What if Everything You Know about Love is Wrong?

Barbara Fredrickson on Love 2.0

Barbara Fredrickson

Most of us have been trained to think that one of life’s primary goals is to find that one-and-only soul mate. But Barbara Fredrickson—a leading scholar and researcher in the fields of social psychology, affective science, and positive psychology—challenges this pie-eyed view of love in her new book, Love 2.0. Rather than simply debunking a daydream, her research brings us news that’s really revolutionary: as far as the impact on our bodies and our health is concerned, love is literally any positive connection between two or more people at any time. Here’s an excerpt from Barbara’s keynote at the 2014 Networker Symposium.


We sometimes forget that love is an emotion, and the truth about emotions is that they happen in the span of a micro-moment. It’s in that micro-moment that you truly connect with another living being, whether you share a laugh with a friend, hug your neighbor with compassion, or smile at a baby. When you really connect with another person, your smiles, your gestures, your postures come to mirror one another and come into synchrony. But that’s only the synchrony that you can see. In addition, there’s the synchrony that you can’t see, because when you really connect with another person—when you’re sharing this positive vibe with them—your neural firings come into synch, your biochemistries come into synch, even your heart rhythms come into synch. It’s as if in that moment of connection, a single emotion is growing across two brains and bodies at once.


Every day, our habits of connection deeply affect our physical health. So these micro-moments of connection should be considered on par with eating your vegetables and staying physically active. But more than other healthy behaviors, when you’re connecting with another person, it’s not just your heart and your immune system that’s getting a mini tune-up—the other person’s is, too.


If you say that “we have rapport, we really clicked,” you’re suggesting that the goodness of our connection is somehow optional, like icing on the cake. But more and more data is repeatedly showing us that the goodness of our connection is a biological imperative. It gives us life in the same way that the right combination of sunlight, soil, and water gives life to plants.

Read more about what our Symposium 2014 keynote speakers had to say in the May/June issue of the Networker >>

Tags: brain science | Barbara Fredrickson | emotion | Networker Symposium | positive psychology | psychology | Symposium

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4 Comments

Sunday, July 13, 2014 6:35:59 AM | posted by Janine Ayling
Reading this description of love made me think of Dave Schnarch's view of love in The Passionate Marriage, not as a feeling but as an action or behaviour that accrues to the benefit of the loved one. I suppose I view the 'feeling' of love as a small portion of a larger concept that emphasizes the 'doing' of love. So to me, this article seems a tad unfinished.

Friday, July 11, 2014 4:38:44 PM | posted by Antonella Monini
Thanks, I like this article. But something is missing...... Love is an emotion and more, what's more?

Friday, July 11, 2014 3:17:41 PM | posted by Daniel Held
I couldn't disagree more with Barbara re. her idea of what love is. She is confusing the word "love" with the word "like." Everything she writes about love is true of "like" in terms of human psychobiology. To differentiate, "love" is the decision we humans make to care for social objects we do not like. Love is what compels us to act in another person's best interest even when we do not cognitively, emotionally or chemically like that person. Love is why we care for people we don't care for! Love is not even synonymous with like; rather it is the happy human paradox most people have wrongly understood all along.

Friday, July 11, 2014 2:56:53 PM | posted by hannam
I like Barbara Fredickson's view of love. The love that we think is engendered by Mr Wonderful is something inside us: always there, always accessible when we choose to live fully all the time. Then we do fall in love with everything and everyone as we choose to see and enjoy the good in everyone, in every moment. I will look up the rest of this article.
Thank you
Hanna mcDonough
Psychotherapist