Is love an emotion? (A short guide about love)

In this article, we will find out whether is love and emotion or action. We also talk about relationship biases and the difference between falling in love and staying in love. 

Is love an emotion or behaviour?

Emotions are like the weather, always changing! Love is a complex emotion that includes many elements.There are 5 stages of love. Some researchers believe that love is an independent emotion, and others believe that love encompasses all basic emotions. When we love, we can feel joy, sadness, anger, surprise, shame, often all at the same time.

No matter how wonderful the life partner is, no matter how lovely the relationship is, the initial feelings of love will change. This is not, however, a cause for concern because those feelings will not disappear irretrievably, they will appear and then they will disappear again and again, they will be in a continuous change. 

This process is valid for every emotion we experience, whether we are talking about anxiety, depression, shame. No emotion remains forever the same.

Regarding intimate relationships, it is useful to remember that any relationship involves, in addition to the beautiful, charming, fascinating part and a dose of pain and stress. 

This idea contradicts the message of movies, novels, stars, poets and childhood stories, which leads us to believe that there is a perfect partner, a suitable person from almost all points of view, if not all, who awaits us each among us and that without this person we are insufficient, incomplete and doomed to a second-hand life. 

And if we find this person, we will fall in love and remain in love forever without effort and concern for the relationship.

Relationship biases

Falling in love is easy, staying in love is a real challenge! There are a lot of beliefs that sabotage our intimate relationships.

The first belief is that for each of us there is a perfect partner. Some of us are aware of the absurdity of this idea, but it is nevertheless difficult for us to give it up. 

We have difficulties because we often make comparisons between our partner and the ideal one or between the things we know about our partner (within the relationship) and the image that others present to us, due to comparisons between the current partner and the former partner, with whom I had a relationship, but it didn’t work, etc.

However, giving up this idea does not mean that if we are in a relationship we must be satisfied with it as it is, to resign ourselves, even if this relationship does not satisfy us. 

My suggestion is not to resign ourselves to what we have just because maybe we won’t find anything better. Rather, let us look within ourselves and become aware of the consequences of this belief, as well as the suffering, disappointment, frustration we experience, observe all the judgments we make about our partner and relationship, and observe how they affect us. It helps to have the relationship we want.

The second belief refers to the fact that the partner “completes me”. If we believe in this belief and act from the perspective that we are incomplete without our partner, then we create the ideal conditions for a series of problems. 

We will end up being addicted, clinging to our partner, being afraid to be alone (which certainly does not help develop a healthy and vital relationship), or having other behaviours that are harmful to the relationship.

Of course, this does not mean that in a relationship we must be 100% independent. This option is not useful either. In a successful relationship, there is an interdependence, rather than dependence or independence. In order for partners to feel safe, they need to know that they can rely on each other.

Each of us is complete even before we enter into a relationship. In a relationship, we have the opportunity to share our qualities, abilities, knowledge and possessions for the good of ourselves and the relationship.

The third belief is that love should be easy. This belief comes with a series of thoughts such as: “if they loved me they would know what I want”, “if I have to take care of the relationship for it to work, that means we don’t fit”, etc.

It is quite interesting because if we stop to reflect, we will certainly become aware of the nonsense of this belief.

When we live in an intimate relationship for a longer period of time with another person, we will inevitably find that he has: 

a) different emotions, feelings, and thoughts; 

b) different interests; 

c) different expectations regarding household chores, sex, money, religion, raising children, holidays, work-life balance, as well as what quality time means; 

d) different styles of communication, negotiation, personal expression; 

e) different reactions to things that cause him joy, sadness, disgust; 

f) different sexual desire, different energy level; 

g) different standards of cleanliness and order; 

h) friends and relatives we do not like; 

i) lifelong habits, rituals that irritate us; and many other aspects of life history.

And then love should be… easy!

Relationships are not easy, because it takes communication, negotiation, compromise and a very high dose of acceptance of differences; it also requires a great openness and the expression of personal desires and needs in an assertive way, and in some situations (in which our health or our cardinal values ​​are in danger) a categorical refusal to reach a compromise.

Of course, in many relationships, partners have a lot in common, whether we are talking about values, hobbies or other aspects. However, regardless of the degree of similarity, there will still be differences. And some of these differences will be a challenge for the relationship.

The fourth belief refers to “endless love.” Is there such a thing? The answer depends! 

