The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage


What is the evolutionary function of falling in love?

We can draw a distinction between the general feeling of love and the heady, intoxicating experience of being in love. The experience of falling in love is a widespread one, something that most people have experienced at some point in their life. Psychologists describe this emotional state as involving the idealization of the partner and a yearning to spend time with him or her. There is also great sexual desire for the partner and heightened emotional arousal. In their 2000 paper, Cindy Hazan and Lisa Diamond speculated that this mental state serves to keep the lovers focused and preoccupied with each other long enough for a more sustainable form of love to develop. These authors theorize that the attachment aspect of love, similar to what Sternberg considered the intimacy component of love, is what keeps long-term relationships alive. However, it takes time to develop. So infatuation, or the intoxicating state of being in love, serves as a sort of scaffold over which attachment and intimacy can develop. This suggests that infatuation is inherently short lived. Indeed research supports the short life of infatuation; several studies suggest the average length of romantic infatuation is about two years.


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