With St. Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I think it’s only appropriate that I talk a little bit about love. People often cling on to the magical idea of love being in the air, and consequently, many people mistake love for attraction. Young people are quite fond of expressing just how in love they are with their crushes, when in reality, this is merely attraction. So, does being attracted to someone automatically mean that you are in love with them?
The answer is no. I mean, obviously. But to give you a more “scientific” answer, I will share what a few psychologists have to say. Many psychologists have devoted lots of time and effort into understanding the nature of love and attraction, so there are a few factors explaining these two concepts.
Theodore Newcomb developed the Proximity Principle, which states that people often develop attraction among each other if they’re near each other. If you’re surrounded with the same person every day, then you are more likely to become attracted to them (no wonder you have that crush on your cute classmate 😉 ). Maybe that would also explain the reason behind the difficulty of keeping long distance relationships.
Despite the incredibly popular belief that “it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” studies actually portray that attraction is not only unconscious, but it’s mostly physical (OMG, this is brand new information!). In her book, How to Spot a Dangerous Man, Sandra L. Brown talks about an “erotic imprint” that humans possess. The erotic imprint is an unconscious part of us that guides our attraction, making most of us attracted to certain physical attributes of the opposite sex, which explains having a particular “type.” However, attraction can also be behavioral and emotional. Some people become attracted to a person after spending time with them and finding out that they have a great sense of humor or that they are super intelligent. These traits, physical or emotional, guide our attraction to the opposite sex; however they don’t determine our love for them. Which means that being attracted to people does not mean we are in love with them!
Sternberg’s triangular theory of love states that there are three major components of love: passion, commitment and intimacy. If a relationship contains only one of the components, then it’s entirely something else besides love. For example, if it’s only intimacy – that’s just a really good friendship; if it’s only passion – it’s short term attraction; if it’s only commitment – it’s a loveless bumpy ride. If a relationship is composed of these three aspects, then that’s how you know that you’re truly “in love.”
So, this Valentine’s Day make sure that what you think you’re feeling is ACTUALLY what you’re feeling!
– Sinara Isoyan