What is Love?
Love, the focus of nearly too many songs and movies, is a complicated emotion. Not many people, if any, can claim to understand how it works. But despite its complexity, people often use it carelessly when talking to others, saying things like “Thank you so much, I love you” to anyone who does them a simple favor. But what exactly, as the popular song questions, is love?
Scientifically, love, and any other emotion, is simply a cocktail of chemicals and complex physiological interactions in our brain. But, unlike other feelings, love has also been described as the most powerful force in the universe. The ancient Greeks regarded love as “the madness of the gods.” A popular teen romance novel, The Sun is Also a Star, even suggests love to be the mysterious dark matter that is thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe. But for those needing a concrete answer, the Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions of love vary greatly, ranging from a broad, “warm attachment,” to restraining love as merely an “attraction based on sexual desire.” These small definitions, however, fail to capture the true breadth of love.
While the most commonly referenced version of love is romantic love, there are many different types of love. Today, love is generally categorized into three groups: familial, platonic, and romantic love. However, the ancient Greeks believed in eight distinct forms of love: Eros, for sexual passion and desire; Philia, for friendship; Storge, for kinship; Ludus, for playful and young love; Mania, for obsessive love; Pragma, for enduring love; Philautia, for self-love; and Agape, for selfless love.
As humans, we often lose control of our emotions. With love being almost a force of nature, we cannot hope to have command over it. Love is involuntary; it cannot be bought or sold like a commodity. One cannot make someone to love them and one cannot stop someone from loving them, but love can still be used to better our lives.
According to Mateo Sol, a prominent psychospiritual counselor and mentor, from learning about the different types of love, we discover how interlinked the relationships between every type of love are. For instance, in order to truly enjoy eros, we must also search for greater depths through philia and ludus, while also avoiding mania as relationships mature. Through this, we can find pragma in our soulmate or twin flame relationships. Additionally, love can benefit the individual as well. Through philautia and agape, we can better understand the power and capabilities of our own hearts.
So, what is love? Love is love! Love is the overwhelming urge to hug and cuddle your dog. It drives you insane with concern when your friend is struggling. It is when you irrationally prioritize “the one” above everything else, even when the tiny sensible part of your brain is telling you that you should really sleep instead of staying up talking until 4AM. At the end of the day, love is a power that no one truly understands, but one that everyone experiences.