What is Love?

What is your answer to the eternal question: What is love?

Some time ago, I posted this question on the web. Here are some of the extraordinary  answers readers have provided:

So many different types of love–for a partner, a child, a pet, a friend, a parent, etc. I think the definition differs depending on the association. In general, it’s the caring about another being such that it creates a feeling of trust, intimacy and interdependence. LM

Can happiness exist without love? or do you need a certain level of happiness to love? Besides loving people or animals you can love what you do for a living ( which is much rarer than love for an other. So many shades of love, like a spectrum that combines to make white light. Maybe thats what G-d is. The Quakers refer to The Light. On the darker side love can be an addiction. Draining the energy of the beloved. Loving like an obsession. Or loving the unobtainable. GB

This may answer the question of what love *looks like* rather than what love *is* but for what it’s worth … IMHO, love is what causes someone to put the needs or interests of another person before one’s own. DJ

Love is what you perceive it to be, whatever it is that makes you happy. JT

Love is the state or feeling of joy and contentment that comes from connecting positively with other creatures. ML

Every Human is selfish. We desire material or spiritual happiness in all acts – be it charity or loving your special one.
Love is an intangible entity which instigates you to do any kind of benefit/favor (material/spiritual/mental/physical…) to the being in question… So when we love someone/something, we actually do so to make ourselves happy in some way – Take it or deny it!! Sounds quite nearby to the word?? We’d be lost if we try to get an artistic definition for this word!!!   WMA

There are many types of love: love of children, love of parents, love of country, love of a career, love of friends and love of a significant other. There is also love of money and materialism. Love can be defined in the context of behavior, such as what people do in the name of love. I believe love is that deepest part of yourself that is willing to sacrifice so that others may manifest themselves; the deepest part of yourself that is willing to overlook flaws and be unconditional in nature. When I think of how I have loved, I think of how I have thought of the needs, desires, wants, and dreams of the other person and how I desired to nurture, encourage, and respect those needs, desires, wants and dreams. This is done without expectation. I also believe that the definition of love is subjective and perhaps an ideal to strive for.
MR

Love is sacrifice to put it simply.  NE

Love is a seed within us that if tended mindfully it will grow into a beautiful garden. Untethered and unconditional, it is a part of life and humanity in its purest form.  PL

love, the word, has many different meanings, some of them being polar opposites. I tend to go with Scott Peck’s definition of love as the ability and desire to nurture spiritual growth in another or oneself, involving choice, intention, attention, and effort. Desire and appreciation being other animals entirely.
Posted by EY

I work one day a week with medically managed schizophrenics. There is one individual whose default position is love. When he speaks, he’s Dali Lama-esque one moment, and then completely disorganized and loose the next.
When I follow up to discuss one of his soul piercing comments, he has no clue that he said it. It hit me one day in meditation, that his words were a something gifted to me from some other source. I have actually proposed this question to his group. It’s true when they say out of the mouth of babes, truth will arise. This was his reply, “Love is when you open your heart and say hello to yourself or other people”. I have so many phrases from him that I hope to share with others in the future. Thanks for inquiry and giving me a chance to let others know the wisdom we can get even from those that so many are quick to discount.
LK

A four letter word :-)
DS

This is a great question for a relationally oriented EMDR Trainer to start the discussion off with. It is a huge question, so while papers could be written on this subject, I’ll confine myself to the narrowest of scopes; I’ll define love this way:

In AIP terms I would say that it is the activation of encoded adaptive and positive memory networks (caring, affection, erotic, depending upon the circumstance) toward the infant/child/human. Love is one of the bases of secure attachment. In other words, the parent remembers implicitly what it was like to be loved; these implicit memories are then acrttivated along with other postive memories. The energy of these memories propel thoughts, feelings, sensations, beliefs and behavioral actions towards the person whom these wonderful feelings are directed towards.

Of course the preceeding was only a start. There are many kinds of love. Many ways love manifests, many forms of showing love, but let’s start here and see who else might want to jump in.  MD

Love is an opening of the heart and the mind, an awareness, and exists without conditions.
PL

I don’t know what love is. However, I understand from my favorite Comediane that the symptoms are similar to indigestion. Funny feelings in the chest.
GA

I seem to have received an answer to your question by a process of “cosmosis.” Just as I was looking at your post, a friend sent me this Bible verse. No religiosity is intended here, but it ain’t a bad definition:

Love waits patiently; it acts kindly. Love does not envy [or, is not jealous]; love does not boast; it does not become haughty.

It does not behave disgracefully; it does not seek its own [things]; it is not provoked [or, irritated]; it does not keep a record of evil.

