Love is a beautiful, complicated thing. It’s also a topic that’s been discussed for centuries, with cynics swearing it doesn’t exist and hopeless romantics declaring they’re destined to find their soulmates. While navigating the ins and outs of loving another person can feel overwhelming at times, a healthy, happy, lasting relationship can bring joy and satisfaction to your life.
But what is love, exactly? While many definitions include elements of care, affection, loyalty, and respect, the term “love” has different meanings for every individual. For some, it may mean a sense of closeness and comfort with a friend or family member. For others, it might be a feeling of euphoria and sexual arousal. And for still others, it might be a mix of all of the above.
No matter what the definition of love is to you, one thing is for sure: it’s a powerful emotion that affects everyone who experiences it in some way or another. It’s no wonder it features in so many movies, books, and songs, and is a central theme of many people’s lives.
Romantic love, which is most often portrayed in movies and other media, has long been considered the pinnacle of love. It’s described as everything from dreamy and whimsical to melodramatic and overwrought. But it can be much more than a simple romance: it’s an emotional and spiritual connection between two people that can last a lifetime.
While it’s easy to see why romantic love is considered the pinnacle of love, it can be more challenging in real life. There are numerous factors that can impact a relationship, including infidelity and toxic behaviors like cheating and lying. These issues can damage the relationship and the individual’s mental health, leaving them with deep scars that can last far beyond their time in the relationship.
Unhealthy love can also lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-esteem problems that can negatively impact a person’s future relationships, both with other people and with themselves. The stress from the relationship can also increase the risk of mental health issues, such as depression.
The type of love that’s most commonly referred to as “storge” is more mature than romantic love. It involves admiration for someone’s internal and external qualities, as well as their personality, and it’s characterized by mutual trust. People high on storge love don’t feel the need to always be intimate and aren’t afraid to express their feelings openly. They’re also more likely to commit to a relationship than those who are high on romantic love.
Another form of love is bhakti, which means devotion to the Supreme Being or the ultimate reality. The 20th-century rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler wrote that bhakti is about “giving without expecting to receive” (from Michtav me-Eliyahu). It can also include compassion and mercy for those in need, and is closely related to kama, or elevated love.