It is difficult 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 not encompass all the emotions that comprise how it feels 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 is to understanding more about love and the feeling.
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 or close to is the person we are, usually, in love with.
Such a person can be a friend, parent, siblings, or even our pet. Such love is based on a feeling of attraction or affection.
While this is a more literal definition of the word, love can be defined in many other ways.
How to describe 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 is love, then? You ask. Love has most often been used as a noun, but in practice, love is a verb. It is about what we do for others and the many ways we make other people feel loved and cared for.
What is the true meaning of love, according to the Bible
As per John 15:9-10, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue you in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
If you set boundaries and abide by them, there is nothing purer and holier than love. Like God had made certain rules to adhere to, if we do, he loves us absolutely, completely. This is the meaning of ‘what is love.’ According to the Bible, love is pristine and sanctimonious.
However, the first love mentioned in the Bible is not romantic, but paternal love (Genesis 22.) It refers to the unconditional actions that a mother or father is willing to perform for their child. This is also where the idea of love being an action comes into play.
Just like most things around the world, love has also seen a transformation over the years and centuries. Love was not always the way we know it now.
Back in the day, love was secondary or not even under consideration 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 married based on whether or not the marriage would bring them any benefits in terms of wealth and power.
However, if we look at forms of art such as poetry, it seems that love is an old emotion – something people have been experiencing for a long time.
Love is a holistic feeling. It involves many elements, words,, and actions which define love. “What is love, and what isn’t?” is a very common question we can find ourselves asking.
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 make sure they are okay, and even compromise and sacrifice our needs and wants to give them what they need.
As we discuss the elements of love and what is love, it is also important to know what love is not.
We can often confuse some other emotions or feelings for love, but sooner or later, we realize that what we feel for a certain person is not love.
Love is not lust
Despite the phrase “it was love at first sight,” love is not something we feel right away.
That strong feeling of attraction, like a magnet pulling you towards that person you’ve just met? That’s infatuation and sexual chemistry.
Mother nature gives us a big dose of infatuation to get us together initially.
Love does include sexual chemistry, but it differs because it is an emotion that takes time to build. Lust can appear in an instant; love evolves over a period of time as you get to know the other person inside and out.
A relationship does not mean you are in love
You may be immensely sexually attracted to your partner, but that does not mean you understand the true definition of love.
If you haven’t developed a base of loving feelings with your partner, you will become bored once the sexual spark dies down.
Love is not instant
How to explain love and relationship?
A loving relationship is not built in a day. The threads of love take time to weave together to form a strong bond.
It is only as you and your partner share your thoughts, fears, dreams, and hopes that love takes root. So trust the process and don’t rush love. It has its own timetable that needs to be respected and not hurried.
The one true love
We talk about soul mates, but humans are built with the capacity to love over and over again. Thankfully so, or we would never recover from our high school crush or losing a partner to divorce or death.
12 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, or the words they say, and how they behave with you.
1. Love is generous
In a truly loving relationship, we give to the other without an expectation of return. We don’t 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 our self in doing this, nor should the other person require us to sacrifice our self 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?
Well, when we love, we act respectfully and kindly towards 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.
5. We act with ethics and morals
Our love for the other person enables us to act morally and ethically, both 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.
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. Different from the early days, our lovemaking now is 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.
11. We feel seen and heard
Our partner sees us for who we are and still loves us. We can show all our sides, positive and negative, 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 we don’t hold grudges for too long because we don’t like to hold bad feelings towards our partner.
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 love we 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 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, who 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 particular person or a certain way of loving them. Such love hinders your growth and can interfere with your regular personal and professional life.
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 is the type of love that 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 really change us.
The positive impact of love
Love is known to have a very positive impact on our well-being, body, and mind. Some positive impacts of love include –
As mentioned in the impacts of love, love can have both a positive and negative impact on people’s mental health.
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.
On the flip side, 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, being unable to meet expectations can make one feel less of themselves. People leaving without explanations, cheating, and lying can give rise to abandonment issues that last longer than just the relationship.
To further understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy love, watch this video.
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.
Having said that, 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
The different styles of love have been coined by psychologist John Lee.
According to the theory, there are three styles of love. These styles of love also align with the types of love mentioned in the article before.
The three styles of love are:
Eros is the style of love that has a lot to do with physicality. It is based on attraction and sexual intimacy. People develop deeper feelings and passion for each other.
This style of love is described as being emotionally distant, playing games, and not committing to one relationship. People who follow such a style of love are less likely to commit to one person and can quickly end things with their current partner.
They may also enter new relationships easily and quickly, even before ending the current one.
Storge is known as the family kind of love. It is the type of love that is mature and based on trust. It is not based on physical attraction.
A mixed style of love
Most people often see themselves in more than one style of love, which is normal. People may also see themselves practicing a mix of all three styles of love.
The answer to that question is quite complex. However, the most suitable answers to “Why do we love the way we do?” are listed below.
Everyone is unique and has a way they live their lives. This comprises their personalities. Some people love too deeply, are sensitive to other people’s needs, and always put their hearts over their heads.
Other people, however, may be practical and rational. For them, unconditional love might be tricky to understand.
2. Life experiences
The way we love can be majorly impacted by our life experiences. People who have seen sour relationships may love too much or maybe too guarded because they do not want to be hurt. How dear someone holds people can depend on their childhood, family, and other experiences while growing up.
For more insights into why we love the way we do, check out this collection of essays by Preeti Shenoy, an Indian writer who shares modern love and dating insights.
Many times, we feel that people around us do not love us the way they used to. We can also wonder if they love us at all, as their expression of love changes drastically.
According to studies, as people fall in love with each other and spend more time together, they can fall into a routine. This can lead to reduced passion in love and even the frequency of sexual activity.
Some people may also “grow out of love” with each other over time.
This can happen when people and their personalities change drastically over time or when people mistake infatuation or initial attraction for love, only to find out later that love is much deeper than these feelings.
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.
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 in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.