A relationship comprises friendship, sexual attraction, intellectual compatibility, and, of course, love. Love is the glue that keeps a relationship strong. It is deeply biological. But what is love, and how do you know if you are truly in love?
It isn’t easy to define love because everyone’s perception of real love can be dramatically different. People often get confused between lust, attraction, and companionship. Hence, there is no one best definition of love.
However, love can be summarized as an intense feeling of euphoria and deep affection for someone or something. This love definition or love meaning might only encompass some of the emotions that comprise how you feel when you are in love.
Is love an emotion? Yes.
Can abstract emotions such as love be defined in specific terms? Maybe not.
However, there are certain words and actions that fall in the realm of love, while others do not.
Some gestures can be termed love. On the other hand, some other emotions and feelings can be confused for love, but people soon realize that they are not true love. Here’s to understanding more about love and the feeling that comes with it.
What is the real meaning of love?
If you want to define love in one sentence, love is one of the most profound emotions humans experience. It is a combination of attraction and closeness. The person we feel attracted to or close to is the person we are usually in love with.
Such a person can be a friend, parent, sibling, or even our pet. Such love is based on a feeling of attraction or affection.
The full meaning of love can be seen in different ways because there are different types of love. The answer to the question, “What is love for you?” can differ for everyone, depending on the relationship in context.
As per the Cambridge dictionary, love is defined as liking another adult very much and being romantically and sexuallyattracted to them or having strongfeelings of liking a friend or person in yourfamily.
While this is a more literal definition, love can be defined in many other ways.
How to describe the romantic meaning of love?
Feelings of love can be defined as an amalgamation of various other emotions. Love is caring, compassion, patience, not being jealous, not having expectations, giving yourself and other people a chance, and not rushing.
What does love mean, then, you ask? Love has often been used as a noun, but love is a verb in practice. It is about what we do for others and how we make others feel loved and cared for.
The history of love
Like most things around the world, love has also transformed over the years and centuries. Love was not always the way we know it now.
Research shows that back in the day, love was secondary or not even considered when it came to a union between two people. Marriages, which in some cultures and parts of the world are known as the ultimate goal of a romantic relationship, were mostly transactional.
People used to marry based on whether or not the marriage would bring them any benefits in terms of wealth and power.
However, if we look at art forms such as poetry, love is an old emotion – something people have been experiencing for a long time.
What does real love feel like?
Love is a holistic feeling. It involves many elements, words, and actions which define love. What love means to you depends on how it makes you feel and the experiences it brings into your life.
Many people may wonder what is the meaning of love in a relationship. The answer lies in the elements of love.
Care is one of the primary elements of love.
If we love someone, we care about them, their feelings, and their well-being. We may go out of our way to ensure they are okay and even compromise and sacrifice our needs and wants to give them what they need.
Admiration is very crucial in love and relationships.
Admiration can be for their physicality or even for their mind and personality. Liking someone for their external and internal self and respecting their thoughts is an essential element of love.
Desire is both sexual and physical, and mental.
Just wanting to spend more time with someone, being around them, and wanting them – are all parts of the desire you feel when you are in love with someone.
12 telltale signs of love
Love is an emotion, but people do show signs of being in love. You can tell if someone is in love with you by the things they do for you, their words, and how they behave with you.
Here are some signs that can explain “What is love” in an informed manner:
1. Love is generous
In a truly loving relationship, we give to the other without an expectation of return. We don’t need to keep an account of who did what for the other. Giving pleasure to our partner gives us pleasure, too.
2. We feel what our partner feels
The true meaning of love is to feel a sense of joy when we see our partner happy. When we see that they are sad or depressed, we feel their blue mood, too. With love comes empathy for the other person’s emotional state.
3. Love means compromise
The real meaning of love in a relationship is to willfully compromise your needs to accommodate your partner’s needs or desires.
But we don’t sacrifice ourselves in doing this, nor should the other person require us to sacrifice ourselves for their gain. That’s not what love is all about in a relationship; that’s control and abuse.
4. Respect and kindness
What is true love?
When we love, we act respectfully and kindly toward each other.
We do not intentionally hurt or denigrate our partners. When we talk about them in their absence, it is with such warmth that the listeners can hear the love in our words. We do not criticize our partners behind their backs.
Our love for the other person enables us to act morally and ethically with them and in our community. Their presence in our life makes us want to be better people so that they will continue to admire us.
6. We guard each other’s solitude
With love, we never feel lonely, even when alone. The very thought of the other person makes us feel as if we have a guardian angel with us at all times.
7. Their success is yours as well
What is true love in a relationship?
When our partner succeeds at something after a long effort, we beam with joy as if we were the winner, too. There is no feeling of jealousy or competition, just pure pleasure at seeing our beloved’s success.
