What is Love? Love is affectionate feelings/actions towards another person. Love and acts of Love are learned throughout our life experiences. When two people become intimate partners, they become familiar with each others’ ways of presenting / expressing/ and articulating Love to one another.
Love, therefore, is a social process. It is learned from others and it is exchanged between/among people. It is a socially constructed phenomenon; its meaning and its acts are descriptive/prescriptive based on what we have learned through our family, social, cultural, political narratives about Love.
Love is constructed through many cultural, social, and political narratives. For instance, some narratives of Love promote connection through respect, empathy, and understanding; some narratives link Love to violence and aggressive penetration; some narratives are about fairy tales fantasies that portrays love as an unattainable phenomenon, and so forth.
Knowing that each person’s learning of love located in her/his own particular social context gives us a permission to be open to learn and talk about narratives of love. This permission is quite liberating. It allows us to talk about the learned narratives about Love and negotiate its terms and performances in intimate relationships in a more coordinated fashion.
We intuitively know that love and violence don’t mix. We know that love is not genuinely experienced/ felt at the presence of violence. We know that any signs of violence- possession, domination, aggression- is destructive to love. We also know that there are social cultural narratives about love that promote aggression and violence in relationship. We are aware that aggression and love are subtly promoted in media such as films, TV shows, books and etc. We may know that disconnecting Love and Violence requires our collective awareness and possibly a reconstruction of the aggressive love narrative.
Therefore, it is not surprising that many experience confusion when these mixed narratives about Love interplay. It is obvious that the mixed narratives allow the perpetuation of violence in intimate relationships. And it is clear that it leads to silencing many people in their intimate relationships.
To reduce the presence of violence in our relationships, we need to review our cultural values and beliefs; we need to learn more about ways of demonstrating ‘generous love’ in our social media. We need to talk about narratives that shed new light on ramification of violence in intimate relationships. We, each of us, need to embody acts of Love that lead to respect, empathy and understanding. This, of course, requires our collective efforts, determination and perseverance.
Tahereh Barati, RMFT