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Love: Definition, Signs, Styles, How to Find It, and More

Love. Some say it makes the world go round, while others believe it’s merely an illusion. They say it can make you go crazy, blind, feel young, become more alive, etc. It has a lot of different definitions, all depending on personal experience. What do you think of this special word? How important is it to you? Are you looking for it right now? Well then, this article is for you.

What Is Love?

If you search online, love is defined as a range of strong, positive emotional and mental states related to affection, pleasure, and attachment. From loving cookies to loving your wife, or loving fighting for freedom and loving your own children, it’s hard for love to have one consistent meaning. In psychology, there’s a triangular theory that suggests love’s core components are intimacy, passion, and commitment. Overall, love is when you have feelings for, identify with, and care for something or someone other than yourself. 

The Power of Love

A song you’ve probably heard somewhere. Seriously though, love is powerful. There can hardly be any other reason why a smitten teenager would disobey his parents only to be with his girlfriend. Mothers don’t feed rocks to their babies. You wouldn’t want to entrust your pet to a cold stranger. It’s like taking care of your own body. You can’t help yourself.

This power is displayed in many places seen and not. Look at human rights activists. Some of them completely gave up their own security for the sake of those who need justice. The same goes with front-liners. Some risk their lives everyday without getting recognized at all. They quietly choose others over themselves, not expecting anything in return. Once you experience this formidable force, you might be surprised to know how capable you are of doing things you never thought you’d do for anyone.

Does Love Require Passion?

Passion is intense longing. This is usually found in a new romantic relationship. Sparks fly, heart races, and time slips away fast. One minute you’re sleepless waiting for Saturday, the next you’re wishing you’re still together as you stare at their picture all night. Another is good marriage–couples who are able to keep the fire burning in spite of problems. They manage to find ways no matter how small. There are individuals, however, who remain loyal to each other even without the longing they used to have. They’d rather be together than live a lackluster life alone. Yes, passion plays an important role, but lack of it doesn’t always cause harm.   

Do Men or Women Usually Say “I Love You” First?

You might think women are more likely to say those three little words-maybe because they are considered more emotional-but that’s not quite true. According to a 2011 study published in The Journal of Social Psychology, men were found to feel and confess love as early as a few weeks into a new relationship, while women’s timelines were substantially longer. Men aren’t usually depicted as hopeless romantics on screen, but in reality, they may be just as sentimental as females.

Marissa A. Harrison and Jennifer C. Shortall explain that men’s tendency to fall sooner might be linked to their natural desire for intimacy earlier on in the relationship. In this present generation, who confesses first doesn’t matter much anymore. What’s important is you truly care for each other and are sure of it. As long as you’re both ready, there’s nothing to worry about. 

How Do People Find This Four-Letter Word?

Let’s dive right in. First, by loving themselves. You can’t love if you don’t know how to give it to yourself. You can’t pass that responsibility to anyone else. The popular “You complete me” is a phrase you should speak in front of the mirror, not another flawed human. Even the best person in the world can’t fix you no matter how destined you two may seem. Only you can fully understand yourself. Next, being simply available. Don’t be afraid of mingling, but don’t be too desperate either. You won’t meet someone by staying at home all the time. Going out with friends to social events is a good start. You don’t need to entertain everyone who shows interest in you. Set reasonable standards.

Third, seek commitment. Romance can only last for a while. Once the rainbows and butterflies begin to disappear, there will be nothing left to hold on to if there’s no solid foundation. Look for someone who will support you and keep you company no matter what. One whom you can be vulnerable with. A good partner will take you as you are, not as who they want you to be. Finally, be an optimistic and genuine soul. Happiness and authenticity are attractive qualities. When you’re happy even by yourself, you make other people want to join you. Moreover, showing your real self, values, goals, and dreams, will get the attention of that person who shares the same perspective as you.         

The Difference Between Love and Sex

Sad as it is, a lot of people confuse these two popular nouns. If you want an example right now, all you have to do is look up some pop songs. Turn on your radio or do a quick search online. What could be beautiful, meaningful words said to someone you really love are just used carelessly. Why do seemingly perfect women mistake physical intimacy for love? Why are there guys who think that loving someone is all about having sex? When you have ulterior motives, unconscious personal strongholds, or unresolved relational issues, you’re more likely to be confused.

Lust is intense physical attraction. Your desire comes from a strong sexual connection. This also happens when you cherish the person, but it doesn’t end there. You want them not only for what they can give you. You actually want to be with them. You’re not afraid of doing the hard work that a relationship requires. You’re not just obsessed with the idea of them, you wholeheartedly accept their true self. You can picture being together for however long it may be. 

The Signs

You know you’re head over heels for someone when you can’t stop thinking about them and you begin to do ‘weird’ stuff you don’t usually do (getting awkward or putting on perfume). How do you know then, if they are on the same boat as you? 

