How Do I Know if Iím in Love?
By Joe Beam
What is this thing called love?
Love is a feeling you feel when you feel you're feeling a feeling you never felt before.
Sounds profound, doesn't it? I quoted it for years until I thought about the first time I received an electric shock. That was a feeling I'd never felt before, but I'll guarantee you it wasn't love!
The problem with the word love is that we use it to apply to so many emotions or situations that we sometimes don't know what it means. So what is it? What is this thing called love?
Dr. Robert Sternberg at Yale University probably defines it best. He says that love consists of three components: 1) decision/commitment; 2) intimacy; and 3) passion. When all three strongly exist in our feelings for another person, he says that we feel consummate love for that person.
What do these components mean?
- Decision/Commitment has both a short-term and long-term dimension. The short-term dimension occurs when we consciously decide that we love someone. The long-term dimension occurs when we commit to maintain that love. Interestingly, some evolve into commitment without ever consciously deciding to do so.
- Intimacy means closeness, connectedness, warmth, and bondedness. It has to do with understanding each other, accepting each other, and having open and intimate communication with each other.
- Passion is physical attraction, sexual desire, and other strong emotional attraction to another person.
These three components of love were recognized in the time of Jesus. Commitment corresponds to agape found in passages like Matthew 5:44. Intimacy corresponds to philia found in passages like Titus 2:4. And Passion corresponds to eros. Dr. Sternberg didn't find anything new in his research; he simply quantified how these components measure love.