Falling in love

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In romantic relationships, falling in love is mainly a Western concept of moving from a feeling of neutrality towards a person to one of love. The term is generally used to describe an (eventual) love that is strong.


The use of the term "fall" implies that the process is in some way uncontrollable, risky, irreversible, and that it puts the lover in a state of vulnerability, in the same way the word "fall" is used in the phrase "to fall ill" or "to fall into a trap".


"Factors known to contribute strongly to falling in love include proximity, similarity, reciprocity, and physical attractiveness".[1] There is also a claim that "when we fall in love we fall into narcissistic identification".[2] Two symptoms that occur when falling in love are increases in oxytocin and vasopressin.

Family therapists maintain that "the reason we're attracted to someone at this very deep level is that basically they are like us – in a psychological sense".[3] Others suggest that 'the very act of falling in love sets in motion old patterns of how we love...Falling in love returns us to emotions of infancy and childhood'.[4]


"Sociobiologists point to the preeminence of heart over the head at such crucial moments...[as] bonding with a mate";[5] suggest that "the answer to why we fall in love encompasses...complex neurochemical processes that occur in our brains when we are attracted to another person";[6] and "tell us that when we fall in love we are falling into a stream of naturally occurring amphetamines running through the emotional centres of our very own brains".[7]

Arguably, "explanations like these neo-Darwinist ones...obscure what it is in sexual passion that so often leads not to attachment but to impossibilities of attachment, whether tragic or comic or tragicomic", as well as just what in falling in love is "so frightening to us human beings and so frighteningly difficult".[8]

Biologist Jeremy Griffith suggests that people fall in love in order to abandon themselves to the dream of an ideal state (being one free of the human condition).


For Stendhal, "love is largely self-generated", and falling in love is a "process Stendhal calls crystallization....Before you fall in love, you see the other person as a bare branch; as you fall, you coat him or her with jeweled attractions about 80 percent of your own making".[9]


There exists arguments that "falling in love in the truest sense of the phrase, not just infatuation...is really the closest most of us come to seeing life in its spiritual form".[10]

There is also the view that – in the majority of instances, at least - "the temporary collapse of ego boundaries that constitutes falling in love...is a genetically determined instinctual component of mating behaviour', and so that 'falling in love has little to do with purposively nurturing one's spiritual development".[11]

Both standpoints could perhaps agree with Eric Berne: "Love is a sweet trap from which no one departs without tears".[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crooks/Bauer, p. 223
  2. ^ Young-Bruehl, p. 20
  3. ^ Robin Skynner/John Cleese, Families and how to survive them (London 1994) p. 14
  4. ^ Robert M. Gordon, An Expert Looks at Love, Intimacy and Personal Growth (2008) p. xiv-v
  5. ^ Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (London 1996) p. 4
  6. ^ R. Crooks/K. Baur, Our Sexuality (2010) p. 186
  7. ^ Elizabeth Young-Bruehl, Where Do We Fall When We Fall in Love? (2003) p. 20
  8. ^ Young-Bruehl, p. 5
  9. ^ Noel Perrin, A Reader's Delight (1088) p. 41-2
  10. ^ J. Bailey/J. V. Bailey, Slowing Down to the Speed of Love (2004) p. 50
  11. ^ M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled (London 1990) p. 94-5
  12. ^ Eric Berne, Sex in Human Loving (Penguin 1970) p. 130

Further reading[edit]