“Romantic love, characterized by at least two emotional stages, attraction and attachment, is a cultural universal”, stated Dr. Helen Fisher in 1994.
With a world population of 5.63 billion people (in 1994), comprising human beings, born of different ethnicities, economic status, developmental situations, medical history, level of education, culture, religion, sex, sexual orientation, availability of survival needs (food, water and shelter), etc., I find it difficult to believe that the complex amalgam of emotions termed as love, has, but one universal definition.
A seminal research conducted by Liebowitz, resulted in the bifurcation of Human Romantic
Love into two categories namely:
Fast-forward 3 years and Robert Sternberg, theorized the Triangular Theory of Love, stating that Love is comprised of the three legs of a Tripod Stand:
and only if all the three exist in a system, do we have Romantic Love.
However, across the continents, on the other side of the world, when asked about his understanding of love, Dalai Lama explained that Love to him, is PEACE. If he is at peace with the person in this room right now and even after 25 years, then he is in love with her.
Dr. Fisher in her book, The Anatomy of Love, further points out that culture plays a major role in who, when, where and how you fall in love, but these beliefs, traditions, families, friends, etc., have no role to play in the feeling felt when in Love. She goes on to state that these emotions are generated purely by the brain- body physiology.
So what do you feel when in Love?
What biological systems underlie the emotions you feel when falling in Love?
Dr. Helen Fisher and team did a remarkable study on the Ventral Tagmental Area (VTA) of the brain suggesting that it is activated when one is in love, and coincidentally gets triggered when one feels the rush of cocaine. Establishing that romantic love is a form of addiction, she found a group of cells called A-10 cells, associated with the VTA, which played an important role in the release of Dopamine.
Love, involves 4 major neuroendocrine systems, namely:
Each of these neuroendocrine systems, refer to 4 personality types, respectively, exhibited during the Love phase.
We may embody a combination of these four-trait constellations; it isn't uncommon for people to score equally on two or more temperament dimensions. However, we each have a unique combination of these traits, which forms a unique Personality Signature.
The traits that dominate over the other two, are referred to as the Primary & Secondary traits.
This research was later adopted by Match.com, in order to aide in designing a questionnaire, to enable people understand themselves and their partners.
To find your Personality Signature, and to whom you are attracted to, take this quiz and commence your journey through the adventures Love has to offer.
Fisher H. “The Nature of Romantic Love”. The Journal of NIH Research. April 1994. Volume 6. P 59 - 64.
Liebowitz. M. “The Chemistry of Love”. Little, Brown and Company. 1983.
Sternberg. R. “A Triangular Theory of Love”. Psychological Review. 1986. Volume 93. Number 2. P 119-135.
Dr. Fisher H. “Why we love?” .Holt Paperbacks 2015.
Fisher. H. “Anatomy of Love: The Natural History of Monogamy, Adultery and Divorce”. W.W Norton and Company. 1992.