8. They are always on our mind
Even when separated for work, travel, or other commitments, our thoughts drift towards them and what they might be doing “right now.”
9. Sexual intimacy deepens
With love, sex becomes sacred. Unlike the early days, our lovemaking is now deep and holy, a true joining of bodies and minds.
10. We feel safe
The presence of love in the relationship allows us to feel protected and safe as if the other person is a safe harbor for us to come home to. With them, we feel a sense of security and stability.
Watch this video to learn more about creating a safe relationship:
11. We feel seen and heard
Our partner sees us for who we are and still loves us. We can show all our positive and negative sides and receive their love unconditionally.
They know who we are at our core. Love allows us to bare our souls and feel grace in return.
12. Love helps fight without fear
What is love all about? It is a sense of security.
If we are secure in our love relationship, we know we can argue and that it will not break us apart. We agree to disagree and don’t hold grudges for too long because we don’t like to hold bad feelings toward our partner.
8 different types of love
There are eight different types of love, according to Greek mythology. These include –
1. Family love or Storgy
This refers to the type of love we share with our family – parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, and others.
2. Marital love or Eros
This is the type of romantic lovewe feel with a partner who we wish to marry or have already married.
3. Love by the principle – Agape
This love is not based on emotions but on principles. It is referred to as the love for people we do not like, the love for the unlovable.
4. Brotherly love – Phileo/Philia
As the name suggests, brotherly love is love for our close ones, whom we hold as dear as family. These people, however, are not our family by blood.
5. Obsessive Love – Mania
Obsessive love, also known as Mania, is an obsession with one person or a certain way of loving them. Such love hinders your growth and can interfere with your personal and professional life.
6. Enduring love – Pragma
Enduring love is the kind of deep, true love that people in long, meaningful relationships experience.
7. Playful love – Ludus
Playful love, also called young love, is what you feel when you think the whole world has conspired for the two of you to be together. This love, however, comes with an expiry date and might die down with time.
8. Self love – Philautia
This type of love has been talked about quite a bit, especially recently. It talks about appreciation and care for yourself before you set out to give it to someone else.
Love is a very powerful emotion. Therefore, it can have both positive and negative impacts on us. These effects of love can range from physical, emotional, and even psychological. True feelings of love can change us.
The positive impact of love
Love is known to have a very positive impact on our well-being, body, and mind.
The feelings of unconditional love, non-judgment, independence, and security that come with a healthy relationship can boost self-esteem and confidence. It also reduces stress, which is a common denominator for various mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
Couple therapy shows that some of the positive impacts of love include the following –
Reduced risk of mental health issues like depression.
The negative impact of love
Unhealthy, unrequited love and bad relationships can negatively impact your body, mind, and well-being.
Bad relationships that are toxic from the beginning or turn toxic with time can lead to insecurities that develop deeper than just the relationship and affect a person’s mental health and future relationships.
The feelings of not being good enough, not doing things right, and being unable to meet expectations can make one feel less of themselves. People leaving without explanations, cheating, and lying can lead to abandonment issues that last longer than the relationship.
The negative impacts of love when the relationship is volatile and/or unhealthy can be as follows.
Increased risk of heart diseases
Spiked risk of heart attacks
High levels of stress
Slower disease recovery
Poor mental health
How to practice love
As mentioned above, love is an amalgamation of various factors and feelings. To practice love healthily and make the people in our lives feel loved, we have to be open to love.
There is no sure-shot step-by-step guide on how to practice love, but these points may help.
Be more compassionate, take care of the people you love
Be vulnerable, let your guard down and open up to your partner/parent/sibling
Be willing to accept your flaws
Accept your mistakes and realize how they affect the other person
Forgive the people you love when you can tell they are genuinely sorry
Love is an emotion based on which many poems, movies and songs are made. However, there are still many questions that it raises.
What is the deepest form of love?
The deepest form of love is the one that encompasses within it feelings of empathy and respect. It is not just focused on selfish pursuits but changes the focus to look out for the well-being of the person you love.
The deep meaning of love encompasses other emotions that show how much you value and care for the one you love.
Can you love two people at the same time?
Yes, it is possible for people to love multiple people at the same time. However, the elements of love for each person might be different.
Studies have shown that people can love two people at the same time. One in six people interviewed in the study admitted to feeling attracted to and attached to more than one person simultaneously.
The bottom line
If you have often asked yourself, “What is love in a relationship?” this article may have given you some insights.
The bottom line is that certain feelings, such as care, patience, respect, and others, are what love is all about in a relationship.
Factors such as wanting and needing love, how we love, and the importance of love are essential to understand when answering the question, “What is love?”
Love is a complex emotion and can differ from person to person. Even if you feel you need clarification about the answer to “What is love?” and what it’s like to be in love, you will most likely figure it out with time.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle Read more in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.