It depends on how we define love! If we define love as an emotional state, which contains a mix of emotions, thoughts and sensations, then the answer is no. Emotions don’t last very long. Just as clouds are constantly changing, contracting, expanding, and then reappearing, so are our emotions. 

Thus, as long as we define love as an emotion, it cannot be endless. A clarification is needed: at the beginning of the relationship, the feelings of love are much more intense, last longer and return more easily to our attention.

This is because when we are in love it is as if we are under the influence of drugs. We are under the influence of endogenous, neurotransmitters that influence our perception and behaviour.

In the brain of lovers, a higher secretion of dopamine, norepinephrine, testosterone and serotonin is observed. Under the influence of these substances, a suspension of the reason is observed. This is because nature wants us to procreate and increase gene diversity.

Higher secretion of dopamine focuses our attention on the reward, makes us want to return again and again to this thing that makes us happy.

Noradrenaline keeps our attention focused on the person we want, who we are interested in.

During the period of love, a decrease in serotonin levels is also observed. Serotonin is very good at managing anxiety and obsessions. So this decrease is associated with keeping the person in our mind even after we have finished the meeting, so as not to forget it. 

Arriving home, our mind focuses on the loved one, on its positive aspects, which will urge us, in association with the increase in dopamine, to establish a new meeting. Thus anxiety is an essential element of establishing a relationship. Without this part, moving away from your partner would mean forgetting or parting.

As this period passes, we have the perception of a loss and we can easily conclude that “since I no longer have the same feelings, this means that he is not the right partner and that I should look elsewhere.”

People question, Does love find you when you least expect it because of the fact that you can’t find love at your own will.

So, is love an emotion?

I wrote above that we can relate to love as an emotion, and this presents us with one of the characteristics of emotions, namely the fact that they are constantly changing. But we can relate to love as an action or as a behaviour.

If we do this, we anchor our behaviour to our values ​​about who we want to be in a relationship with. If we do this, then love is endless, no matter what quarrels and grievances arise. Don’t be desperate for someone to love you.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that when we are preparing to enter into a relationship or if we are already in a relationship, to be aware of the influence of unhealthy beliefs on our perspective on married life, and the fact that love is like a wave coming and going, but if we take care of the relationship it is always present.

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Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

FAQ about Is love an emotion?

Is love a real emotion?

Love is as real as it feels, a very strong emotion that comprehends all other emotions like happiness, joy, surprise, sadness and disgust. Some researchers believe that love is an independent emotion, and others believe that love encompasses all basic emotions. When we love, we can feel joy, sadness, anger, surprise, shame, often all at the same time.

What kind of emotion is love?

Love is an emotion that contains all other emotions that human beings are capable of feeling.  w=We can relate to love as an emotion, and this presents us with one of the characteristics of emotions, namely the fact that they are constantly changing. But we can also relate to love as an action or as a behaviour.

Is love a choice?

Yes, love is a daily choice. No matter how wonderful the life partner is, no matter how lovely the relationship is, the initial feelings of love will change. This is not, however, a cause for concern because those feelings will not disappear irretrievably, they will appear and then they will disappear again and again, this is why we say that love is a choice. 

What are the 7 human emotions?

The 7 basic human emotions are anger, fear, disgust, surprise, happiness, sadness and contempt. 

How do I know if I’m in love?

You know you are in love when the person you are in love with occupies most of the space in your mind. You think and dream about them almost all the time. You care about their wellbeing, you get excited when you have to meet them, and you enjoy their company even if you aren’t doing anything special. 

Further reading

What is love?: The spiritual purpose of relationships, by Frank Vilaasa 

What Love Is: And What It Could Be, by Carrie Jenkins 

The Rules of Love, by Richard Templar  

Everything I Know About Love, by Dolly Alderton 

The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman

What we recommend for Relationship & LGBTQ issues

Relationship counselling

  • If you are having relationship issues or maybe you are in an abusive relationship then relationship counselling could be your first point of call. Relationship counselling could be undertaken by just you, it does not require more than one person.

LGBTQ issues

If you are dealing with LGBTQ issues then LGBTQ counselling may be a great option for you. Maybe you are confused as to your role and identity or simply need someone to speak to. LGBTQ counsellors are specially trained to assist you in this regard.

References

Theanatomyoflove.com – Love Isn’t An Emotion?

Goodtherapy.org – Love

PsychologyToday.com – What is love?

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