Please see below selected recent love-related change.
- What's New? - Love
- On Love
- What's Changing? - Childhood
- What's Changing? - Compassion
- What's Changing? - Emotions
- What's Changing? - Empathy
- What's Changing? - Family
- Though we all crave love in theory, our capacity to accept it in practice is dependent on the quality of our early emotional experiences. We can only willingly tolerate being loved if - as children –- the process of loving and being loved felt sufficiently reliable, safe and kind. Some of us were not so blessed; some of us were stymied in our search for love in ways we have not yet recovered from or indeed fully understood.
- More than a third of unmarried adults under the age of 50 in Japan have reportedly never dated, with many saying they see it as a waste of time and money.
- More than half of Americans met their partner online in 2023.
- A research group at Aalto University in Finland conducted a study to explore how different types of love are experienced in various parts of the body. Surveying 558 native Finnish speakers, they identified 27 distinct types of love, which encompassed feelings for humans, non-human entities, and abstract ideas. The study revealed that while some types of love, like passionate love, were strongly felt throughout the body, others, such as love for wisdom, were felt less intensely and primarily in the head.
- Biologists believe that love is fundamentally a biological rather than a cultural construct. That is because the capacity for love is found in all human cultures and similar behaviour is found in some other animals. In recent years the ability to watch the brain in action has offered a wealth of insight into the mechanics of love. Researchers have shown that when a person falls in love a dozen different parts of the brain work together to release chemicals that trigger feelings of euphoria, bonding and excitement.
- One ingredient on which recovery from serious mental illness might depend is also one which, rarely makes an appearance in any medical handbook or psychiatric diagnostic, namely love. The word is so fatefully associated with romance and sentimentality that we overlook its critical role in helping us to keep faith with life at times of overwhelming psychological confusion and sorrow. Love - whether from a friend, a partner, an offspring, a parent - can have an indomitable power to rescue us from mental illness, believes The School of Life.
- When it comes to who we fall for, scientists say there’s little truth in the old adage that opposites attract. A study on romantic relationships found that for more than 80% of traits analysed – from political views to drug taking and the age at which people first had sex – partners were often remarkably similar. Tanya Horwitz, author of the study published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, said: “Birds of a feather are indeed more likely to flock together.”
- “There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love,” the humanistic philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm wrote in on the art of loving. In this context, Maria Popova also points to Gillian Rose's Love’s Work, Alain Badiou on how we fall and stay in love and Hannah Arendt on how to live with the fundamental fear of loss in love,
- Couples that are stable and happy over time tend to engage in mutual soothing, make regular statements of appreciation and admiration for their partner, and accept influence from one another (avoiding power struggles). These couples also quickly repair ruptures in their bond and celebrate their success in overcoming difficult moments. When asked to narrate their history of ups and downs, better-functioning couples more frequently use the pronoun ‘we’ and have a greater sense of shared identity – whereas couples in distress tend to focus on you and me (or you versus me).
- The School of Life noted that one of the big assumptions of our times is that if love is real, it must by definition prove to be eternal. We invariably and naturally equate genuine relationships with life-long relationships. It therefore seems hard to interpret the ending of a union after only a limited period as something other than a problem, a failure and an emotional catastrophe that is someone’s fault, probably our own. We appear fundamentally unable to trust that a relationship could be at once sincere, meaningful and important - and yet at the same time fairly and guiltlessly limited in its duration.
- Maria Popova pointed to humanistic philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm's observation that "There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love,” in his treatise on learning love as a skill. We fail at it largely because, given how profoundly shaped we are by our formative attachments, those who grew up with instability and violence from our primary caregivers - the people tasked with loving us and teaching us about love - can feel woefully handicapped at love, unconsciously replicating the emotional patterns of those familiar relationship dynamics known as limbic attractors, only to emerge with shame and self-blame for what feels like failing at love.
- An international team of scientists surveyed 9,474 individuals from 45 different countries about how loving their relationships were. Participants in the US, Italy, Portugal, and Hungary reported some of the most loving relationships, while participants in China, Germany, Turkey, and Pakistan reported some of the least. The researchers also found that a country's modernisation, gender equality, collectivism, and temperature were associated with greater feelings of love in relationships.
- Further reading:
- One of the central requirements of a good relationship is a degree of affection for our own natures, built up over the years, largely in childhood. We need a legacy of feeling very deserving of love in order not to respond obtusely and erratically to the affections granted to us by adult partners. Without a decent amount of self-love, the love of another person will always be prone to feel sickening and misguided and we will self-destructively - though unconsciously - set out to repel or disappoint it. It is simply more normal and bearable to be rejected.
- All of the world's major traditions have a lot to say about love. It's universally recognised as one of the most powerful of all human emotions. Broadly, we can divide love into three types: sacrificial love, the love of doing a thing, and romantic love. For many, love is what defines humans and however much love might “just” seem to be a chemical blend of hormones, it’s still these many the single most important aspect of human existence.
