What is love? Love can be explained as a magical force that’s as mysterious and essential to human existence as gravity itself. Talking to different people about what love is will bring about many different answers, and even much debate, because like gravity, love is more of a theory than an exact definition of what it is. This is why asking a scientist, philosopher, parent, lover or priest what love is will render such different answers. Whether derived from science or inner-spiritual belief, love is something that one must meditate upon and personally experience to know what it is.
Biologically speaking, love is simply a neurological synapse in the brain. The electrical charge of love creates a permanent and intense hunger in the human spirit. People don’t have control over this sometimes unconditional sensation, inspiring the saying “love is blind.” Not so surprising when considering that the biological experience of love is just chemistry. Although the passionate sexual desire of lust releases an intense release of chemicals such as testosterone and estrogen, what is considered “true love” releases many more chemicals such as dopamine, pheromones, serotonin, norepinephrine, vasopressin and oxytocin. From a survival perspective, the feeling of love promotes evolutionary growth for longevity of sustained human life by encouraging long-term relationships for parental support. This mutual-force of parental support creates an environment for children to be safe, to feel secure and to learn survival skills for the world, hence continuing the cycle of human existence.
Love is likely something that man has pondered upon since the beginning of congregation and conscious thought itself. In ancient times people had different words for love, instead of one word that covers all the different types of the feeling. Some of the words for love include:
- Philia – A deep, typically non-sexual love shared between close friends, family or the bond of soldiers that fought beside each other in battle.
- Ludus – Light, playful affection that is displayed in flirtatious way.
- Pragma – Mature love of a long-term couple that grows over a long time of time which involves the practice compromise, understanding, goodwill and commitment.
- Agape – The generalized love of humanity and the universe.
- Philautia – Self-love. Not to be mistaking for selfish love, self-love is the love of one self, making it possible to love others.
- Eros – Passionate, sexual desire. Although very intense and can cause much trouble, eros will burn itself out unless it grows into a deeper state of love, such as pragma or philia.
The existence of love is all of the states mentioned above. However, experiencing all the states of love from one person is not how love works, which is why people socialize with friends, family seek mates and join sports teams for camaraderie; to achieve all the different states of desired love.
The true nature of what love is will forever remain an elusive theory because love is not a physical thing that can be analyzed in a lab. All that scientists can do is examine the way our brains react when love is felt. Each state of love has it’s own different qualities on whether it’s love for a parent, siblings, one’s country, a higher power such as God or a passionate love for example. Each state of love typically has particular traits that are common for the type, such as the unconditional love from a parent, the fickle or one-sidedness of a sexual love, the reciprocated and steadfastness of a long-term love or the blind and tragic of true love for one that doesn’t reciprocate the love or for a person of a bad character.
All forms of love help nurture people and promote the evolution of the human race, and each type of love plays an important role of human existence. Without the passionate love, people would have only commitment and less desire to reproduce. However, without the long-term commitment love, there would be merely infatuation and likely a shallow outlook upon the world. And above all, without nurturing love surely even the strongest of man would wither and cease to exist.
As with the perception life itself, love depends on what state a person is in. If love is stable and secure, existing in it can go unnoticed like breathing. However, if a person is deprived of it, love can become an obsession that consumes the spirit and can even bring physical pain. Of the greatest stories of all time, love is the theme. Not simply the romantic love stories such as the famous Romeo and Juliette, but the love of family, parental love and love of a country. Fascinating is how consuming it can be, how in a moment one’s life can be consumed and dedicated despite any obstacle that may stand in the way. This deep inspiration of passion is what inspires in the heart of man to say “love is everything.”