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                        Love Is A Verb

                            by Anne Wycoff

                       ©All Rights Reserved/ Anne A.Wycoff February 2013


To say we are looking for love, we are in love, or that we have love indicates that love is an entity, a noun. We (society) are at the point of re-establishing love as a status and posting it like some sort of job-announcement or as a lifetime event:  


    In a relationship, in a committed relationship, in a complicated relationship, single, available, divorced. 

Checking the box of love as if it were a thing on our tax return. 


In Shakespearean times, status was a noun.  Rich, or poor, married or widowed. It was not easily changed and would often be generational.  It dictated your life letting the world know that it was an important thing to attain.  


Sadly we have not evolved from that thinking. Love is not a person, place or a thing it is a verb.  We arrogantly assume that we control love as we manipulate and control people, places or things in our daily lives. Of course when love doesn’t work out, we refer to it as an entity, that it controls us, it left us and it was bad luck to us. 



Verbs require action to react; they require a stimulus, a variant to initiate their verb characters.  

Until we actually wrap our heads around the concept of love being a verb and that it requires the same components that verbs require, we are going to constantly chase love like the elusive white Lepus Curpaeums character in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice In Wonderland.   

Wikipedia Describes Love As a Verb - A Verb Is Action: 

To feel great affection for someone:  

To feel love for someone

To feel sexual or romantic love for someone

To like or desire something very much:  to take great pleasure in something/someone to be attracted to someone that includes sexual desire: 


the strong affection/attraction felt by people who have a romantic relationship, to cherish, value and prize

 

Love may be confused as a limerent reaction (see below for symptoms and components of limerence). Limerence has been called addictive love due in part to its dopamine effect on the brain.  Similar to cocaine and other stimulant drug reaction to our brain, a limerick reaction is obsessive.  It is the love/verb catapulted into a stalker like affection for the object. The only good limerick reaction is when it evolves into a love reaction.  This reaction is outlined in a number of steps and mechanisms.  From the moment of initiation (feeling of attraction) we are setting up the steps, manipulating love to react. We initialize interaction with our object of affection/attraction. 

 

We continue to find ways of stimulating a response because we desire to be around our object, our person we are attracted to, having affection for. We wait for a response. We try to respond accordingly to what we think that person may react positively to. 

 

And finally, we feel a caring compassion/empathy for this person even if they do not return our initiative stimulus. We lose the, what’s in it for me, selfishness of a limerence.  

According to Psychologist, Dorothy Tennov, in her 1979 book, Love and Limerence, the Limerence initiative either sustains as a limerick or evolves into a feeling of neutrality (healthy love) which occurs during the initial three years of the relationship.  So does love always start out as limerence?  The two seem to start out the same, but similar to an interrupted gene, at some point it has to split, either evolve or disintegrate into its own destruction. 


Components and Symptoms of Limerence:

· obsessive thinking/involuntary thoughts

· heavy fantasizing (sexual or not)

· can only have one LO at a time

· "rollercoaster" of emotions (ecstasy and agony) based on the 


LO's interactions/info found on LO

· heavy fear of rejection, ongoing desire and hope of reciprocation.

Must keep a balance between the 2

· seeing neutral signs from LO as signs of reciprocation

· sexual attraction (has to be someone you can picture yourself having sex with)


Finding that everything can relate back to LO (especially music)

· emotional dependency on said person 

· shyness around LO (of variable degree)

· a need to find out information about the LO (can result into slightly stalkerish behavior)

  • rearranging of priorities so that you might, un-coincidentally, run into LO
  • sudden interest in body language
  • "game playing"
  • dreams involving the limerent object
  • loss in appetite (not applicable to all)
  • loss in sleep (not applicable to all)
  • nearly viewing LO as a god/goddess

not really wanting anyone to know about limerence/feelings

"there's nobody else for me!" syndrome (not applicable to all)

increased sex drive (disputed as to whether applicable to all or not)


When to know: Is it Limerence, lust or love at first sight?


