What’s Love, but a biopsychosocial phenomenon

What's love but a biopsychosocial phenomenon

This time on the podcast we discussed ‘what’s love?’ and not just as an excuse to revisit eighties/nineties classic tunes. With Valentine’s approaching what do we mean by love, and why might we celebrate it (or not)?

First of all we talked about love being biopsychosocial – not just about ‘chemistry’. Biological processes involved in the feeling of love are inextricably linked to the social messages that we’ve received about what it means to be in love and what it should feel like, and our psychological experiences through life which leave us with templates and scripts for how love plays out for us. Learning to love in particular ways will mean that we experience the physical feelings of love in certain ways (e.g. as exciting, or overpowering, or transcendent, or scarily out of control), and it will also set up our bodies and brains to respond in certain ways (moving towards, or away from, those feelings, for example).

We explored how cultural messages encourage us to allow ourselves fall into love and go fast when it comes to falling, but we could think about love as anywhere on a spectrum from fast to slow, and from allowing to intentional. That doesn’t mean that slow, intentional love is somehow better than fast, allowing love, but that there are options here. We can think about the shape of our life when we start to have love feelings, which ones we might follow and in what ways, and what pace to go at.

When we looked up ‘what is love?’ pop songs they often link love to pain and fear of getting hurt by love. We talked about how hard it is in love not to treat somebody as an object: expecting them to rescue you or validate you or give you ongoing security, for example.

bell hooks’s book All About Love suggests that – in order to be love – it has to be given freely (not in demand of something back), and on the basis that both/all people involved are equally valuable.

As always, we question the privileging of prioritising romantic love over other kinds and wonder about what it would be like to value multiple forms of love equally this Valentine.

You can buy our zine, Make Your Own Relationship User Guide if you would like help exploring love and relationships.