Love between romantic partners has always been the most debatable topic. How it is possible that partners fall in love and why it is that when in love people change their attitude by becoming more acceptable and more joyful. Research shows that oxytocin, known as the “cuddle hormone” is in fact responsible for the changes in the biochemistry of the human body which then leads to experiencing the emotion of love and affection. However, these findings do not explain what attracts two partners to one another, and can anyone be a potential lover or is love based on some sort of selective process. Barns and Sternberg concluded that love depends on two factors, the passionate love and companionate love. Their theory is known as the two-factor theory of love, and it states that passion is an important component of love because it is the source of joy and happiness, and it allows two partners to connect into deeper levels of intimacy. However passion can also be the reason of despair when one partner rejects the other or their relationship comes to an end. The other component of love, the companionship, is quiet and is associated with affection which has the potential to help partners create a long-lasting relationship.
Another interesting theory about love is the one introduced by Susan and Clyde Hendrick that categorizes love relationships into 6 groups. In the first group they classified that type of love that is known as erotic love. Under the influence of Eros lovers become obsessed with one another however this intense type of love rarely leads to long relationships or marriages. The second type of love is the one called storage love that is led by affection and partners can feel emotionally intimate which is related to long-term commitment. However, this type of love is similar to the love we feel for our close friends, therefore it is not necessary that type of love that can bring physical pleasure among the partners. The third type is the ludus type. This type of love is described as “game-playing” love, where one of the partners finds pleasure at playing with other partner’s feelings and even likes to make the other one jealous. For such partner, love is a game of emotional manipulation. The fourth type of love is pragma love which from its name it means a pragmatic love. In this type of love one partner looks for one specific quality or certain conditions that the other partner needs to fulfill, for example, looks or wealth or social statuesque. The fifth kind of love is mania. This type of love is also intense like the erotic love, however this love is characterized by painful moments too. This kind of love has its highs and low points and it is always associated with turmoil of emotions. The last group is the agape type of love. Partner in this type of love asks nothing from the lover, instead he or she freely gives love and attention to the other partner. This type of love is often a one sided expression of love.
Theory of love triangle that is introduced by Sternberg seems to be the most completed theory of love. Stenberg emphasizes three components in building love relationships which are passion, intimacy and commitment. Passion for Stenberg is the equivalent to the erotic love, intimacy is equivalent to storage love that leads to friendship and long term relationships, and commitment which is the decision to remain in a relationship. Depending on the combination of these factors, Sternberg was able to identify different types of love such as compassionate love when intimacy and commitment are present but passion is not, or empty love where passion and intimacy are missing but commitment is present, factuous love where passion and commitment exist but there is no intimacy, infatuation love where passion is the only factor in that relationship, romantic love where intimacy and passion are present but there is no commitment, and finally liking where intimacy is the only factor that is present in this type of love. When all three factors are present, that is the best type of love and it is called consummate love. These factors seem to explain all types of loves however what attracts two partners in the first place that is still something to discover. Luo and Klohnen came to the conclusion that the old idea about opposites attract may not be so true. They found out in their research that similarity in attitudes or similarity in personalities are the factors that make partners feel attracted to one another.
From my own perspective, which I gained through my own experience in life, I found that there are three vital factors in sustaining a love relationship and these are: Passion, Commitment and Communication. The most vital factor, as you will notice from my previous posts, which can help keeping a romantic love between two lovers alive for a long time, is passion. Passion does not always need to lead into having sex and great performance, because passion is found in a kiss or in the intense look of your lover indicating that he or she needs you and you are very important to him (her). Passion is found in short but ecstatic moments of attention that one partner pays to the other. However, for a romantic love to develop into something bigger and deeper that we often call true love, then the other two vital factors are needed: Commitment and the correct way of Communicating your needs and feelings to your partner. These two other factors along with passion need to be present in a romantic relationship between two lovers for this relationship to remain stable.
They say love has a universal language, therefore it is not affected by nationality, race or cultural traditions, and I believe that is true, but only for the first two factors of love: passion and commitment. Passion is the emotions that your partner triggers in you every time you think of him or her, and when they are around and interact with you. These emotions are as a result of biochemical reactions inside of the human body and so this attraction does not need to be restricted by the culture or traditions. We cannot control when we feel joy or sadness but we can control how we show and express these feelings. As such, what we feel inside us for that particular lover is not controllable by any means. Therefore passion either is or it is not there. No one can create passion and no matter how many tricks one learns to attract a lover, these tricks will never work if the passion or that chemistry was not there to start with.
In the same way, commitment has to be present despite the culture or traditions, or even distance between the two lovers. Commitment means that they both agree to stay faithful and to keep feeding their romantic love either through physical contact or other means of communications. These two lovers need to constantly, but not obsessively, remind one another that they are thinking about the other partner and that dreaming about the one and only lover (their partner) makes them truly happy. This commitment has nothing to do with tradition or how different cultures express obligation toward love and marriage. The reason why commitment has nothing to do with cultural traditions is because in the psychological level we are all the same. No matter what race, culture or nationality we belong to, we all need to feel appreciated; we need to feel that we exist, and our own every existence is needed by our partner. We need that commitment from the lover so we would believe that we are important to him or her and that is why we will continue to feed the romantic love for that partner.
In contrary to the first two factors, communication is affected by culture and traditions; it is affected by race and nationalities. Some cultures find it unacceptable to be too open about intimate relationships; some other cultures find it quite wrong to hold back on showing the love and passion for your partner. At this point, no matter how much two lovers love one another, no matter how much passion, and how committed they are, both partners need to step out of their traditions and restrictions of their own cultures in order to keep their love alive. Communication is an important key in any love relationship, because these partners need to know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for their love partners from their cultural point of view. These partners need to discuss beforehand of how much of those restrictions they are willing to accept or dismiss. Without an ongoing, open, and clear communication between the two partners, their love relationship will not have a future.
I feel it is important to mention here that not only cultural backgrounds, but also family traditions that sometimes vary from one family to another within the same culture, and even specific life styles that individuals prefer to follow, will in fact cause misunderstanding and arguments when partners are not clear about their likes and dislikes. However, often partners are not sure of what they like or dislike until they come across these things. In these cases, when love relationship is already lacking passion and/or commitment, these partners will split up and move on to other relationships. In contrary, when passion and commitment are present, these partners will discuss their misunderstandings in order to communicate their likes or dislikes, after certain experience.
Therefore, in my opinion, same culture is not important to achieve physical or emotional intimacy, between two lovers. Same culture is not even important to keep a clear and open communication between two lovers, when the passion and commitment are already missing. However, different cultures and different traditions can ruin possibly- good- love-relationships if partners are not aware of the damages that miscommunication due to culture, family traditions, or life styles can bring.