Describe love to someone who doesn't know what it is or what it means. A near impossibility, eh? Ask one hundred people the definition of love, and you're likely to get one hundred different answers. Many of those people won't be able to put it into words, but will tell you they know it when they feel it. Actually, love is defined as a deep personal attraction or affection. Gee, how dry is that?
As the seventh wonder, the ability to love is very difficult. Usually the reason a doctor cannot cure a cold is because it is made up of a multitude of germs. Love is somewhat the same...it is not just a single thing, but also a combination of emotions. That's what leads to the complications.
Actually love is defined based upon the context in which it is used. Sexual feelings of intimacy are quite different from the nonsexual affection call platonic love. To say you love a certain food or painting is nothing more than an intense like to it, while love is associated in a different intensity with friendship. And love expressed between a man and woman is sometimes confused with lust.
Helen E. Fisher, an anthropology professor and human behavior researcher at Rutgers University, says that love comes in three stages: lust, attraction and attachment. In an article on Wikipedia.com, Fisher breaks it down this way: "Lust is the initial passionate sexual desire that promotes mating, and involves the increased release of chemicals such as testosterone and estrogen and rarely lasts more than a few weeks or months; attraction is the more individualized and romantic desire for a specific candidate for mating, which develops out of lust as commitment to an individual mate forms with recent studies in neuroscience indicating that as people fall in love, the brain consistently releases a certain set of chemicals, including pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which act in a manner similar to amphetamines, stimulating the brain's pleasure center and leading to side effects such as increased heart rate, loss of appetite and sleep, and an intense feeling of excitement and lasts from one and a half to three years; and, since the lust and attraction stages are both considered temporary, a third stage is needed to account for long-term relationships called attachment that is the bonding that promotes relationships lasting for many years and even decades, and is based on commitments such as marriage and children, or on mutual friendship based on things like shared interests, and has been linked to higher levels of the chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin to a greater degree than short-term relationships have." So there you have it.
Love as we define it today is a relatively new concept in history dating back only as far as the Middle Ages. Before that couples didn't pair up with someone they "loved." so much as what was best for the lineage of the bloodline, or "marriages" to improve or sustain social standing. These were either arranged marriages, or simply based on possible mates who were available in a locality because so few people traveled. For example, in the area where I live, the mountains of East Tennessee, is was not uncommon for cousins to marry because the pool of available partners was limited.
But, in my opinion, love is great because it makes me feel fantastic.
I have been very fortunate in my life in that I have loved and been loved by a lot of wonderful people. But the most intense love I have ever experienced was that love I have felt since I have learned to love myself. I'm not talking about the kind of self-love associated with a negative ego, but the love that comes from a real appreciation for who I really am...my intelligence, level of creativity, my easy-going nature, my sense of humor, acceptance of my foibles and faults, and my ability to cope, combined with a high-level of spirituality. The joy of that level of love is the ability to love others unconditionally, and the chance to help others learn to do what I have done. And finally, the realization that while I like to have others around me, I don't need them to make me joyous and feel fulfilled...I can do it for myself.
Whatever level and kind of love you are looking for, I hope you find it, and that you realize what a true wonder love is.