- Further reading:
- A Loveless World - The School of Life
- A poet struggles for the just-right words to memorialise a past romance - Psyche Films
- Love can fuel the deep empathy needed to understand psychosis - Psyche Ideas
- Sexual Liberation -The School of Life Articles
- Why you shouldn’t shrink from challenging your loved ones’ views | Psyche Ideas
- The real reason for break up lies in one or both spouse’s sense that they have not been heard, that something very important to them has been disregarded, that their point of view has not, at a fundamental level, been acknowledged and honoured. It doesn’t matter what the subject of this non-hearing happens to be: it could be that they haven’t been heard about their views on money, or on the way the children are being brought up, or on how their weekends should be managed, or on how intimacy occurs or doesn’t occur. It’s feeling unheard for our differences that is unbearable; it’s never the presence of differences per se, argued The School of Life.
- As people started to emerge from lockdown, many singles were readier than ever to mingle, increasingly doing so via dating apps. Unfortunately for those searching for love, dating apps’ algorithms aren’t great at finding it. And by drawing on and reinforcing biases, algorithms can marginalise users from racial or sexual minority groups. The use of dating apps has even been linked to social anxiety and depression.
- A theory proposed by the anthropologist Helen Fisher at the Kinsey Institute is that love is not exactly an emotion in the same way that we might talk about fear or sadness or joy but is in fact a mammalian drive that is designed to make us focus on pursuing a mate. This is why, she theorises, being in love is so intertwined with these hits of dopamine. There is a kind of evolutionary reason that we get these pleasurable rewards in the brain, we are being pushed to pair up.
- “To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love,” the Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh admonished in his treatise on how to love - a sentiment, notes Maria Popova, profoundly discomfiting in the context of our cultural mythology, which continually casts love as something that happens to us passively and by chance, something we fall into, something that strikes us arrow-like, rather than a skill attained through the same deliberate practice as any other pursuit of human excellence. Our failure to recognize this skillfulness aspect is perhaps the primary reason why love is so intertwined with frustration. Popova adds that this is what the German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, and philosopher Erich Fromm examined in his work The Art of Loving - a case for love as a skill to be honed the way artists apprentice themselves to the work on the way to mastery, demanding of its practitioner both knowledge and effort.
- For The School of Life, the one ingredient on which any recovery from serious mental illness depends is also one which, curiously and grievously, never makes an appearance in any medical handbook or psychiatric diagnostic, namely love. The word is so fatefully associated with romance and sentimentality that we overlook its critical role in helping us to keep faith with life at times of overwhelming psychological confusion and sorrow. Love - whether from a friend, a partner, an offspring, a parent - has an indomitable power to rescue us from mental illness.
- The School of Life believes that fragile couples tend, paradoxically, to be very hopeful about love. They associate happiness with conflict-free unions. They do not expect, once they have found the person they unwisely see as The One, ever to need to squabble, storm out of a room or feel unhappy for the afternoon. When trouble emerges, as it inevitably does, they do not greet it as a sign that love is progressing as it should; rather as alarming evidence that their relationship may be illegitimate and fundamentally flawed.
- “There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love,” the humanistic philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm wrote in his 1965 workon mastering the art of loving. Maria Popova believes that one chief reason we flounder in this supreme human aspiration is our unwillingness to accept the paradoxes of love - paradoxes like the necessity of frustration in romantic satisfaction and the seemingly irreconcilable notion that while love longs for closeness, desire thrives on distance.
- Big Think asked: does it matter more who you love or how you love? A large machine learning study analysed data from thousands of couples to identify which characteristics are most vital to predicting the success or failure of a relationship. Using artificial intelligence, researchers found that the individual traits of the partners had less to do with making the couple happy than the characteristics of the relationship itself. To put it another way – the dynamic of the relationship you create, with its shared experiences and in-jokes, is more important than the specific traits of the one you are with.
- What if virtual dating just stays around forever, asked Quartz? Covid-19 has already forced a pivot to video for many singles worldwide and there are reasons why virtual dating might outlast the pandemic.
- We may believe we are seeking happiness in love, but psychoanalysis suggests that what we are really after is familiarity. We are looking to re-create, within our adult relationships, the very feelings we knew so well in childhood and which were rarely limited to just tenderness and care.
- The strange thing about love is that even though we experience it in a deeply personal and apparently instinctive way, it has a history. In other words, people around the world haven’t always fallen in love the way they do now. Love is a cultural invention and we are not at the end of its evolution. We may, in fact, still be only at the early stages of the history of love. We are still learning what we need and how we might get more successful at love.
- Love conquers all is a motto central to Western culture, yet some Buddhists think love an obstacle to enlightenment, which Friedrich Nietzsche went further and called love barbaric, "for it is practised at the expense of all others". Might we therefore be better to see love as a dangerous force that by its nature excludes others and gives rise to conflict?
- How people meet is changing fast. In 1995, for example, only 2% of couples met online; by 2017 it was 39%.
- News of the end of relationships tends to be greeted with deep solemnity in our societies; it is hard not to think of a breakup except in terms of a minor tragedy. People will offer condolences as they might after a funeral. This in turn reflects an underlying philosophy of love: we are taught that the natural and successful outcome of any love story should be to seek to remain with a person until their or our death and (by implication) that any break up must be interpreted as a failure governed by overwhelming hostility on one or both sides. But The School of Life believes there's another scenario in which we understand that we are separating not because our relationship has gone badly but, precisely, because it has gone well; it is ending because it has succeeded. Rather than breaking up with feelings of hurt, bitterness, regret and guilt, we’re parting with a sense of mutual gratitude and joint accomplishment.
