Everyone has ideas about love; for human beings, it is a lifelong preoccupation. The love relationship is unique in that, across cultures, nothing drives otherwise normal human beings to do crazy things than the quest for a love bond in a couple relationship.

What is genuine love, however?

It has many attributes. One experience of love is, as Mark Twain describes, “the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” Recent findings in neuroscience would agree with Mr. Twain’s statement. Romantic attraction appears to release the same levels, if not higher, of dopamine and oxytocin into the bloodstream as drugs.

Genuine love, however, is all encompassing. It mirrors the attributes of human nature at its best.

Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence,” says psychological theorist Eric Fromm. It’s something that “stretches your heart and makes you big inside,” notes poet and author Margaret Walker.

An even more far reaching view says that,

Love has no awareness of merit or demerit; it has no scale… Love loves; this is its nature.” ~ HOWARD THURMAN

Attributes of a genuine love are ones that reflect our human nature. We are relationship beings, hardwired with inborn strivings for empathic connection.

-14 Comments to
The Neuroscience of ‘Genuine’ Love – And What Love Quotes Say!

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  1. Great article, Dr. Staik! Admittedly, intimate relationships are something that are devoid from my life at this time; I am learning to love myself unconditionally and to embrace life, rather than run away from it.

    I lost my mother at 3 years old, and as a result, any relationship, intimate or not, has been difficult. Family relations are strained at best, and I stay away from them because I feel very little connection.

    I have been alone for close to a decade now, save for a few long-distance relationships that failed as well. I closed off, shut down any desire for intimacy with another person, and proceeded to delve deeper in self-soothing. It’s always been there, but not nearly as strong as it is now. For a while, I felt that this would work, and I could “go it alone,” forever. A few years ago, I hit rock bottom, and realized that it would no longer suffice.

    I became a student of Spirituality and began reading, listening, and watching inspirational materials. I began a painful, yet necessary process of “starting over,” in my life. I continue to do so today, realizing that shutting out all relationships because of my hurt is not the ultimate answer. The more I reach out and connect with others, the better I feel. Once I began to see how distorted my thinking was, it became easier to connect with others. I am grateful today to be on the path to a new and better life. I did what I knew to do, and now I know that those thought patterns, attitudes, habits, and behaviors no longer serve me.

    I am taking the steps to begin letting someone into my life intimately, not clinging to them as if they were my mother, and that every word they said hinged upon my happiness; but as a friend, confidante, and someone who can get me to that next “phase” of closeness.

    I’m not going to rush into things. I’m taking baby steps. My happiness is not contingent upon someone else. I am willing to learn and contribute to a relationship, especially in times that I didn’t in the past.

    Thank you again for writing this article! Take care, and God Bless!

    John

    • Such an honor to read your post, John, thank you for sharing. Most of all, thank you for never giving up, for turning pain into an asset that is nourishing your spiritual growth and well being. You may be interested in reading “Keeping the Love You Find” by Drs Hendrix” – it’s a nice primer for breaking free of early conditioning from childhood. Blessings to you as well! Thanks again for commenting.

  2. //Too often, partners go looking for love, misled by the romanticized notion of finding a soulmate in order to have a great marriage. Many waste time looking for the ideal lover, instead of using their energy to create the love relationship the aspire.//

    I am not talking about partners but generally, you cant make yourself love someone .. this feeling comes naturally .. some people click you some don’t .. Wasting time in looking for a lover/soulmate rather than marrying just any other guy, is really a waste? At times, psychologists give a confusing view about Love .. Some say, we should look for soulmate, as you dont fall for just any other person .. and some say, its a waste of time ..

    confusing :S

    Rest of the article was great.. Learned from it.

