Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
What is love?
Love is one of the most essential nutrients of life, emotional development, optimal functioning, psychological growth and happiness. Although romantic love and lust are frequently used when talking about love, it is way deeper than that. It is a remarkable process, a deep connection or bond with another, and a powerful force. Love is also a mix of emotions, beliefs, and behaviors which are associated with strong affection, warmth, protectiveness, respect and even sexual desire for another person. While a lot of people agree that love implies strong emotional feelings of affection towards someone or something, there are disagreements as regards its precise meaning, as a person’s “I love you” may carry a different meaning from another person’s.
Having another person love you is a beautiful feeling. As human beings, we can’t survive without love, because it is deeply nested in the desire or need for closeness or connection which is wired into the deep structure that makes up the psyche of human beings. When this need is not met, or when it is thwarted, such a person is beset by feelings of loneliness, rejection and stagnating in our lives. Many of us spend a lot of time dating or looking for "the one." In other words, many of us strive to find true love.
How do people fall in love?
There is no one right way to fall in love. To fall in love with someone isn’t something you pre-plan. Some people are friends with the person that they fall in love with long before they are in a relationship with them. Other times, there's a feeling of chemistry that draws you to one another right away and before you know it, love is starting to grow little by little. Sometimes, it may just be the way someone acts in unselfish, loyal, and benevolent ways or expresses concern for the good of another that makes them attractive. You might fall in love with somebody that you met at school, someone that you met as a child, someone that you met at work, or even someone that you meet through a dating app. People meet their true love in an abundance of different places. When looking for love, it's vital to think about what you want in a partner. Do you want them to be funny? Do you want a person who will raise kids with you? Would you rather be with someone who is extroverted or introverted? These are all questions you can ask yourself when looking for love. Have standards, but keep your options open. If you look for love in one place only or keep your eye on someone that isn't available and already has a partner, you might be missing the relationship of your dreams.
Is love always romantic?
Although romance and love are used interchangeably, they don’t totally mean the same thing. When people hear the word ‘love,’ they sometimes think it is always about romantic love. When someone says the word love, it doesn't always pertain to romantic love or romantic relationships. Apart from romantic love, there's also familial love and love that you feel for your friends. You likely love your pets, your kids, or your parents. Often, if someone says that they are in love, they are talking about a person that they wish to have a long-term relationship with. As humans, love is an important part of our lives. Even if someone is a romantic and doesn't experience the desire for romantic love or relationships, they still likely feel love for those around them.
What are the five love languages?
You may have heard of the five love languages. In a romantic partnership, there are different ways that we prefer to give or receive love. The way people give love may be a pointer to their love language. According to Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, the five love languages are words of affirmation, gift-giving, physical affection, quality time, and acts of service. Every love language describes a potential way to show affection. Each one of them is important and expresses love in its own unique way. Most people resonate with several love languages. Depending on each person’s personality type, the way we may feel loved may differ from the way our partner feels it. Understanding and deciphering these different ways that love is communicated to each person will help partners do away with guess works and actively meet each other’s needs and expectations. It's important to talk about your love language with your partner and ask them what theirs is so that you know the best ways to show that you appreciate one another. This helps to create a stronger bond in your relationship.
“You are gorgeous,”
“I appreciate you.”
“You look stunning in that dress.”
“I love you.”
Can I make someone love me?
As difficult as it may be to come to terms with, you can't make someone love you. It's hard when you have a crush on someone and they don't like you back, but you can't control the emotions of others. It's okay to feel your feelings when this happens. You can't make someone love you, but you can focus on loving yourself. Know that the right person will come along at the right time and that it might be better than you ever could have expected. You don't want to try to force somebody to be in love with you, as it will likely backfire.
Get help with love
Whether you see a counselor online or in your local area, it is a great way to seek help for any issues related to romance. You can see a couples counselor with your partner if you're already in a relationship, or you can seek one on one counseling. The counselors at ReGain are well-versed in love and can help you with love, romantic relationships, or any other life issues that you are experiencing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you define love?
According to the Merriam-webster dictionary, love is a feeling of strong affection arising out of kinship or personal ties (parental love). Again, it defines love as an attraction based on sexual desire, affection, and tenderness felt by lovers. These definitions for love have one word in common; ‘affection.’ That could show love as a feeling based on affection. The affair love is the opposite of hatred or disgust, the common antonyms for love. Synonyms of love: passion, affection, emotion, devotion, fondness, infatuation, desire, cherishing, crush, etc. Examples of love in a sentence-
Love makes the world go round
True love never dies.
Love, and love only, is the loan for love
God is love
All’s fair in love and war.
Love is also said to be a form of connection that finds expression through actions, reactions, and even professions. It has many definitions to different people, that’s why different people will give you different definitions of love. For instance, for someone interested in the other person for physical reasons, love is an emotional attachment. Although it takes two to tango, the meaning of love may be classified as follows;
When there’s someone you can be who you are with, feeling of sexual engagement aside, this could be love. It goes further into giving it time, knowing your likes and dislikes, a willingness to share something in common.
