What Is Love?
The emotions evoked by love are some of the most complex and intense feelings we have as human beings. While some people view this feeling as something pure and beautiful, others consider it deceitful and selfish. Whether it’s romantic love, familial love or unconditional love, we all experience the power of this emotion. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what is love, scientists have made significant progress in understanding the biological and psychological aspects of this elusive feeling.
In the simplest terms, love is an arousal that causes you to want someone. Often this desire is accompanied by other positive feelings, such as attraction and affection. When you are in love, your brain is stimulated by oxytocin and other hormones, which can lead to feelings of happiness and well-being. As the relationship develops, these feelings can be replaced by anxiety and fear, which may cause you to behave in uncharacteristic ways.
Despite the many negatives that can come with loving someone, it’s still a wonderful thing to be in love. This is why so many of us are driven to seek out and define this feeling in a variety of ways. However, in order to be successful in a relationship, it’s essential to remember that love is only a small component of the equation. Several other things, such as mutual admiration and commitment, are necessary to sustain a long-term, healthy relationship.
When it comes to describing how love feels, many of us are prone to being overly dramatic. This is why it’s easy to fall into the trap of using stock phrases such as “amazing, gorgeous,” and “devastating.” However, while these words can sound sappy and cliché, they do help capture some of the intensity of this feeling.
Love isn’t always a fairytale, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a great adventure. It can also be a lot of hard work. It’s why so many of us put up with the flaws of our partners, friends or family members. It’s why we stay up all night working on a creative project or root for our favorite sports team even when they’re losing.
Some researchers have attempted to delve deeper into the nature of love by studying the effects of love on the brain. Their studies, which have been criticized for being too reductionistic, show that when we’re in love, the brain is rich with dopamine and activity in an ancient brain area called the ventral tegmental area (VTA). The VTA is associated with craving, motivation and focus.
Some theorists have proposed that different types of love can be classified according to how they’re perceived and used in our lives. For example, some describe empathetic and companionate love as being rooted in our social bonds. Then, there’s romantic and sexual love, which they see as being rooted in our attachment to each other. Finally, there’s spiritual or devotional love — which they call bhakti. This type of love is characterized by compassion and mercy, and it drives us to reduce the suffering of others.