- The School of Life notes that, curiously, we speak of love as one thing rather than discerning the two very different varieties that lie beneath a single word: being loved and loving. It appears that we can only make a relationship work properly when we are finally ready to do the latter and are aware of our unnatural, immature fixation on the former. We start knowing only about being loved. It comes to seem very wrongly like the norm. To the child it feels as if the parent is simply spontaneously on hand to comfort, guide, entertain, feed, clear up while remaining almost always warm and cheerful.
- The School of Life believes that our societies have a lot of patience for people who are in anguish, at the start of a relationship because they need to know if they are loved - but a lot less time for those who - deep into established relationships, have an equally powerful longing to know whether they are still loved. Yet sometimes, relationships just need to get re-started. People love one another but a lot has accumulated that they have not properly dealt with. Certain things haven’t been said, resentments may have built up, playfulness has been neglected and there is a lot that people should - but haven’t found the words - to express.
- For The School of Life, we confusingly, we speak of ‘love’ as one thing, rather than discerning the two very different varieties that lie beneath the single word: being loved and loving. TSOL believes we should only marry when we are ready to do the latter and are aware of our unnatural, immature fixation on the former.
- In 2018, the US Federal Trade Commission recorded over 20,000 romance scams, whereby individuals were lured by phony online profiles and eventually exploited for their money, costing the affected $143 million dollars.
- The Institute of Arts and Ideas pointed out that, from medieval legends to Hollywood endings to the horoscope, we are led to believe that lifelong love means happiness. But a recent survey of 814 separate studies showed single people to be happier, more fulfilled and less stressed. Is it therefore time to stop seeing romantic love as all-important? Could living by and for ourselves be radically liberating? Or is it the search for love that makes us human?
- For the School of Life, one of the great burdens which our Romantic culture has imposed upon long-term relationships is the idea that love and sexual fulfillment must always, if things are working as they should, fit neatly together.
- Most of us think we know what love is; we may just be looking for the right person to lavish our love on. But it's no insult, and indeed it might even be helpful to imagine, that we don't have much of a clue what love really is, not because we are deficient, but because our culture never investigates the subject as it should. The School of Life therefore offered a list of seven ingredients that it suggests lie at the heart of a proper understanding of love.
Love often strikes like a thunderbolt - inexplicable, unaccountable and often painful. Moreover, we sometimes think that to fall in love means to surrender both our freedom and our reason. But is this true? What is the relationship between love and other, ‘rational’ emotions, and does it mean surrendering our power and our freedom to another? A philosopher of mind and cognitive neuroscientist looked at our brain chemistry and psychology to reveal simple truths about this complex emotion.
- The School of Life believes that, in an intimate context, we can see the invitation to a friendship as synonymous with insult because our Romantic culture has continuously, and from a young age, made one thing sharply clear to us: love is the purpose of existence; friendship is the paltry, depleted consolation prize.
- However, TSOL adds, by comparison, in friendship, the supposedly worthless and inferior state whose mention should crush us at the end of a date, we bring our highest and noblest virtues. Here we are patient, encouraging, tolerant, funny and - most of all - kind. We expect a little less and therefore, by extension, forgive an infinite amount more.
- Culturally and collectively, therefore, concludes TSOL, we have made a momentous mistake which has left us both lonelier and more disappointed than we ever needed to be. In a better world, our most serious goal would not be to locate one special lover with whom to replace all other humans, it would be to put our intelligence and energy into identifying and nurturing a circle of true friends.
- Maria Popova advises us to complement Alain de Botton's The Course of Love with the humanistic philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm on what is keeping us from mastering the art of loving, the Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh’s treatise on how to love, and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips on the paradoxical psychology of why frustration is necessary for satisfaction in romance.
- Unrequited love is always going to be the poor relative of the requited kind, but that is no reason to ignore or denigrate it, argued The School of Life. We're all fated to spend a part of our lives deeply enraptured by people who won't feel the same about us: this is a structural inevitability. We should learn, in our less distraught moments, to recognise and honour the claims of unrequited love.
- In an area that matters so much to us – love and relationships – we can’t contact a lawyer or go to the police with the accusation: ‘this person broke my heart!’ We’re on our own. Not only is there no easy way of getting redress, there’s little on offer to help us deal with the pain. The point isn’t that we should be able to go to a lawyer or a doctor with our complaint; we don’t want our lover locked up or undergo some emergency surgery. But we can, in a utopian spirit, imagine a society that had devoted itself with equal ambition – and over many decades – to addressing the intense, common problems of wounded souls. The School of Life advocates a Broken-Heart specialist of the future who would at least carefully listen to us.
- A leading journal of ideas tried to shed new light on the eternal question - "what is this thing called love?" - by examining, inter alia, love's relationship with art, belief and philosophy.
- If Google's annual list of popular search terms is anything to go by, the search for love tops the world's preoccupations most years.