What is Love?

“Vulnerability to vulnerability is the velcro that all couples need.”
Kathryn Rheem

Life is hard, loneliness is on the rise and we all need Bonding Moments not just with our partners but also with our friends and family in order to get the benefits of love.

Studies suggest love helps you to:

  • Seek support when you need it
  • Be better at giving support to others
  • Roll with the ups and downs of life (and relationships)
  • Be less aggressive and hostile

And as a result, we like ourselves more.

But what is love?

Many people, when asked, will tell you love is:

  • Simple, short-lived sexual infatuation in disguise – Freud’s basic instinct
  • An immature need to rely on others
  • A selfless sacrifice more about giving than needing or getting

But John Bowlby saw love as “…effective dependency” from “the cradle to the grave”.

He saw being able to turn to others for emotional support as a sign of and a source of strength.

His idea runs contrary to the belief so popular today, that as we become mature adults we’re supposed to also become independent and self-sufficient.

“Emotion is the messenger of love.”
Kathryn Rheem

When your love relationships don’t work, you hurt.

Studies suggest physical and social pain overlap.

Rejection and exclusion trigger the same circuits in the same part of the brain – The anterior cingulate – as physical pain.

Here’s what the research suggests:

  • Because you love, you’re interdependent.
  • Because you love, you have to send out emotional signals to your partner

The trouble is you weren’t taught how to do this at school. But if you want to get the benefits of love in your relationships, you have to be the one sending out emotional signals.

“Emotion has control precedence neurologically”
Ed Tronick

As I’ve written in a previous blog post the cognitive brain is nowhere near powerful enough to talk the emotional brain out of its experience…

…That’s just how the human nervous system is wired. So if you want to change your experience you have to get up close to your emotions.

You can’t talk someone out of what they’re feeling because survival is hard-wired into the brain.

And the best GPS for survival is the emotions.

All of which means in order to survive; you have to make friends with your emotions.

Contrary to what you might have read, mental toughness doesn’t mean you have to avoid emotions.


…You have emotions for a reason they have a purpose. They’re sending you important messages that something needs to be looked at. Let them guide you and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at where you end up.


Always remember:

  1. As a human you have attachment needs, fears and longings
  2. Not getting these needs met will throw you into distress
  3. This distress leads to pain and fear
  4. Unprocessed pain and fear influence your behaviour and cause more distress
  5. When distressed your ability to communicate is impacted negatively

And as a result, you end up hurting the ones who matter to you the most by acting in ways that lead to you feeling disconnected, alone and maybe even questioning your love for one another

You can avoid this distress by practicing emotional responsiveness with your partner.

Always aim for ARE in your important relationships.


A stands for Available – Your partner needs to know if they call you, you will come, if they make a “Bid for Connection” you will turn towards them.

R stands for Responsive – Your partner needs to know their attachment needs and fears have an impact on you.

E stands for Engaged – Your partner needs to know you value them and you will stay close.

ARE will let your partner know you’re there for them and you’re with them. It will create Bonding Moments helping you and those you love to feel connected to those who matter most.

Go here next to sort your relationship out