Picture of Dr. Linda Algazi, Ph.D


I was challenged by a man who considers himself an expert when it comes to all things, romantic.

“I want to know, how you, the ‘Love Doctor, define “Romantic Love.”

He wasn’t talking about “family love, or brotherly love, about institutional love, or of the unconditional love we feel for our offspring.” His question, he clarified, was only about “Romantic Love.”

I’m up for his challenge. But before I answer, I’ll share a story my colleague and friend, Dr. Bill Lyon, shared with me.

Dr. Bill’s license plate read “I Love Luv”. I tell you that only to establish that he also considered himself an expert about such things.

Once, when he was making rounds at a local hospital for twenty or so residents and interns, he had handed them each a list of symptoms, which had been reported by a patient in his care: 1. Anxiety 2. weight loss 3. night sweats 4. trouble concentrating 5. insomnia.

He also noted that the patient had wild mood swings and appeared to be depressed at one moment and exuberant at the next.

The young doctors took turns suggesting a diagnosis. One thought the patient might be manic-depressive. Other guesses included a thyroid problem, generalized anxiety disorder and cancer. Turns out they were all wrong.

Happily, the patient was just in love! “Divine madness,” Sigmund Freud once called it. You’ve now read about the symptoms. Relief was around the corner since this level of heady infatuation can’t last. Ever.

When his symptoms dissipated, he was able to resume participation comfortably in his world. In a new way though, with his love by his side..

Here’s what I know:

“Romantic love” feels like friendship on fire… or at least on steroids. It is expansive, as is the other kinds of love you mention, but it is ever so more likely to result in creating and maintaining a new kind of psychological, sexual, physical, spiritual and psychic energy. Even when the infatuation stage passes.

I also know that romantic love relationships happen for a reason, a season or a lifetime:

• The reason can be simply lusty chemistry, or limerence, as it is sometimes called. It can be destroyed when we discover the otherness of our lust object. Some things about him/her may be deal-breakers.
• Other relationships may last a little longer… through a season or even through a full season of life.
• When love does last a lifetime, the lucky partners are veterans of the lusty first stages. They’ve also shared the opportunity to support each other through the inevitable troubles that come with living a full life. Relationship complexity plays a large role in creating and maintaining true life-partnerships.

Nobody gets it all, but I know that loving commitment, seasoned with a good dose of passion and friendship is a very romantic way to live.

I hope I’ve answered the question.

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