Love – what do you think it is?


A friend suggested that I look at Wikipedia for a definition, description and clarification. It is massive, but the aspects I would like to talk about are:

Interpersonal love refers to love between human beings. It is a more potent sentiment than a simple liking for another. Unrequited love refers to those feelings of love that are not reciprocated. Interpersonal love is most closely associated with interpersonal relationships. Such love might exist between family members, friends, and couples.

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 initial passionate sexual desire 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 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. Research has indicated that this stage generally lasts from one and a half to three years.

Since the lust and attraction stages are both considered temporary, a third stage is needed to account for long-term relationships. Attachment is the bonding that promotes relationships lasting for many years and even decades. Attachment is generally based on commitments such as marriage and children, or on mutual friendship based on things like shared interests. It has been linked to higher levels of the chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin to a greater degree than short-term relationships have – Wikipedia

Gary Chapman conceptualised the “Five Love Languages” to help people “speak” and understand love expressed through behaviour – words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. (Excellent book – I highly recommend it.)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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, and always perseveres.” (1 Cor. 13:4–7, The Bible – NIV) (Excellent book– I highly recommend it.)

Wow, but what does all of this mean to you and me? How does it affect our behaviour? How should it affect us?

We can see from above that it is chemical, time-based, behaviour as well as attitude.

Do we have to look at how we measure it?

Or is it more based on how we experience it?

There is the internal (self-love) component that for some reason determines or limits the amount of love that you are willing to accept from others (external). According to some you can only accept love on a level that you are willing and able to extend to yourself.

I have always though that the true measure of love is the degree someone is willing to put their wishes and desires to the side in favour of the one they love’s.

It would seem that it is more complex than that…..

For the first time my blog post is not giving information, it is asking a question. I would like to get your personal view.

We will all agree – Everybody has an opinion. All opinions are all viewed as equal in this forum. We respect others.

So what do you think? (For more in depth discussion – go to FutureTrust)

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19 thoughts on “Love – what do you think it is?

  1. Comment received by email –

    Real love is something you can not feel with you hands
    you can not feel it on you body but is in the soul when you feel good about something and smile you now it is love

  2. from LinkedIn

    Love was more a sensing and a commitment based on that sensing. Now it is more sensation and look how long that lasts….
    Now 43 years married – and would make the same decision all over again – I’m with Don Francisco’s statement … when Love is “just” reliant on a feeling it won’t last.
    By John Moffat

  3. Dear Anton,
    Topics of this nature are always involved and a bit problematic if left too wide open. As it is, you’ve began with discussing “interpersonal love” and certain aspects that define it (as per Helen Fisher), except that right from the onset, those aspects (lust, attraction and attachment)define “interpersonal love” in a very narrow view that focuses purely and precisely on two or more people who are otherwise, until that point, strangers to one another – for lack of a clearer definition.

    Yet “interpersonal love” permeates a wide range of environments and situations such as for example, that which is experienced within families and other such social groupings at different levels of the community hierarchies.

    I’d argue for example that “love” for my mother, father, sister or brother (which I’d insist fall under the broad category of “interpersonal love”)is real love in its purest sense but barely involves lust and yet certainly prescribes both attraction and attachment as a condition as well as outcome.

    I’d further argue that the biblical example you offered above is more relevant and highly applicable in this particular case than in any other form or kind of “interpersonal love” partly because of the nature and extent of expectations among those involved. Expectations of one another among family members are consistent, intense yet fairly low key, whereas among strangers (again, for lack of a better description, the dynamics are different and often expectations are exaggerated.

    This level of “interpersonal love” is, I’d offer, also the basis of the next level you are apparently discussing and as such is not separate from it. Indeed, it lays the ground for and becomes the entry point to the level that involves “lust” – an indicator of both physical and mental levels of mature human development.

    My penny’s worth.

  4. In my opinion, there are two important types of energy at play in our world. 1) Life enhancing, or 2) life depleting. The polar energies of life and death, growth or depletion… love and hate.

    Love is life giving energy. Any level of energy from one person to another that allows them to grow and flourish is a form or degree of love. If you care for someone, want the best for them, want them to grow and develop… in my opinion these are all degrees of love.

    It’s easy to confuse lust, jealousy, passion, intensity for another person with love. In my view, these emotions can be more about wanting things for ourselves than for the object of our ‘love.’

