As KidsHealth.org points out, love comes in many forms. Throughout your life, you will build loving relationships with all sorts of people, including relatives and friends. Your relationship with your best friend is different from your relationship with your mother, which is different from the one you have with your little brother. Romantic love, however, is in its own special category. Your best friend and your boyfriend or girlfriend attract you in very different ways.
The Three Components of Love
KidsHealth notes that romantic relationships share three component. When two of the three components exist, the relationship might be very loving, but it is not romantic love. Attraction is the initial component that draws two people together. It is responsible for the butterflies in your stomach when you meet someone you like. Closeness is the shared bond that makes two people feel like they have each other’s backs. Commitment is the choice that you make every day to be loyal to the other person. Good friends have closeness and commitment. They share their feelings, support each other through tough times and trust each other completely. But they do not feel attraction or, if they do, they have decided not to act on it for other reasons, such as one person being in a relationship with someone else.
Building a Love Connection
Building a true love connection takes time and effort. According to KidsHealth, the initial rush of attraction fades relatively quickly. While you are still attracted to each other, the intense feelings give way to a deeper level of attachment. Learning to talk openly with each other, balance the give and take in a relationship, and show genuine interest in each other’s passions are a few of the ways that couples build attachment. Some couples break up when the intense feelings subside, because they believe they have fallen out of love. For those who persevere, the security of a deeply connected relationship is often worth the effort.
BBC Science discusses the brain chemicals that are involved in each phase of falling in love. At the very beginning, couples are driven by estrogen and testosterone. As they enter the heady early days of a relationship, neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin take over. These are the same chemicals responsible for regulating our moods, which might explain the gushy, lovesick feeling. When you move into the attachment phase, oxytocin and vasopressin play a key role. These chemicals also play a role in helping new mothers bond with their babies, so it seems that biologically speaking, attachment is designed to get couples ready for parenthood.
From Friends to True Love
Sometimes, couples move in the other direction. Rather than coming together because of a mutual attraction, they develop that attraction only after having been friends for a period of time. A Match.com article explores five ways that couples move from friends to a relationship, but there are as many different stories as there are couples who have tried it. Some people find that distance helps them sort out their true feelings for each other. Some have always been attracted to each other, but circumstances prevented them from acting on the attraction. If you feel attracted to your friend, you might wonder whether to try dating. Dr. Fredric Neuman notes that a prior friendship is simply another factor in a couple’s story -- it has little or no bearing on the chances for a successful relationship. He also points out that not trying a relationship is no guarantee that a friendship will last a lifetime. If you feel attraction developing, there is no harm in having a conversation. A strong friendship will survive the discussion, and you might find that your feelings are reciprocated.
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