This is an essay I wrote for my english class. You don't have to read it, but I want to back it up online. Plus, it's an example of my dazzling ability to cite my works, which is good because several writing gigs will check blogs~
Throughout history, there has never been a greater question than the consideration of: What is love? There have been songs, sonnets, poems, stories, shows, queries, arguments and even wars about it. But has anyone ever taken a step back and looked at it scientifically? My proposal is that “Love,” with all of its intricacies, beauties, and complications, is merely an evolutionary trait that has been crucially influential to our species rise to the top of the food chain. More specifically, love is the desire to gain and maintain support from another person or community. This trait has been the keystone to the cohesion of our society.
Without being able to depend on each other, human beings would never have been able to rise above the status of communitive animals. Though there are many psychological theories of love, traits such as friendship, compassion, respect, and dependence are common aspects (Cherry). These characteristics allow us to support each other and build a stable society where members are allowed to pursue their own lives and individual desires, while at the same time, working together for the good of the whole community. Supporting each other in this way allows entire societies to build upon themselves.
According to a study done by anthropologists William Jankowiak and Edward Fischer, romantic love occurs in 147 out of the 166 cultures that they studied (Gray). This shows that love is a common aspect of most communities. What is love? Webster’s Dictionary says that love is a “strong affection for another person, esp. of the opposite sex” (Morehead, 430). Meanwhile, urbandictionary.com’s highest rated definition says that love is “nature’s way of tricking people into reproducing” (Anonymous). So it seems that there is some debate on the matter. My theory, that love is the desire for support, is based off of what can be observed in everyday life. Children naturally love their parents because parents offer massive support in the means of sustenance, protection, and guidance. Parents love their children, whose support is sometimes not as obvious. Children support their parents in the way of offering dreams and fantasies of what they can and want to accomplish. These mental imaginings offer hope for the future and motivate parents to do the best they can to guide their young into happy and successful roles in society, thus giving the mother and father a sense of worth and accomplishment.
Although very real, this type of love, or support, is different than what most people would call romantic love. Romantic love is where babies come from. Two individuals come together and consummate their emotions in the most intimately physical way. When a person finds a partner with whom they deem suitable for mating, their heartbeat will quicken so they can take more action, their pupils will dilate so they can see more light, and euphoria will envelope their mind so that everything in life seems pleasurable (CTC, Gen. Psych, Vol. 1, 314). These are the natural responses of sexual attraction. But in order to be sexually attracted, the possibility of support must exist. Females typically look for tall strong males, while males generally seek out women with wide hips and large breasts. The sense of support is quite obvious in this case. A physically powerful male will be able to support his woman with protection and his natural ability to provide food. A female of good child-bearing proportions will be able to support a man with many children to carry on his genes.
Unfortunately, males and females don’t always see eye to eye as to who is suitable for whom. What of unrequited love? Is it real, or just a counterproductive obsession? Well if you look at love as support, you will find that it is both. When a person desires a particular mate, they begin to imagine situations involving that individual. They might dream of engaging in sex or fantasize even more deeply about marriage and having a family. These imaginings become the driving force behind their actions, and though their feelings may not be returned, the motivation is every bit as real as any other sort of love. Sadly, over time, these sorts of situations can lead to delusion, or even worse, disillusion. Unrequited love can support an individual’s psyche temporarily, but unless they return to reality, they will always be chasing a dream.
The true dream is when two individuals come together harmoniously and passionately. If they both desire each other and become intimate, they will share a feeling of closeness (CTC, Gen. Psych, Vol. 2, 610). This closeness leads to shared dreams, which is support that can become tangible in the physical world. They may get married, have children, and do the normal productive things that families tend to do in their community. If you’ll forgive the generalized gender roles; a husband/father will work harder in order to support his family and wife with their physical needs and a wife/mother will become wiser and kinder, in order to support her children and husband with mental and emotional guidance. These traits of well-functioning families would be passed on to their children, and eventually, the supportive evolutionary trait of love would be encoded into our D.N.A. More destructive families, that are not predispositioned to love, would find it harder to survive in a non-supportive environment, and eventually die out.
I’m not saying that every household is perfect. Love is a hard thing to hold onto. I’m saying that over thousands of generations, the entire human species has developed the capacity to love, i.e. to support one another. So how come love can seem so hard?
Have you ever heard the common expression that you can’t love someone if you don’t love yourself? This expression is true. From my personal experience, I have found that love is unnecessary to get by. More than once, I have been cut off from everybody that loves me and everybody that supports me. As sailors aboard the USS George H. W. Bush, we all have felt the strain of separation from our loved ones. Some lose their minds and cannot deal with it, but the majority of us find ways to cope. During these especially strenuous and challenging moments, we may feel isolated and alone, like a single candle’s flame. We may feel as though there is nobody in the entire world that can lend a helping hand. But in that darkness, we find a light in ourselves. We learn that true support does not come from a fantasy or another person. True support comes from our own two legs, and with those legs we can continue to walk. We can run. And we can fly. In learning to support ourselves, we learn to love ourselves. And when we love ourselves, we can truly love others.
Allow me to restate that common expression with support substituted for love. You cannot support somebody, if you cannot support yourself. The expression is still true. True love can help build your community, it can create a family, and it can even endure if unrequited. But if you cannot truly support yourself, you cannot truly give love to another.
Anonymous. “Love.” Urban Dictionary: love. Urban Dictionary, Apr. 7, 2003. Web.
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Cherry, Kendra. “Theories of Love.” Major Theories of Love. About.com, n.d.
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Gray, Paul, Hannah Bloch, and Sally B. Donnely. “What is LOVE?” Time. Time inc.,
Feb. 15, 1993. Web. Aug. 7, 2011
Morehead, Albert and Loy Morehead, eds. The New American Webster Handy College
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