By Jennifer Lugo – Collegiate Staff
“I love you.” It’s imperative I say this to my family every time I walk out the door. It’s not the words themselves that are important. The feeling behind the words connect me to my family and I’ve used love as a shield against tragedy and pain throughout my life. Through my greatest challenges as a teenage parent, wife, and caregiving daughter, I have embraced it, been captured by it, left it, and lost it.
I have lost many friends and family members, including my mother in a sense. While she is still alive, she was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 65. I have been her caregiver for five years. She has lost, communication skills, and her independence after being the strongest, most sincere, artistic, articulate woman I know. I am currently struggling with the hardest challenge I’ve faced as a daughter, placing her in an assisted living facility.
I lost a cousin when I was 14, my first love four months later, the father of two of my children in 2010, followed less than a month later by my husband’s father. Not to mention countless meaningful patients in 11 years as a caregiver.
Loss can turn to pain, depression, or anxiety very quickly if this shield of emotions isn’t up. I have endured these moments of doubt and fear, fighting depression and anxiety. They are easier to get through when you let love guide you.
The Role of Social Media:
I used to feel like social media helped contribute to a decline of friendship due to lack of face-to-face contact. But recent personal experiences on Facebook have expanded my family connections. I connected with my mother’s German family that she and I haven’t seen since 1988. Picture exchanges and Skype make good substitutes for face-to-face contact, if used in moderation.
These people provide my mother with a sense of happiness and excitement nothing else can give her. I even found her best friend from New York, who she hasn’t seen in over 33 years.
Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love:
Romantic love is not the only type of love out there. In his 2010 presentation titled “The Psychology of Love,” Frank Conner, Psychology department head at GRCC, talked about the essence of why we seek love in all relationships. He used Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love to explain the different relationship dynamics.
The elements of this triangle are passion, intimacy, and commitment.
What do you mean when you say “I love you?” When you say it to a significant other, it feels different than to a parent, child, pet, or object. This is where the elements of the triangle combine to form different relationship types.
Some definitions are not rooted in biological family, but in people who are there for you through life’s challenges. Jonathan Delevega, 24, a student at GRCC, explained his lack of family and how he formed his own definition of love.
“To me the definition of love has always been, patience, kindness, and responsibility for yourself and just trying to be there for others,” Delevega said.
The idea of love doesn’t have limits or boundaries. Find love in yourself and then express it outwardly. The feeling is not only instinctual, it is euphoric, addicting, and motivating. Love can be used as a coping mechanism or her finding patience, self-confidence, and understanding.
Different types of love:
“You can have love that’s entirely based on passion,” Conner said. “This is that innate physical attraction to somebody.” These relationships sometimes include one night stands, love at first sight, or summer romances. Initially, it feels like this person is the one, but it is short-lived. People in this category don’t look to marriage because it means commitment.
Family is an example of commitment and loyalty. You love your family and want to take care of them because of a feeling of commitment. Intimacy and passion lack in these cases. I take care of my mother, because I feel a certain level of commitment to her for raising me the right way. I feel committed to taking care of her no matter what.
Good friends are people that can be counted on to talk to, that you can tell anything to. Friends can be just as meaningful as family.
Parent-child relationships are also included here. There’s an unbreakable bond there that contains forgiveness, endurance, and patience.
Companionate love means intimacy and commitment. An example of this is the pet/owner relationship. Animals share our need for love. Animals behave differently than we do and can’t express it through language like we can, but the wag of a tail, or a lick on the hand is a way to show their affection.
Passion and intimacy together, are considered romantic love. Because it’s missing the element of commitment, these relationships are based more on sexual arousal.
People want a sexual relationship, with no strings attached.
True Love –
Consummate love is the ultimate love because it contains all three elements. It is the all-encompassing love humans search for.
Object of Affection –
It is the love for “something” that drives people to choose what they want to do with their life. Whether it be a paintbrush that just can’t be put down, or the song that is played over and over again, people can become attached to an object or idea. It is not an uncommon thought, for people to feel they don’t need someone else in their life. The thought of coming home and hearing that song or picking up that paintbrush can be as pleasurable and have the same impact.
What is your definition of love?
“Acceptance.” – Audra Cronk, 19, GRCC student.
“My idea of love would be to a degree, an amount of respect; whether it be respect for two people individually, or for a group of people, things or ideas. It would be to a degree, respect.” – Zachary Gross, 20, GRCC student
“Love is being happy. Love is caring for someone. The best way I can say is love is unconditional. If it’s unconditional love it’s pure love; no matter what, you love this person through anything. There’s a love that a mother has for a child. I mean it’s not like romantic, but it’s another way of unconditional love.” – Lillian White, 21, GRCC student
“Love is a risk. What if we lose that item? What if we fail at that activity? What if he leaves me? Love is putting your trust in what if. Love is putting your trust in success. Love is complex and difficult. Love is love.” – Autumn Scott, 21, GRCC student
“Love is self-sacrificing. I think it’s more of an action, types of actions, in my opinion. Or just more of a feeling, and so not just saying, but just really putting the other person before you.” – Cody Veaa, 24, GRCC student
“Love to me is something that is felt, but at the same time even though it is felt within, it is expressed outwardly. So a part of love, and being a part of a loving situation is your selflessness; because it’s important to lose yourself when you decide to love. I think that’s a big part of it, giving up a part of you for the sake of it.” – Leslie Neal, a communications teacher, from the Language Department at GRCC.