From poetry and music to movies and novels, love has been one of the most prominent themes in art throughout history. But despite its central role in our culture, there is still much debate about the meaning of love. For example, is it a choice or something that happens to us? Is it permanent or temporary? And is it a biological drive or a complex emotion? The answers to these questions vary from person to person and from culture to culture.
Regardless of what you believe about the nature of love, everyone can agree that it is a powerful feeling. It’s what makes us forgive our partners for their bad habits, work hard on our creative projects, or support our favorite sports team. In fact, without some level of love, most people would not survive the day-to-day struggles of life. But the enduring feeling of love can also make us feel frustrated, depressed, and even numb. This can be a sign that we are in a toxic relationship, or that we need to take some time away from our partner or ourselves.
Researchers have studied the many different types of love and how they affect our relationships. Some psychologists and biologists consider love a basic, mammalian drive similar to hunger or thirst, while others view it as a more complex emotional response. In recent years, various theories of human bonding have emerged. Some Western authorities, such as Scott Peck, have disaggregated love into two distinct components: the altruistic love of another and the narcissistic love of self.
Aside from being a complicated emotion, love can also be an extremely difficult thing to define. Some studies suggest that there are six styles of love, each with its own unique characteristics and functions. For instance, a person’s eros style of love is associated with their sexual desires and may lead them to engage in risky behaviors. In contrast, a person’s ludus love is associated with their desire to be with their partner and is characterized by a sense of loyalty and commitment.
Then there’s karuna love, which involves compassion and mercy. This type of love is often reflected in the way a person treats their friends and family. Finally, bhakti love is devotional in nature and is often characterized by the desire to please a higher power.
Ultimately, what you believe about the nature of love will determine how you approach your own relationships. While some of these styles of love are more intense than others, there’s no doubt that love is a powerful force in our lives. It’s why we sacrifice our lives for the ones we care about and go to great lengths to ensure their well-being. So, the next time you find yourself in a tough spot, remember that love can bring out the best and the worst in us, but it’s always worth the effort. Deakin University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.