Love is a topic that has captivated philosophers, writers and scientists for centuries. Some cynics swear it doesn’t exist, while others believe that finding your soulmate is the key to a happy life. But what is love exactly? While Merriam-Webster defines it as a feeling of strong affection, it’s also more than that. People use the word to describe their feelings for animals, themselves, friends and even principles and religious beliefs. Love is wide-reaching, so when asked to write about it, students need to think outside of the box.
To help students get inspired, we asked college students across the country to share their ideas about what love means to them. Their responses ranged from stories of romantic love to tales of platonic friendship. Below are a few examples of the unique perspectives they shared about this complex subject.
The earliest definition of love comes from the Greeks, who believed it was a combination of the altruistic (concern for the spiritual growth of another) and narcissistic (love for one’s own well-being). The modern scientific view is that love is a mixture of the biological drive to reproduce, sexual desire and the need for companionship. It is also influenced by hormones like oxytocin and neurotrophins, as well as pheromones and social cues.
When most people think about love, they immediately think of romantic love. This type of love is characterized by physical attraction, frequent and intense sexual activity and a sense of attachment to a partner. It is often portrayed in movies, books and songs. Romantic love has been found in most cultures around the world.
Other types of love include lust, companionate and storge. While lust is more focused on physical attraction, storge is more about sharing experiences and a mutually supportive relationship. People who love storge can be very committed, but they can also be more flexible about their relationships. They are more likely to be open about their emotions and are less concerned with being physically attractive than people in erotic and romantic loves.
Commitment is the next stage of love, and it requires a level of trust that allows you to disclose your deepest secrets. You must be willing to apologize for your mistakes and to work together to overcome challenges. This type of love is usually the most lasting and satisfying, but it can be difficult to achieve. People who love commitment are usually very dedicated to their partners and treat them with respect and dignity.
The final stage of love is intimacy, which is a strong sense of closeness and understanding with someone. This can involve telling your best friend everything — even the embarrassing stuff that you would never tell a stranger. People who love intimacy are often very selfless and put their partner’s needs ahead of their own. They are also very loyal to their loved ones and tend to be very protective of them. This type of love is often seen in close family relationships, but it can also be felt for non-human creatures, such as dogs and freedom.