Love includes strong positive emotions as well as strong negative emotions, such as longing and sadness. When the elements of friendship include passion and care, it becomes love.
A secure attachment based on trust is the foundation of love. The love triangle theory of love envisions complete love as a fulfilling balance of intimacy, passion, and involvement. In general, understanding the differences between men who want trust and women who want attention can help you cultivate true love, as men tend to prefer direct, fact-focused communication and women prefer indirect, emotion-focused communication.
Love is a strong emotion
When people are asked what love is, they often list all sorts of nice feelings. They think of love as a collection of very positive feelings, like “pink romance” or “floating on clouds”.
But love isn’t just about positive emotions. It’s a “strong” emotion that moves back and forth between positive and negative extremes.
This means that while love is undoubtedly a very positive emotion, it’s not the whole story. Love includes not only the positive emotions that two people feel when they are together, but also strong negative emotions such as longing and sadness when they are not available.
For example, when a friend gives you a birthday gift, you feel happy, and when they forget your birthday, you feel sad. However, when your significant other gives you a birthday gift, you feel very happy, and when they forget your birthday, you feel very sad. The more you love someone, the more you are happy when they are good to you (most people think this is the only kind of love), and the more you are disappointed when they don’t meet your expectations.
In severe cases, people can lose all sense of meaning in their lives and even commit suicide. As you can see, love is a strong emotion that can fluctuate between very positive and very negative feelings.
Love and friendship
What is the difference between love and friendship? Friendship is a feeling of mutual attraction between friends, and love is a feeling of mutual attraction between lovers. However, love is more exclusive than friendship.
In other words, friends have less of a desire to be “exclusive,” whereas love is more of a desire to be completely exclusive. It’s unthinkable to share the person you love with someone else.
There is a lot of debate about whether love and friendship are qualitatively the same, just different in degree, or whether they are qualitatively different from friendship. The most common view is that love is a combination of the elements of friendship plus two additional elements: passion and care (Davis, 1985).
In the West, “passion” often refers to a physical desire for each other, but in the East it is usually more akin to “attachment,” such as a child’s desire to stay with his or her mother. Caring is the behavioral component of caring for the other person, which means being very involved.
In some cases, the relationship starts out as a friendship and evolves into love, while in other cases, you feel like “this is the love of my life” as soon as you meet them. Since the former is a continuation of friendship and the latter is separate from friendship, there seems to be no answer to the question of whether friendship and love are homogeneous or heterogeneous dimensions.
Love and attachment
The most typical type of “attachment” is the feeling an infant has for its mother, a deep and enduring emotional bond (Bowlby, 1969). It’s a combination of a strong desire to stay together and some degree of obsession. There is a famous experiment on what makes infant monkeys attach to their mothers (Harlow & Zimmerman, 1958).
When newborn monkeys were given a mother made of wire and a mother wrapped in soft fabric, they played more with the soft fabric because it was more pleasant to the touch. Even when the milk was only suspended from the wire mother, the monkeys spent most of their time playing on the cloth mother, only staying there for a short time when they were eating.
They even turned their mouths toward the wire mother to drink milk while their bodies remained on the cloth mother. From these experiments, we can see that attachment to a mother is not just about food, but also about touch and love.
The concept of attachment works very well for humans, especially infants, and it also applies to adults. In particular, the distinction between secure, insecure, and ambivalent attachments is similar to that of love (Bowlby, 1973). When a child is “securely attached” to his or her mother, it means that the child has the security of knowing that his or her mother loves him or her and is free to explore the outside world.
Insecure attachment is when a child is attached to his or her mother but feels insecure because he or she does not know when the mother will leave. An example of an insecure attachment would be if a working mother leaves her child at preschool and sneaks off to work while the child plays.
A good way to deal with this is to explain to your child that you are leaving for work and will be back at a certain time, even if they cry at first, and even if they don’t understand what you are saying. After a few days of this, the child will come to believe that the mother will return at a certain time, and a secure attachment will be formed.
Ambivalent attachment is more likely to occur when a mother is inconsistent in her approach to discipline. If the child does the same thing and the mother’s mood changes, sometimes she likes it and other times she’s indifferent or angry, the child has an ambivalent attachment to the mother, which is a mixture of positive and negative emotions.