An act of selflessness
The affair love has an individual doing things without expecting anything in return. It’s an act of service, one of the ways of expressing love to others. This means they’re not looking for feelings of sexual satisfaction primarily, or seeking for you to fill their needs. That shows that love does not pressure you or give a false idea of what your emotions should be.
To gain more understanding on the meaning and types of love, love antonyms and synonyms, and how to use love in a sentence, you can look through the dictionary, thesaurus, and word for the day calendar.
Love may also be used in reference to non-human beings like animals, or to religious beliefs or principles. Which is why a person may say he/she loves his/her dog or cat, loves freedom, color or loves God. From years of old up until this 21st century, the topic of love has been a favored one amongst poets, philosophers, writers and scientists alike, and various groups and people have argued about its meaning. It is also not uncommon to see people defining love the wrong way. What some call love is actually nothing but lust. There is a great difference between love, sexual desire and lust.
English language provides different definitions for love. The definition of love in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, "a quality or feeling of strong or constant affection for and dedication to another." Another word for love is affection. The English dictionary also defines love as "an intense feeling of deep affection." When you love someone, it means that you care for them. You feel a sense of appreciation for them. We love LOVE. Falling in love with someone can be a truly intoxicating experience.
Why do we search for love?
One may wonder, what is it about human beings that make us long for and desire love so much in the first place? The thing about love is that the most inherent reason people want to fall in love is most likely the least romantic. Love goes beyond just romance and butterfly feelings. Taking a cue from the definition of love by Merriam Webster, we see that there is a clear distinction between love and romantic love. Although a lot of people may not agree with that, science proves that romantic love is different from love. Not all love is the same. There is maternal love which a mother feels towards her child, there is agape love which is the love of mankind, and there is also platonic love. There is a clear distinction between the love that exists between friends and family and romantic love. While you can easily name a bulk of people who fall in the first category in your life, only one person would fall under the second category, although some people may find themselves in a sort of love triangle sometimes. Although human beings may fall in love many times at different points in their lifetime, only a tiny minority put more than one person in that category per time. Intimacy is what binds these two kinds of love together; it is how love starts, and the loss of intimacy is what marks the end of love. Friendship is at the core of every love relationship; it is what fuels intimacy.
People recall definite things when they describe their experiences of deep intimacy. From a look, to a gesture, to a touch. This is not talking about just romantic love; it goes a little deeper. A sudden awareness of how much the person means to you and their essence in your life. The silent disappearance of the normal boundaries that would usually exist between you both, making you both feel in sync. And yet, in a paradoxical manner, you both begin to gain acute awareness of each other’s bodies, though not necessarily in a sexual way. There the feelings of anticipation and excitement about seeing each other or spending time together. We begin to experience physical release, muscles begin to relax, weights are taken off. Although romantic love may grow along the line and birth sexual desire, that is not all there is to love.
Unlike the intimacy we feel with our friends and family, the intimacy that exists in romantic love has a sense of destiny and surprise attached to it. The experience is completely spontaneous and natural, yet it feels like it is destined to happen. How we get to that sense of destiny is the great mystery of romantic love. From the moment two strangers first set eyes on each other, to the point of feeling an intense bond of intimacy, the journey of two people falling in love is an extraordinary one.
When a person says that they are searching for and longing true love, they generally mean that they want a deep connection with another person. As a human being, it's natural to want true, unconditional love. When a person finds true love, they are more energized, strengthened, more put together and are more themselves.
What is real love?
This question is almost uncommon because people rather ask, ‘what is love?’
Defining love has been a topic of debate for centuries. Yet, through a lifetime of, people show that it is possible to find love and even spend a lifetime expressing that love.
Sometimes, love is confused for sexual passion, sexual attraction, romantic love, and anything that deals with sexual activity. That is defining love inadequately because it goes farther than sexual excitement.
Based on recent findings, science supports the old myth that a love affair that lasts for a lifetime is indeed possible. What then is real love? People build castles of fantasies in their mind, making up their definition of the word love; however, real love is more rewarding than what we think of it in our minds.
Dr. Lisa Firestone says that it’s better to think of the feeling as a ‘love verb’ because it requires action and work to thrive. To this end, here are some characteristics that make love acts of genuine admiration, affection, passion, and mutual respect; culminating into what we call real love.
Honesty- this value is considered an essential element of any healthy relationship. It is the act of being open and genuine about your feelings. Sometimes, the feelings of a lover push them to shield their loved ones from the truth. They often believe that in doing so, they’re saving them from hurt. Being lied to hurts more than painfully hearing the truth. Therefore, honesty fosters trust between two or more people; it helps love affection grow from casual affection into a deep form of understanding.
An underlying element related to honesty and unconditional love is openness. Any two individuals that decide to go on the ride of a love affair should bear in mind that love is not without its challenges. In dealing with such challenges, openness helps. It makes the relationship, should you decide to make it long-term, a success. Being open involves a willingness to make changes rather than go onto the defensive side. When you’re open to your partner, you have new insightful experiences.
