Love is a complex mix of emotions, behaviors and beliefs. It’s a topic that has captivated philosophers, poets and writers for centuries, and differs widely from person to person and culture to culture. Some debate whether it’s a choice, is permanent or fleeting, while others argue that it is biologically programmed. Some even argue that love is a religious or spiritual experience.
The word “love” is used to describe a range of feelings and actions including affection, protectiveness, warmth, and respect for another person. It can also apply to non-human animals, principles and religious beliefs. Love can be expressed through gestures such as gifts, hugs and physical touch.
It’s also a central theme in many movies and songs. In fact, romantic love is one of the most enduring and universal themes for artworks across time and cultures. However, scientific research has a hard time defining the nature of love because it is so diverse and complex.
When you love someone, you want them to be happy. Often, you want them to treat you and others well. You also want them to take care of your physical and emotional needs. But you can’t always get exactly what you want, and that can lead to disappointment or even heartache. In the end, though, you will be better off if you are honest and open about what you expect from your relationship.
You can’t always be in control of how your love experiences unfold, but you can take steps to protect yourself and others. Having an open mind to what is happening, being aware of your own thoughts and feelings and having realistic expectations will help you avoid problems like cheating or squabbling with your partner.
If you are struggling with your relationship, seek support from loved ones or a professional counselor. There are plenty of resources available, from online counseling to face-to-face meetings with a counselor in your community. You can also find support groups for people who have experienced difficult relationships.
Some scientists think that love is an evolutionary adaptation, and it may be influenced by hormones such as oxytocin, neurotrophins and pheromones. Other researchers believe that love is a social and cultural phenomenon that can change over time.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and stories about love with us.
Deakin University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.
This article was originally published on The Conversation by Sarah Bower and has been republished here under Creative Commons license.
Sarah Bower is a novelist and short story writer from Melbourne, Australia. Her work has been published in magazines including QWF and Buzzwords. She has a Masters of Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and works as a freelance editor and manuscript reader.
She is currently working on her first novel. She also teaches creative writing and runs workshops in schools. She writes fiction, memoir and poetry for adults, as well as children’s books. She is the author of a blog on craft and lifestyle called The Writing Life and co-hosts a weekly podcast on writing and storytelling for podcast network, Writers’ Voices.