The 7 Elements of Love

Mar 29, 2024

Love is the most beautiful gift we get to experience in this life. It connects us to each other, gives us a place to belong, and is the ultimate instrument of progression. It’s no coincidence that love is the favorite topic of songwriters.

“I get to love you / It's the best thing that I'll ever do / I get to love you / It's a promise I'm making to you / Whatever may come, your heart I will choose/ Forever I'm yours, forever I do”

 “I get to love you” by Ruelle. 

Love is lasting, life-changing, and infinite. It works in a peculiar, divinely arranged, way. It is one of the few things we get by giving it away. We receive the gift of love by giving the gift of love It works this way because love is an action followed by a feeling. The gift of love is just that, a gift we give to others. If someone says they have fallen out of love they are really saying they stopped engaging in the action of love. 

Love is a meta-emotion that consists of seven other emotions. These seven elements combined comprise what we think of as love:

  • Vulnerability
  • Compassion
  • Curiosity
  • Service
  • Intimacy
  • Commitment
  • Connection

I call it a meta-emotion because love flows through all other authentic emotions. It is the driving force behind authentic emotions and is completely integral to being our authentic self.

Let's explore each of these elements more in depth. 

Vulnerability

“Love is giving someone the power to destroy you and trusting they won't use it.” 

~ Simon Sinek

Love starts with vulnerability. A true connection is built upon the foundation of honesty. Vulnerable love lowers masks and pretenses and is willing to lay a soul bare in front of another. Vulnerability is being open about your thoughts; your deepest feelings, weakest weaknesses, darkest fears, and highest joys. 

Vulnerability cultivates a safe space for other people to also share their hearts. The fastest way to a deep connection is through vulnerability. This element is one of the most important. 

Compassion (Empathy)

“Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness, it would still be dear.” 

~ Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)

We are all imperfect humans who are learning and constantly falling short. The idea that anyone will or can be perfect in this life is erroneous. Instead, we are perfectly imperfect. Every person is a child of God with a divine nature that is precious and eternal. Compassion is recognizing the divinity in the imperfections. It is seeing our loved one’s true nature and extending them grace. When we are compassionate, we are willing to celebrate the triumphs, praise the successes, fight the injustices, and mourn the losses of those we hold dear.

Being human is hard, and we are all experiencing it together. When we have compassion the hard is beautiful because we’re facing it together.

Curiosity

Taking genuine interest in your love’s journey is powerful– not just for them, for you. The popular saying, “To know me is to love me.” rings true. Imagine seeing the hero or heroine of your favorite movie. The reason we fall in love with them is because we can see and relate to their lives. We feel their pain and joy with them. We share their struggles. It’s not possible to truly love someone you do not know. What about your sweetheart's life do you find most intriguing? What stories do you find most touching or funny?  What have they gone through to make them who they are today? What’s important to them? What do they hope for? What are their fears?

Something incredible happens when we begin to truly know someone: we begin to see who they truly are. It is so fun to get curious about your darling and notice everything that makes them the one you love. 

Service

Service is the action of love. Service is giving without any expectation of a return. Serving is not the same as Saving. You cannot fall out of love without first falling out of the habit of serving. The feeling comes from the action. Serving your sweetheart based on their love language is critical. I once brought someone I was fond of MY favorite flavor of ice cream. (Not theirs) The previous ingredient to love, curiosity, is critical to serving your mate. If their love language is touch, then scratch their back and hold their hand instead of buying them a gift. If it is words of affirmation, then write them a note. Understanding how they love to be loved is the best way to show them the level of service love requires. Ask yourself these questions: What needs do I see? How can I provide support? How can I show I care with my actions?  Service is the language of love. 

Romance is heightened when courting each other. Courting is a form of service that shows interest in the other person. Open the door, bring flowers, offer your arm when you’re walking, put the phone away, be attentive, listen, and be kind to each other. The point of service is showing the other person that we actively care about them and support them. When both people in the relationship are serving each other, and they are in turn relying on each other, true love grows.

Intimacy

Most people think of intimacy as just a sexual act. It is so much more. Yes, it does include attraction and passion; these two are only the tip of the iceberg when considering the multiple aspects of Intimacy.

