Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Love/Love & Love/Lust

I'm still contemplating love. It's a long term commitment.

Three questions:

What is the difference between being in love with someone and loving someone?

What is the difference between lust and love?

What does intimacy, passion and commitment have to do with love?

I ask about intimacy, passion and commitment in particular because these three things keep coming up for me in my contemplations. Plus, I recently found this on Wikipedia, The Triangular Theory Of Love.

The Triangular Theory Of Love was developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg and characterizes love in interpersonal relationships by the components of Intimacy--feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness; Passion--romance, physical attraction and sexual consummation; Commitment--the decision to remain with the other in the short term and the shared achievements and plans made with the other in the long term.

I asked a few friends to give me their quick, from the hip responses to my first two questions regarding Love/Lust and Love/In love

Ren says:

"Difference between love and lust.

Lust is when you want to fuck.
Love covers just about everything else.
I think being in love has an element of obsession or exclusivity to it. Lust and love coexist.You can lust someone you love, but lust implies need and desire and fucking."

OK, that's pretty simple and straight forward. They co-exist but not always. You can love without lust and lust without love. But it's mighty fun when they come together! No pun intended. I connect lust as bottom line, implying the desire to fuck. I suspect Ren is referring to jealousy when she mentions exclusivity, or if not jealousy, at least the desire to possess one's lover for one's self, to the exclusion of all others? I relate obsession to New Relationship Energy (NRE)--a state of mind and body that new lovers experience at the beginning of a romantic sexual relationship that causes heightened emotional and sexual receptivity (you feel really high and horny and excited to have this incredibly wonderful new person in your life). I'm not sure exactly what she means by "love covers just about everything else" but I suppose she is referring to the way commitment and intimacy plays out in a relationship.

The first time I asked Lover Who Is My Lover to define the difference between being in-love as opposed to simply loving someone he used the word intimacy to define the difference. Later he defined love as a state of being that he moves in and out of. Some may be able to consistently abide in this state (and I suppose this would be the ultimate goal.) He described lust as hormonal.

Yes, I get that. Love as a state. The state of being in love. I often sign my letters (or emails) In love, with the intent to communicate that I am residing in a state of love towards that person in that moment. In this sense, I don't mean that I'm actually in love with this person. When I reflect on my experience of love I think that maybe love itself has nothing to do with a state but rather it's me who is in an open hearted state which allows me to experience the love that always is. But this still doesn't explain the different between love and in-love. I'm still lost in this nebulous, undefined field between love and in love. Ha. Am I really looking for black and white clearly labeled boxes that define love and in love once and for all? I'm so silly.

As for intimacy, I certainly relate to that being a big part of what love is and yet one can be intimate with someone they love but aren't in love with, such as the love shared with a good friend or between a parent and a child, so it doesn't help me in that distinction. And lust, well it may very well be hormonal but I'll say more on that in a bit.

A couple of years ago I asked Lover Who Is Not My Lover the question about love versus in love and he said that loving someone is a choice whereas being in-love is not a choice.

I get that. I've done the falling in love at first sight thing. I fell in love with him (as I have with one other man) almost the moment I met him and it was related to the recognition of a deep intimacy even though we had just met. I experienced no conscious choice in the matter. Love simply arrived and knocked me off my feet. I've often made the choice to be loving in my actions towards someone which has led to me having loving feelings towards them. Choice/no choice is one curious difference.

R. says:

Love involves being selfless. Lust is often selfish. Lust is characterized by desire and grasping and attachment. Love is a state of being that in its purest state is very free of all that. Lust has a physical aspect that involves hormones and the groin. Love is experienced primarily through the heart. Both make powerful impressions on the mind. Both can happen at the same time and are often deeply entwined.

Simple formula:

Love = selfless-- Lust = selfish

Love = state of being, free of attachment

Lust = attachment, grasping, desire

Love = heart--Lust = groin

If only it were that easy.

When I think of what R. says about "love in its purest state is very free of all that" I think of my experience where love springs forth from freedom. Freedom is the mother who gives birth to love. I get a visual picture of a love seed, planted in the nourishing soil of freedom from which the tree of love springs forth. Underneath the ground, the freedom soil is the source of love's growth and from above the sunlight shines upon the tree of love, inspiring it to grow and express it's own unique creativity of leaves and blossoms. But then someone comes along who wants to use the glory of this love tree for their own desires and so they cut the tree trunk, separating it from it's roots that must grow in freedom to survive. The tree eventually dies, even when offered an abundance of sunlight and water (perhaps this other person's idea of relationship?) I don't think love can survive without freedom. It will stop blooming and eventually lose its leaves.

