The most popular Google search of last year was the question: “What is Love?” And the Guardian newspaper asked five “experts” to answer it.
A physicist, a psychotherapist, a philosopher, an author of romantic novels and a nun gave their answer to the question about Love, from their personal perspective of the subject.
“Love is chemistry” (Answers Jim Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist and writer).
Biologically, Love is an intense neurological condition, such as hunger or thirst, but more permanent. We say that love is blind or we talk about love being blind or unconditional, meaning that we cannot control it. But again, this is not particularly surprising, since Love, is basically a chemical phenomenon. While lust is a casual sexual desire, in creation of which the release of hormones such as testosterone and estrogens is involved, in real love or real bonding and true commitment brain releases a huge combination of hormones such as pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin (ADH).
However, from the standpoint of evolution, love can be seen as a survival mechanism that we have developed in order for us to really need long-term relationships, which mean mutual support, caring parents to children and a sense of safety and security.
“Love has many facets” (Answers Philippa Perry, psychotherapist and author of «Couch Fiction»)
Unlike us, ancient people did not crowd varied emotions in the same word giving them the label “Love”. They had many variations, including the following: Friendship, which they perceived as a deep, but without a sexual dimension, intimacy among close friends or members of a family or as a deep bond that is forged between soldiers who fought alongside each other in battle.
Moreover, the Romans describe a more playful give and take that happens when people fool around or flirt. However, Love, is a maturing concept that evolves over time among couples who are long time together and includes understanding in practice, dedication, compromise and supporting each other.
The Ancient Greeks described Love, as a more general term that had nothing to do with exclusivity but with a universal feeling of concern about those around you. In addition, Self-love is the love about you, which is not as selfish as it sounds. As Aristotle suggested, or as any therapist would suggest, in order to be able to care for others, you must first take care of yourself. Finally, there is Eros, who although causes problems and complications, has to do with sexual attraction and passion. Unless he develops into friendship, eros degenerates and shuts himself down. Love is all the above. But it is illogical and not realistic to have the expectation to experience all six of its versions with only one person. So, that is why family and society are such important things.
“Love is a passionate commitment” (Answers Julian Baggini, philosopher and writer)
The answer remains unclear, partly because Love is not one thing. Love for parents, partners, children, home, neighbor, God, etc., all have a different texture. Each has its variations: blind, one-sided, tragic, stable, fluid, insincere, incomplete, unconditional… At best, however, all versions are of a noble and passionate commitment, which grows and evolves, despite the fact that it often appears in our lives uninvited. That is why this is more than just a strong feeling. Passion without commitment is just an excitement. Commitment without passion is only obsession. Even the greatest love, without nurturing and taking care of it, withers and dies.
“Love is an incentive for all the great stories” (Answers Jojo Moyes, twice Nobel Prize for the Romantic Novel of the Year)
What is Love, depends on where you are in relation to it. When you are safe inside of it, you can feel it as natural and necessary as the air – you are inside of it without noticing it. When you lack of it, it can feel like an obsession, exhausting you, almost like a physical pain. Love is the motivation for grand narratives. Not just for the stories with romantic love, but for the love of a parent for his child, the love for family and home. It is the fascinating point before a love is completed. It is what it separates you from love, the obstacles that come in your midst. These moments attempting to overcome obstacles, love is everything.
“Love is the freedom that binds us” (Answers Catherine Wybourne, nun)
Love is more easily experienced than being defined. As a theological virtue by which we love God above all and our neighbours as ourselves looks a bit vague until we meet it “incarnated” in some way in life around us, in acts of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice. Love is the only thing that can not hurt anyone, but it can cost you dearly. The paradox with Love is that although it gives you great freedom, at the same time it binds you with another, with ties stronger than death. It can not be bought or sold. And there’s nothing it cannot tackle. Love is the greatest blessing.