People experience no greater source of joy, frustration, pleasure and pain than when they fall in or out of love. Just as love evokes an infinite number of emotions, scientists have a nearly endless list of reasons why we fall in love in the first place. For many, love is simply a means to an end. We fall in love and mate so that we'll eventually reproduce, and our species will continue to survive. Yet if man's ultimate goal is to simply spread his DNA, then why bother with love at all, which does nothing more than tie one down to a single partner?
Some people believe that love is about much more than sex and reproduction. Professor Arthur Aron from the State University of New York suggests that we fall in love to expand ourselves and to realize a connection to another person [source: Aron]. Being in love and knowing we are loved in return helps us to reinforce and validate ourselves and our beliefs. Psychiatrist Dr. Robert Ward supports this idea, and believes that the primary motivation for love is simply to avoid loneliness [source: Lindsey]. When you fall in love, you forge a bond with another person, and at the same time, reinforce your natural social instincts. This may explain why the most critical determining factor in whether love will last is not sex or passion, but intimacy, characterized by a sense of sharing, support and kindness.
This need for loving connections may be linked to man's early history. Until very recently, man was forced to cooperate with others simply to survive. After all, you can't hunt and kill a buffalo on your own. Acting as a unit also allowed humans to manage the very challenging task of caring for children while foraging for food and remaining safe from predators.
Modern research continuously finds that long-term, committed love makes people not only happier, but healthier. According to a 2004 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, married people are healthier than nonmarried people in almost every possible way. They're more active, less likely to smoke or drink and suffer from fewer major and minor ailments and diseases. The scientific research team "Love Promotes Health" argues that love "possesses a strong and overall stress reducing potential" [source: Esch]. By helping humans cope with stress in all aspects of existence, love acts as a powerful means of maintaining a healthy and satisfying life.
Falling in love seems to be an evolutionary adaptation that helps the human species propagate its genes rather than die out. This is why people not only love their partners - they love their children as well. In a sense, lust is what keeps humans reproducing, while love guarantees people will raise and nurture their children so that genetic material can pass on.
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