Understanding Love and Its Causes

Love is a complex, confusing phenomenon that causes people to act in surprising ways. It can make them selfless in ways they might not have thought possible and yearn for their significant other in ways that seem almost impossible to explain. It’s a feeling that is often difficult to understand, but it can also be the most wonderful thing in life.

The word “love” means different things to different people, but most definitions include caring for another person and wanting the best for them. The emotions involved in love can vary from ecstasy to despair and include a desire for sacrifice. Love is an important part of our survival as humans, and it has a profound impact on our lives.

Scientists, sociologists and just about every other field of study attempt to define love and determine its causes. Some scientists think that we are hardwired to seek it and believe that loving another person is a biologically based urge. Others disagree, arguing that culture and personal experiences influence our understanding of love.

Despite its complexity, most scholars agree that there are several components of love: affection, attachment and commitment. Often, these components are combined and augmented by other feelings, such as jealousy, fear and empathy. In addition to a desire for physical closeness, love may include an obsessive focus on the object of one’s attention, an aggrandizement of their traits and worth and a desire for sex. It may also include a sense of indebtedness, an intense need for connection and a craving for security.

When a person falls in love, the brain becomes flooded with chemicals, including dopamine and adrenaline, that produce a sense of euphoria. The hormone oxytocin produces a feeling of bonding and trust that can cause a person to act in unusual ways. It’s no wonder that falling in love is compared to an addictive drug!

Once a person feels attached to someone, they may begin to want to help them through any challenge that comes their way. Their heightened levels of oxytocin and dopamine can fuel their devotion to this person, causing them to think about their needs and wants only in terms of making the other happy.

This type of love is sometimes referred to as unconditional. It is not limited to a romantic relationship and can include the love of a family member, friend or even pet. It can even involve a deep care for a child with special needs or a long-term commitment to a mentally ill family member.

Unlike the romantic love we feel as children, the care and commitment to the well-being of those close to us isn’t always easy. It can mean early morning doctor’s appointments, cleaning up bodily fluids and other unglamorous tasks that most of us would prefer not to do. Nonetheless, it can still be an extremely rewarding experience for the person who is doing it. It’s a love that can help us endure the struggles of life and make the most out of every opportunity.