How to Define Love

Love is one of the most complex and mysterious human emotions. It’s also one of the most universal. Everyone on earth has loved someone at some point in their lives. Love comes in many different forms and is a hugely important part of our lives.

Some people define love as a feeling of affection and attachment to another person. Others use the word to describe a deeper commitment, such as a marriage or a romantic relationship. Still others use the term to describe a spiritual or religious experience. The word love has been a topic of discussion for millennia and is a subject of study in psychology, anthropology, philosophy, sociology, and other fields.

Whether you’re in love with your partner, your pet, or your freedom, all of these experiences are different forms of love. In a recent survey, people described their feelings of love in terms of physical sensations and emotional patterns. They talked about the way they felt when they fell in love, the feeling of being a whole when with their loved ones, and the energy of reaching out and interacting with others. Some of the most common types of love were romantic, friendship, family, and a sense of global community.

When a person feels in love, it can feel like walking on air or floating in a cloud and as sweet as strawberry cotton candy. But when the feelings of love begin to wane, it can feel like wallowing in a muddy pit of self-pity or like you’ll never climb out of the bottom of a broken heart.

The experience of love can be complicated by a number of factors, including insecurity and jealousy, miscommunications, or life changes. But with open communication and effort, love can deepen and withstand the test of time.

A major challenge in defining love is that it’s not exactly an emotion. The classic textbook on emotions, by Paul Ekman, defines an emotion as a particular set of facial expressions or behavior that occur together and are experienced consistently by the same person at the same time. But there’s a lot more to love than just a set of emotions or a specific behavior, and psychologists have been debating what it means to say you’re in love for decades.

Throughout history, philosophers and religious leaders have theorized about the nature of love and relationships, but it was only in the 20th century that psychologists began to study the phenomenon in earnest. The field of psychology is still learning about the complexity of love, but anthropology, biology, and other disciplines have contributed to our understanding of this profound and complicated emotion.