Love and Communication
Dr Jonathan Haverkampf
Love means relating to others emotionally and being connected. It connects us with other people in an emotional way and goes beyond what is rational, but is itself the result of information exchanges. Since love is an intense feeling and requires a relationship, we get a strong sense of who we are and define ourselves as persons. A strong sense of love means one can define oneself as a person. The ability to feel love is a prerequisite to develop a sense of wholeness as a person.
Many of our thoughts or behaviors seem specific and are at least in part the result of specific information. Not so, feelings, however, which seem less specific. Feelings are mainly the result of the subconscious processing of large amounts of information. Love as a feeling is thus the result of a large amount of information that reaches us through the senses or cognitive thinking processes.
What makes love such an enigma is that we are not aware of all the information that goes into its making. Often, what makes us more likely to love someone is something we do not process consciously. And, even if we knew in the present what we love in someone else, it often is the result of past experiences and information which we were not aware of at that time either. The mystery of love is does related to the enormous amount of information that go into it.
Love requires the communication of messages between people, but also within the components that make up our sense of personality. It is not just the little gesture we find so endearing in the other person, but also how we react to it, that has significance and meaning. Without communication, there can be no love. Communication is not only necessary for an expression of love, but it is also for us to realize who we are in love with. Uncertainty is usually a consequence of a lack of communication and meaningful information.
Meaningful messages, the communication of something relevant and novel, provide us with the information that goes into feelings, such as love. The feeling can then lead to new communication and new behavior that shares the feeling with others. Love thus requires the freedom to exchange meaningful messages, which may not be possible for intrapersonal or situational reasons. Often people who come into psychotherapy have difficulties in sharing with how they feel. Reasons may be various experiences in the past, believes they have adopted from their family or friends, and being overwhelmed by difficult circumstances in the present.
Love does not have to be romantic, but can also be the deep sense of connection one feels with people in general. A therapeutic relationship should also be built on a special connection towards the client and an attitude of caring that goes beyond a purely contractual relationship. Sometimes it is important for the client to feel something that may be missing in everyday life, but the real reason is that change requires an exchange of many meaningful messages, the novel information that is only communicated in a relatively safe setting. It is the deep interest in the other and an appreciation for the individual that is so fundamental to any therapeutic work.
Love means having a deep interest in the other, that is tied to emotions and to one’s values, to who one is as a person. Love thus requires stripping away one’s blind spots, because where we feel real love is the core of our selves, which then goes into contact with the other self. Young children attach to others, they conceive the other person as individual and then internalize him or her into themselves. The more we know about ourselves the more stable and longer lasting are the meaningful relationships we enter with others. Openness in interactions with other people helps one to get there.
Truly felt love is very enduring, regardless of whether we are able to live it or not. The reason is that there is so much information that goes into the feeling, from our personality to the information we receive through our senses. Our ability to feel love, and any other feeling, says a lot about who we are because all the parts of our personality take a part in processing the information from the world and ourselves that in the end leads to the subtle sensation of a feeling.
Love requires work because our environment and our past experiences have an influence on who we believe we are. This can lead to a distorted image, if what we are told does not agree with our basic values, interests and aspirations. On the other hand, if we feel really good about ourselves and our interaction with the world around us, then we are communicating in sync with our basic values. Real love is stable because it rests on these sets of values, interests and aspirations that are central to one’s personality and unlikely to change quickly.
So, communication is the process where love begins and ends, but also which maintains is. As children, we attach ourselves to others and develop trust in others. Over time we develop more mature mutual relationships. If something disturbs this process, in which we develop more complex communication and interaction patterns, it can also interfere with our ability to love.
© 2012, 2016 Dr Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved.
Psychotherapy & Counselling, Communication, Medicine (Psychiatry); Dublin, Ireland
This article is solely a basis for academic discussion and no medical advice can be given in this article, nor should anything herein be construed as advice. Always consult a professional if you believe you might suffer from a physical or mental health condition.