Mystery, fear, adventure, desire, a feeling of life abundance – these are five reliable criteria that will help you understand whether love is genuine.
How many times have we asked our friends stuck in a painful love relationship “Why are you still with him/her?”; how many times have we thought about what makes a person cling to a harmful bonding? No, it isn’t love for sure. Then, what is love? A feeling that can make us happy forever? Of course, not, answers psychoanalysis. Genuine love doesn’t give us peace. Even when initial excitement because of the unity of souls fades, love doesn’t calm down. Vice versa, it makes us anxious and impresses us majestically uniting both fates in one plot that obeys no logical rules. Let’s consider several aspects of this wonderful feeling.
Love as a versatile phenomenon
Feel a mystery in another person
Love is a mystery both to those in love and those who become its witness. We see and feel it, but we fail to understand it. Why? Because a bonding with a beloved person is inexplicable. What attracts us to a person we genuinely love? Not only their image (beauty, resemblance to somebody) and the images or values they symbolize to us (a mother, father, power, money), but also a mystery we feel in them. It’s impossible to utter with words, but it seems to be directed at everything we secretly keep in our soul: yearning after the things we didn’t get as children, some kind of unconscious suffering.
As Patrick Lambouley, a psychoanalyst, explains, love touches the part of our soul we don’t know about. Everyone’s soul has a particle of devastating emptiness that can destroy us. Love is nothing but a meeting of two sufferings, two imperfections. In love, we share with another person the things we are painfully lacking ourselves. Genuine love is expressed not by a request: “Give me what you have and what I lack,” but rather by admitting “I like your way towards healing, how you cope with your difficulties.”
In this context, love has nothing to do with a theory about “two parts,” according to which love uniting us in one whole makes us happy. Patrick Lambouley mentions that this is the exact reason for many couples’ break-up. When a person notices that despite a love relationship, they are still dissatisfied with life, they may decide they haven’t found the second half so that they need to change a partner. However, it doesn’t function this way. To genuinely love means to admit “I am interested in you.”
Fear to lose a partner
To love means to fear. As Freud explains, we become dependent on another person because we constantly need them to support us throughout our existence. This is where a fear of a loss emanates from.
Monique Schneider, a philosopher and psychoanalyst, underlines that love implies risk. This feeling is breathtaking, sometimes we even want to reject it: being afraid of the power of our love, we may destroy it or diminish its importance by immersing into the things that enhance our self-sufficiency. All this is done to protect ourselves against the scary power another person has over us.
Just as Freud underlined, Eros and Thanatos are inseparable: I love you – I destroy you. Eros is our desire to unite with another person in love; Thanatos is our craving for death that makes us break this connection so that our Ego could remain powerful. Since love makes us leave our own boundaries, our Ego is fighting it.
Thus, let’s keep in mind that true love isn’t a deal. Its frenzy is dangerous for both partners. We shouldn’t forget about it when there arise doubts if a partner loves us. If another person is trying to distance, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t love us anymore. Perhaps, they are afraid to lose themselves.
Readiness for the unknown
In love, nothing is predetermined in advance. No one can guarantee reciprocity, mutual feelings, and predict the way a relationship with a beloved person will develop. As Monique Schneider emphasizes, having fallen in love, we step into the world where our will and reason don’t function. On this way, we’ll have to go through absolutely different stages. To genuinely love, we have to be able to believe in miracles. Freud talks about an expectation full of belief. It’s necessary to preserve a fire that can flame up again without requiring an instant flame. Accept the unknown and be patient.
Feel a desire
Undoubtedly, to love a person means to physically want them. As Jean-Jacques Moscovitz, a psychoanalyst proves, “physical intimacy really helps us to love. Sex is especially pleasant if lovers love each other.” However, there are also moments when we are happy and satisfied simply because a beloved person exists.
Talking about women who separate love from sexual desire, Moscovitz explains that they are afraid to dissolve in love if they immerse into it. Most likely, such women are restricted by childhood trauma or an unsolved problem, a love ideal too closely connected with their father’s image.
Experiencing a deep feeling, these adult women become little girls again, and everything that happens looks like incest to them. Such women are looking for love-adoration and beware of sexual contacts. They let tame themselves only gradually, through a stage of less intimate physical connection – hugging, which lets to surround a beloved man with tenderness.
Feel that life is abundant
Jean-Paul Sartre claimed that “to be beloved means to feel that you have a right to existence. Genuine love is an inimitable feeling that your existence is justified, it’s an illusion that our love is exceptional. Love makes us return to the state of a child sure about their omnipotence.”
Choosing each other, we make each other special. According to Freud, loving a person we allot them superpower. We admit they are significant: respect, value them and believe they are irreplaceable. We’ve found a treasure so that we won’t be alone anymore. A significant other shares their world with us; we open new horizons and feelings we’ve never felt so acutely before. We start feeling safe because another person has managed to see our value and potential.
All in all, love imbues our existence with sense. When we truly love, we are able to see life in its all colors. Make sure you don’t overlook your significant other!