Love is complex. Throughout the ages, love has inspired poets, scientists and conquerors alike. It’s the source of inspiration from which poems, paintings, songs, and even architectural masterpieces have been conceived. Yes, love is probably one of the most influential emotions that humans know, but it has different meanings and interpretations throughout the distinct cultures, social groups and even individuals. So, who’s to say what love really is?
If you look it up, you won’t find a single definition. There are similarities between some, but even if you ask different people, you’ll find that not everyone thinks of it the same way.
- An intense feeling of romantic attachment based on an attraction felt by one person for another
- Intense liking and concern for another person.
- A great interest and pleasure in something.
- An intense feeling of deep affection.
Similar to the forces of nature, we can’t control love; we can’t demand it and we can’t command it. Thanks to advances in science we have some understanding of the physical and chemical factors that influence our behavior and our perception of the things we love; generally speaking, we love that which makes us feel good.
But the reason why love is such an interesting and influential topic in every culture is because love has inspired people to do great and even crazy things. People have sacrificed themselves for those they love, some are able to endure an incredible amount of pain, both physical and mental, to protect those who they care about.
So, it is simply not impossible to see love as just a feeling, and history has taught us that.
Love Plays With A Full Gamut Of Emotions
This interesting phenomenon can’t really be seen as black and white. Not even on a gray scale. The only way to understand it, is to see love as a full range of colors. It is true that you can’t love everything at the same extent and with the same intensity. In fact, not all love is the same. Romantic love is not the same as the love you feel for your family and even your best friends. The love you feel for a person is not the same love you feel for your hobbies.
However complex this emotion might be, it is as important as the air we breathe. Almost no one can agree on a single definition, but almost everyone agrees that it plays a significant role in our physical and psychological well-being. At a personal, professional, and social level, love greatly influences the way we act and our long-term actions.
Love And Mental Health
Psychological research has investigated this for more than 50 years and has made some interesting discoveries, but you don’t have to be a scientist to see what love (or lack of it) can do to a person. The benefits of love in our mental health are numerous, but some examples include better development of babies and kids, and increased functions of the immune system, in both adults and children alike.
There is a strong correlation between feelings of love and our mental health, which can also have a direct impact in our physical health. Depression and low self-esteem, for example, are strongly correlated to feeling unloved. Suicide and other self-destructive tendencies can also come from the feelings of being unloved.
Liking, Loving, And Being In Love?
These are very similar feelings, but not quite the same. Liking means to have positive thoughts and feelings towards someone. You can like the company of a person, you can like its attitude and the way you enjoy things when they’re around, but that does not mean you love them. It’s easier to see it as knowing someone whose company you find rewarding.
Love is a bit more complex than that. Just like when you like a person, you experience closeness and warmth towards them, but there is also the deep sense of care and commitment that comes with love. It is normal to experience a deeper degree of emotional intimacy with people we love.
And last, but not least, “being in love”. It includes all the positive feelings that liking and loving someone has, but it also involves romantic attraction and sexual arousal.
Romantic Love and Non-Romantic Love
So, as it’s been explained in the previous sections of the article, there is romantic love and non-romantic love. To make things even more complicated, psychologists divide romantic love into passionate and companion love.
Passionate love is what we often feel when we’re “in love”. The intense feelings of passion and the need to be with the other person are characteristics of passionate love. Companion love, on the other hand, is not so intense, but it includes a much deeper connection. It connects commitment, attachment and emotional intimacy with your romantic partner
Styles of Love
Another interesting fact about love is that there are many styles. Everyone loves in different ways, and even those who have the same style differ from each other. Loving styles are defined by the way you connect and behave with a partner.
You could be on the more passionate end of the spectrum, and express your love in a more physical and intense way. Others can experience a more mature kind of love, in which passion and physical attractiveness is less important than having similar interests and goals. On top of that, there are the attachment styles, which can dictate the way we attach to other people or certain situations.
The Importance of Love in Our Lives
It doesn’t matter how we experience it, what remains true is that love, whether romantic or not, is like the fuel of our lives. Love for a career can help you achieve great things by pushing you through your limits. Love for a person, can give you the strength to do things that you didn’t think you could. Love for yourself, can help you through situations that could otherwise seem as if it was the end of the road.
So, next time you think about love, think about all the great things that people have been able to do because of it. And if you ever feel that things are not going your way, practice some self-love–Sometimes, that is all you need in life to feel fulfilled and more confident about yourself.