Love is a mysterious and often confusing emotion. Throughout the ages, philosophers and religions have speculated about it, and the science of psychology has added its own perspectives. But, in spite of its complexity, there are some basic things we know about this universal feeling and concept.
Generally speaking, we tend to think of “love” as the romantic kind – the love between a man and a woman. But, of course, there are other kinds of love as well. Friendship love is one, as is familial love and the love of a country or a cause.
There is also a spiritual love, which is based on the idea that all of humankind (including enemies) should be loved by God. And, there is the love of one’s children or pets. But, in the end, it’s the interpersonal love that is perhaps the most potent form of love, and it’s this kind of love that we will explore here.
The word “love” comes from the Latin “amore,” which means “feeling of kinship or personal ties.” It is these affinities that we are talking about when we talk about love. And, if you are in a relationship, it is the love that binds you to your partner and makes you want to do everything possible to help him or her succeed.
In the simplest terms, there are three main components to love: attraction, lust, and attachment. Clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner explains that when all three are present, the chances of falling in love are greater. “Attraction is a curiosity or interest in someone, lust is a sexual desire for that person, and attachment is an emotional bond between two people,” she says.
When we are in the throes of romantic love, brain scans have shown that our bodies respond physically. We might get a dry mouth, feel butterflies in the stomach, have weak knees, and even experience separation anxiety. Moreover, we might crave sex as a way to express this love, and we may also become obsessed with the idea of being with that person.
As long as all of these factors are present, the chances of falling in love and staying in love are greater. But, how do we know if we’re in love? And, if we are, how can we make the person we’re in love with fall in love with us?
The answers to these questions will vary from person to person, and they may even change over time. However, we can look at the different ways that people describe their experiences with love in order to gain a better understanding of this universal experience.