    Leaders and managers who want the very best for their teams as well as themselves are acting from a place of love. If they’re primarily concerned with their own ends, without regard for their team, than they are moving towards love’s opposite – a form of hate, or certainly disregard.

  5. What is love?
    Love is a meta-word.
    So, what’s a meta-word? A meta-word is a word that can be defined only by other words and how these words are defined dictate the meaning of the meta-word.
    Let’s look at some words that could be used to illustrate the feeling of love between a man and a woman. For instance: affection, companionship, trust, understanding, honesty and loyalty. Now, how each of these words are defined by the two individuals involved in the relationship will define the word love for each of them. All is well if their definitions of these words are close. That is, if they have come to an agreement on the meaning of words like affection, companionship, and loyalty.
    And what happens if they don’t agree?
    Well, that’s when problems develop.
    For example. A man wants to go out Saturday nights with the boys. The woman complains, saying he’s never home. The man says that he’s home all week with her and that is enough for him to show his commitment to their relationship. She, on the other hand, feels that he should be with her more often.
    Who is right?
    They both are. Here’s why.
    They have not come to an agreement on how each of them defines the word companionship. The woman complains that if he loved her, he would not go out on Saturday nights without her. The man says he does love her. She says he doesn’t. By defining the word companionship differently, they each have a slightly different definition of the word love. For their relationship to improve, they must come to an agreement on the definition of companionship.
    This is how a relationship develops. Through communication and agreement – or through consensus. And as a relationship develops, even the definitions change because a relationship does not stand still. If it does, it dies. For it to live, for it to grow, it must be ever changing, ever growing, ever becoming because the human beings that make up the relationship are constantly changing.

  6. I think love is a state of deep connection with the divine being inside each of us, which becomes even greater when shared with someone else. This state can be experienced in diverse contexts, including the workplace. In my opinion, there is a clear distiction between experiencing love, and being in love with someone, where the former relates to the soul and the latter relates to an emotion, which can then be divided into lust, attraction and attachment.

  7. Very interesting question, and yes, I think there are just as many answers to this question as there are people who think they know what love is.
    So here is my little definition – Love is when someone else’s needs come before yours.

  8. What is LOVE is a very very wide topic.It can be discussed only face-to-face with people.if possible all the members of International Business we can have a meeting based on this Topic.it can be at my place.
    I am a Textile and Chemical Technologist.As Helen Fischer rightly says about Love as Lust, attraction and attachment.
    Lust is sexual love
    attraction is outward love
    attachment is real love which is a lasting one
    Being a chemical graduate love described in terms of chemicals when a person falls in love certain chemicals as dopamine, norepineephrine etc are released. The extent to which these chemicals are released depends on the type of love yu have for an individual.
    In International Business Love means yu make a front person fall in love to extract business.
    But one thing is for sure if you have lots of love giving ability then you will definitely lead a good life , be happy, have more friends, more relations, more attachments etc.
    It means you should not expect anything in return if you love a person.

  9. From LinkedIn Group – Self-Actualization – Actualizing Your Best and Highest Self.

    Very interesting question, and yes, I think there are just as many answers to this question as there are people who think they know what love is.
    So here is my little definition – Love is when someone else’s needs come before yours.
    By Chuck DesJardins, Ph.D. President The Center for Self-Actualization Studies and Director of Operations Michigan Business Health Assessment Corp

    From LinkedIn Group – StrateXecution – Strategy Execution with Project, Program and Portfolio Management

    Kartic Srinivasan
    A chemical reaction in our body due to overwhelming emotion about someone or something. Can be temporary or permanent…we will never know!

    Carol Long CEng FBCS CITP, MCQI CQP, MAPM
    Interesting conversation a few months ago: Tom Gilb talking about measuring requirements asked a group if there was something we believed couldn’t be measured. Predictably, we said love. Tom then described a conversation he had at a conference (I’ve forgotten who – sorry) and they realised there is a well defined and widely accepted definition for love that could be measurable:
    “Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride;” (Bible, New Testament, First Letter to Corinthians)
    Leaving aside any religious significance, this seems like a fair description of something long lasting, a commitment with caring action. Love by these measures is not the same as temporary infatuation or lust.

