A word of immense depth and countless interpretations, love has fascinated philosophers, poets, and ordinary people for centuries. It is a powerful emotion that can transform lives, and even change the world. But what exactly is it?
Most people believe that love is a feeling of affection, tenderness and protectiveness. It can also be a strong desire for companionship, security and intimacy. It can be felt for other humans, non-human animals or for principles or religious beliefs.
It is a complex and often confusing emotion that can be hard to define. Some people have different ideas about what love is, and some even struggle to identify it in themselves or others. It can be manifested in a variety of ways, from being supportive and encouraging to being selfish and controlling. Love can be a source of great joy, but it can also be a source of pain and suffering.
Whether you’re looking for true love or simply trying to survive the current throes of relationship turmoil, figuring out what it is and how to define it is key. Love is the foundation of every healthy and lasting relationship. It can be a powerful force that motivates us to forgive our partner for their annoying habits, make sacrifices for our children’s futures or work tirelessly to achieve our creative visions. It is the reason we care deeply about our favourite sports team or why we want to cure cancer.
Although some have long believed that love is a mysterious, emotional experience that comes from the heart, modern science has shown that it’s actually a very complex and well-understood process. When we fall in love, our body’s hormones and neurotransmitters are flooded with dopamine and serotonin, and we can feel physically anxious or excited. Our palms may sweat, we might stammer or trip over our own feet, and we can’t stop thinking about the person we’re in love with.
The conventional view in biology is that love is a mammalian drive similar to hunger or thirst. However, psychology sees love as more of a social and cultural phenomenon that is influenced by hormones, neurotrophins and pheromones, as well as our conceptions of love.
For example, if someone says they’re in love with you, but you don’t share the same values or priorities, the relationship can be doomed to fail. In contrast, if you’re both compatible and share similar goals, then you can build a strong foundation of trust and create a loving relationship.
For some, the best way to show their loved ones that they’re in love with them is through acts of service. This could be something as simple as bringing your partner medicine or soup when they’re sick, or taking out the trash. For other people, words are more important than actions. They prefer to hear how much they’re loved, and they want evidence of it through actions that demonstrate commitment.