Love is not a word, but an act

How often do we try to define love and how often we believe that our definition lacks 'substance'! Marcelo Ceberio, Doctor of Psychology, tries to give a definition of love

Love is not a word, but an act

Love, as an abstract concept, is very difficult to define: poets, psychologists and neuroscientists have tried to explain this feeling, even if the truth is that no one has ever completely succeeded in the intent. On one aspect, however, they all agree: love is not a word .

This noble feeling can only be defined through action, proving, in fact, an absolutely subjective meaning. Let's explore the theme of love in this article.

Love is not a word, but an act


The family it can be considered as the core of society par excellence . A point of exchange between beliefs, meanings, functions, identities, etc. The family is therefore one of the main pillars of people's mental life.

In the process of individualization from the family (ie from the transition from 'us' to that of 'individual'), the accumulation of concepts learned constitutes the baggage that we carry with us and that will then be repeated in other groups , couples or in the constitution of one's family.

Within the couple, then, the family always remains the barometer and the reference model for each partner . It is the family that provides a sense of independent identity that is mediated by the sense of belonging to it.

Leaf with heart


Starting from this perspective, a couple can be defined as a system made up of two people, both spokespersons of two family systems, in turn children of four other family systems and so on.

A couple is made up of two people of the same or different sex, coming from two families of origin, who form a bond made up of common projects and objectives . The partners seek support and encouragement from the entire new family unit. In addition to this, the couple must relate to the environment and must at the same time safeguard the spaces and individual needs.

A couple is interdependent: one party is divided and depends on the other, while the other takes care of the individual autonomy of the partners.

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This description clearly delineates the boundaries of the consolidation of a couple. This starts from the awareness of how both members are bearers of values, norms, cultures, functions, codes, models, beliefs, meanings, rituals, emotional styles, information, etc. These values ​​are part of the baggage of each partner, who will decide to exchange them and adapt them to a greater or lesser extent to the needs of the other person.

The couple is built from the synergy of all these components that each partner brings as a dowry to the relationship. Just as during the process of individualization from the family we pass from “we” to “are”, in the construction of the couple we take the opposite path. What the partners bring into the relationship (properties and attributes) gives shape to a couple with their own identity: the identity of a couple.

Affinity and differences of the couple

Although it is not excluded that the partners have properties in common, there is generally what is called 'complementarity'. «What you have that I don't have, what I have that you don't have». It is within this relational scheme that the essence of the bond resides.

These differences often represent the point of union of a couple, but at the same time they can become in the long run reasons for recrimination and quarrels. For example, the claim may arise to see in the partner a series of characteristics that he has never had in his baggage.

It is a phenomenon deriving from the path of individual and couple growth that each of us goes through. It can lead to arguments and lead to aggression and other ways of defending the partner. But what about love in this case?

Couple crisis

To fall in love

One of the distinctive characteristics of the human being compared to other animal species is love. Many authors have tried to provide a definition of love. Romantics, poets, scientists, artists, therapists and many others have embarked on this difficult undertaking.

As an abstract term, love is not a word, so it is difficult to explain, especially starting from rational reasoning or that rely on logic.

Trying to translate love into rational meanings and imposing, if possible, a logical motivation, can lead to profound complications. The biologist Humberto Maturana tells us that 'love has no rational foundations, it is not based on a calculation of advantages and benefits, it is not positive, it is not a virtue or a divine gift, but simply the mastery of behaviors that recognize the other as a being legitimate in coexistence with us '.

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Love is a feeling that emerges powerfully from the jaws of limbic system . It is not sifted through the left hemisphere, rational and logical, although sometimes we try to understand the characteristics and peculiarities that have led one person to fall in love with another. We try to reflect on love when this is already taking place or when we are no longer convinced of the feeling we have towards the other person.

Love is not a word, but ...

The partner in love feels and converts the feeling into actions that try to be consistent with what they feel. Because basically, this is love: a feeling. Unlike pure emotion which is impulsive, sentiment includes emotional, cognitive and pragmatic variables, as well as a fundamental factor: time , in charge of exercising the three variables just mentioned.

Sometimes, however, love is confused with other emotions . Being in love is not the same as being trapped, tied up, hunted or captured. These are erroneous conceptions of love, confusing feelings and emotions which are rather symptoms of pathological ties and communication dysfunctions.

In love there is always a share of passion, but passion is not obsession. Passion motivates, obsession oppresses; the first stimulates and excites, the second suffocates and drives mad; passion attracts while obsession generates rejection.

We can therefore state that love is not simply a simple word, but an act ; love does not have a precise definition, but is defined by actions resulting in interactions.

A human being translates into gestures, movements, actions, words or phrases - oral or written - the need to transmit this deep affection to another. . A transmission that contains the secret expectation of loving reciprocity and relational complementarity that prevents the person from feeling alone in this exchange (unrequited love is one of the main causes of despair).

Apart from this, this transmission also includes a need for security , albeit utopian, since the search for love reinsurance makes you neglect the present of love, focusing rather on a future that is not yet certain. Difficulty concentrating on the present moment leads to unpleasant consequences from the moment you prefer to look forward rather than the here and now.

Who enchants whom

When two people meet and the love desire on the part of both appears, verbal communication is activated . Words flow in harmony, although fear of rejection sometimes prevents this flow from expressing itself freely. The phrases take on a more poetic setting even by less histrionic people.

Certain cadences and typical tonalities appear in the speech . The gestures change, the facial expressions become subtle and the movements slow. The eyes narrow, the mouth moves in a provocative way and the look gives light to the game of lovers. An entire communication complex aimed at seducing the other person.

The genesis of a good couple relationship is given, among other things, by being with the other person in the same way and with the same freedom that we have with ourselves.

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Couple looking into each other's eyes love is not a word

From a neurological point of view, when two people meet, endocrine and biochemical fluids are secreted:

  • The stomach hardens and generates anxiety. The latter produces a greater appetite and transmits a sense of voracity to the stomach. Sometimes, however, the opposite effect occurs: the stomach closes and does not let any food pass through it.
  • The secretion of adrenalin increases , placing the person in a state of continuous alert.
  • The muscles tense and you become dependent on the other person's behavior. Behaviors that will transmit signals of attraction or acceptance, indifference or rejection.

All of these are signs that accompany love desire. Signals that, if met, trigger the formation of a couple . The growth of the bond leads to a knowledge of the values, tastes, virtues and defects of the partner, generating a complementarity that allows the slow progress of the couple until the conformation of a family unit.

Love is not a word, but a reality that changes over time

When the relationship is stable, there is often a drop in levels of romanticism (both verbal and paraverbal). Not because we are less in love, but rather because the type of bond established changes. During the romantic period, lovers are mainly concerned about being paid back, and their actions are aimed at attracting the attention of the other. This is a phase in which you work to ensure that the relationship materializes.

This does not mean, however, that once the relationship is established, the desire to commit to the couple should be less. On the contrary, keeping the relationship alive is a relational work that must be carried out carefully and throughout life.

Everyday life, routine, work, relational exercise, personal growth of the partners represent, together with other factors, dangers for the stability of the couple. The reason why love must be a work carried out continuously to generate new definitions of the same. Definitions that must then be transformed into new actions capable of allowing a growth of couple and love for oneself.

We deserve the same love we give to others

We deserve the same love we give to others

We deserve the same love that we give to others constantly, the same sincere, selfless and genuine affection, without limits.