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What is Love? Breaking down what we cannot concisely define.

Updated on September 13, 2016

Love, but not quite.

Dictionaries give us 4 definitions:

1.a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

2.a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

3.sexual passion or desire.

4.a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.

However, to us that have felt love, these definitions pale in comparison to how love actually feels. Humanity has tried, and failed, to appropriately put that feeling into words. From the greatest philosophers, to the most humble of poets; nobody can seem to accurately depict that feeling we have when we look into our loved one's eyes and see perfection in imperfection.

Love and the Brain

Science's role in the attempt to define love.

The world of science took an interest in romance and how humans react to it. Some claim that all love comes out to be, is just the brain's serotonin and dopamine levels fluctuating which causes us to have the elation we feel when we are speaking to, spending time with, or even thinking about our loved ones. I however, sincerely believe that there is more to it than that. Something happens inside us, something enormous changes within us, to the point that we tend to say and do things that we normally would not. This is something that cannot be observed by brain scans, or be pondered on in a cramped office full of numbers and test results. True love, alters the person to the core. Though sometimes they don't even notice it for a time.

Romance and attachment.

Love changes people on a fundamental level. To some it's a slow and steady realization, and for others it can happen in an instant and not even know what its happening. When we fall in love we are awash with feelings of always wanting to be around our beloved, to speak to them, to hold them, to make them happy, to protect them, etc. He/she is now the object of our passions and desires. We want to do, and give, everything for them. Interestingly enough, true love makes us unnaturally selfless and caring. And we become helplessly attached to them. We feel, that without them, life cannot go on, we need them in our lives in order to be happy. This is where the problems tend to begin.

Why do we act the way we do when we are in love?

What is it about love that makes us behave the way we do?

The ancient Greeks spoke of 3 types of love.

Philia- platonic: Speaks of friendship and comradery. Where there is no romance, or sexual desire. The love one feels for parents and family would fit in this type.

Eros- erotic: Has no romance involved and is strictly sexual desire and fulfillment, lust.

And finally, Pragma- long-lived: The most sought after of the three, is about making compromises, romance, patience, and honesty.

It's by taking these into consideration that we can only begin to scratch the surface of what love is, and why we feel compelled to do the things we do. After pondering the meaning of the 3 types of love, it still leaves a want for true understanding of our feelings. I do believe that in this day in age, love, for some, if not most, can be a combination of two or all of them. We act in accordance to how we feel, not how we think. We tend to be reactive to our emotions and become impulsive without giving a second thought to what we do, usually until after the fact, if at all. These feelings overwhelm us and, if we are not careful, can slowly destroy us.

What love means today.

This day and age, the word "Love" is thrown around so freely, that it has lost value. When we tell somebody we love them, the tendency is to downplay the myriad of thoughts and feelings that the word used to convey. This sometimes happens subconsciously, and without us realizing it. We tell our friends, our pets, our material things etc. Some people even have the gall to misuse love in order to manipulate others. The sad part is, no matter how much we try to dissuade the person from being manipulated, they wont see the truth of the situation; because love is also blind.

While love still remains a beautiful thought in the minds of some, alas, these are few and far in between. Some even say that they despise love, but in reality what they truly abhor is the feeling love leaves behind when it is gone.

"Love is a poison that kills slowly,

and though I try to find comfort in her lips,

it's her kisses that carry the venom that destroys me."

-Don H.

Is there just one definition for love?

While the great majority of us will, at one point in time at least, experience love; there is no one true definition for this painfully beautiful experience. Each and every one of us go through our own path in life, and suffer hardships that are individualized to our experience. Therefore each of us has a slightly differing view on what love is. This feeling, while known and experienced by most, is still personalized for each of us. In truth we can't have a universal definition for it, because once we give it a clear all-inclusive meaning, it will lose the inherent allure that we all perceive of it. Perspective is what best defines love for each of us. And by trying to communicate our own perspective on love to others, without judgement, and listening to their perspective in turn, we are able to become better human beings that we once were.


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      Wildy 4 years ago

      a wonderful insight to what is love, how it changes us and makes us feel! 1Cor 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.