For now, let's talk about the brain. Ah yes, that beautiful piece of grey matter that fills our skull. I love learning about the human brain, I can geek out about it at any given moment. My favorite class in college was a learning and cognition class that focused on the human brain. I now have a guilty pleasure for buying books and reading articles in my spare time on the noggin'. Two books that I must recommend to y'all are the following:
So why all this talk about the brain you ask? I was thinking about how well I've been doing since my breakup and it made me ask myself, "Why? Should't I be feeling different? Worse, perhaps?" I don't think anything is wrong with me, and believe me, I am extremely thankful for being a great place in my life right now. All of these questions and feelings are what brought my attention to love and the human brain. You see, according to my previous knowledge there are three main types of love:
- Eros Love - also known as erotic love. These are those crazy, love-at-first-sight, honey moon stage, hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, so call me maybe-love. It is said that this isn't true love, and unless you get through hardships and sacrifices then it can be long-lasting. It is completely natural to begin a relationship with Eros.
- Philios Love - is the friends before relationship kind of love. These relationships tend to last longer because of the strong bond you have already established prior to the romance. There is a definite give and take expectation with Philios love.
- Agape Love - the ideal love, it is unconditional love. Agape love is completely selfless, one can be hurt or insulted and still love at the end. With Agape you love another without seeking anything in return and it is said to be completely spiritual.
If asked I would say that with my last relationship there wasn't an Eros feeling on my behalf, and to be truthful I don't think I ever had it. I wouldn't say this is necessarily a bad thing, but rather love grew from a friendship and from qualities that I found extremely attractive in this person. I think that my brain wanted the Philios love, but got confused when this boy decided to skip the friend zone and immediately show physical signs of attraction to me. So, even though I didn't have Eros, but there was a friendship prior to our relationship we ended up somewhere in a limbo between love types 1 and 2.
Here is where things shifted. At the start of our relationship I would say that we were both in a "give and take" stage, and to a certain extent we do expect something in return from our romantic partner. Otherwise we become emotionally exhausted and lose a sense of our worth. If I do this, then I expect this. We were definitely in this stage for awhile, but had different interpretations for "doing" (cue the love languages), but that is for another time my friends. It wasn't until about a year into our relationship that I consciously began to change, I didn't want to lose this person that I had grown to love. I wanted to love him the very best that I could. I think this is when I slowly transitioned into the Agape stage. I must say that prior to this, he had already started his journey towards this selfless love, but began to refrain from it when it became emotionally exhausting for him.
I began to dedicate so much of myself to bettering the way that I loved him. Would this make him happy? If I do this will I hurt his feelings? I should go do this for him, but I don't expect him to do the same for me anymore. Parts of this were healthy, and I was truly trying to love as best as I knew how with every particle of my being...until it wasn't anymore. It became about giving so much of myself, and loving despite pain and suffering. You could see how this could be healthy, if it was a two-way street. I was on a one-way road at this point, with faded street signs and pot holes everywhere. He was in Philios and I was in Agape (or attempting to).
No one is a victim here, especially not me, and I really hope that is not how this reflection comes across. I am simply analyzing what I learn as I process through this break up. In a recent study (source) it was found that the same part of the brain is activated when you experience rejection from love and when you are physically burned. When you experience heart break you are burned emotionally, isn't that fascinating? It is also said in this study that feelings of romantic love and rejection are associated with biology. In other words, there is a link between love and the biological need to pass on our genes. Our brains do crazy things, such as causing extreme emotional pain when experiencing rejection from a person we may have identified as a potential mate.
In a nutshell: love is truly complicated.
After analyzing and over analyzing my relationship in the past couple of paragraphs, the best thing I can say to move forward is this:
While I truly felt love for this person and had feelings of being "in love," biology may be preventing my brain from experiencing extreme emotional pain and it may just be my biological needs whispering "get over it!" to my brain.