It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but it rejoices with the truth.

It puts up with all [things], believes all, hopes [or, confidently expects] all, endures all.

(1 Co 13, 4-7)
PD

Hello Glenn, I think, love is if I make all for that the other side can grow. Who loves leads without violence and serves without being a slave. All the best from Munich, Heide Claire
HCMZ

Love is an expression of the willingness to create space in which something is allowed to change. — HP

Love is the original composition of everything that exists. It is a pure state evident at your birth as love and bliss surrounds each of us at that moment. Love is where each of us proceeds from, and then as we grow the experiences of life begin to layer atop that platform, often covering or masking the love that resides at our center. I would suggest that a Mother’s love is the truest representation of that original state, but is only an echo of our foundation. Pure love is not sexual, demands nothing and is unconditional. It allows. An investigation of self will enable each of us to remove the experiential layers that confuse and confound us, returning us to the original reality.
GP

It is unconditional acceptance of another person.
JK

a good friend once told me romantic love is our greatest myth… people do sacrifice everything for it, without any measurable proof it is anything more than self-delusion. and yet without that love experience, many of us would rather curl up and die.
CDB

Seems like this may become a well discussed topic. I guess I will fire the puck by pointing out that there are differentiations between “passion” either short or long term, lust, devotion, electro-chemical actions, deep seated mutual respect, “willing to die for the other”, “willing to die if the other isn’t there”, love of country, love of parents, love of friends, and more deeply held beliefs makes the “world go round”. These are a few off the cuff remarks. I assume you are doing research into the “meaning of life” and don’t accept the answer 42. If you get his right AND CAN PROVE IT AND HOW IT CAN BE APPLIED PRACTICALLY – then you will have the biggest Nobel prize in history. However as a keen observer of human (yes human, becaause I am IT:

This is the practical side, without going to overpriced seminars I buy into the concept RFB. What do you think? Without seminars I totally get the emotion and morality, and “the living with me as I am” behind it, in my field, (which is by the way not some propeller head with no relations to the “real” world) where the biggest opportunities lie in:

1) Teaching serious IT people to communicate with Human beings). Reference here to Dilbert (not sure why Scott has not been nominated)
2) . Changing corporate culture after an M&A sort of transaction looking after tender souls, and trying to make the cold hard reality of the deal work.

Sorry for my rant but I too question what is love in this world. Over to you.
MS

Love is a byproduct of one’s search for the ultimate truth and happiness. Some philosophers and theologians consider love to be another name for the virtue of charity..
RP

What a question… We can say that one difference between passion and love is that passion is the flame that transforms, and love is the feeling that brings stability.
GM

the relevant answer is Courtney. She was just on Jimmy Kimel. I think she has a new album out and a newly constituted band.
BC

Shades of love
We all might have experienced the feeling of love but have we understood it completely? Love has different shades. Every time you think that you understand it completely, it unfolds a different shade , a different emotion, which only a person in love can understand.
VV

One way to consider this question is to understand how different cultures describe love. In Turkish, I am told, there is a specific word for romantic love. In certain African dialects there are concepts like respect, admiration, duty but not love as we conceive of it in English. Language informs and influences our behaviour and vice versa.

There are so many types of love.
ZC

For me, Love is a word that escapes definition and merely is energy that expresses infinitely in infinite ways. Example: yesterday, for me it was waking up with a waiting set of eyes belonging to my three year old granddaughter looking into my face quietly waiting for my eyes to open and the smile that crossed her face as my eyelids raised–and that tiny little giggle that followed–actually every moment that followed with her through out the day was the perfect experience of love expressing.
JM

Love can be an emotional response to various internal and external stimuli and may manifest itself in an almost infinite number of ways, both physiologically and psychologically. It can also be an undefinable representation of conscious and unconscious hopes, desires, and rationales in the psyche.
TK

“Love is having real interest in others apart from yourself”.
I “stole” this phrase from my boyfriend. Listening to others and respecting their opinions is love!
SS

I would add that love involves a feeling of connectedness.

