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Psychology of Love

Psychology of Love 

Which are the love relationships we hold most dear and would most like to duplicate in our own lives? That enduring closeness and collegiality make the most inspiring model of love in our time is one of several surprises that turned up in a new PSYCHOLOGY TODAY survey. 

First bit of advice from the resulting road map to romance: 

Save your money: 

Some 62 percent of respondents consider a bouquet of wildflowers spontaneously plucked from the side of the road to be much more romantic than a dozen long-stemmed red roses; just 38 percent felt otherwise. And almost two to one they prefer a candlelit dinner at home to one at a fancy restaurant (66 to 34 percent). 

Men and women may not speak the same language, but they select the same ideal of love. Love need not involve great expense but it does require energy. A phone call made or a card sent for no specific reason was close behind (34 percent). 

Less welcome signs of love were a surprise visit to one's workplace or home (17 percent) and uncomplainingly accompanying one's lover to a restaurant only he or she adores (13 percent). 

How do you know you're in love?

Which experiences clue you in? Apparently it's your anxiety level. Thirty-five percent of respondents say the most important sign is that they worry about their "friend." 

Twenty-seven percent know when they laugh at the same joke, while for 25 percent it's when they impulsively call to check in. For 14 percent, the tip-off comes when they move their internal body dock from owl to lark or vice versa to coincide with their partner's biorhythms. 

What will do the most to seal love for the long haul?

Having a child together slightly edges out buying a home together. Still significant, but in third place, is comingling finances. Sharing a religion is significantly more of a long-term bond than sharing political views. 

And what will turn love on? 

Music from a piano is most romantic (32 percent), followed by the saxophone and human voice (each 28 percent), while the violin scores a mere 11 percent. Surprisingly, slightly more people find couples who kiss and cuddle in public to be an exhilarative rather than an eyesore (52 vs. 48 percent). And only 26 percent consider couples who call each other cutesy names in public to be an earsore. Fully 74 percent consider that romantic. 

How often would people really like to be whispered sweet nothings?

Forty-one percent say they want to hear they're adored more than once a day; 18 percent need those words once daily. Another 22 percent are content with once a week, while two percent can get by on once a month or so. Then there's 18 percent who say they never need to hear it; for them actions always speak louder than words. 

"Romance is the creative spark of love, little things you do together, like walking hand in hand, and big things, too, like surprising each other with a trip to Europe," notes one poll participant. 

"Romance makes babies, and love is what keeps your husband in the delivery room with you when he feels like fainting!" Romance is the flourish; love, the solid foundation. "I like the flourishes, but it's the knowledge and agreement between us that we'll be there for each other and accept one another for our faults that keeps a relationship going when there are no flourishes." 

"Love is caring and sharing. Romance is wining and dining. It's how you show your love." 

"Love is allowing your husband to turn down a big promotion because you know he really does not want the added pressure, even though the extra money would help pay bills and its absence forces you to work more hours than you want." 

"Romance is going to dinner at a five-star restaurant; love is making sure the waiter knows about your wife's food allergies." 

Asked to create a romantic day or evening, people favor breakfast in bed, picnics in the country, elegant dinners with wine or champagne, and a Jacuzzi. Room service has its appeal. Almost all want a prolonged session for tender lovemaking. 

For most people, romance is dressing down. For some it's dressing up. "A great romantic day would include a picnic-and dress up for dinner out," said one. Another would include "a swim in a secluded ocean cove, a horseback ride, and a picnic lunch made by a famous chef." 

"A surprise event arranged by a partner that allows for time to be spent together without interruption." 

"We ride horses on a remote trail on a sunny day for hours, stopping at a meadow with a long view of the valley for lunch. We joke, stretch out in the sun, kiss, ride back and do chores together, then sit back and watch the sunset over a glass of wine." 


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