Love is one of the most mysterious emotions in our lives. Researchers, philosophers, and writers have argued over what it means, and different people might mean something very different when they say “I love you.” Some scientists describe it as an interaction of brain chemicals. Others think of it as a complex emotion that results from the combination of many primary emotions. Still others think of love as a biological drive that’s essential to survival.
Whatever it is, love can make us feel amazing. It can make us forget about our worries, and it can fill our hearts with joy. It can also make us act strangely. For example, we might become a bit more selfish or even narcissistic in love. We might find ourselves thinking about our loved ones all the time, or we might obsess over their looks or achievements. We might feel like we could do anything in the name of love. This is because love makes our brains release a variety of hormones, including dopamine and serotonin. These hormones cause a variety of physical reactions, from that flip-flopping feeling in your stomach (butterflies) to a flushed face. They also lead to behaviors that are designed to help us survive.
In the early days of scientific explorations into the nature of love, Freud was criticized for saying that love was nothing more than an irrational desire for power. But the study of love has grown tremendously since then. Researchers now know much more about the way our brains respond to love and how it can affect our behavior.
The most important thing to remember about love is that it’s not a feeling, but rather a choice. There are some simple strategies we can apply to show our loved ones that we care. For instance, we can give them gifts that show how much we love them. We can also make a point of showing appreciation for things they do for us, such as making coffee or washing the dishes. We can also try to understand their weaknesses and needs, and we should be willing to forgive them when they mess up.
Choosing to love doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require some thought. Some of us might be inclined to write about our gut-wrenching experiences in love, but that can make the whole essay sound a little too sappy. It’s more realistic to include some negative characteristics of your love, such as the fact that he or she always checks Instagram at lunch.
There are different types of love, ranging from infatuation to commitment. Sternberg’s triangular model explains how these different kinds of love are related. Liking combines emotional intimacy with physical passion but no formal commitment. Infatuation is similar to liking but includes more passion and fewer commitments. Commitment combines emotional and physical intimacy with formal commitments, such as marriage. It can also include informal commitments, such as dating. A commitment that lacks intimacy or passion is empty and probably not loving.