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April 26, 2005

Is love real?


Psychologist James Averill believes not.

From "Emotional Rollercoaster" by Claudia Hammond:

    He thinks that saying you're in love is simply shorthand for a list of ways in which you hope the other person will behave.

    So if you tell someone you love them and they respond similarly, this is a quick way of making agreements regarding fidelity, the way you behave towards each other on an everyday basis, and your joint hopes for the future.

    If these expectations are fulfilled you can declare yourself to be in love.

    If we enjoy spending time with a person, miss them when they're not there, think about them a lot and hope to spend the future with them, we decide we are in love.

    We tend to think that emotions happen to us, but according to Averill they are just things that we do, ways of behaving.

    He believes the reason we fall in love is that society neglects the individual. Society can't love us so we find another way to receive love and by idealizing the person we love we preserve our own self–esteem.

Hammond's chapter on love, one of nine on different emotions, is the most interesting in her book, perhaps because the subject, love, is itself the most interesting of the nine emotions she discusses.

I am always drawn to the haunting observation of Jacques Lacan about love, to wit: "Love is giving something you don't have to someone who doesn't exist."

Hammond writes, "There are four situations in which people are particularly likely to fall in love: when they feel lonely, dissatisfied, in need of sex or in need of variety."


Which brings to mind something I read once, on the subject of a how chancy and unpredictable is one's likelihood of hitting it off in a major way with a stranger: "Never forget that you're always only one bad mood away."

April 26, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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