Love is one of the most complex emotions we feel as human beings. It is why we would do anything for our partners, why we invest in our kids or creative projects, and why we get devastated when our favorite team loses.
It is so important to love and be loved, but it can also be difficult for people who are struggling with finding love or keeping it. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to find the right kind of love in your life.
Merriam-Webster defines love as an intense affection arising from kinship or personal attachment. While this definition is very accurate, it doesn’t really capture the magic of love. It’s a feeling that goes way beyond liking someone or even loving them, and it creates a bond that is incomparable to any other emotion.
Love comes in many forms, and can be directed toward anything or anyone: A person can love their job or a hobby, and even their friends. They can love the ocean or their dog, and they can love the person who has saved them from a dangerous situation. It can be a selfish love, which only wants the best for the beloved person, or it can be an altruistic love, which wants the best for everyone.
The most common use of the word love is between romantic partners, and it is commonly used in the phrase “in love.” This is a term that means a person has feelings of strong attraction and closeness to another person. It can be a sexual attraction or a closeness that includes a desire to spend time with them and want them in their lives.
Biologically, the first stage of falling in love is similar to how drugs affect people: the ventral tegmental area and caudate nucleus in the brain fire like crazy when a person is infatuated with someone. This is the same reason your cheeks might flush and your palms get sweaty when you meet someone that you’re interested in. This initial attraction is followed by the release of oxytocin, which leads to feelings of closeness and security in long-term relationships.
Psychologists have only recently started studying love as a specific concept, and most agree that there are multiple types of love. Some, such as psychologist Scott Peck, separate love into altruistic and narcissistic components.
Others, such as researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that different kinds of love are associated with certain behaviors. For example, altruistic love is associated with generous donations and helping strangers, while narcissistic love is associated with self-satisfaction and egocentric behavior.
Ultimately, it is impossible to define what love is because it can be so many different things to different people. However, if you are looking for love in your life, take it slow and be patient. Don’t rush into a relationship, and always make sure that the person you are with shares your values and priorities.