Most baby boomers have the legacy of being the end result of love at first sight.  During transference times of a country, people’s senses are heightened, a sense of desperation as imminent death or lifestyle change occurs:  Feast or famine, war or peace, depression or wealth.  


Love at first sight can occur but it is inclusive to the potentials in that environment.  American Researchist Earl Naumann interviewed 1,495 people during his article 1990 for his marketing research.  The environment of people changed, thus triggering potential inclusions through senses of sight, smell, touch and hearing.  Those reactions (like a chain reaction) trigger the chemical reaction of lemerence, lust and possibly love.  


Nearly two-thirds of the population believed in love at first sight, reacted accordingly to people Naumann interviewed.  Fifty-Five percent of those interviewed married their loves at first sight; three quarters of those sustained their marriages.   According to Naumanns findings, 20% of people will fall under that category of love at first sight, solely by the perceptions of first sight, smell, touch and hearing.  Our first encounters with the object of our affections.  

 

The stimulus (photons) marries that person, three-fourths stay married, better than the national average.  So there is something to be said about first impressions.  The first sensor (sight) enters the brain system through the optic nerve.  It travels to the thalamus (brain translator); messages are sent to the no cortex (Critical thinking part of the brain) and the amygdala (memory/past experiences, fear our defense mechanisms are developed here). 

Messages Are Sent by the amygdala to the hypothalamus (connects the nervous system to the endocrine system) then directs the pituitary gland to release the appropriate hormones and neurochemicals (pheromones). 


Endorphins Oxytocin, Vasopressin and Dopamine flood the brain and other parts of the body, your heart races, breath becomes rapid,  sometimes even short of breath, creating that giddy feeling upon sight of our object because of lack of oxygen or oxygen going into other parts of the body (such as an erection in men).  


Anticipation without sight can have the same affect.  “The implication is that there is not just a single chemical reaction taking place in our bodies, there is an entire series of events/reactions that result in the emotion of love.”

essages are sent by the amygdala to the hypothalamus (connects the nervous system to the endocrine system) then directs the pituitary gland to release the appropriate hormones and neurochemicals (pheromones). 


Endorphins Oxytocin, Vasopressin and Dopamine flood the brain and other parts of the body, your heart races, breath becomes rapid,  sometimes even short of breath, creating that giddy feeling upon sight of our object because of lack of oxygen or oxygen going into other parts of the body (such as an erection in men).  


Anticipation without sight can have the same affect.  “The implication is that there is not just a single chemical reaction taking place in our bodies, there is an entire series of events/reactions that result in the emotion of love.”


A CA Chemical Potion.

Perhaps there is a sort-of Love potion:  Love requires action.  It requires stimulus even if you are the only one feeling it.  You are still stimulating it. When two people are “in-love” upon a study conducted by Anthropologist Helen Fisher, couples in the process of love compiling of body languages and their MRI brain scan, the ventral tegmental area and the caudate nucleus in their brain—lit up. It was not so much finding a location, an address, for love as tracing its specific chemical pathways. Love lights up the cauduate nucleus because it is home to a dense spread of receptors for a neurotransmitter called dophamine -pleasure (1)


 It is why, when you are newly in love, you can stay up all night, watch the sun rise, run a race, ski fast down a slope ordinarily too steep for your skill. Love makes you bold, makes you bright, makes you run real risks, which you sometimes survive, and sometimes you don't.(2)


A Tangible Feast: 

Love touch, love proof.  Anthropologist Laura Ahearn of Rutgers University.  Questions the way to continue love, even in the face of diversity and how to keep it going. “A unique question is how is the meaning of romantic love unique in each time and place?"   In her book, Invitations to Love, Ahearn finds that love letters illuminate the dramatic transformations in courtship and marriage in a small Nepali village over the past 20 years. She calls the place "Junigau," a pseudonym used to preserve the privacy of the village's 350 inhabitants. Her research discovered that twenty years ago, more than 90 percent of marriages in Junigau were arranged by parents, with groom and bride exchanging only a few words before the wedding.


