Understanding the Nature of Love


Love is a social phenomenon involving feelings of deep affection for one’s partner or mate. It can have many forms, ranging from love for parents to a close friend or romantic partner. Even love for a dog can be a deeply emotional bond. In fact, the celebration of Valentine’s Day is dedicated to love, as it is a celebration of enduring connections. Here are some common aspects of love and the role of romantic love in our lives.

To love someone means to be deeply concerned about their existence and welfare. It means wanting to share their happiness or sorrow with them, even when it is hard to do so. It is the ability to sacrifice self for another. Love is the strongest emotion in the universe, and is the antithesis of hate. Without love, one would not have a partner. It is the desire to be there for a partner, whether it is romantic or platonic. Love is the highest form of adoration, and a sign of true love is the ability to be deeply involved in another’s life.

The most common way to justify love is through appeal to its universal properties. While these properties may be shared by others, they also lead to the problem of fungibility. Many accounts of love seek to understand the attitude toward value, which lies between recognition and appraisal. It is the underlying attitude to value that distinguishes love from other kinds of personal attitudes. Love is a positive and rewarding emotion. It is an emotion that is experienced, rather than a physical one.

A more complex view of love, which focuses on the emotional interconnection between two people, attempts to understand the nature of love. The emotion complex view emphasizes the complexity of love, and avoids both the extremes and narrowness of the robust concern view. Further, such a view focuses on the underlying relationship, avoiding the necessity to specify an object of love. This view explains the depth of love intuitively. There are four main types of theories of love.

The appraisal view has its kernel of truth, but the bestowal view misses an important point. Love is a creative process. It is not a reaction to antecedent value. Thus, accounts of love that understand evaluation in terms of appraisal miss an important part of the process. When this happens, a person feels a need for the object of love, and then feels compelled to express it. This leads to two related worries about the object of love.

A robust concern view emphasizes the importance of robust concern. The person receiving the love is regarded as a valued object. Such a view does not differentiate between liking and loving. In fact, it thwarts the efforts of the beloved. The robust concern view misses the core aspects of love as an interacting agent. This view fails to recognize the centrality of autonomy and a desire to understand the person one loves. When this view is adopted, it is not a healthy model for the nature of love.