What Is Love?

From the romantic songs, movies and books that fill the world, to the everyday moments between you and your partner — like listening intently to their concerns or telling them something they might find embarrassing — love is everywhere. It’s a concept that inspires countless works of art through the ages and it is even one of the most powerful emotions on our planet.

But what exactly is it? Merriam-Webster defines it as an intense liking for someone based on kinship or personal ties. But that doesn’t capture the full magic of it. In reality, it’s a feeling that creates a connection and comfort with another person in a way that is unique to each relationship and individual.

Love can come in many forms; between partners, parents and their children, friends or even a pet. It can be gentle and compassionate, or passionate and confident. It can teach you how to be vulnerable and trusting, or it can show you what it means to be selfless and kind.

Deakin University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

Despite the many myths and legends that surround it, scientists have studied love for centuries. Research has shown that romantic love is a complex emotional state with both passionate and companionate components. The latter, which includes trust, care and intimacy, is the part of the experience that determines if a relationship will last. From an evolutionary perspective, it is companionate love that helps keep parents together for the long period of time their offspring rely on them to develop the skills and abilities needed to survive.