Today, less than 10 percent of marriages in that same area are arranged;

Eloping without parental blessings is the rule. Ahearn shows how all sorts of new influences; from economic development programs to Indian romance movies, have led young people to expect to fall madly in love before marrying. The movements of mass media has blown these influences into a morphed state of awareness.  To this day however, spending time alone with the opposite sex during courtship is still forbidden. 


So how do young people continue on their quest of love? The answer: secret love letters. By writing these passionate, elaborate letters, couples are rejecting arranged marriages, but also trying to define themselves as modern and successful. Says one young man to the woman of his dreams:   

Yes, Sarita, because of love the world looks bright. Our love I find to be true love. It is indescribable... This union cannot possibly be broken up. Therefore, let's put more effort into studying. This is the path toward progress.” (8)

The letters reflect a bygone art and communication of our own past.  During all the World Wars, Korean, and Vietnam and even during the more recent Golf War, the art of writing love letters has diminished and given way to blogs, mass media chats, Skype, emails and texts.  Even in an email, love letters are limited.  We are so concerned our souls and the oozing ridicules passionate materials of our heart can be forwarded, posted and then ridiculed or worse, used against us after the love is gone or perhaps shame that we actually have those feelings and there they are: Staring at us in black and white but we feel compelled to bring them to the attention of our object of affection no matter the reaction.  

 


Yet, couples who communicate through letters and long texts seem to have longevity.  There is something to be said about words erupting on paper and text; it makes it more real and difficult to take back. A letter is tangible, a piece of evidence, proof that this person really cares, took the time and effort to pour out their feelings, to articulate them enough in order to grab at your heartstrings, to pay for a stamp and drop it in the mailbox. They are a lost art of reaching out and touching someone. Even in a short cryptic text we have to concede that at least that person is thinking about you (of course they may have sent that text to a million other people, but that is the chance of love).   


Some would argue (myself being one) that it is better to actually talk with a person you are interested in.   But in today’s crazed insta-gram and insta work productivity, a phone call isn’t always frugal at the moment. And honestly text is the new drug of choice; people can get obsessed and become lemerced.  How many times do I receive a text from a frantic friend,  “OMG!  He hasn’t text me in eight hours.  Maybe he found someone new?”   We are addicted to instant contact.  At least a text gives us that fix to continue throwing us in the vortex of illusion that the person who sent us the text may actually really love us.


We are addicted to our status, our romantic status, the noun of love when really, what we have to realize that love is a verb and love letters illustrate that beautifully.   Waiting at least 48 hours or more before communication is re-established. Love is a verb, you are waiting; the person wrote you and is waiting to hear back from you.  You have touched and smelled and heard the type of paper that person wrote you.  You are taking pen to paper and writing them…Yet one could argue that hearing a voice is much more important but again, in today’s society and with dating being media induced more often than not, texting or sexting will have to do. 


When you do get to that point of taking the texting to the next level that is actually hearing the person’s voice, that triggers a reaction as well. The influx of voice has the same reaction of sight, touch and smell.  It goes directly into a chemical reaction, giving our brains a picture.  Blood levels increase because of Oxygen increase.  Pure tone averages are heightened and either the object of your affection has an appealing voice to you (The tone goes up in your tympanic membrane) or they don’t (tone goes down and almost shuts out a receptor).  One could argue that this may be the reaction of males and dubbed selective hearing.  After a while the tone of their mates or mothers grates on them, becomes unappealing and they no longer process and produce a picture in their brains. It goes back to our reaction similar to sight:  What triggers that love reaction? And, how do we keep that going?

Love and Longevity

So how do we transfer all those reactions into sustaining love?  Longevity.  Mileage.  The humdrum of a normal life with that person settles in. 


The trick is to keep the love going, to sustain the verb, to continue to put it in action and not allow it to become a noun.  Most successful marriages attribute their longevity to continuing the experiences and shaking things up.  Couples who have been married for more than fifty years equate their longevity to courtship and a higher power.  There were only first base encounters, no heavy kissing or petting and defiantly no sex until after the marriage occurred. They felt accountable to a higher power to withstand and wait.  The men really had to work to gain the attention and affection of a woman. They remember that it was worth the wait, worth the work than something that may have been easily attained in the beginning but may have devastating consequences according to their faith and belief system. 


