsider.co...eally-really-alike-1
(24) - https://www.sciencedaily.com/r.../06/170621125313.htm
(25) -img- https://www.tripadvisor.in/Loc...trict_Karnataka.html