"No Man is an Island"

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Have you ever heard a saying and thought to yourself, "What a bunch of baloney"? Well...perhaps some proverbial sayings are more than just well-known--they may even have some inherent truth that could help us live our lives better and more happily. In the opinion of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, these sayings can even be supported or discredited by empirical data in the world of psychology.

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For example, the old adage that "no man is an island" seems true from a psychological standpoint, especially when considering love. True love exists, but passionate love will not last forever, Haidt contends. True love comes from attachment. He even cites psychological studies to liken all feelings of love to the attachment and love we feel for our parents. Being with a romantic partner in the beginning of a relationship, we experience feelings of elation because our minds are stimulated by neurotransmitters in the same way as they would if we had taken a drug like cocaine or heroin. Love becomes addictive, and attachment is formed out of the addictive desire to be around your partner. This is the passionate stage of love.

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Unfortunately, Haidt reminds us that no one can stay high on a drug forever. If the relationship continues for an extended period of time, the drug-like state of euphoria gives way to a content companionship. He refers to this love as "compassionate love." Feelings of love evolve over time, and this may explain why many people rush into relationships or marriage...only to have it sadly end in divorce or break-ups.

Love in a successful long-term relationship would look something like this graph from The Happiness Hypothesis:

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Anyone that has been in a long-term relationship has probably experienced feelings much like the ones that Haidt describes here. Overall, I may not agree with all of the things he contends, but he certainly provides an interesting, relatively accurate model...at least in terms of my relationship history!

Psychology Blog 3 Compassionate love.jpg

9 Comments

I have heard this theory before this class, where there is a definite time frame when "love" will end in relationships. Based on the divorce rates, maybe more people should learn about this!

Wow, I agree that more people should be informed about this since it could potentially lower divorce rates if they knew. This is a very interesting concept that I have never thought about before. We don't often think of love in a scientific way, but it actually makes sense!

Interesting, and very true! I think this is why divorce rates are steadily increasing- people "fall in love" and get married in such short time periods that they don't think about reality and that things are eventually going to end. My sister just recently got married, and my brother has been married for 5 years.. my sister is always talking about how great her husband is and how perfect life is and my brother always talks about how they are still stuck int he "honeymoon stage" meaning, nothing can go wrong while they're still so in love and it's all so new to them. I think it's interesting and I wish more people realized this!

This sort of information is really interesting and pertinent to so many lives.

I find it funny that, though this sort of knowledge is relatively new, but that despite our access to such research, divorce rates are still climbing.

I look at my grandparents and see people who've learned how to live together in the compassionate stage regardless of whether or not they've lost the passionate part of their early relationship.

Does the media perpetuate the idea that in order to have a fulfilling and successful relationship the people in question must remain in the passionate stage? And does this relate to modern divorce rates?

I think its easier for psychologists to say love ends because of their definition. I do agree with the graph, but it still seems a bit far fetched when applied to reality. Love can't be a forever lasting affect in a relationship, at some point the people grow out of it and the love is replaced by new emotions.

Quote: "True love exists, but passionate love will not last forever"

I really like this statement. How often have we seen others in relationships that were based on one connection - yes we all know what that is - SEX.

It's a relationship based on a passionate love that could lead to something, but usually is a fix for a need - physical attention.

My finance and I spent the first few months of our friendship taking on the phone for hours a day. This was the beginings to a great relationship for us. Our communication is amazing.

In the end, love can happen through anything, however, when it begins with one purpose one or the other has a hard time transitioning it to more I think.

I think this is great! This is why, before deciding to leave a long-term relationship for the excitement and allure of someone new, you need to ask yourself whether you will be happier, long-term. Once the excitement goes away, you may find you miss the other person you were with. I have seen this with people who crawl back to the partners they decided to leave, when they realize their mistakes.

I really enjoyed reading this blog post and comments. Many good points were brought up. Including the difference between true love and passionate love and that passionate love could lead to something but usually is just a fix for a need- physical attention. I had never thought of it that way but that makes sense. People crave companionship; no likes being lonely, which makes it easy to ignore some of the red flags at first but those don't go away, they only become more prominent. It's interesting that there are many answers out there to our problems, people just don't like to face them because they aren't what they want to hear.

That's some very interesting material found! I never thought about it, but that graph, or at least the idea behind it, actually makes sense. I never thought about it, but it makes sense that once the newness and excitement of the beginning of the relationship wears off, what's left is that contentment that Haidt mentions. Very interesting to think about. I do not believe that the passionate love completely drops like that, but seeing it lowered makes sense. It does not, however, account for the privacy people require once they get older. Maybe the passion is still there, but those in longer relationships no longer feel the need to express it 24/7, or around others, like it is when new.

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This page contains a single entry by line0052 published on March 25, 2012 10:05 PM.

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