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14 Different Ways People Define Love

How do you define love? With so many interpretations of this complicated, positive, and sometimes painful concept, it’s hard to nail down exactly one definitive meaning encompassing this multifaceted word. There are several different ways people have described the idea of love, so read on to learn about some of the most interesting definitions.

Love Is a Complex Emotion.

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Love is a subjective topic, but we can all probably agree that it’s overwhelmingly multidimensional. Not only is the concept of love complex, but it also involves complex brain functions such as chemical reactions, psychological responses, and social beliefs, among others. Layer upon layer of different factors make up what we know as “love.” 

Love Is Not Just Romance.

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There are many different types of love defined by psychology, but only one truly embodies romance. There are three philosophical notions of love: Agape, Eros, and Phileo. Agape is known as the “perfect love,” meaning to love one thoroughly and completely for no reason at all. Many religions believe that only God is capable of agape. Eros is the feeling of romantic love, such as the type you would feel toward a partner or spouse. And finally, phileo is the platonic love you may feel for a family member or a close friend.

Love Is A Chemical Reaction In The Brain. 

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According to the scientific definition, when we feel what’s known as “love,” the brain releases three specific chemicals: dopamine (supports the feeling of reward), serotonin (maintains emotions), and oxytocin (ignites pleasure centers). The reaction between these hormones creates feelings of love. These chemical reactions become intense when we're very attracted to someone, and that's what people mistake for true love.

Love Is Blind.

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It’s reasonable to say that love can make you see things in others through different eyes. When we are in love, we might choose not to see the whole picture, or we might ignore red flags when we deeply adore someone. Love can be deceptive in a way that blinds us to the truths we don’t want to acknowledge.

Love Is a Verb, Not a Noun.

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In order to love, you must not only feel it… you must also actionably embody it. Love is more than an idea or a feeling—it’s an action we take as well. From the first conversation to the first touch, every aspect of partaking in the idea we know as love involves us doing something to intentionally make it happen. Love is a conscious choice we make.

Love Is Patience.

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It takes patience to be able to understand or wait for a person you love. You may also find yourself needing patience because love is not always easy or fun. Patience is an important aspect of expressing love, and for many of us, learning to exercise true patience is one of the more difficult parts of love. Yet, we do it because we know that part of the act involves mutual respect for timing, expectations, and imperfections. 

Love Is Sacrifice. 

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People often search their whole lives for their “soulmate.” Some might even say that a soulmate is someone you give all of yourself to, sacrificing other parts of your life to be with the person you love. You may have to give up on things you want in order to make room for this person in your life. Love is almost always a gamble, and this is why love can often mean sacrifice. 

Love Is Vulnerability.

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To open yourself up to love, you must be willing to be vulnerable. Love elicits emotions all across the spectrum, so it’s only natural that at some point in the process of being with a person you love or enjoying platonic love, such as for a child, you will end up in a position of vulnerability. Every day, you weather the potential for losing said person. Part of the beauty of love is trusting the other person with this vulnerability, knowing that they will love you through it and beyond it. 

Love Is a Deep Connection.

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Whether it’s romantic, platonic, or otherwise, there’s no argument that love is the epitome of connection. Love exists and flows in a state of constant growing of bonds, a powerful energy felt between two (or more) people that strengthens over time. As humans, we were psychologically built for love because, in essence, we cannot thrive without forging connections with other humans. 

Love Is Empathy.

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In order to genuinely give and receive love, you must be able to put yourself in the shoes of that person. Love is empathy because it can only exist when there is a meaningful connection that creates reciprocal emotion from both parties. The ability to love comes with the attempt to unconditionally understand the other person while feeling what they feel. Empathy helps us build trust with others.

Love Is Destructive.

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Love is a temporary lapse of a human body's emotional defense mechanisms. Given that love can build us up, it can also break us down. Love manifests itself wherever there is happiness, and love consumes happiness. Love is a choice. While love is a positive concept, we may also experience fear, anger, and sadness as a result of it. Poets have written of this destruction for centuries, and yet, love is still worth diving into.

Love Is Placing the Needs of Another Person Above Your Own.

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Setting one’s self aside for others (or one another) is one of the principal features of love. No selfishness can be found in true love. In this sense, this kind of love is an unattainable ideal for many of us, as some people have only the capacity to practice a facsimile of love—selfishness is simply woven into our DNA. Despite this, we do our best to uplift the ones we love, placing their needs on a pedestal and striving to give them the best.

Love Is Acceptance.

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Love is the ability to let someone live their life the way they want to—to be themselves—and accept them for who they are. It’s the act of extending permission to exercise personal freedom toward the one you love, unburdened by jealousy or judgment. Love is the ability to accept the good with the bad, looking through a lens of understanding that, at the core, we are all unique individuals.

Love Cannot Be Truly Defined.

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Love may contain a multitude of feelings. Obsession. Understanding. Comfort. Affection. Respect. Intimacy. Dependability. Attraction. Devotion. Excitement. Tranquility. Commitment. Passion. Trust. Loyalty. Selflessness. Protection. Compassion. Unity. Love can embody all of the above and much more. Love transcends time and space, and because there are so many interpretations of love, we cannot stake claim only to one or another.

Wisdom About Love from Couples in Long-term Happy Relationships

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People in loving and fulfilling long-term relationships often have wisdom about what's made their partnership work over the years.

Author: Jorie Logan

Title: Writer

Expertise: Travel, Wellness, Advocacy

Jorie Logan is a copywriter, brand strategist, and traveler with extensive solo travel experience. She's passionate about sharing stories that empower women to explore their world and discover their authentic joyful selves.