Poets and authors have tried to define love for centuries, whereas scientists have only recently started. Many of us know intuitively that love is a major purpose for living; that connection is inherent in all that we do, and without love, we cannot survive as a species.
But what is love, and how do we know when we're in it? First, let's start off with what love isn't.
What Is Love? It Definitely Isn't...Edit
- Manipulation. "If you loved me, then you would..." isn't love, but rather infatuation.
- Compromising who you are. If someone asks you to do or say something that isn't in your nature, that isn't true love. Although love does involve compromises between partners, someone who is in love with you will never ask you to change who you are in order to be loved.
- Violent. Passions can definitely become inflamed with someone you love, but a relationship with physical or emotional violence isn't true love. (More: Dating Violence)
- Just lust. Yes, chemistry and physical attraction are important, but true love also includes commitment, trust and respect. (More: Is It Lust... Or Love?, Test Your Chemistry)
So then, what exactly is love?
True Love Is...Edit
- True Love is Caring. The ancient Greeks had many different names for different forms of love: passion, virtuous, affection for the family, desire, and general affection. But no matter how love is defined, they all hold a common trait: caring.
- True Love is Attractive. Attraction and chemistry form the bond that allows people to mate. Without this romantic desire for another individual, a relationship is nothing more than lust or infatuation.
- True Love is Attached. Like the mother-child bond, attachment comes after the initial attraction. Attachment is the long term love that appears anywhere from one to three years into a romantic relationship (sometimes sooner and very rarely after), and you'll know you've found it when you can honestly say, "I've seen the worst and the best you have to offer, and I still love you," while your partner feels the same way.
- True Love is Commited. When it comes to true love, commitment is more than just monogamy. Its the knowledge that your partner cares for you and has your back, no matter what the circumstances. People who are strongly commited to one another will, when faced with seemingly negative information about their partner, see only the positive. For example, a friend comments that your partner doesn't say a lot. "Ah yes, he's the strong, silent type," you reply. People with less commitment to their partner would instead say something like, "Yeah, I can never have conversation with him. Its annoying."
- True Love is Intimate. Intimacy is a crucial component of all relationships, regardless of their nature. In order to know another, you need to share parts of yourself. This self-revealing behavior, when reciprocated, forms an emotional bond. Over time this bond strengthens and even evolves, so that two people merge closer and closer together. Intimacy by itself if is a great friendship, but compiled with the other things in this list, it forms an equation for true love.
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God is Love: How does God Define Love? The Bible tells us that "God is Love" (1 John 4:8). But how can we even begin to understand that truth? There are many passages in the Bible that give us God's definition of love. The most well known verse is John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." So one way God defines love is in the act of giving. However, what God gave (or should we say, "who" God gave) was not a mere gift-wrapped present; God sacrificed His only Son so that we, who put our faith in His Son, will not spend eternity separated from Him. This is an amazing love, because we are the ones who choose to reject God, yet it's God who mends the separation through His intense personal sacrifice, and all we have to do is accept His gift.
Another great verse about God's love is found in Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." In this verse and in John 3:16, we find no conditions placed on God's love for us. God doesn't say, "as soon as you clean up your act, I'll love you; " nor does He say, "I'll sacrifice my Son if you promise to love Me." In fact, in Romans 5:8, we find just the opposite. God wants us to know that His love is unconditional, so He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us while we were still unlovable sinners. We didn't have to get clean, and we didn't have to make any promises to God before we could experience His love. His love for us has always existed, and because of that, He did all the giving and sacrificing long before we were even aware that we needed His love.
God is Love: It's Unconditional God is Love, and His love is very different from human love. God's love is unconditional, and it's not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn't love us because we're lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son (who also willingly died for us) to restore that relationship.
Love of FamilyEditSource: http://www.edu.pe.ca/southernkings/familydefinition.htm
Families are who you love. Our families all “look” different and it's always been so. A family caregiving unit might consist of a couple; a mother, father and children; a single parent and child; grandparent and grandchildren; a sibling group; a circle of friends; or however that family defines itself.
Families are the foundation of society. It's where we come into the world, are nurtured and given the tools to go out into the world, capable and healthy—or we aren't. While families have the greatest potential for raising healthy individuals, they can also wound their members in places that will never heal. When families break down and fail to provide the healthy nurturing we need, the effects impact not only our own lives, but also our communities.
In other words, we all pay for unhealthy families. If we ignore the suffering, we suffer the consequences, including:
- alienation and fear, as our neighbourhoods turn into places where we no longer feel safe
- violence and crime
- lost productivity
- the costs of medical care for victims, policing, courts and prisons
- the costs of a social support system to deal with the fallout from dysfunctional family relationships.
Love of FriendsEdit
Friendship is a relationship between two people who hold mutual affection for each other. Friendships and acquaintanceship are thought of as spanning across the same continuum. The study of friendship is included in the fields of sociology, social psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and zoology. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.
The value of friendship is often the result of friends consistently demonstrating the following:
- The tendency to desire what is best for the other
- Sympathy and empathy
- Honesty, even in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth
- Mutual understanding and compassion; ability to go to each other for emotional support
- Enjoyment of each other's company
- Trust in one another
- Positive reciprocity — equal give-and-take between the two parties
- The ability to be oneself, express one's feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgement.