What is Love?

Why Do We Love?

Pleasure: Our lives are sequences of experiences, some pleasurable, others non-pleasurable. We seek love, because it is the most pleasurable experience the universe has yet to offer us. Pleasures are good not only because of the quantity, but also the intensity, quality and variety. You can quickly erase years of pleasurable experiences with one, powerfully intense, non-pleasurable experience. For example, consider a couple that has shared many happy times. Those happy times can instantly become insignificant if one person physically assaults the other.

"The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour."

Japanese Proverb

Real Shared History: We want pleasurable experiences to be as intense, varied and numerous, as possible; but even non-pleasurable experiences, while inevitable, may be worthwhile because they may lead to moments of intense pleasure in the future. For example, dragging your unwilling, whining child to his tennis lessons may be unpleasant for both of you, but it may result in many wonderful moments of shared enjoyment in the future when you can play together.

The more experiences we share with someone, the more intricate our history becomes. The uniqueness of that history intensifies the quality of future experiences. Suppose you are visiting the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Awed by its beauty and the aura of the moment, you can relive it often with someone who experienced it with you. Having someone to share our experiences validates our lives. We write the history of a relationship by living it and keeping a mental account of pleasurable and non-pleasurable experiences.

The greater the pleasurable experiences, the richer is the shared history. The richer the shared history, the greater is the desire to remember, to defend, to cherish and to work on the relationship. It is important that we could, however, have a desire to defend and to work on that relationship when it is only imagined love, because we are projecting what we want the relationship to be, while ignoring what it actually is. This is so common in human experience that it is the subject of much great literature. Conversely, we can imagine a relationship with so many non-pleasurable experiences that they overshadow any pleasurable ones, which would lead us to abandon the relationship.

The longer we are in a love relationship, the greater the number of experiences we have accumulated. In a close relationship, these experiences will be strongly intense. This makes our love relationship stronger and allows for a greater degree of pleasure and non-pleasure. Therefore, the stronger the love relationship, the more disappointed we are with non-pleasurable experiences, and vice-versa.

Simply being together, however, doesn't mean there is a shared history; A history with someone may be a parallel history. For example, many couples, whether consciously or unconsciously, opt to stay together for the benefit of their children, while leading essentially separate lives.