Men like the chase.  It is emasculating to take that away from them.  In our media frenzied world today, the chase is little more than an Instagram or text and most women become impatient and take on the role usually denoted to men in the form of smiley faces or short text just to keep the lines of communication going. We have become a society of nouns (things) not verbs (actions). 

Love At First Sight

 

 In the February 13, 2013 article, Couple Fall In Love At First Sight written by Miranda Koerner interviewed Richard and Lupe Duran of San Antonio Texas married 62 years. The couple was quoted as saying their courtship was typical of the 1950s during an era when courting and falling in love was quite different from today's beginning relationships. One day, Richard went to visit a cousin and was looking at a photo album when he saw a black-and-white photo of a girl his age. “I pointed to the photo and I told my cousin that's the girl I wanted to marry.”My cousin laughed and said 'You don't even know her!” “It doesn't matter, I want to marry her,” Richard said. “Try to introduce me to her.” Three weeks later, Richard located the downtown San Antonio jewelry shop where Lupe worked and managed to introduce himself. Lupe said she liked Richard from the moment she met him. “We saw each other every day after work for three months,” she recalled. “One day when I kissed her, I reached for a second kiss and she said, 'That's enough,'” he laughed. “Back then, you didn't do more than that when you were dating,” Lupe replied. They were married three months later. 


Children of such marriages are positively impacted:  “It's just wonderful to watch my parents together,” said their daughter, Mary Compos. “The love they have for each other is inspirational. As children, we were very fortunate to have parents like that.” Compos said her parents taught her the secret to a lasting marriage. “Loyalty, being open-minded, communicating with and supporting each other are the secrets to a good marriage,” she explained. “Support is probably the biggest attribute of their marriage. They stood by each other in every decision they made.” Richard said supporting each other came from the vows Lupe and Richard took when they were married. “We promised each other that we would never be angry at each other and we wouldn't worry about money,” Richard said. “And we are keeping our promise,” Lupe added, patting Richard's hand. After 62 years of marriage, they still hold hands like two love-struck teenagers. “It was divine intervention,” Richard said. “I truly believe that.”(6)



If we could just wrap the most loving brain on the planet around the fact that love is a verb and continue to treat it as such, we may find a continuance of love. We just have to keep it going, to continue the beat. 

 

To paraphrase a Native American teaching, "A wolf who can love and a wolf who can hate live in the heart of every person." Humans are the most sociable species on earth.  

We are capable of sustaining love as a verb with our acts of altruism, communication, empathy, friendship and romance.  We are also the most destructive unto ourselves and have the worst ways of illustrating emotional cruelty, discrimination, envy, hate, jealousy and sadism.    


©All Rights Reserved/ A. Wycoff February 2013    REFERENCES

(1)   Anthropologist, Helen Fisher on her studies of chemistry of love and Psychologist Dorothy Tennov

(2)   National Geographic Studies on Love

(3)   National Geographic Studies on Love

(4)   Fisher, Helen. Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love.Henry Holt and Company, 2004.
 
Hatfield, Elaine, and Richard Rapson. Love and Sex: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Allyn and Bacon, 1996.
 
Jankowiak, William, ed. Romantic Passion: A Universal Experience?Columbia University Press, 1995.
 
Lewis, Thomas, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon. A General Theory of Love.Random House, 2000.

(5)   Dr. Ahearn in Shelley Sperry article of National Geographic Studies on Love

(6)   Bulvedere News, Miranda Koerner article February 13, 2013http://www.mysanantonio.com/community/bulverde/article/Couple-fall-in-love-at-first-sight-4275759.php

(7)   Melinski and Wedekind  http://www.nature.com/news/2001/010307/full/news010308-10.html

(8)   Dr. Ahearn's Love Letters homepage: anthro.rutgers.edu/faculty/ahearn.shtml Click here to edit text

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Other Love Poems For Reflection and  Writing Wedding Vows

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