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Through this displacement of the libido, a build up of tensions is avoided, and individuals are allowed to live within social constraints of proper decency regarding modern sociocultural practices of acceptable forms of love within the contexts of relationships. However, oddly enough, Freud also posits the idea that all individuals are innately bi-sexual and can be attracted to both sexes. However, through the social constraints of modern society, most individuals are driven to only accept one sex as suitable to fall in love with, (Malakh-Pines 155). Thus love becomes a product of our repression of our true sexual desires.
Another modern sociological theory exploring the phenomenon of love is that presented by Erich Fromm in the 1950s. In his the Art of Loving first published in 1956, Fromm composed four different components of what we associated as love. Individuals care for one another, therefore "wanting the best for those we love," (Harsfall 1). Secondly, love carries aspects of responsibility in that all individuals must acknowledge the needs of others and therefore responding appropriately. Respect revolves around accepting one's loved ones for who they are, despite various idiosyncrasies or faults those individuals may have. Lastly, one must carry knowledge of others needs and feelings in order to truly be successful in love. Another aspect of Fromm's theory is the various stages of development of love within any particular individual. First comes infantile love, where one loves another because that person is loved, "I love you because I am loved," (Harsfall 1). This is the first developmental stage of love, and is the most superficial out of the other stages. The next stage represents immature love, that was love exists because one or more individuals need the other, almost like that of an addiction, "I love you because I need you," (Harsfall 1). Although this is a step up from infantile love, it still is a lower form. Erotic love represents a deceptive form of love based on the desire to fulfill pleasure through sexual encounters and gratification. This resembles Freud's earlier image of the concept of love within modern society. Yet, it is mature love which represents the most profound level of love between two individuals. It is the love for another based on the love itself, without superficial complications, "I need you because I love you," (Harsfall 1). Fromm presented these levels and elements in order to help individuals understand how to improve their relationships and quests for love.
Later in the twentieth century came from the theories of Abraham Maslow. Maslow categorized love as part of our innate needs focalized on the hierarchy of needs, (Harsfall 1). According to Maslow, love coincides with the need to feel like one belongs. Together, these represent a middle ground need in between the more primitive needs of safety and general survival needs and the more cognitive needs regarding self-actualization. Therefore, one cannot feel the need for love without being in a safe position, where all biological needs are taken care of. Yet, in the same context, one needs to feel loved in order to move up to higher level cognitive needs.
One other prominent sociological theory regarding the nature of love is that which was proposed by Ira Reiss in the middle of the twentieth century. According to Reiss, love is truly a progressive process of development from one process to another, (Harsfall 1). The first process is that of rapport, or when the two lovers share similarities with one another. This then opens up the potential for more intimate relations and deeper connections. As the relationship progresses, the next process forms; that of self-revelation or the time when the two lovers truly disclose their real identities and intimate feelings. Once this stage has been passed, the partners pass into the mutual dedendency stage, where each one relies on the other for a mutual and independent gratification and fulfillment, (Harsfall 1). Finally, the fulfillment of needs stage presents the last process before the cycle starts over again.
John Alan Lee, another prominent twentieth century sociologist, was the creator of the "Six Styles of Loving," (Harsfall 1). These include three primary styles; Eros representing a powerful sense of attraction that is based on physical sexual desires. This type of love proves to be incredibly unreliable and disappointing, for it is one of the superficial types. The second style is that of Ludus, or "carefree and challenging," where sexual relations are not the full drive of the relationship, (Harsfall 1). This style also represents a non-possessive and easy going love between partners. The third primary style is that of Storge, which represents a much more profound style of love where the partners truly care for one another, and sex takes a secondary role later in the relationship. According to Lee's styles, there are then three combinations of the primary styles. Mania is a combination of Eros and Ludus, and thus represents an obsessive and jealous style of loving one's partner, (Harsfall 1). Pragma styles are those which are a combination of Ludus and Storge, presenting logical and practical approaches to love. Finally, the style of Agape represents a combination of Eros and Storge which therefore presents a respectful atmosphere where each partner is willing to go to great sacrifices to please the other. Each style is compatible with its own members, but can also branch out across other styles of love.
Harsfall, Sara. "Supplement to Sociology of Marriage and Family: Theories of Love."
Texas Wesleyan University. 2008. Retrieved 10 Dec 2008 at http://web.txwesleyan.edu/sociology/horsfall/love2.html.…[continue]
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