Love is the cherished topic of philosophers, poets, and writers for centuries. It is also the subject of debate among researchers and scientists, who are attempting to understand what it is that makes us love one another—or at least feel that we do. Several different theories on the nature of love exist, but there are some basic ideas that most scientists agree on. Love is a complex mix of emotions, behaviors, and beliefs that includes strong feelings of affection, attachment, and protection. It can be felt for humans, non-human animals, principles, or religious beliefs. Some people describe their feelings of love as euphoria, a sense of freedom, or a rush of dopamine.
Some researchers have argued that love is not an emotion in the same way that we would characterize other emotions, such as happiness or anger. Others have characterized it as a primary emotional drive, like hunger or sleep. Other psychologists believe that the feelings we associate with love are actually secondary emotions that result from a combination of other emotions, such as fear and attraction.
The dictionary defines love as “a feeling of strong affection and protectiveness for someone.” There are many ways that we show love to others: a mother’s love for her child, the friendship love that we feel for our friends, the loyalty of a spouse, or the familial love that we have for our family members. Love can also be expressed by our actions, such as making sacrifices for those we care about.
In romantic love, we often feel a sense of euphoria and a desire to be with our partner. We may even find ourselves doing things that we wouldn’t normally do, such as skydiving or trying new foods. This is because when we are in love, our brains become filled with thoughts about our partner and what they mean to us.
Those thoughts can interfere with our ability to concentrate and think clearly, so we are often distracted by our feelings of love. This can lead to problems in our relationships because it can cause us to miss out on other activities that are important for our health and well-being.
Scientists have been investigating what causes us to love others for decades, but their research has sometimes been controversial. For example, Senator William Proxmire criticized researchers for spending taxpayer money on studies of love, and some people have objected to the idea that we can study something as subjective as love. Still, some of the most important discoveries about human behavior have come from the study of love.