Synopsis: Contrary views and differing forms of passionate love; how it is much more than sex; the romance and the eroticism; the three neural networks involved; its fading and rekindling; true love or not; a real and false passionate love difference; and the pain, problems and pleasures of passionate love are succinctly and with fresh information and perspectives presented here.
Most Sought, Most Mysterious, Most TroublesomeEuphoria, ecstasy, intense eroticism and all sorts of profound, powerful positive feelings - that is one view of passionate love. Another is much less lovely. It contains jealousy, obsession, compulsions, enslavement, drives to control mixed with total surrender and submission, intense insecurity covered by authoritarian domination, dangerous and destructive rage and some think a subconscious death wish. More recently that disturbing view has been increasingly identified with mental illness and false love syndromes and not with healthy, real love (see our Real Love False Love e-book). Nevertheless, passionate love often is viewed as the most desirable form of love and the one that provides the greatest thrills, turn on’s, emotional fireworks, enlivening arousal, intrigue, enticing danger and incredible sex. For so many, it definitely is a love not to be missed!
Much More Than Sex!Passionate love often involves intense and extremely exciting sexuality but is much more than just sex. In fact, sometimes passionate love is not sexual at all though that is what so many focus on when they think of passionate, romantic love. Passionate, romantic love has been defined as a state of intense seeking for and or a sense of being in an ecstatic union with a reciprocating other.
Passionate love is felt with powerful compelling enthusiasm, eagerness and intense desires not always erotic. The desire in real, passionate love is to be hugely involved with, enraptured by and immersed in the totality of who or what is loved. Sometimes passionate love is not about a who but rather a what. Religious zealotry and fervor are identified with passionate love as are patriotism and sometimes altruism. To understand passionate love more fully, let’s first look at passion itself.
Passion can refer to any emotion felt very powerfully and in ways that are compelling, almost uncontrollable, frequently consuming and involving intense yearning, craving, adoration, relishing, zeal, euphoria, compulsion, ecstasy and acceptable or even desired agony. Now, let’s consider love (see “The Definition of Love”).
Passionate, real love can be identified as love felt with powerful, compelling enthusiasm, eagerness, intense pleasure and a huge drive to be connected with and able to act for the happiness and well-being of the loved. It involves a great, high valuing and enjoyment of the loved, a valiant nurturing and brave protectiveness toward the loved and when romantic profound affection and eroticism.
The sharing, seeking for and experiencing of intense pleasure is involved in passionate love. Simultaneously with passionate love comes a diminished awareness of pain, fear and everything which is unpleasurable. Fully passionate, real love can involve incredible emotional intimacy, and what is sometimes called a great intermingling of spirits and a sense of ecstatic, cosmic connectedness.
Passionate love can be likened unto Germany’s grand, roaring Rhine River - fast, vast, extremely exciting, enormously enjoyable and all to often seductively dangerous and disastrous. When thinking of passion, one might do well to ponder the Rhine’s legend of the irresistible Lorelie who lured many a boater to a drowning death in its powerful swirling turbulence.
Differing Forms of Passionate LoveThink for a minute beyond those two most commonly focused on areas of passion - the romantic and the erotic types of love. Are you passionately in love with life, with nature, with a spiritual involvement, with beauty, with a great cause, with your children or family or with any deeply satisfying or meaningful endeavor? You see, there are many ways to have true passionate love beyond the romantic and sexual, wonderful though they may be.
What about Romantic and Erotic Passionate Love?It seems we are considerably hardwired to seek for and get into erotic and romantic love and love-like relationships. It appears this has been crucial to our species survival. Furthermore, it has been instrumental in helping humanity attain its preeminent status on our planet. Not only that, but seeking and getting into love relationships has turned out to be exceedingly healthful for those who manage it successfully. However, for many others who have tried and failed at love, it has often been disastrous. For those who only partially learn to do love-relating well, it often has been a painfully growthful and exciting but arduous mixed blessing. Nevertheless, our strong natural drives for sex, for passionate love, and for other kinds of love too, are now understood to have pushed us into populating the world, and to have become the most creatively cooperative of all species.
