Love can start in many ways – a look across a room, a smile, or a random meeting. Falling in love is the easy part; making love last is the real challenge. Because of fairy tales and romantic movies, many of us think of love like a magical spell that makes us forget reason and who we are. This way of thinking often makes us doubtful about whether we can really build and keep loving relationships. But here's the thing: humans naturally want to form strong connections with others. And science says that having deep relationships is the main predictor of happiness. Love not only makes our lives better but also helps us grow as individuals and keeps us healthy, both physically and mentally. In the book, “Love Sense”, Sue Johnson gives some scientific evidence to show that humans are meant to mate for life. She offers a lot of practical advice on how to develop and improve our romantic relationships. In this summary, I’ll share with you three key lessons that I learned from the book.
Key Lesson #1: It’s hard to define love, but it’s an essential part of being human
I am sure you’ve been in love before and you know how it is. It’s like this powerful and sometimes confusing feeling. It can make us feel all sorts of things – from happy and excited to trapped and desperate. We all want this thing called LOVE, but we don’t really know what it is. But here is the thing, even though it's hard to define love, it’s a crucial part of being human. Throughout history, people have always struggled to understand love. Some scientists say that love is nature's way of making sure we have babies. In the past, getting married was mainly about survival. Having a family to help with work and support. But today, with many women working and being independent, marriage is seen more as a way to find love and happiness. Today, more than ever, people come together because of love. It’s not about survival anymore. Sociologist Anthony Giddens says that in the past, people saw love as an economic thing, but now it's more about emotions. Nowadays, our relationships with our partners are some of the most important ones we have. That's why it's essential to understand how love works.
Key Lesson #2: Humans are biologically wired for monogamy
In the animal kingdom, some mammals are biologically wired for monogamy, and humans are among them. The idea of human monogamy is a bit controversial. Some experts on relationships say it's not realistic because people might get tired of being with the same person all the time. And some nature experts say that sticking with one partner doesn't really fit with how things work in nature. They argue that having just one partner for life goes against the natural order, pointing out that only 7 percent of mammals are monogamous. They question why humans should be an exception when we're wired, like other mammals, to ensure the survival of our species. But in the book, Sue claims that humans are designed to have lifelong mates. And she gives lots of scientific evidence to back it up. One experiment was on this hormone called oxytocin. All mammals including humans have this hormone and it is known as the "cuddle hormone," and is meant to foster the bond between partners during emotionally charged moments. Scientists think oxytocin could be a major reason why people form exclusive partnerships. The clearest proof of oxytocin’s power comes from a study involving two species of vole: prairie and montane. These two differ in one major way. The prairie vole has oxytocin receptors in its brain; the montane vole does not. Male and female montane voles mate, give birth, and then abandon their pups and go to live alone. Prairie voles stay together for life. In fact, when scientists boost oxytocin in prairie voles, they start even to snuggle with each other. So, nature has given us this tool and It's biologically possible for humans to create lifelong connections with a partner.
Key Lesson #3: Being emotionally dependent in a love relationship is a good thing
If someone were to describe you as emotionally “dependent,” how would you react? Nowadays, especially in the West, emotional dependency is seen as a weakness. And society seems to advertise that being emotionally independent is a sign of being an adult. But this can’t be further from the truth. Having a secure emotional bond where we can depend on, serves as an ideal foundation for exploring the unknown. When we can rely on our partners for comfort and support, our energy is freed up from worries about safety, allowing us to focus on pursuing our goals and aspirations. Strong emotional bonds can also have biological benefits. Research indicates that emotional support can lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, and even enhance resilience against trauma. On the other hand, being alone has many adverse effects on both mental and physical health. Some research shows that these negative symptoms can be as bad as being in solitary confinement. So, we humans are not designed to be independent, and relying on our partners for emotional support not only enhances our well-being but also boosts our confidence to explore the unknown.
So, in summary, love relationships are essential for our well-being. And even though it’s hard to define love, it has always been a part of human experience. Also, nature has equipped us to stay with one partner for a lifetime. And it’s totally okay to rely on your partner for emotional support.