  • Attraction 

“Physical attraction is important because it leads to greater physical intimacy and connection, helping partners feel more bonded and attached to each other.”

~ Sabrina Romanoff

When we think of attraction, our brains default to physical attraction. Physical attraction is important to a romantic relationship, and it’s not the only kind of attraction. According to Alisa DiLorenzo, Intimacy has 6 Pillars: Physical, mental, recreational, sexual, spiritual, and emotional. Combined, these make the most romantic love. 

  • Passion 

Being in love is fun! It’s a joy to share a close relationship with another person. Take interest in each other’s lives and celebrate every moment with gratitude.Passion  in all aspects of the relationship build deeper intimacy.* 

Commitment

Committing to someone is promising you will hold to them and no one else. Hold to them with trust that they are holding on to you just as tightly. It takes responsibility for the relationship. Commitment is like an agreement between two partners that the relationship belongs to both of you. You both must work to maintain it. You may have noticed that trust wasn’t listed as a separate item on this list. The reason why is that trust is part of commitment and vulnerability. We commit to hold sacred the bond between ourselves and the one we love. This level of commitment, trust, accountability, and fidelity is what creates the deepest bonds.

Connection

Love is about connection. Aristotle described love as being “composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” Connection is being united. It is being on the same page, compromising when necessary and giving more when needed. 

In a study of love, Harvard Psychologist, Zick Rubin measured the amount of time couples spent gazing into each other’s eyes. He found that the “couples who were strongly in love… spent more time gazing into one another’s eyes than did the couples who were weakly in love.” In fact, it was 75% of the time during conversation vs the 30-60% of the weakly in love couples. He notes in his study that the difference between the couples who were gazing into each other’s eyes more and the ones gazing less was not that the strongly in love people  just generally made eye contact more (he tested and ruled out that factor.) The significantthing about the gazing was that it was simultaneous eye contact. It was both people seeking that connection with one another by gazing into each other’s eyes. Seeking each other’s gaze was the most important factor. The eyes truly are the window to the soul. They connect us in magical ways.

Connection is sharing thoughts, feelings, moments, and experiences with each other. As Aristotle expresses, when we are unified, we are like a single soul. That is the type of connection that transcends distance and survives death. Dr. John and Julie Gottman share that the #1 predictor of success in marriage is “Turning toward.” This means that when a spouse makes a “bid for connection” the other responds in turn. Connection, like love, is a basic human need. Love and connection are inextricably tied together.

I have been blessed to find this kind of love. Before I married my Patty I believed in love but didn’t know if I believed in “True Love.” Now I know there's such a thing as True Love. Everytime I look into her eyes, I see my future. I see her smile and butterflies flutter in my stomach. I feel her touch and my body is electrified with love lightning. I know I can be the Authentic Curtis. She holds space for me in all my imperfections and still sees greatness in me. She sits with me in my pain. She supports me in all I do. The greatest cheerleader I’ve ever had. She is my biggest fan and my best confidant. She invites me to be better everyday. Her example of kindness and love breaks my heart wide open. She loves me when I am at my best and is there for me when I stumble and fall. She whispers the words, “I’m here” into my ear which inflates the balloon in my soul beyond what I thought it could expand to. These loving winds lift me higher and higher. She is not dependent on me and doesn’t expect dependence from me. She carries greatness within herself and shines so bright, her goodness illuminates everyone she comes in contact with. Having her in my arms feels just like home. A simple glance from her fills any hole in our conversation with a warm embrace. Our souls dance in every space between. I can never repay the gift of love she freely bestows on me because she will never require repayment and she knows that love is not a transaction but a gift. Even when we are apart, I carry her within my heart. Separated I long for her and yet I am whole because the connection we share cannot be severed by distance. I didn’t know my soul was big enough to hold her enormous heart...and she is the keeper of mine.

“Time can’t measure forever. Only love can.”
~ Tanaka Shimai

Links:

Love and Lust

Connection vs. Addiction

Curiosity vs. Suspicion

Serving vs. Saving

Empathy vs. Sympathy

* I am a huge proponent of waiting for marriage before engaging in sexual intimacy. There are several reasons including happier marriages, greater fidelity, and studies have shown a link between adolescent sexual encounters before marriage and trauma/depression in young brains.

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