The concept of love has fascinated philosophers, poets, authors, and scientists for centuries. While most people agree that love involves strong feelings of affection and commitment, it’s often difficult to define. Love can be felt for people, animals, principles, or religious beliefs — and it’s different for everyone.
The dictionary defines love as “an intense feeling of fondness and attachment” for someone or something, and as the desire to be near or with that person. In addition to romantic love, this definition also includes familial and platonic love, as well as love for one’s friends and even for one’s pets.
Love can be hard to define because it’s often a mixture of emotions and behaviors, not just one thing. While psychologists generally agree that there are some core characteristics of love, they disagree somewhat about what those are. Some say that love isn’t an emotion at all, but rather a physiological drive similar to hunger, thirst, or sleep. Others argue that love is both an emotion and a behavior, and that it’s made up of a variety of primary emotions.
Some experts think that you’re likely to fall in love with someone who shares your values and goals. They might share your values and goals in terms of family, faith, work, or community. They might have a similar sense of humor and values about life in general, or at least a certain perspective on what’s important in a relationship.
Another factor that can influence whether or not you’re in love is proximity or propinquity — in other words, how close you feel to the other person. Proximity is influenced by how much time you spend together, how much you talk to each other, and whether or not you’re thinking about each other a lot. Another factor is desirability, which is based on how attractive you find the other person and on the degree to which their traits match your own preferences, standards, and values.
Finally, a person might be loved by others because they care deeply for them. This is a form of love that can have a positive impact on the world. For example, it’s the type of love that motivates people like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey to promote goodwill for humanity.
Although this type of love doesn’t involve any direct physical contact, it’s still very real and can have a powerful effect on the way we live our lives. It’s the reason we forgive our partner for making a mistake, work diligently on a project we believe in, or buy tickets to a sporting event even though we can’t afford them. It’s why we support charitable organizations, volunteer to help neighbors in need, and donate money to causes that matter to us. The fact that these actions are motivated by love for others, not for self-interest, makes them truly philanthropic. In fact, many experts argue that philanthropy is a very high-level form of love.