Love is an emotion and an idea that has fascinated people for centuries. It has been a subject of philosophers, poets, and writers who have debated its meaning and nuances. Love can be defined as a feeling, behavior, or belief that is associated with a sense of affection, protectiveness, and warmth for another person or animal. It can also be expressed as a feeling for one’s family, friends, country, or religion. People can even love objects, such as cars or books, or abstract ideas, such as freedom or God. There are many different types of love and each may be experienced in slightly different ways.
Some psychologists argue that love isn’t really an emotion, but rather a complex interplay of emotions and behaviors (Levine, 2005). Paul Ekman, the world-renowned expert in facial expressions and body language, suggests that every basic emotion comes with its own unique set of physical reactions or shows up through the same patterns in the body. However, he admits that there are some situations where the emotions don’t match up exactly (Levine, 2005). One such example is love.
Despite the confusion over whether or not love is an actual emotion, most psychologists agree that love can be considered a feeling. The word “love” conjures up thoughts and feelings that can vary from person to person, but the overall feeling is similar. It’s the reason that we feel devastated when our favorite team loses, or that we are elated when we receive an unexpected gift. It’s the reason that we forgive our partner for their bad habits, or that we work hard to support our children’s education. It’s the reason that we want to save the planet, or that we are willing to die for our beliefs.
When we fall in love, we tend to experience three components of love that can be viewed as the vertices of a triangle: intimacy, passion, and commitment/decision. The more of each component you have, the stronger your love is.
Intimacy refers to how close you feel to someone. Some people feel this type of love for their parents, while others feel it for their pets or a favorite hobby. This is often a strong bond that will last throughout your life.
Passion refers to the intense feelings of attraction and arousal that you have for someone. This is usually present in romantic relationships, although it can be felt for coworkers or friends. This form of love can lead to jealousy, possessiveness, and a desire to spend more time with the object of your affections.
Commitment/decision refers to the mutual admiration and respect that you feel for someone else. This is the foundation of a relationship and the most important factor in long-term stability. It is also the reason that a loving marriage requires constant effort to nurture it. This can be especially challenging if the two of you are not naturally compatible or have differences in personality and lifestyle.