What is love?

yourloverWhat is love? Well it’s one of the questions which has baffled people for many centuries. The weird thing about this emotion is that most of the time we know that we are in love, but we simply do not know what is causing these emotions. There are a number of different ways in which people define what love is exactly, and more importantly what causes those feelings. Bear a few of these things in mind the next time you ask ‘is this love?’

One of the most popular theories surrounding this question is the biological theory. I know it sounds less romantic like this, but many scientists believe that love is nothing more than a survival tool. This tool has developed via evolution and we experience feelings of love because we need the human race to thrive. After all, in every living species there is an innate desire to keep breeding.

yourloverOne of the things that people are confused about is the difference between lust and love. As you probably know, lust is raw sexual desire for a person and often you have no desire to continue into a long term relationship. On the other hand, love is the development of feelings for a person, often out of your control (hence why many people still consider themselves in love even if the other person has done bad things to them). Internally the difference between lust and love is down to chemicals that are released into the system. For example, if you are lusting after somebody you often release testosterone and oestrogen into the body, which are of course sexual hormones. On the other hand, when you develop a bond with somebody you release a bunch of chemicals. This includes dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, vasopressin, oxytocin and pheromones. These make us feel completely different to the other chemicals.

So considering this ‘chemical’ ideal, how can we answer the question ‘is this love?’ Well, if something is lust the feeling is often temporary and disappears over time. We may even have control over the feeling. However, if it is true love then you may constantly feel good about yourself, fantastic in the presence of the other person and have a desire to please them (part of the evolutionary process). Often we can’t control feelings of love and there is no real way of shutting them off, even if your advances are not accepted by the other person. I believe our bodies have been programmed to know what love is and what love isn’t. Therefore if you need to ask, then it is highly unlikely that you are actually in love.

yourloverAs you are probably aware, there are many different forms of love. After all, we can love our family but we don’t want sexual contact with them. The one you are most likely concerned with here is the love for another person that enters your life. Ancient people broke down love into different stages when it comes to this:

Ludus is affection for a person. This is often accompanied by flirting. For many people this is the first stage of love. It is the point where you start building up a bond with a person, although it isn’t always going to progress to other forms of love.

Pragma is ‘Ludus’ love which has been allowed to mature. Often it takes many years to reach this stage. This type of love is developing a sense of commitment for one another and make compromises where needed. I guess it can be defined as only wanting that person and completely understanding somebody. Therefore based on this theory, if you have only just met somebody and are asking ‘is this love?’, if you don’t fully understand them then it is highly unlikely it actually will be.

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