715. Love Cannot Be Defined, But A Loving Relationship Can
Love is an emotion, which is felt and cannot be clearly defined. It is easier to define, what is not love, than what is.
The mere urge to copulate with a body is certainly not love but only a virulent expression of the procreation instinct. Whatever form of attraction there may be, nothing can be called love with justification, unless there is the recognition and appreciation of the cognitive qualities and personality of the partner.
The relationship of a couple can be defined as loving by behaviors, by which the quality of the bond between the partners is directly or indirectly expressed.
The criteria of a loving relationship:
- Emotional attachment and emotional intimacy
- Physical intimacy
- Some amount of intellectual intimacy, depending upon the amount of intelligence and education
- Exclusivity, each being special to the other in a way, which nobody else is
- No need or inclination to wish or to search for someone else
But when two persons share physical intimacy repeatedly with each other during a considerable time, even for years, and they do not consider themselves as a couple in a loving relationship, there can be very different arrangements.
In the case, that it is really only physical intimacy and nothing else, then this is just a variety of reciprocal abuse and taking advantage of each other, while they prefer the practical advantage of avoiding the recurrent hunt and search for someone different.
But there is also the concept of friends with benefits (FWB), where the word friend really means true friendship, and is not just confounded as synonymous with mere acquaintance.
A true friend is someone, with whom there are ties of emotional and intellectual intimacy in some form. This is the essence of friendship. When physical intimacy is added to the true friendship, then this combination contains all esential ingredients for a loving relationship.
When the couple nevertheless explicitly puts emphasis upon the distinction of being FWB, but not being a loving couple, this means more often than not, that their are some serious personal problems.
- It can be a sign of selfishness and greed, when someone wants all the benefits of being in a loving relationship while also wanting all the advantages of being single. It is an attempt to get all needs met while not having any obligations to also meet the other's needs.
- There can be fear and apprehension.
Someone may fear commitment and obligations.
Someone may fear failure and getting the more hurt, the more he allows involvement.
Someone may be torn apart between the fear of a repetition of a very hurtful past experience and the wish to have a better relationship. Someone may fear to fail, would accepting love lead to the next step of further closeness by living together.
Someone may succeed to maintain the denial of such fears by insisting on the denial of any emotional involvement.
- There can be unrealistic hopes and expectations. The real quality of the present relationship is not appreciated as sufficient in comparison with imaginary ideals. The relationship is considered as a temporary arrangement until either the ideal and perfect partner is found or until someone experiences that overwhelming sudden sensation, as which love is presented in fictional novels or movies.
This FWB concept seems weird.
It cannot be explained by evolutionary biology. By instinct, men want to sire as many offspring as possible with as many different sets of genes. By instinct, women want commitment and attachment as the best way of provision for their offspring.
While FWB does not cater for the needs of the instinct driven, it nevertheless also does not serve the specific needs of those with a very low instinctivity, the brainiacs, eggheads and intellectuals. Their needs for intellectual and emotional intimacy, for the companionship of shared extensive cultural and cognitive activities are best fulfilled in a close loving relationship.
Maybe FWB suits predominantly the needs of the people in the middle of the instinctivity bell curve, who are the most disturbed by their internal struggle between the contradictory forces of instincts versus rationality and self-control.
As long as both persons implied want either love or FWB, they can get, what they want. But sadly enough, often there is a disparity, probably when people differ very much in their level of instinctivity. While one partner experiences all the criteria as given and thus himself as being in a loving relationship, the other is afflicted with some of the problems listed above and keeps on enforcing a distance by insisting to be only FWB.