Love is one of the most universally recognizable and revered emotions in the world. It has been portrayed in art for centuries and is a subject of many movies, songs and books. It’s also the reason you forgive your partner for being late, push yourself to complete a creative project and feel devastated when your favorite team loses. It’s a complex concept that’s difficult to define. While psychologists generally agree there are a few basic types of love, they disagree on whether it’s an emotion, state of being or a choice.
The word “love” comes from the Latin verb “amore,” which means “to love” or “be devoted to.” During Roman times, “love” became a synonym for passion and sexual desire. In the English language, it has many different definitions, including affection, friendship and attraction. The concept of love has been a major topic for philosophical, historical and scientific discussion throughout the ages.
While scientists and philosophers have argued over whether it’s an emotion, researchers have focused on understanding how people experience and communicate love. They have developed several theories to explain love and its variations, including the color wheel theory, the triangular theory and a model that incorporates intimacy, passion and commitment.
A person’s love style may be determined by their personality, genetics and past relationship experiences. For example, people high in dark traits, such as narcissism, psychopathy and machiavellianism, endorse more ludus and pragma love styles than those who are more emotionally sensitive and empathetic.
When a person falls in love, their brain becomes more active in areas associated with attachment, motivation and focus. A surge of dopamine, the brain’s feel-good chemical, is created during this process. In addition, a person’s heart rate increases and blood pressure rises.
In the long term, a person’s ability to sustain love may depend on how much they can give of themselves. This type of love is often referred to as agape, or self-sacrificing love. A person who loves agape often feels a sense of duty and a drive to help others.
Some people have a mixture of love styles, such as ludus and pragma plus agape and philia. People who love ludus and pragma may have a romantic attraction but also worry about committing to their partner, while those who love agape and philia feel a strong bond with friends that lasts for years.
Other forms of love are nonromantic, such as the closeness and attachment that can develop between family members or between people who work together. Similarly, pets can be loved by people who exhibit a combination of these love styles. In addition, people can be committed to a cause, such as a charitable organization, school or church. The idea of a lifelong practice of love may best be described by looking at the lives of people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Oprah Winfrey, who have devoted themselves to helping others. These individuals have helped to shape the world in a positive way through their unyielding and selfless devotion to their beliefs and values.