What is Love? - Sociology Class Paper

Question: Explain what love is and what it is not.

Love is many things. It exists between many people for many different reasons. There is love among families, between parents and children or brothers and sisters. Love also exists outside of families. The textbook defines love as “a deep and vital emotion resulting from significant need satisfaction, coupled with a caring for and acceptance of the beloved and resulting in an intimate relationship.” Love is an emotion, which means it can motivate a person to act a certain way, or do a certain thing. For example, a mother strives to protect her children and raise them well out of love.

Love also satisfies some personal needs. According to the textbook “human beings need recognition and affection, and a second element of love is that it fills this basic need.” Love also includes caring and acceptance. The textbook reads “People are free to be themselves in a loving relationship, to expose their feelings, frailties, and strengths.” This makes a loving relationship different from any other.

The acceptance that is found in a loving relationship is not found anywhere else in life. Caring is an important element in love. According to the textbook “Ideally, lovers support and encourage each other’s personal growth.” This support and encouragement for each other provides satisfaction to needs people have.

Everything to this point has been about what love is, but love is not everything. Love does not satisfy all needs. Love cannot do much for a person with low self-esteem. As stated in the textbook “People…do not expect their partners to make them feel lovable or worthwhile; they already take those things for granted.” So love is not a replacement for self-love or feelings of self-worth. Love is not one person sacrificing everything for the sake of another person. The textbook refers to this as martyring and defines it as “maintaining relationships by giving others more than is received in return.” Martyrs feel they are giving more than the other person to a relationship, and while this may seem fine at first, it almost always leads to feelings of resentment which will harm the relationship. The opposite of martyring is manipulating. The textbook defines manipulating as “seeking to control the feelings, attitudes, and behavior of your partner or partners in underhanded ways rather than by assertively stating your case.” Manipulators are always trying to get their partner to do what they want, without focusing on their partners needs.

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