LOVE

The word “love” can have a variety of related but distinct     images (1)

meanings in different contexts. Many other languages

use multiple words to express some of the different

concepts that in English are denoted as “love”;

one example is the plurality of Greek words for

“love” which includes agape and eros. Cultural

differences in conceptualizing love thus

doubly impede the establishment of a universal definition.

Although the nature or essence of love is a subject of frequent debate, different aspects of the word can be clarified by determining what isn’t love. Love as a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like) is commonly contrasted with hate (or neutral apathy); as a less sexual and more emotionally intimate form of romantic attachment, love is commonly contrasted with lust; and as an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is sometimes contrasted with friendship, although the word love is often applied to close friendships. (Further possible ambiguities come with usages “girlfriend”, “boyfriend”, “just good friends”).

Psychology depicts love as a cognitive and social phenomenon. Psychologist Robert Sternberg formulated a triangular theory of love and argued that love     download (2)

has three different components: intimacy,

commitment, and passion. Intimacy is a

form in which two people share confidences

and various details of their personal lives,

and is usually shown in friendships and

romantic love affairs. Commitment, on

the other hand, is the expectation that

the relationship is permanent. The

last and most common form of love is sexual attraction and passion. Passionate love is shown in infatuation as well as romantic love. All forms of love are viewed as varying combinations of these three components. Non-love does not include any of these components. Liking only includes intimacy. Infatuated love only includes passion. Empty love only includes commitment. Romantic love includes both intimacy and passion. Companionate love includes intimacy and commitment. Fatuous love includes passion and commitment.

Biological models of sex tend to view love as a mammalian drive, much like hunger or thirst. Helen Fisher, a leading expert in the topic of love, divides the experience of love into three partly overlapping stages: lust, attraction, and attachment. Lust is the feeling of sexual desire; romantic attraction determines what partners mates find attractive and pursue, conserving time and energy by choosing; and attachment involves sharing a home, parental duties, mutual defense, and in humans involves feelings of safety and security. Three distinct neural circuitries, including neurotransmitters, and three behavioral patterns, are associated with these three romantic styles.

Lust is the initial passionate sexual desire     download (3)

that promotes mating, and involves

the increased release of chemicals

such as testosterone and estrogen.

These effects rarely last 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. Recent studies in neuroscience have indicated that as people fall in love, the brain consistently releases a certain set of chemicals, including the neurotransmitter hormones, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, the same compounds released by amphetamine, 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.

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