    • Thanks for the positive feedback and question, and for the opportunity to address your question. I agree one hundred percent when it comes to ‘waiting’ for the right person, that chemistry of attraction factors in, and there’s even evidence that we subconsciously choose a partner, who is our “match” in terms of positive and negative traits similar to our parents. My point was to not let this become a distraction from doing the would, and that we may have many matches, perhaps thousands. In response to your comment, I have added a couple of paragraphs to that section, and a quote by Zig Zigler (that I had previously omitted due to length). Check it out, if you wish. In any case, thanks again for commenting and giving me the opportunity to add clarity to my post. So appreciate your visit.

  3. I am really indebted to you for reading my comment, & replying in a comprehensive and understandable manner..Appreciated.

    //Referring to one’s partner as a soulmate is not the problem; obsessing on or repeatedly questioning whether we’ve married the wrong person, in many cases (not all), steals away energy that would be better used on digging deep, getting to work, accessing those resources inside, to start healing as individuals and a couple.//

    I agree 100%

    & the quote by Zig Zigler explains all, it cleared my confusion to some extent..

    thank you once again.

  4. Amazing article!! I am 28 years old and have just now realized all of what this article is saying. I have been in a 2 year relationship and this is what we strive for; along with partnership. Thanks so much for this!!

    • Thank you for the positive feedback, Amy. I appreciate your stopping by, and sharing your thoughts and experience, and enjoyed your enthusiasm.

  5. Dear Dr. Staik,
    Just a fabulous piece. Well written and all encompassing. At age 52 with my life experiences I found the article to be quite my experiences. From Chemistry, Infidelity to Spirituality and everything in between. Had I a bit more sense at a younger age I would have been able to avoid some of hurt I inflicted on others and invariably on myself. Ahh.. but i am much more teachable now. for me spirituality is the keystone to not harming any human being it invokes a form of love directed at all.Thank you Mary

    • How lovely to hear from you Mary, and to learn your path has taken you to a “teachable place,” where you now see spirituality as ‘the keystone” to an all-embracing love. So agree… Thanks again for commenting.

  6. Excellent article. Thank you.

  7. I really liked the article, and hope to make my marriage better by understanding our love better… this just might change the dynamics of our relationship!

    • Thanks for the feedback, Vanessa. Glad to know you’ve found the article helpful in understanding and perhaps even changing some dynamics in your marriage relationship. Thanks again!

  8. It’s all very nice and high-minded, but where is neuroscience in it?

    • Hi, Tamara. Thanks for the comment and question. For more on neuroscience aspects see other posts, and also in a couple of links I’ve included. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

  9. As a psychologist and as a man I’ve discovered that genuine love is absolutely controlled by the superior sex (females). One example: Valentine Day is always a ONE SIDED AFFAIR. There are very few women who grow up and are permanently in love with a man. Women don’t even like sex, it is merely a tool and does not foster love in them. Women love SHOES and men never attain such status. The science, the research is all pasttimes to avoid the real issue of genuine love which never has permanancy in Women towards men. Sorry guys, women Love things not Men!

    • Appreciate your stopping by to comment, M.A. Davis, though I hold a differing view of men and women as human beings above all, who are wired with circuitry for caring and empathic connection, thus, love that is one sided is not genuine love at all, and rather a set up for resentment.

    • It’s a shame you’ve had to suffer in this way, but one woman is not the representative for all of them. In the same way that you’d most likely not want to be thrown into the category of “dog” or “player” or “sex crazed and unfaithful”, not all women are “gold diggers” love things over men. In fact, I’d say none of them do but they hold fast to materialism in order to protect themselves and keep people from getting close to them.

      In a similar way that a man may get into porn due to it feeling “safe” and uncomplicated by a real personality, women may take the same pleasure in addictive buying. Some men do this too. There are a lot of people in the world who don’t know how to let down their walls and thus prevent themselves from maturing. Some people become obsessed with sex, some buys things, some get lost in the lives of their children, some horde dogs and cats.

      Suffering is a human problem and we learn all sorts of ways to medicate it. Gender is just one factor that may shape the ways we tend our wounds, but it is not a clear predictor nor an inevitability that one group will choose one way to soothe over an other.

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