There are many kinds of love, but what this article is concerned with is that form of love usually known as ‘romantic love’ or ‘true love’. So what is romantic love and why do we need to define it?
Quite often we come across the scenario that a man or woman in a relationship is asking him or herself the question: “Is it love?” So, how can someone tell? Then there is another scenario, sometimes used in Hollywood movies as a plot device, wherein somebody doesn’t actually believe in romantic love — in its actual existence — and so is willing to settle for something much less… until the right man or woman comes along, of course!
Then again, there is the phenomenon of so-called “love at first sight”. Is this emotion that appears in a single moment something that a couple can base a lifelong commitment upon?
Here are my own views on the question of what is love, based on my life’s experiences.
Firstly, “love at first sight”. All the time we see other people who we find attractive. Some of them are more attractive than others. Some of them are very attractive indeed. If we see someone who falls into the latter group, and there are also other things about the person that makes him or her appear as a possible partner (for the human mind is very good at making judgments like this in a split-second, based on factors such as clothing style, what the other person is doing at the time, context and so on) then this combination of emotionally powerful components can be so strong as to qualify as “love at first sight”.
There are many couples whose relationship has begun in this way, but mere physical attraction, however strong, is not enough in itself to provide a basis for a lifelong relationship. This brings us on to the real heart of the question “what is love” — what is it that enables us to have a long-term, even lifelong, relationship with another human being?
It certainly can begin with attraction of the “love at first sight” kind, or something approaching that in intensity, though with some love relationships physical attraction is not the catalyst to start them into life. But from whatever basis a relationship begins — physical attraction or friendship or other circumstances — if the relationship is to continue and the individuals concerned are not to “fall out of love”, they must find each other’s personalities delightful. If you “fall in love at first sight” with someone whose personal habits — you subsequently discover — start to irritate you, and whose views and opinions annoy you, then you will quickly find yourself falling out of love. So, you must like the other person very much as a person. And, the feeling must be mutual, of course.
Once you have attraction, followed by a mutual liking of personalities, this then leads to a deep friendship, a friendship that becomes deepened by sexuality. It becomes a friendship to beat all other friendships and relationships, and a closeness greater than any experienced before.
And that’s really all there is to it, the deepest kind of friendship that began as physical attraction and moved on to a closeness greater than any other in the lives of the people concerned. It’s romantic love. And it is something that, with careful nurturing, can last a lifetime.