I like what R. says about selflessness and I suppose that love needs selflessness to survive. Selflessness seems very connected to freedom and unconditionality to me. Also, I've experienced a lot of personal pain created by that "deeply entwined" love-lust R. offers in her description. I tend to connect the two, love and lust together, which is what it seems to me, creates this painful "attachment, grasping, desire". I'm still searching for more of the defining factors of love/in love though-- trying to define something that is undefinable.

My husband says:

"Being in love brings love into human form. Love is an all pervading energy running the universe. Human love is directed towards someone or thing. We can fall in and out of love. This might depend on how we are treated, it might be conditional. It brings with it strong attachments, as this person or thing becomes the source of love for us in our lives.

Lust is a longing for the pleasure that we know this object of love can bring to us under the right conditions. I think of it as more sexual in nature. Lusting after someone or thing. It is an intense need to satisfy sexual desires. It is a form of love in action."

I smile when he says " lust is a form of love in action". That's so beautiful to me. I imagine myself being ravaged by a powerful lover with uncontrollable passion. He loves me a lot like that. And this description, "love is an all pervading force running the universe" and "being in-love brings love into human form" really works for me too, but it doesn't necessarily answer my question about the difference between being in love versus loving someone as both bring love to the human form. I agree that being in-love brings with it strong attachments.

Pema offers her 2 cents:

"The difference between love and in love is that
love is unconditional, wants nothing in return whereas "in love" triggers my buttons and makes me want/need things in return: acceptance, recognition, time, energy, being treated like I want to be treated. I believe we can learn deep soul lessons in both, but learn more with the "in love" because it's often difficult and requires us to work on the places we have need.

As for
Lust and Love, lust is primal, body based, chemical, uncontrollable passion. It has more to do with the second and first chakras. Love is more centered in the upper chakras, starting with the heart and going up. There can be plenty of lust without love, but love can also encompass lust because it brings that second chakra energy up to the heart. Often, "in love" is combined with lust (but not necessarily...often it contributes to the person falling and feeling like they are in love, but you don't have to be in love to lust). When the two lower chakras are triggered, plus the other buttons of safety, security, needing, then the relationship can be quite tumultuous as the balance of the open heart is lost in fear."

OK, what Pema says here really rings my chimes. Her answer to this love/in love dilemma begs me ask, WHY? Why all these triggers when we fall in love? The answer that comes to me is the humanness of the in love experience that my husband mentioned. We have all these human needs and desires and being in love seems to be one of the most powerful aspects of the human condition. I get the sense that I'm really asking the wrong question here with this whole love/in love thing (per what I'm actually looking for).

Pema says love is unconditional and R. say it's selfless. That seems to be my ultimate experience of love. It's mere existence is giving and it requires nothing in return. Divine love permeates the universe and by its very nature is given to all, freely and abundantly. Humans try and fail and try again to emulate this.

Pema says that in love triggers her buttons. yesYesYES!!! Being in love is a big button pusher for me. When I experience myself simply opening to the possibility of falling in love my buttons get pushed and fear arises. It's like an alarm goes off and the red lights start flashing. needsNeedsNEEDS!!! Needs coming to the forefront! Needs that will demand to be met and fear that they won't be.

Talk about love and lust together--they are totally intertwined for me. More on that with the lust part in another minute. I totally resonate with what Pema says about learning more from the in love because it's difficult and requires us to work on the places that we have need. I have experienced so much suffering from being in love. I know that I've healed a huge piece of my buried issues that have caused me this pain but in love absolutely triggers my deep seated woundedness and places that I still need to heal. Without a doubt. I'm obviously obsessed with meeting my woundings face to face.

I'm sure there is no definitive line that separates love and in love but it's been nagging me. I'm really starting to think though that I'll eventually get more clarity with a different question. I also like what Pema says about lust/love when she goes into the chakra stuff. That's my experience of it too. There is the lower chakra sexual need which manifests as lust for me. That's the hormonal lust that I assume lover who is my lover is talking about or when my husband says "an intense need to satisfy sexual desires". But saying something is hormonal implies a lot. What I understand about my hormones isn't simple. It's like the chicken and the egg conundrum--which came first? My hormones create lust/desire. My lust/desire create hormones. There is certainly a body based desire but ultimately isn't that just soul expressing itself through physical form? Hormones are part of the interrelated dance of mind/body/emotions/soul. Mind creates hormones, hormones create a state of mind. Body creates hormones, hormones create body. Hormones create emotions, emotions create mind...on and on it goes. It's circular with no beginning or no end. Our humanness is complicated. My love/lust/in love life is complicated.

