There has been no other time in history than now when love presents itself in great abundance . Love of frontline workers providing essential services, health care providers especially, is globally felt as one big heart pumping love to both know and unknown people in the world. Love is shown to ex partners, to long lost friends, neighbours, to new friends and lovers -to-be . Love is the currency being used to gain much needed social connection . Social connection is one vital antidote to loneliness and managing anxiety. So right now we need a lot of love.
How about love in your own nest? How is that faring? After 7 odd weeks of intense time together , I am sure there has been many times when you have questioned your love . That is the nature of love – it is never linear , beginning at point 10 and de escalating to zero. Usually it jumps along this continuum , sometimes even in a day. You know when it lingers too long too often down in the trenches of zero that love hurts and needs reassessment.
Let’s dive into that assessment right now . Use some time to consider the state of your heart towards your partner.
I hear couples telling that this is the first time that they had spent this much time together- ever. And it is telling , tough and tremendously challenging , with both positive and negative outcomes. To be fair, I am working with a skewed population as the happy hearts consult with me less frequently than the broken or questioning hearts.
Love in your own intimate life may take on a different meaning after these many weeks trapped together. It needs to be re examined. This is a profoundly beautiful time for you to do this. I recommend that you do an assessment of your “love ” after you self regulate yourself. Do not attempt this after a conflict , or when your anxiety is high and your fight /flight/freeze response is dictating your responses. Take a deep breath.. ..
We seek safety and security in love. We seek belonging. Expectations of how you want to feel with a long term and new partner , may have adjusted slightly. You may expect less or more love from him/her/they, realising how well you manage to self love and self care . Your partner becomes your equal and not your superior.
Or this time highlights how you really do not feel safe , secure and belonging with this person . Covid-19 makes you particularly vulnerable to needing safety and security in your relationship as the external world feels so unsafe and uncertain . You look to relationships for certainty, reassurance and familiarity. And stuck with your person at home many be a vivd reminder of how you never felt safe, secure, passionate nor attracted to this person.
The perceived quality of your relationship (i.e., relationship satisfaction) might be a result of feeling lonely in your relationship. For example, lower levels of loneliness are associated with higher levels of satisfaction with one’s marriage. However, if your partner does not serve as your confidant, if there are communication problems or distrust, there will be lower levels of relationship quality and relationship satisfaction . And increased loneliness. Your love will feel compromised.
Let’s talk about LOVE. Here are 3 different measurements for you to use to assess your current feelings of love for your partner/s. after you have done your own assessing , you may want to invite your partner to do the same. And only if it feels safe, share the outcomes with each other – or with a therapist, religious leader, confidant.
It was social psychologist Zick Rubin who was one of the first researchers to develop an instrument designed to empirically measure love.
According to Rubin, romantic love is made up of three elements: Assess how you score on each one of them.
- Attachment: The need to be cared for and be with the other person. Physical contact and approval are also important components of attachment.
- Caring: Valuing the other person’s happiness and needs as much as your own.
- Intimacy: Sharing private thoughts, feelings, and desires with the other person.
Robert Sternberg‘s classic research into love remains my preferred way of assessing Love. The three components he uses are intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment. Each component manifests a different aspect of love.
Intimacy. Intimacy refers to feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness in loving relationships. It thus includes within its purview those feelings that give rise, essentially, to the experience of warmth in a loving relationship.
Passion. Passion refers to the drives that lead to romance, physical attraction, sexual consummation, and related phenomena in loving relationships. The passion component includes within its purview those sources of motivational and other forms of arousal that lead to the experience of passion in a loving relationship.
Decision/commitment. Decision/commitment refers, in the short-term, to the decision that one loves a certain other, and in the long-term, to one’s commitment to maintain that love. These two aspects of the decision/commitment component do not necessarily go together, in that one can decide to love someone without being committed to the love in the long-term, or one can be committed to a relationship without acknowledging that one loves the other person in the relationship.
And now round off your assessment by doing an overall assessment of your relationship:
Please mark on the answer sheet the letter for each item which best answers that item for you.
How well does your partner meet your needs?
A B C D E
Poorly Average Extremely well
In general, how satisfied are you with your relationship?
A B C D E
Unsatisfied Average Extremely satisfied
How good is your relationship compared to most?
A B C D E
Poor Average Excellent
How often do you wish you hadn’t gotten in this relationship?
A B C D E
Never Average Very often
To what extent has your relationship met your original expectations:
A B C D E
Hardly at all Average Completely
How much do you love your partner?
A B C D E
Not much Average Very much
How many problems are there in your relationship?
A B C D E
Very few Average Very many
NOTE: Items 4 and 7 are reverse scored. A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, E=5. You add up the items and divide by 7 to get a mean score
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