    From LinkedIn Group – DIRECT SOURCE NETWORK

    Owais Ahmed Assistant Manager – Finance
    L oss
    O f
    V aluable
    E nergy

    Dilep Misra Sr. VP & Head HR at Reliance Supplychain Solutions Ltd
    L=Land of Joy
    O=Ocean of Happiness
    V= Vally of Peace
    E= End of all misery

    From LinkedIn Group – Marketing Tips – Authors, Marketers, Vendors and Entrepreneurs

    Barbara Hart Author of self help books for the abused, love, friendship, Hope for a brighter tommorrow
    Love is like a Pot of Gold hard to find and, very hard to hold.
    Love is something that will cause you to have grey hair, heart-ache and a gigantic head ache, if it isn’t sincere.

    From LinkedIn Group – Smart Leaders – Leadership Education And Development for Leaders Executives And Directors

    Mohan Dharmarajan
    Being is a cycle. That we come from nature and go back to nature. While you are born, nature gave you an energy that starts, runs, drives and ends life.
    Love is a part of that inner energy or power that brings into being life.
    It has no begining and end. It hath no colour, form, odour, taste or visibility. It is present and can only be realised.
    It cannot be explained or its meaning cannot be identified, quantified or written, since it is all pervasive.

    From LinkedIn Group – CIO Forum

    Rares Popescu IT Manager / CIO at Scandia Romana
    Some special energy coming from inside, chemistry and brain lightnings which flows in between human relationships.
    We feel it deeply and strong, it makes us evolve and go beyond limits.
    Without it everything is pointless.

    From LinkedIn Group – Innovative Leadership & Change Management Expert Innovators Network

    Miles Kierson Exec. Coaching & Team Alignment, Sustainable Performance Improvement, Leadership Development
    First, I’m perplexed, Anton, as to what this topic has to do with Innovative Leadership & Change Management. I’m not asking what love has to do with it (sorry, Tina Turner), I’m asking what love as defined by the experts you are using has to do with anything here.
    What those people are talking about is not love, but lust, attraction, and attachment, which is the opposite of love. Love is divine, not worldly. Love emanates from a place of unity, not separation. If you lust, it is you wanting something from somebody else; if you are attracted, it is the same thing. If you are attached, you want to imprison yourself and the subject of your attachment. There are all acts of ego: there is a me and there is a you and I want you, I need you, I want you for my own. Love is more of, there is an Us and ain’t it grand?
    Notice I am not defining it, because definition is of the mind and love is not. So even the question, as you asked it, is guaranteed not to get you the answer, because you are asking what people think love is, which isn’t what love is. You can’t think yourself to love.
    This kind of love that I am talking about has a lot to do with Innovative Leadership & Change Management, but I’m going to leave that to others to jump in and address.

    From LinkedIn Group – International Business

    vijaya shanbhag
    LOVE is a very very wide Topic and one needs to discuss it face to face. We can arrange a meeting of all participants in say my place to discuss. As Helen Fischer rightly says Love of 3 types Lust, attraction and attachment
    Lust is sexual Love
    Attraction is outwardly Love
    Attachment is True Love
    I am a Textile and Chemical Technologist, Consultant , in chemical terms as a person falls in Love certain chemicals in our brain get released as Dopamine, Norepinenephrine etc etc.The extent to which these chemicals are released depends on the type of love.
    In International Business Love means to make a front person fall in love to extract business.
    One thing is for sure if a person has lot of love giving ability then definitely love- giving ability then yu will lead a good happy life, more friends , more relations , more attachments etc etc.
    One must remember tht if you love someone yu should not expect anything in return.

    From LinkedIn Group – How to Self Publish A Book

    Raven Afrika Masterson
    Nice work, nice topic!
    Love is all there is, with out Love, we have nothing, can be nothing, and are nothing!

  10. Heard a good one this morning: Love is blind – marriage the eye-opener. So, want to extend the lust phase – DO NOT GET MARRIED.

  11. Trying to define love through a discussion is futile.
    The tool to address the subject is too limited!
    But putting time and discussing something makes us think is important!
    “The opposite of love is fear but something that evolves everything cant have opposites” ACIM
    If you try to find love though logic, thinking and definitions good luck!