Lust is almost always connected to in love for me. I am definitely not a swinger or someone who is interested in finding a lot of different sexual partners (I'm polyamorous so a lot is relative isn't it ;) ). I have nothing against recreational sex for those who are interested in partaking but fucking simply for the sake of fucking tends to leave me pretty cold. And yet, I'm extremely interested in sex of all kinds and I spend a significant amount of my time in a mind world of variegated sexuality. It interests me to no end. But 99% percent of the time I have no interest in actually physically engaging in sex that is not related to love and making intimate connection with another.

When I look at the Triangluar Theory of Love, being in love seems to relate to Romantic Love with the combined conponents of intimacy and passion. At this point the most significant thing I understand about this whole love/in love thing is the humanness of it all. Humans are complicated beings and being in love seems to be a very human conundrum. Lets jump in the sandbox and keep playing!

Back to The Triangular Theory of Love:

The "amount" of love a person experiences depends on the absolute strength of these components (intimacy, passion, commitment) whereas the "type" of love a person experiences depends on the relative strength of these components in relation to the other components. Different types of love, along with the various stages of love are explained by the different combination of these components.

Seven different types of love:
1. Liking/Friendship*Intimacy--True Friendship; bondedness;warmth;closeness

2. Infatuated Love*Passion--* Pure passion. Romantic relationships often start out as infatuated love and become romantic love as intimacy develops over time. Without developing intimacy or commitment, infatuated love may disappear suddenly.

3. Empty Love*Commitment--Sometimes, a stronger love deteriorates into empty love or the opposite can happen such as in a culture in which arranged marriages are common, relationships often begin as empty love and develop into one of the other forms with the passing of time.

4. Romantic Love*Intimacy & Passion--Individuals are bonded emotionally through intimacy and physically through passionate arousal.

5. Companionate Love*Intimacy & Commitment--Intimate, non-passionate love that is stronger than friendship. Often found in marriages where the passion has gone out but a deep affection and commitment remain but is also found between family members and close friends.

6. Fatuous Love*Passion and Commitment--is exemplified by a whirlwind courtship and marriage in which a commitment is motivated largely by passion without the stabilizing influence of intimacy.

7. Consummate Love*Intimacy, Passion & Commitment--The complete form of love, representing an ideal relationship toward which people strive. Of the seven varieties of love, consummate love is theorized to be that love associated with the “perfect couple” who continue to have great sex fifteen or more into the relationship. They overcome their difficulties gracefully, and each delight in the relationship with one other. Maintaining a consummate love may be even harder than achieving it. consummate love may not be permanent. If passion is lost over time, it may change into companionate love.

"Without expression even the greatest of loves can die."--Robert Sternberg


Ren said...

What I meant by exclusivity was the single mindedness of the desire of being with the one you are in love with. A tunnel vision so to speak where no-one else is in focus. I wasn't thinking about jealousy at all.

Ren said...

ps, I couldn't even read most of this because of the different colors of the text or background. Bummer. My screen is getting worse.

Adrienne Parker said...

Ren, you need a new computer girlfriend. Soon! Ok, I get you more now on the exclusivity thing. I actually thought you probably weren't referring to jealousy but that came up for me in regards to exclusivity for many people...I think jealousy ends up being an issue, yes? Anyway--I get the tunnel vision in regards to NRE. But how would that look to you in regards to being in love with more than one person at the same time? When you love more than one, chances are you are experiencing passionate desire for both. If you are having NRE with only one, it's likely that the new love would perhaps more often be the one in focus (at least as far as lust/passion/desire goes)....that's just what comes up for me in regards to your use of exclusivity. Your take on that?

Gillette said...

Great post...Must...reread....

Gillette said...

ps...just off the top of my hat:

"WHY? Why all these triggers when we fall in love? "

I believe we fall in love partly because it's fun, but partly as soul journey to find our way home to The Beloved. The triggers bring us closer to our Essence, if we take the journey.

I mean...don't you find it fun/interesting that we call both The Universal Divine/god and our lovers "Beloved?" And that we call both connection to the Divine as well as orgasm "ecstasy?"

cindy said...

Oh Adrienne thanks so much for taking the time to work through all of these questions! Yes, Yes, and I haven't finished reading all of it, but my big questions lie in intimacy, how it comes, where it is before we find it...great writing!

XXX Cindy

Adrienne Parker said...

Gillette. Yes! Love in relationship is a powerful journey. Thus the name of this blog. Thanks.

Cindy. Intimacy is just a sweet thing. Glad this was good for you. You're welcome.

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