What Is Love?

Love is one of the most widely recognizable and profound human emotions. It has fascinated philosophers, poets and everyday people alike.

But defining love is a tricky thing. It can change over time and vary depending on the individual. The emotions associated with it can also be irrational, which can cause problems in relationships.

There are many theories on what love is, ranging from biological to cultural to psychological. Some researchers believe that it is a mammalian drive, similar to hunger or thirst. Others view it as a social and cultural phenomenon that can be influenced by hormones like oxytocin or neurotrophins. Brain scans of people in love have shown that the primary reward centers of the brain fire more when they’re thinking about someone they love, compared to when they’re thinking about someone neutral.

Some psychologists, such as Sternberg, broke down love into three components: intimacy, passion and commitment. He believes that these interact to produce seven different kinds of love. These include:

Companionate love involves trust, affection and physical closeness. This includes things like being an attentive listener, which can help build connection and trust in a relationship. Unrequited love, on the other hand, is when a person feels love for another but that feeling isn’t returned.

Selfless love is perhaps the most powerful kind of love. It requires sacrifice, but can lead to true happiness. It’s the love of a parent for their children, for example, or the selfless devotion to causes that promote well-being seen in people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Maya Angelou.