The Three Neuro Networks of Passionate LovePsychoneurological research involving electronically looking into the brain while romantic love relationships are focused on, reveals a lot about passionate love. That research points to three neuro networks involved when we feel passionate love. One of our brain’s networks appears to handle attraction, another facilitates lust while a third processes emotional connection and attachment. Operating together at strength, they help us have and experience the incredible feelings of romantic passion. Sometimes that later leads us into lifelong, healthy, real and lasting love relationships and sometimes not. In both cases, and after a time, romantic passion fades. Replacing it can be a much more general, life assisting type of love variously identified as life partner love, spousal love , marriage type love, love mate love, companionate love or companion love. These are thought to be processed by additional neural networks and somewhat different neurochemistry than that of passionate love.
What about Fading and Rekindling Passionate Love?Some couples with life partner love can, and frequently do from time to time, briefly re-enliven their passionate love feelings. Others practice various alternate lifestyles to re-experience their passion via the new and different. Real love is not thought to be a part of the alternate lifestyle approach very often (except perhaps for those who become throuples) (see “Throuple Love, A Growing Worldwide Way of the Future?”). Still others are glad to leave passionate love behind because it took so much energy, concentration and work that left little time for the rest of life. Many others bemoan the fading of the passionate and long for its return. Some of those search for and find ways to bring it back at least temporarily; quite a few others don’t but probably could with some professional counseling or coaching.
Is Passionate Love True Love?Some think passionate love may not be real love at all but rather a sort of pre-love state testing whether lasting partner love can come into existence or not. Others insist that passionate love is the real thing and the only kind worth totally surrendering to. Still others note that several identified forms of false love-- namely Limerence, the IFD and the Fatal Attraction syndromes (see our Real Love False Love e-book)-- are full of passion but by no means do they dependably result in anything like healthy, real and lasting love. (Also see Title Index for each) There are brain researchers who note how passionate romance and addictive opiates similarly seem to activate certain brain centers. A difference is that romantic passion eventually fades or evolves naturally while drug addiction and some false love syndromes do not.
Romantic passion in the past has been variously referred to as being smitten, bewitched, spellbound, infatuated, love crazed, blessed out, beguiled, temporarily besotted, lovesick, having a crush and my favorite twitterpatted. Interestingly none of those terms convey the idea of long lasting love even though those experiencing passionate love frequently pledge everlasting love, to love forever, etc. The truth seems to be that a very high number of highly passionate, romantic relationships do not stay that way or even continue in any form once the passion fades. Although, some do and those in them frequently proclaim theirs was real love right from the start.
A Possible Difference between Real and False Passionate LoveIt is suspected that false, passionate love is the kind that pushes out and is destructive to other forms of love and love relationships. Family love, friendship love and parental love and even pet love are all known to suffer, be neglected and even rejected when people are involved in passionate relating. However, it actually may be that in passionate, real love those other love relationships tend to be enhanced, better appreciated and better taken care of. The suspected reason is that the selfishness factor increases with false love and decreases with real love. No one knows for sure.
It is entirely possible that some people have a real love springing up within a highly passionate beginning relationship while others do not. Some of those who do not probably are experiencing a passion-filled, more temporary, false love syndrome. Others may be experiencing a natural and healthful, but short term, romantic and passionate involvement which will provide an enriching interlude but not a deep and lasting love. Terms like shipboard romance, close encounters of the temporary kind and weekend love affairs may have arisen from this kind of passionate, non-real love or only a mini-love experience.
The Pain, Problems and Pleasures of Our PassionsMaybe, more than you might think, there are people who learned to relate in and with love quite well after first having had passionate love’s peak emotional and sexual experiences followed by horrible, heartbreak disasters. It is interesting what they have to say about their times of passionate love. Lots of them proclaim they are quite glad for their previous times of passionate love but would not want to go through them again. It was for them, a great adventure and they grew from it tremendously but it involved far too much chaos, agony and effort. They also tend to proclaim that the love they have now fits their life far better than the tumult, tortures and tentativeness of their past passionate involvements. link “Adamant Love - and How It Wins for Us All” link “Ebullient Love - Love’s Joyous River” and link “Serene Love - A Gentle Power Flowing” One of the things they learned was to be very self lovingly careful when it comes to passionate love.
One More Little ThingWouldn’t it be good to talk over what you just read with one or more others to see what they might think about passionate love and these ideas? If you share this with them, we would appreciate it if you mention our many Mini-Love-Lessons, this site and our free subscription service. Thank you.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
Quotable Question: If you fall into passionate romantic love, will it end like other falls – in a crash?