Love has always been a popular topic of discussion raised by philosophers, poets, writers, and scientists for countless generations, and many of them have derived a different formula of love, having their own view on its definition, conditions of occurrence, and forms of manifestation. If we talk about ancient civilizations, we can say that each of them had a pantheon of gods, with a god of love who occupied a special place. Aphrodite in Ancient Greece, Venus in ancient Rome, Freya – a Scandinavian goddess of love and family hearth, Lada in the Slavic mythology and lots of others – all of them were highly respected and each of them took a special place in the pantheon. And this is natural because people have always fallen in love no matter what culture and tradition they lived in.
While most researchers agree that love implies a strong sense of affection, there is much disagreement about its exact meaning, expressed in different attitudes towards it by different people.
For instance, the Bible has a rather detailed definition of love:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” —1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This passage has been used in books and film, for example, in the movie ‘A Walk to Remember’ (2002). When talking about cinematography, it should be said that this art has a great influence on our minds, values, and outlook. Also, it gives us a precious opportunity to see love in various kinds and faces. It can be love with tough experience or trials like in ‘Titanic”(1997) or ‘The Vow’(2012), with the fight against norms of morals and traditions like in ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (2005) or ‘The Thorn Birds’ (1983), with surviving hard times like wars like in ‘Pearl Harbor’ (2001) or ‘Head in the Clouds’ (2004). There can be mentioned hundreds of films that show different verges of love so that everyone can find the one he feels that it is about him.
If talking about books, it is impossible not to mention the most popular love stories like Romeo and Juliette, Elisabeth Bennet and Mr.Darcy, Tristan and Isolde, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy, Eugene Onegin and Tatiana, Anna Karenina and Vronsky – some of them are tragic, but people love them and eagerly read once again and even dream of something of a kind.
And what about songs? It is an endless source of ideas about what love is. ‘Love is a flower’ – sings ‘Ace of Base’, ‘What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me anymore’ sings ‘The Haddaway’ because love is not just about pleasure, but sometimes about the pain too. ‘Love will keep you all night’ sings ‘The Backstreet Boys’ because when you love someone you can stay all night long without sleep if you are with the one you love. ‘Love is an open door’ sings Eliza from ‘Frozen’ and she is right – falling in love you discover a new world of another person.
There are, probably, about twenty theories of love. In hindsight, these theories can explain why relationships arose or why they didn’t work out. But looking for a partner, none of these theories helps. Why did the spark run through here? Why did it break out here, but not in other places? This is magic. The choice of an object in love always happens unconsciously. You can, of course, then self-confidently say: “I chose him because he was the most charming at the party,” or “She attracts me because her dress was stunning”, but the truth is that it is not you who chose, it is the “I” that we know little or nothing about in ourselves. It decides, it provides the right hormonal background, and, as a rule, you can rely on it. And it remains for consciousness to somehow explain this choice: “beautiful”, “successful and ambitious”, “loves animals”, and so on.
So, what is love? What ingredients does it have? Talking in terms of evolutionary instruments, love can be considered a tool for surviving —a mechanism we have developed to create long-term relationships, mutual protection, and parental support. When you realize that someone is attractive to you, love, among other things, begins to manifest itself in the form of a biological process. Your body reinforces what your mind already knows – this person makes you fill with amazing emotions. When we feel close to another person, our brain signals the body to release hormones that make us prone to feel some pleasant sensations similar to joy and delight.
It should be also said that people commonly define several types of love: love, passion and amorousness. Love is something that is born between two people and develops over a long period of time, experiencing life’s many ups and downs along the way. Therefore, love requires time, fidelity, mutual trust and acceptance of a person as he is. Passion is associated with sexual experiences, which in the beginning attract people to each other and are fueled by the desire to reproduce. Passion, by blurring your consciousness with hormones and idealizing the personality of its object, dulls the ability to see a person in his true light, and therefore it is not always able to become a direct path to long-term relationships. The ideal scenario for a strong relationship involves a balanced combination of love and passion. Amorousness, i.e. passionate infatuation with another person, combined with feelings of affection, form romantic love, which is an important early stage in a long-term relationship. Rekindling the original spark of passion is a practice that happy couples should definitely follow.
No matter how many books about love a person reads, he/she has his/her own definition of love, it is a really personal and intimate thing. Nowadays, it can be heard that love is a rudimentary thing, that modern people don’t care for love and don’t even need it – the material world erases romance and spiritual bonds between two people, and one day love will disappear forever. This prognosis is nothing but someone’s fantasies because love has existed for millennia, it survived the deadliest wars and disasters. History doesn’t know a period when love didn’t exist. It wasn’t always expressed the same way, still, it played a crucial role in people’s lives – it helped to create masterpieces and leave beautiful traces in history.