Monday, August 30, 2010

Understanding Romantic Love

In order to understand the main concept of the book,The Psychology of Romantic Love, What Love Is, Why Love Is Born, Why It Sometimes Grows, Why It Sometimes Dies by Dr. Nathaniel Branden, I need to share with you the author’s definition of romantic love, as well as his definition of love in general.

"Love is, in the most general sense, our emotional response to that which we value highly. As such it is the experience of joy in the existence of the loved object, joy in proximity, and joy in interaction or involvement. To love is to delight in the being whom one loves, to experience pleasure in that being’s presence, to find gratification or fulfillment in contact with the being. We experience the loved being as a source of fulfillment for profoundly important needs."

Romantic love takes it one step higher, as Branden states, “Romantic love is a passionate spiritual-emotional-sexual attachment between a man and a woman that reflects a high regard for the value of each other’s person. At the core of romantic love is to be able to be seen, to feel psychologically visible.

In successful romantic love, there is a unique depth of absorption by and fascination with the being and personality of the partner. Hence there can be, for each, a uniquely powerful experience of visibility. This is one of the main sources of the excitement and nourishment of romantic love.”

In romantic love, Branden states, there must exist:
--passion and/or intensity
--some experience of spiritual affinity
--some deep mutuality of values and outlook
--some sense of being soul mates
--deep emotional involvement
--strong sexual attraction
--mutual admiration

He goes on to say that romantic love also responds to various needs:
--the simple need for companionship
--the need to love
--the need to admire
--the need to be loved
--the need to feel visible
--the need for self discovery
--the need of sexual fulfillment
--the need of fully experiencing oneself as a man or as a woman
--the need for a private universe or a refuge from the struggles of the world
--the need to share excitement in being alive and to enjoy and be nourished by the excitement of another

"The fact that two human beings love each other does not guarantee they will be able to create a joyful and rewarding relationship. Their love does not ensure their maturity and wisdom; yet without these qualities their love is in jeopardy. Their love does not automatically teach them communication skills or effective methods of conflict resolution or the art of integrating their love into the rest of their existence; yet the absence of such knowledge can lead to the death of love. Their love does not produce self esteem; it may reinforce it but it cannot create it; still without self esteem love cannot survive.”

In conclusion, it seems that Dr. Branden believes that love will not conquer all. Therefore, when evaluating if a relationship is the real deal, ask yourself whether there is more than love present. Of course, love is the foundation, but query whether both of you possess the ability and skill set necessary to forge a lasting and healthy relationship.

In the coming postings, I will explore the components Dr. Branden feels are necessary for a successful relationship.

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