Love. Most have felt it, some claim to have it, yet if asked to define it (i.e., “How do you know you’re in love?”) few of us have an answer. “I can’t explain it,” I’ve heard myself say before, “it’s just a feeling.” “If you’re in love, you just know,” I’ve heard from others. This may just be the foundation of our problem. If we don’t know what we’re looking for, how can we expect to find it?
In hopes of making the abstract concept of love at least slightly more concrete (especially for all you left brained romantics out there—a contradiction no more!), I gave some thought to this topic. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
Love at its core is a sense of deep emotional connectedness. It is a sense that we are safe and secure to reveal the most vulnerable parts of ourselves (our feelings), and a desire to receive in return the most vulnerable parts of those who provide us that sense. We seek this bond with our partners, our families, our friends, and even ourselves. Love is not something that just happens, it’s something that’s created through repeated willingness to take the risk of vulnerability. As our relationships progress, and we continue to push past the fear, we eventually learn (neuroplasticity anyone?) that we are safe to do so. Sharing our feelings is no longer scary; in fact, it feels good. It is the feeling that stems from this very shift, full of warmth, security, and acceptance, that I believe is love.
By: Aliza Cooper, LMFT PCS Staff Therapist
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