The following are some reasons why love is considered real;
What is the best definition of love?
The word love, as sweet and appealing as it sounds, has different meanings to different people. So, how best to define it? Love is exacting what you say it is to you. There is no mindset about love that all persons generally accept, as there will always be a different perspective. So, if you’re in a random house and your favorite love song comes on, the lyrics appeal to you. If you decide to go with some lines of the song, then that’s your definition of love.
What are the four different kinds of love?
“I love apples.” “I love that color.” “Oh, I just love ice cream.” Some of us feel so comfortable using the word and words from love to describe our every feeling. As C.S Lewis showed in his 1960 book, there are several elements to the word, the four loves . Following other sources and famous authors, there are four kinds of love.
Storge- empathy bond; is a kind of fondness or familiarity towards someone. This love is the kind that mothers know best; it is a kin-form of love. Some people describe it as the most natural form of love, passion, and broad. Also, Storge love is accommodating because no matter how awful a child behaves, the parents still love them unconditionally. In some ways. It can also be said to be genetically programmed since it grows for so long.
Agape love- according to Greek definition, means charity. It is the kind of love that falls around the category of selflessness. Lewis tagged it as the greatest of all while likening it to Christian virtue. Agape love is modeled after the love the Christian God has for men – love without self-benefit. Based on Buddhist tradition, it is the foundation of loving-kindness to humankind. There are several beliefs that this love falls in love with forgiveness.
Eros- Lewis described it as a sense of being in love. The distinction lies in his illustration of “Wanting a woman” and “wanting a particular woman.” His view on Eros’s love is opposed to raw sexuality, making it a classical description of man as a rational animal. According to his perspectives (pagan and Christian-like), Lewis states that being in love is an “indifferent, neutral force.” He also includes the fact that Eros could be a profound experience while warning against Eros’s modern tendencies being a justification for selfish acts.
Philia (bond of friendship) - this is a bond between friends sharing similar values and interests. Lewis describes it as a love that is seen between friends as close as siblings. Based on the history of Philadelphia’s city, you could call Philia a brotherly love. Surely, it could also be a sisterly love. Other perspectives think of Philia as the kind of “affair love apple” between lovers who have been together so long that they are not bothered about certain issues anymore.
What are the signs of true love?
Love definition without certain signs is incomplete. Even though you may not capture every word related to love, the signs are a form of witness. These and other signs are factors that contribute to your true love;
Is jealousy a sign of love?
There are several antonyms for love, but jealousy is not one of them. The feeling of jealousy is ubiquitous; we have all felt it at one point. While people see it as a sign of love, others think its possessiveness and feeling give rise to insecurity.
In the grand scheme of things, jealousy could be healthy – a need to guard those we love, thus making it a sign of love. Healthy jealousy comes from guarding against a threat, and a rational dismissal of such concerns when they are not valid. This kind of jealousy is reasonable; it reflects our humanity.
On the flip side, unhealthy jealousy is not a sign of love because it doesn’t consider the feelings of the lover. When your beloved person shows signs of possessiveness, there’s negativity somewhere, and you may need to talk about it.
How do you know a man loves you?
Love can make you feel invincible, so that you want to spend every moment with your beloved person. People love to be in love, and you’re not weird. Indeed, men are not exactly all about expressing their feelings. However, they have their love languages, but women like to hear them sometimes. Saying the words, ‘I Love you’ is great, but some people may not be comfortable saying it. So, if your love for love has you wondering if he truly loves you, this is how you can be sure he does;
Can true love hurt?
Defining love without ups and downs is probably incomplete because every love has its challenges. When we are in love, we’re not in any random house; it’s a place of our choosing. Love is not supposed to hurt depending on how you choose to look at it, but when it does, it could be for several reasons;
Since the brain releases chemically good hormones due to the pleasure you derive from being in love, you feel the opposite naturally when you’re not on good terms with your partner.
Broken hearts do occur. According to medical specialists, a condition called “stress cardiomyopathy” exists. Although it’s a rare heart condition, it is caused by acute emotional distress.
Is missing someone a sign of love?
Love is different for everyone, and some common indications help you identify your feelings towards someone. You might be experiencing obvious indicators and may not know it. A classic example is when you miss someone. Missing someone is not a clear indication of love, but it could be a sign, some brain processes taking place could be a determinant.
Do men fall in love faster?
According to reports from research published in the Journal of sexual medicine, it takes almost a fifth of a second for people to produce the “in-love” chemicals. Don’t you just love love?
Reader’s digest also claims that men have a 48% likelihood of falling in love at first sight more than women. However, it is vital to note that results may vary from individual to individual. Again, men are driven by visual stimulation, while women love to hear the words. Another journal of social psychology reports that men fall faster in love and express it faster.
How do you express love?
There’s an old saying that “action speaks louder than words.” With this in mind, these are some ways to express love;