Dating tips

Love is Complicated: It is Easy and it is Difficult

Let’s get straight to the point here: you’ve been in a relationship for quite some time now and you’re starting to hit some bumps on the road.

At this point, you’re probably looking for answers on what qualities do healthy dating relationships have to keep your relationship afloat or just plainly confused and unsure about what’s going on, and why is love so complicated?

Relationships at the beginning are fun, quirky, mysterious, interesting, and is usually easy. You don’t frequently get into arguments at this phase and you don’t get easily irritated or turned off as you get to know your partner deeper.

But sooner or later, you’ll have disagreements and small misunderstandings, that, if not treated right, could lead to consequences such as breaking up. Fortunately, you can steer away from breakups if you understand what love really is and why is it so complicated.

Why is Love so Complicated?

Love is defined so many times by writers, artists, philosophers, and self-proclaimed professionals. And it is also expressed in paintings, songs, theatrical plays, and movies. But most of them contradict each other’s conclusions.

Some had a happy ending while others were sad. A handful of them was miserable while a few were left hanging. It’s just plainly complicated enough to actually come up with a singular answer.

But why is love so complicated? What’s the science behind love and how does it work?

The Psychology Behind Love and Romance

According to Biological Anthropologist, Helen Fisher, Ph.D., we all have these “chemical families” that are associated with dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen. And that we choose people with chemicals that complement our own.

This explains why people often ask their friends “why him/her?” when they don’t find the person attractive in any way at all. In another example, these chemical reactions are also responsible for how a person with high estrogen is mainly attracted only to people with high-testosterone.

However, that’s not the only thing that’s responsible for how we choose partners as psychology plays a role, too. As we grow, we develop a “love map”, that is inspired by your father’s sense of humor or your mother’s affection.

When meeting a potential partner, we consciously and unconsciously refer to the “love map” to determine if the person is right for us. And in most cases, we can do all these in “less than three minutes”, according to Fisher.

Moreover, Fisher also specified that before you genuinely fall in love, you’ll have to go through the three stages of falling in love:

  1. Lust - driven by testosterone (in men) and estrogen (in women) where you feel physically attracted to the person in a sexual way.
  2. Attraction - dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are the 3 hormones that will keep you excited, motivated, energetic, and borderline obsessive. 
  3. Attachment - during this phase, the level of dopamine starts to go down as it’s being replaced by hormones vasopressin and oxytocin. These hormones are responsible for creating a desire to bind, nurture, and affiliate with the person you’re dating with/interested in.

But that’s just one thing as people also gauge how attractive a person is by their smell. According to Martie Haselton, Ph.D., with the communication studies and psychology departments at the University of California, Los Angeles.

She has been studying major histocompatibility complex or MHC, a set of genes involved in immunity that she believes to play a role in mating by way of smell. “People rate the body odors of people with MHC genes dissimilar from their own as more attractive.

Since it’s chemical, would it be possible to take control of the variables to make love predictable, less complicated? Researchers have thought about it and believe that you’ll be able to keep love less complicated and alive by:

  • Constantly get in touch with each other, literally. Touching is closely related to the production of oxytocin, which is sometimes referred to as the hormone of love. Any kind of touching such as holding hands, playing footsie and others, can help promote the production of oxytocin.
  • Discover new things regularly. Doing new things together can help sustain romantic love. New things excite you and drive up dopamine in the brain. Every once in a while, do things both of you have never done before or go out without any itinerary.
  • Keep the action going. Having sex is a vital part for a relationship to last. If you’ve lost touch, you’ve got to work on getting back on track even if it means having to undergo counseling.

How Emotions Can Potentially Complicate Love

Emotion plays an important role in how we react to things. This also is what pushes us to do things and even influence the way we make decisions in our lives. But to completely understand how emotions make love complicated, let’s look at the three parts of emotion:

  1. Subjective component. This is how you personally experience emotions such as “anger”, “sad”, “happy”, or “love” hence, subjective. But in the case of love, it could go from mild annoyance to blinding love.

Because we don’t experience this every time, or that it’s usually mixed with other emotions, is what makes things complicated.

  1. Physiological component. This is how your physical body or reflexes react when you’re feeling something. A good example is when you feel your heart palpitate faster when you see someone you really care or love. Another example would be how you sweat profusely when you’re afraid.
  1. Expressive component. The third part of emotion is how you follow-through. After processing the first two parts, the actual expression of emotion follows. Body language also plays along with how you express said emotions. How you behave when you’re around someone special is usually very obvious to the trained eye no matter how hard you try to mask it.

The word “emotions” and “moods” are used interchangeably. But there are certain distinctions between the two, according to psychologists.

You see, emotions usually are short-lived, but are intense. And most of the time, you can almost always identify the case. On the other hand, the mood is much milder than emotions but are longer-lasting. Furthermore, the cause of the mood is harder to identify and can leave you gloomy, or unusually happy for days.

Emotions itself is simply a representation of how you feel toward someone. But when mixed with emotions, things can get really complicated. Is there something we can do about it? Absolutely. Let’s cover that in detail below.

What Can We Do To Solve The Problem Of A “Complicated” Love/Relationship?

Needless to say, there are professional marriage counselors and therapists you can reach out to.

But there also are tips online you can use to your advantage. To learn more about it in detail, you can head over to our good relationship standards article, where we cover the bits and pieces of how to keep your dating relationship healthy. Or you can also check our tips on how long should you date to make a relationship official article.

If you want to know the essential things that will help solve problems of a complicated relationship, make sure you have the following running between you and the person you are in a relationship with:

  • Communication
  • Intimacy
  • Physical connection
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Love

But in all honesty, being open to communicating is the key to solve the problems. Because more often than not, communication keeps small complications from going out of hand.

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