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What is Love and Why do We Need It?

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Thursday, October 15, 2009

I know I usually write about topics relating to Peru and photography but today I want to talk about a subject that as a psychologist and a human being has always baffled me.  The subject is none other than love, something we are all familiar with and have or will at some point in our lives experience.  Why do we need love?  Why do we pursue it? 

**TECHNICAL BABBLE** Love in terms of an interpersonal relationship involves a dedication and devotion towards an individual wither it be a family member or a partner/spouse.  Love is difficult to define and is a very complex emotion that has provoked many research studies over centuries.  In Psychology love is referred to as a cognitive and social phenomenon.  An interesting theory about love was proposed by the Psychologist Robert Sternberg, who came up with the Triangular Theory of Love.  The Triangular Theory of Love deals with love in referrence to interpersonal relationships and is comprised of three components: intimacy, passion, and commitment.  The theory basically states that the amount of "love" one experiences is dependant on the strength of each component.

Love can be a wonderful experience that can bring feelings of happiness, comfort, affection, attachment, and security and at the same time love can be a painful and sad experience that can bring feelings of depression, anxiety, insecurity, hatred, anger, uncertainty, and fear just to name a few.  The question is why do we as individuals submit ourselves to love?  Why do we take the risk of giving ourselves to another?  Love is such a strong emotion that it enables individuals to accomplish feats that otherwise would have never been possible or even attempted.  Love is what gives us passion for life and a desire to push ourselves harder than we normally would.  Love can even bring about change, it can cause a person reflect upon who they are and allow them to decide who they want to be.  These are but a few effects that love has on people, and it is easy to see why so many of us seek partners in life.

I have often felt that love is like a coin on one side you have love, what we all wish to attain and on the other is fear, which tends to work against love by bringing out our insecurities.  In fact, love cannot exist without fear because the two share an almost symbiotic relationship and thrive off of one another.  A strong love will produce fears and insecurities that cause us to make decisions that might seem irrational or even desperate to our peers and family, in an attempt to keep the one we love in our lives.  I can state with certainty that just about everyone in their lives has at least once contemplated why they were with their partner/spouse.  It's these thoughts (our insecurities/doubts) that lead us to reflect about the individual we love.  Interestingly enough when we are engaged in a new relationship we often don't think much about our partner when we are consumed by love.  This is common and might have to do with the fact that we tend to feel excited and happy to have found someone we fell compatible with and therefore tend to see our partners as flawless creatures.  It's at that point when we become comfortable with our partner that we let our guard down and except vulnerability.  Relationships often end because we are unable to control our insecurities and a bad break up has all the potential to compound our insecurities causing us to doubt wither or not we will ever find someone.

At times I believe that we as individuals cognizant of our own mortally are driven to find ways to make our lives more comforting to deal with the reality of a temporary existance.  I have even come to the conclusion that religion in some ways is a coping mechanism as well as a tool of power that serves a larger majority of the worlds population offering security and guidance.  There are very few people on this planet who are content with living alone, for the rest of us it is something we desire, even need.

"Why do we pursue it?"

The question is why as individuals do we continue to look for love when so many of us have experienced bad relationships?  It is a hard and complicated question to answer and is one that each of us answers differently. I think that even though we experience bad relationships and hold negative views and fears of heartbreak and betrayal, we still continue to put ourselves on the line, hoping that the right person will someday come along and remove all those fears.  The good news is that we as humans are very resilient beings who can adapt to life's most unforeseen events.  Granted that adjustment takes time but in the end we all seem to bounce back and our life seems restored anew. 

As a child my father once told me that he wasn't sure if there was a heaven but the one thing he was certain of was that the people who left this earth never came back.  Such a bold and still scary statement led me to realize that life is short, and challenging, which is why we should try to make the most of what we have been given and live.  Bad relationships will come and go but we push ourselves to find the one relationship that means the most to us and is worth risking it all for.  


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A travel blog about living abroad in Lima, Peru and my travels to cities like Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Inti Aperture is a blog about travel, Peruvian food, culture, adventure, jobs, tourism, travel, news, teaching English, photography, and living abroad, making it a perfect resource for the traveling expat.
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