Whether it’s for our families, our friends, or our creative projects, we all love in some way. Love can be why you forgive your partner for always being late, or why you push yourself to finish a project before the deadline, or why you’re devastated when your favorite team loses. It can even be what makes you want to take a risk and start dating someone new.
Scientists, psychologists, and researchers have long speculated about the nature of love and its causes. There are some who argue that it is not an emotion at all, but more of a physiological drive, similar to hunger or sleep. Others disagree, and say that love is a mix of primary emotions.
Some researchers focus on the evolutionary foundations of human love, and some focus on neuroscience and biological factors. They argue that certain hormones, like oxytocin and dopamine, increase when you spend time together and think about the person with whom you’re in love. Others believe that the sense of intimacy – a feeling of closeness and familiarity – is what drives people to fall in love. This type of love often includes feelings of wanting the best for them and thinking about them all the time.
Still others have explored the spiritual aspects of love, and have defined it in terms of devotion or attachment to a higher power. Bhakti is a form of love that involves devotion to God or a religious figure, and it is the basis for some Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Christian philosophers, theologians, and writers have also referred to divine love in various ways.
Despite the wide range of definitions for love, most researchers agree that there are many different types of love. They vary by intensity, the kind of person who is loved, and how it is interpreted. The important thing to remember is that, regardless of the type of love you experience, it can be a powerful force for good.