With Valentines Day fast approaching many people's thoughts turn to love. In the weeks preceding we are bombarded with images of loving couples and the gifts we should shower on each other. It can be a hard time for those who are single and a time when those in unconventional relationships (poly/open) or relationships that are not recognised (same sex) can feel left out or judged by others.
I have recently been reading a lot about Romantic and Companionate love as the terms used instead of the terms that I have been using, limerence and love. They seem to be very similar but just a change in language....so what does it all mean? Lust and limerence are what often draw us to a person and keep us going back, we are drawn to a person for a variety of reasons, if it is visual and physical then it is often lust, if it is emotional and psychological it is limerence.
Limerence or Romantic Love are the feelings that look and feel like love, we think about the person all the time, we like lots of things about them, we feel good in their presence, it is hot, passionate and exciting, but it is not deep, long lasting, Companionate love....not yet. Limerence releases different chemicals in the brain than the oxytocin we release when we feel love, we keep coming back to this person, we share a lot about ourselves and in the process we develop intimacy, or we do not and we move on looking for the next hit of lust or limerence.
Once this intimacy develops, this knowing of another person on many levels, the sharing of our inner most thoughts and feelings then we create the space for Companionate love to grow. This is a more stable, comfortable, long lasting feeling.
These feelings can develop over a varied level of time, often due to the amount of time spent together and the level of intimacy achieved, 3-12 months for Romantic love, with Companionate love setting in about 12-24 months, often referred to as the Honeymoon period.
It is not to say that Romantic love does not also occur in relationships that have developed into Companionate love, the tenderness, passion, longing and other emotions can continue for many people, over time they may come in waves and if a relationship seems to be stale or in a rut, re-enlivening the romantic love can make a relationship feel fresh again.
SO what does this have to do with Valentines Day? This time of year is when many people engage in romantic gestures, they invigorate the romantic love in their lives, but why leave it until one day a year.
It can be Valentines day, any day, we can explore our languages of love and those of our partner, whether they be Words of Affirmation, Touch, Gifts, Acts of Service, or Quality Time, speaking each others languages on a regular basis helps us to give and receive love in a language we understand.
Richelle has had a passion for sexuality and sexual health since 2001. She has worked in the field since 2006, providing sexuality education in schools, and adult education in the topics of diverse sexualities and gender identities, LGBT health issues, sexual health and LGBT relationships.
This is a space for me to share with you my journey as a Sexologist, the things I learn and the people I meet and what I think and feel along the way.