Now to define that? JS

Love is quality time and energy.
WV

Love is the manifestation of spiritual and psychological committment to the well-being and personal growth of significant others.
JPK

most probably nobody will ever answer this question ultimately … so that all would agree with definition …
TC

What about self? To know how to give love and receive love from others, does a person first need to know how to love one’s own self?
PL

It is when the spirit, mind, and body are aligned and giving without expectation.
BSW

In my view love is that quality of being that involves relating to oneself and others in a way the contributes to constructive involvement and is based in moral conduct.
AW

Love is mirroring back to someone the image of their truest most beautiful self.
MBR

Love is our internal fire that when lit burns brighter than any sun.
EB

Mirroring our challenges in a safe environment to fully transform and become whole within the relationship and continue to expand from within.
BSW

I like Anthropologist Helen Fisher’s idea that love is a human drive, not a feeling or emotion. It has all the characteristics of a drive – i.e. motivates behavior, causes various emotions, present from birth. This drive has helped our species survive. Also depends on what kind of love you are talking about.
What people call “falling in love” involves a cascade of dopamine in the brain which causes similar symptoms as cocaine use: high energy, moodiness, preoccupation, feeling on top of the world, hyper focus, feeling invincible, increased sex drive, etc. This kind of love usually fades after about a year or two.
Love I have for my long term spouse involves the neurotransmitters oxytocin and serotonin. This is an attachment love that no longer feels like a “high”, but feels comfortable and honest and meets my needs for a “secure base”.
Love I have for my children is also an attachment bond that is triggered at their birth, helped by oxytocin. This is a fierce love that involves protectiveness and posessiveness.
Sorry this isn’t a romantic definition, but I truly believe that love is not just a philisophical idea. It is a biological and psychological drive for all human beings.
JS

For what it is worth, I have no kids and I am sure that that has made me a nurturing boss over the years. People often ask me “do you have kids?” and many times I will say in humour and seriousness. Yes, I have 120 of them. I always take a personal interest in their wellbeing, I have always been a sympathetic ear for their personal problems and help when I can – whether that is more reasonable accommodations at work or advice (only if they ask) and just generally an open door policy for work and non work related issues. I agree that a working relationship is more than just 9-5. But I never forget that the work comes first and if I can help someone personally – gues what? They become a better worker and a more contented human being.
MS

if people try to love only limited so they don’t suffer, because love can be a terrible illness if you give all. but so people don’t have the feeling which I cannot explain. But let us talk about love in our work. If a leader don’t love humen he is at the wrong place. If you love the employees you make a certain talent management and you help grow the employees in their personality and so they are very motivated and your company has great success. I try to stay authentic in being a woman also in business. I never come in conferences like a man and so I have my success. I think first of all ist to love yourself and after you can give really love to others. In every reality love is very important – perhaps only a little smile between 2 humen, this is love too. The little things are no more seen because we have stress, we must make money, it’s a shame!
HCMS

As the Everly Brothers once said, “What is love? Five feet of heaven in a pony tail! The cutest pony tail, that waves with a wiggle when she walks.” JL

Love is who we all are and where we come from! My partner would articulate his perspective better than I but I will attempt to on his behalf as well. Love is knowing consistantly that the person you love has the ability and intention to assist you towards a homeostatic state.
TR

Love is the power of presence — the ability to be in the moment with another and to meet the needs of another without attachment to outcomes.
Love is the upsurge or welling up of emotion that comes unbidden when one person looks at another and sees the Self… the God within or the goodness and greatness of the Other.
Love is the quiet peacefullness that includes all… It is embracing and is unable to exclude anyone from the rays of its inner light… Love brings a recognition of oneness and a comfort in that oneness.
Love is most often expressed with an absence of fear.
Its opposite is not hate but indifference, a failure to see the other or to recognize the other as being valuable, worthy of being seen or appreciated or even less loved.
Love is enduring despite the frustrations of life, the pains and joys of relationship, or anything else.
Love is tender enough to bring tears and yet strong enough to protect another.
Love is present even in its apparent absence as nothing exists without love.
Love is in the breath, is in the life itself, the nurturing of the Creation by the Creator and of the person by all of creation.
MR

Love is a subjective concept and understanding, and can be anything you desire it to be. Humans develop their very own and wonderfully unique definition of love beginning in our stage of infancy. The absence of love, nurturing and attachment in early childhood can significantly impact a person’s ability to recognize, give and receive love. This can result in dysfunctional relationships and internal turmoil and conflict. The experience of love contributes to other human domains like trust, compassion, empathy, sympathy, sharing, acceptance and human need. PL

Excerpt from a song I wrote:

The Queen of Cups sits silently gazing
At her reflection in the world around her.
In her heart she knows
Love is the answer
To every question and in every situation.

The Fool, we say, doesn’t know where he’s going.
The Fool, poor Fool, doesn’t know what he wants.
In his heart he knows
Love is the answer,
His only protection and his only possession.

and on, and more . . . well, it’s just a song.
EAM

Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business and artist’s coach, and young person’s mentor. He sees patients in New York City, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and around the world by Skype.

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