Love is something many of us struggle with at some point in our lives. We want to know if it’s real or not, whether it’s a choice or not, and what it means to really be in love. As a relationship coach, this is one of the most common questions I hear from clients. It can be hard to know what it’s like when you are in love – it can feel all-consuming, uncontrollable, and even unreal.
While scientists may disagree on the definition of love, most agree that it’s a complex emotion. Some psychologists argue that it’s not an actual emotion at all, but a primary physiological drive, similar to the drives for hunger, thirst, or sleep. Others maintain that it’s an emotional experience, but a unique one resulting from the combination of a variety of primary emotions.
Some people describe their feelings of love as an “all-encompassing” feeling that encompasses a wide range of emotions and attitudes, including a deep affection and attachment, fondness, gratitude, hope, and inspiration. Others define it more narrowly as an intense feeling of romantic attraction or companionship, a desire for closeness, and a strong attachment to family and friends. Still others describe it as a spiritual or religious experience, and for some this is a very important aspect of their relationship.
People who have a strong desire for intimacy and companionship tend to express their love through acts of service. For example, they might take care of their partner’s physical needs by bringing them soup when they are sick or washing their dishes. They might also show their love through verbal affirmations of affection and by giving gifts. People who have a tendency towards pragma often prefer to make sensible decisions about relationships and their future together. They might worry about commitment and are concerned about the longevity of their relationship. They may have a harder time letting go of things than other people who have agape or eros styles.
For those who have a spiritual or religious love, their feelings of love might include an overwhelming sense of belonging and an understanding of a larger purpose for their life. This type of love can be very powerful, especially for those who have gone through a difficult or challenging situation. For instance, a person who has survived cancer might have an incredible spiritual love for their partner, because they have learned that they are not alone and they have a higher power to guide them through the difficulties of life. This type of love can be hard to understand if you have never experienced it yourself, but for those who have it, it is truly magical. It can change your world and be the most amazing thing you will ever feel in your entire life. So next time someone asks you “what is love?”, you will be able to answer with confidence. Love is a complex and varied emotion with a variety of different meanings to each individual.