What Is Love?


You’ve likely heard the famous four-letter word “love” in songs, sonnets, and even in everyday conversations. It’s an emotion that makes our hearts thud, our palms sweat, and our minds race. But what is it exactly? Love is an intense feeling, but it’s also so much more than a feeling. It’s a commitment to someone, a desire to make them happy, and the motivation behind sacrificing your own wants and needs for theirs. It’s a shared T-shirt, playlist, and appetizers, but it’s also early morning doctor’s appointments and cleaning up bodily fluids. It’s an unwavering willingness to fight for the relationship and to forgive when you’ve both been wrong.

Interestingly, researchers have a lot of different theories about love and what it feels like. Some scientists view it as a physiological drive, similar to hunger and thirst, while others believe that it’s an emotional attachment. For example, research has shown that people in the throes of romantic love experience increased activation in the brain areas associated with reward and pleasure.

Another view of love comes from evolutionary psychology. It’s believed that humans evolved to love each other because of the mutual responsibility of raising offspring and ensuring their survival. It’s thought that there are two distinct types of love: passionate and companionate.

Passionate love involves intense yearning that’s often accompanied by physiological arousal (such as shortness of breath and rapid heart rate); companionate love, on the other hand, is affection and a sense of intimacy that doesn’t involve these emotions. In reality, most relationships have both aspects of love.