You Often Look at Each Other

Eyes are truly windows of the soul. You can simply recognize feelings through your eyes. If you often catch yourself looking at them and they do the same, even when you’re both doing nothing, that’s a sign.

Feeling Alone In a Crowded Room

Whether you’re at a party or walking down a busy street, you tend to forget about the people around you. Like no one else is there besides the two of you.  

Teasing

You both know how to be playful with each other by saying light, silly words or complimenting each other in a less serious manner (“That laugh might seriously heal my headache,”). 

Smiling All the Time

You can’t help showing those pearly whites when you’re together. Even the rain can’t hinder you. 

You Crave Each Other’s Attention

Receiving a promotion or merely talking about a funny poster you saw seem equally important news you need to tell each other. 

You Miss Them

Getting through the day can be hard when the other’s not around. Sometimes it feels as if you haven’t seen each other for weeks.

Having the Same Interests

You no longer hate rap music ever since you met them. They now eat sushi because of you. A relationship can make you change your preferences and try new things you didn’t think you’d like before.   

Bringing the Best Out of Each Other

Though you might disagree on some stuff, you don’t enjoy arguing. As much as possible, you avoid letting each other down. You can be honest without being a jerk to each other.

Wanting to Learn More

Time spent together is never enough. No matter how much you already know about each other, you’re still eager to find out more. You wonder what they were like as a kid. They wanna see your embarrassing pictures. 

Companionate vs Passionate Love

As previously discussed, passion involves intense feelings and attraction. The companionate kind, on the other hand, is calm. It’s comfortable. Although not as exciting as the former, this makes relationships strong and permanent. Watch old married couples who remain happy together. They may not appear lively anymore like they used to, but they are still deeply enamored by each other. Youth isn’t forever. Look for someone who can be your lifetime companion. Imagine going through memories together. Wouldn’t that be awesome? All you need is mutual respect, trust, and real affection. 

How Does Love Change Over Time?

After you’ve gone past the early stages of a relationship, things start to become less shiny. You see your partner as a separate individual again. You remember that they are not flawless. They are just as imperfect as you. Your physical intimacy still exists, though not as breathtaking as before. Reality (bills, lifestyle choices, or children) wakes you up. Then, in the blink of an eye, you’re already in the later stages. Your bodies may not be able to engage in and enjoy vigorous activities-even sex-anymore. Love does change, but if it’s true, it won’t disappear. 

Love Styles

Sociologist John Alan Lee suggested six broad styles:

  • Eros – romantic and passionate; based on physical appearance.
  • Ludus – unable to commit; plays games; deceives and manipulates.
  • Storge – follows slow development (may grow out of friendship); long-term.
  • Mania – obsessive and possessive; jealous and extreme.
  • Pragma – practical; seeks someone who can meet their needs and tastes (financial, social, and/or emotional).
  • Agape – selfless; unconditional; accepting; said to be rare.

Understanding your style helps you know what you need, and of course, the kind of person that’s right for you.

The Point of Love

We’re all wired to live with other people. Our brains and hormones prove it when we form meaningful connections, even more so when our hearts get stolen. You might be fine on your own, but having another person by your side can make a huge difference. It also promotes your well-being. Love is great for your overall health. Ultimately, life is too short and more mundane to live without it. Sure, it can be nerve-wracking, tiresome, and painful, but try having a little patience, hope, and perseverance. It might be worth the trouble.

The Difference Between Love, Like, and Being In Love

By now you know that love involves attraction and commitment. Loving something or someone is more than liking, which is merely adoration (having a crush for instance). Being in love is not just similar to being loyal to your favorite sports team. It’s a combination of consistent affection and definite commitment. You can no longer be without the other person. Yes, you might be tempted, but you can’t see yourself loving anyone else. You’d do anything for them. If you both feel the same, you’ve already become each other’s ride or die.     

Why Do You Love The Way You Do?

Everything we do results from our backgrounds, experiences, preferences, dispositions, etc. How you treat your partner depends on your inner self. If you grew up in a cold home, you might be needy. If you’ve consistently experienced heartbreak, you might be cautious when expressing your feelings. On another note, you might have no problem giving and taking in a relationship if you were raised in a healthy environment. Still, there are people who, despite unfortunate circumstances, have learned to forgive and be gracious toward their significant other. We all love in different ways and for many different reasons.

What is love? It can mean a lot of things. It’s both simple and complex. Valuing someone other than yourself can be easy, especially at first, but it can be complicated later on. Just as how being attracted to a person involves chemicals and psychological matters, loving means selflessness, learning how to compromise, commitment, and going through life together–with all its highs and lows. As they say, true love stands the test of time. It’s no walk in the park, but it’s definitely possible. Others have already proven so. Like life, love is a toilsome, weird, fun adventure that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s worth having. 

Can you relate? Share your thoughts below. We’d love to hear them!

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Written by Hannah Grace

A B.S. Psychology graduate who fights both real and imaginary shadows every day with music and words.

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