  12. In “The Road Less Travelled,” M. Scott Peck defines love as “…the willingness to extend oneself to nurture one’s own or another’s spiritual well-being.” It applies to all forms of love, not just romantic love, and it’s the only objective definition I’ve ever seen, and the only one that seems to hold true in any context.

  13. In my opinion, love just is. It asks for nothing in return, but love is its own reward. We do things or help another because we love them (whether as a friend, partner or as a fellow human being). We have much to learn about unconditional love – to give without expecting in return. When we do something for another and we feel good about it, that is all we need.

    Love comes in many forms and guises, but unconditional love is all there is. It’s the love of a parent for a child, the love of a child for his/her parent or for a pet, and the love of a pet for its owner. I feel waves of love from my cat – and she asks for nothing in return – all she wants is to simply be with me and give me her love. How lucky am I, that I’ve had this love now for over 18 years (she’s an old cat now).

    I’ve been blessed with the love of my parents, now departed, and I’m blessed with the love of my husband, who lets me be and express myself (no matter how wacky I can be at times). To me, this is love – the love that supports me and makes me feel safe; the love that asks for nothing in return.

    In my view, romantic love comes a poor last in the equation – thought it’s exciting it has a short shelf life.

    Love to all 🙂

  14. From LinkedIn Group – Marketing Tips – Authors, Marketers, Vendors and Entrepreneurs

    Love is…

    Love is not a look or
    Something felt at first sight.
    Love is not a kiss
    Or a hug so tight.
    Love is not a word
    Romancing the moon
    Or something absurd.
    Love is a series of
    Memories shared
    Someone to do for
    Someone that cares.
    Love is the compatibility
    Of two through
    the good and the bad.
    Someone to laugh with and
    Someone that wipes
    The tears when you are sad

    Love is
    time
    to
    show
    the
    way.
    The actions
    done
    mean
    more
    than
    you
    say.
    Love is
    your
    presence
    day to day.
    ©Yolanda
    Check out my blog site ” Poetry for the Soul” http://victorypublishing.blogspot.com
    http://www.victoryp.com
    Posted by Yolanda Pacheco Garcia

    From LinkedIn Group – The Linked CXO / President, CEO, COO, CIO, CTO, MD, VP, Director ‘s

    In “The Road Less Traveled,” M. Scott Peck defines love as “…the willingness to extend oneself to nurture one’s own or another’s spiritual well-being.” It applies to all forms of love, not just romantic love, and it’s the only objective definition I’ve ever seen, and the only one that seems to hold true in any context.
    Posted by Tim Johnson

  15. Pingback: Management – Do you need Love, Care and Trust? « Anton van den Berg – Blog

  16. From LinkedIn Group – Innovative Leadership & Change Management Expert Innovators Network

    “Men are governed by their emotions rather than their intelligence”
    “Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing.”
    By Ziona Etzion Intuitive people connector, community builder/moderator, PA (to someone who knows who is da boss)

    The notion that business should be governed by love is interesting but counter-intuitive. Love is a feeling, so a more general question is whether a business can/should be governed by emotion?
    At core of any business/organization is some kind of bureaucratic structure. The purpose of the org. structure is to use logic to get things done. That is, to take feeling out the equation.
    So we can conclude that in emotion based organization, bureaucracy will not work well and performance will be poor.
    BTW, “men” are not fully governed by emotion. According to “three brain theory”, the cortex, the limbic system (emotional brain) are responsible for human action. In the fight of the three brains, the reptilian always wins (in the condition of danger)
    By Sergei Dovgodko Business Design

    The love I refer to is not an emotion and not a feel — it is a state of being. If it was a feeling (which it is typically referred to as because most people don’t have the faintest idea of what love is), I would whole-heartedly agree with what you said.
    Also, BTW, you won’t find love in the brain or in any “brain theory”.
    By Miles Kierson Exec. Coaching & Team Alignment, Sustainable Performance Improvement, Leadership Development

    From LinkedIn Group – Smart Leaders – Leadership Education And Development for Leaders Executives And Directors

    It is hard to explain love, you have to feel it and experience it. True love is unconditional.
    Tanveer Patel

    “In real love you want the other person’s good. In romantic love you want the other person.”- Margaret Anderson
    “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.”
    – Oscar Wilde
    Barbara Nowak-Rowe

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