Long-Term Relationships: Why Love is Just Not Enough

Long-Term Relationships

The power of love is strong and seems to have become a be-all, end-all solution to people and all their problems. This is not a new concept, but people must realize that love is not enough to fix problems and help relationships survive. Love is difficult to handle. Many love “love” but never truly understand what it is or what it means to love. People love the idea of love, but forget what love is in the world. This idealization of love can distort it and cause people to think it is both everything and nothing. The conceptualization of love sets people up to believe a loving feeling can conquer and cure all in a relationship which is highly inaccurate.

Why Love Is Not Enough

To understand why love is not enough, we must first understand what love is in life. Most see love as that euphoric feeling that comes in the early stages of dating. Some even expect this feeling to continue forever. This feeling does not last long on a relationship journey and will not take you far. There are actually several different types of love and each serves a different purpose. Even with the different types of love, we can put it into two basic categories, romantic love and companionate love.

Romantic love is known by many names like obsessive love, passionate love, infatuation, or simple, being in love. It is a powerful emotional state that comes from strong feelings of passion and intimacy. Romantic love involves arousal based in physical attraction and its concomitants. Romantic lovers are tied together physically and emotionally bonded. Still, romantic love cannot stay strong forever, eventually this area of our love cools.

Companionate love is characterized by admiration, respect, and interpersonal trust. There is a high level of closeness and affection between the two people. It is also called by many names like affectionate love, marital love, or true love. Companionate love is stable, committed, a friendship, and long-term. There is a higher level of emotional intimacy and commitment to remain in the relationship together. While previous beliefs felt that relationships start with romantic love and if they survive move into companionate. New research has shown that this is not totally accurate because both forms of love can exist at the same time in a relationship. Still, maintenance of this love state is tough to achieve.

Attributes of Love

Researchers have found that people associate over 60 attributes with love. The features that consistently define true love include things like caring, respect, trust, honesty, and friendship or on a complex level, all the features are comprised of passion, commitment, and intimacy. For researchers, intimacy is more important than passion when defining love. Intimacy underlies romantic and companionate love experiences for people. The features of this type of intimacy include feelings of understanding, support, communication, and sharing that are found in long-term loving relationships. This means these feelings are important to develop.

Love can fade over time to varying degrees. However, time appears more destructive to romantic love than to companionate love. In addition, the passion component of love is highly variable. The survival of love is predicted based on the complex components of passion, commitment, and intimacy. This brings us back to the original statement, love alone is not enough. The components of love, companionate love, are necessary and require work.

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