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.
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.
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:
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!