Humans spend longer in childhood than most other species, and we rely on adults for years on end for survival and the development of skills and abilities. For this reason, love is extremely important to us, and its existence is deeply rooted in our biology and evolutionary history. In fact, scientists have found that romantic love triggers increased activity in reward regions of the brain. But there is more to love than meets the eye. In order to better understand why we feel so deeply about our partners, we must examine the underlying biology of love.
In ancient Greek philosophy, love is described as an unconditional affection between people. This is called Agape love, and it does not fade based on the actions of either the lover or the object. Parents, for instance, often love their children with unrequited affection. But what if the other person does not reciprocate this love? Such a case is known as unrequited love. But in modern terms, it is possible to feel love from a distance and to have it reciprocated.
Although love can be the best thing in the world, it can also be the worst. Romantic love can be a powerful emotion, and the lines between this feeling and hate are very thin. In fact, they share the same part of the brain. As such, they can switch quickly. In any case, love persists and is a universal emotion. But how do we know if we’re truly in love? What makes it so difficult to define?
A fundamental distinction must be made between the nature of love and its relation to other personal attitudes and values. Moreover, love is an expression of creativity and does not arise out of appraisal. As a result, accounts of love that view love in terms of appraisal are missing something essential to the experience of love. The bestowal view has a kernel of truth, but it misses the core of love. This view can lead us to an understanding of what love really is and why it’s so important.
Classical Greek accounts of love include a variety of disparate states under the general heading of ‘love’. According to A.C. Grayling, these states are ‘agape’ (altruism), ludus (playful affection), pragma (long-term commitment), storge (loyalty), and mania, which is a state of intense sexual passion. And this is just a sampling of the many kinds of love.
In contrast, the emotion complex view focuses on evaluative responses to the beloved. According to this view, emotional responsiveness towards the beloved is an effect of concern rather than a constituent of love. As a result, Velleman argues that the robust concern view does not adequately capture the emotional response to the beloved. As such, it is difficult to classify love theories in a systematic way. The complexity of love, however, is a major factor that makes it so compelling.