Similarly, in love between a man and a woman, if they trust each other and don’t suspect each other even if the other person is talking to someone else for a while, it is a love that is close to “secure attachment. On the other hand, if you are worried that your partner is talking to someone else, even if it’s only for a short time, and you wonder if your love has cooled down or left your heart, you have an insecure attachment.
Similarly, love that is inconsistent is more akin to ambivalent attachment. In the end, the most important factor for stable attachment or stable love is trust, which is based on consistency.
The Love Triangle Theory
The love triangle theory argues that love consists of three components (Sternberg, 1986). They are intimacy, passion, and involvement. When all three are present, love is complete, and there are eight possible types of love, depending on the presence or absence of one or two of these elements.
Intimacy is a state of being “close” to the other person, where you feel close to them and share many issues with them, so it’s an emotion that can occur not only in a loving relationship, but also in a close friendship. On the other hand, ‘passion’ is an intense desire that you only feel for someone you love. It involves intense emotions with a degree of exclusivity.
Commitment is the level of involvement in the other person’s life or behavior. It’s when you’re so intertwined with your partner’s life that you live in the same house or share a bank account.
Typically, a college-age relationship is a combination of intimacy and passion. For couples who have been married for a long time, the initial passion may have waned a bit, but the love is still intimate and involved. And couples who have an affair with another partner while still married usually have a love that is passionate and involved, but not intimate.
In the love triangle theory, it’s not just about how strong each of the three elements is, but also about how big the gap is between your partner’s idealized version of love and yours.
Obviously, there is less room for conflict when your idealized version of love aligns with each other, but it’s also important to note the gap between your idealized version of the love triangle and your reality. The smaller the gap between the ideal and the reality, the less conflict there will be.
Differences in the way men and women communicate
Although it is often taboo to mention the differences between men and women, it is very helpful for true love to have a good understanding of each other’s differences, provided that it is not a concept of superiority. The differences between men and women are complementary, not superior or inferior.
Whether it’s an innate difference in the brain or an acquired difference in our upbringing, men and women speak differently. Even when speaking the same Korean language, men and women often have different meanings. The differences can be summarized as follows (Gray, 1992).
First, men tend to focus on ‘facts’ and women on ‘feelings’. For example, when a woman says, “You know, we haven’t been to the movies together this year,” he tends to point out that it’s not a fact that we haven’t been to the movies “once,” and that we’ve actually been to the movies “a few times” this year.
However, when a woman says “never,” it’s more likely that she’s referring to the intensity of her emotions than to an accurate statement of fact, meaning that she’s feeling really bad about it.
Second, men tend to communicate more directly, while women tend to communicate more indirectly. For example, if a woman wants her man to take out the recycling when he leaves for work, it’s easier to get him to act by saying directly, “Please take this out.
However, most women tend to use an indirect, interrogative form of the phrase, “Why do I always have to take this out?” while secretly wanting him to take it out. Talking to men “directly, honestly, and gently” is one of the ways women can get the behavior they want from men.
Third, men often want trust and women want attention. This is not to say that both men and women want trust and attention, but that they value them differently. For example, men tend to want to be left alone when they’re stressed because they want someone to believe in them, whereas women tend to want attention when they’re stressed.
If a man is stressed and a woman keeps asking him, “What’s wrong? Can I help you?” he may think she doesn’t trust him and get annoyed. If a woman is stressed and a man thinks, “I should just leave her alone to deal with it,” and doesn’t talk to her, she may think he doesn’t care about her and get frustrated.
Finally, men and women may calculate value slightly differently (Gray, 1992). For example, a man might think that because he bought a woman one very large gift for her birthday last year, she must be a 95, and he’s looking forward to not buying her gifts for a while, whereas a woman will give you one point for a very large gift and one point for a single rose, and she wants constant attention and reassurance, no matter how big or small. To add a bit of humor, you might want to give her small, frequent gifts to score points with her more economically.
Given that love is also a form of communication, it’s important to be aware of the nature of your partner’s language in order to keep things on track. In almost all cases, speaking directly, honestly, and softly, rather than indirectly, in sharp language that doesn’t reveal what you really want, is the best way to get your point across and not offend the other person.