Love is a complicated emotion that has captivated philosophers, poets, and writers for centuries. It can describe a range of emotions, behaviors, and beliefs that encompass strong feelings of affection, protection, and warmth. Love can be a feeling for another human being, but it can also be a fondness for non-human animals or a philosophical principle like freedom or religion.
Some psychologists and scientists believe that there are two distinct types of love: passionate love (what we generally think of as romantic love), which includes attraction and sexual desire, and attachment love, which develops in bonded pairs like mother and child. Others argue that love is not an emotion at all, but a complex motivation that derives from a combination of primary emotions.
In the case of romantic love, brain scans have shown that those in the throes of it experience elevated activity in reward centers of the brain similar to the responses caused by cocaine. This intense emotional connection can lead to an addiction-like feeling of euphoria, and a physical response of butterflies in the stomach, dry mouth, weak knees, separation anxiety, and a craving for sex.
But love doesn’t just apply to people; it can also be felt for things and ideas. For example, people often have a love for sports, books, or music. We may even love a city or a country that we’ve never visited, or something we see on television that we think is beautiful.