Love

Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment.  Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness,compassion, and affection; and the unselfish loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of another.  Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase,”God is Love” or Agape in the canonical gospels. Love may also be described as actions towards others (or oneself) based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.

In English, love refers to many different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from pleasure, “I loved that meal” to Love at first sight such as in “Romeo and Juliet”  Shakespeare’s most popular archetypal stories of young teenage lovers.

Then there is the love at first glance kind of love as described in the novel “Les Miserables”, by Victor Hugo,  between the characters Marius Pontmercy a student and Cosette falling in love after glancing into each others eyes for the first time and by the end of the novel married each other.

Then there’s interpersonal attraction I love my partner. “Love” may refer specifically to the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love, to the sexual love of a spouse, to the emotional closeness of family love or the platonic love that defines friendship. 

In romantic relationships, “falling in Love” is mainly a Western tradition. It is used to describe the process of moving from a feeling of neutrality towards a person to one of love. The use of the  term “fall” implies that the process is in some way inevitable, uncontrollable, risky, irreversible, or that it puts the lover in a state of vulnerability, in the same way the word “Fall” is used in the phase “To Fall Ill” or “To Fall Into A Trap.”  The term is generally used to describe an (eventual) love that is strong, although not necessarily permanent.  Before we fall in love, we can see the other person as a bare branch; as we fall, we coat him or her with jeweled attractions about 80 percent of our own making.

There are many contributing factors when we ask ourselves Who and why that person?  A few factors that contribute strongly to falling in love include proximity, similarity, reciprocity, and attractiveness. Similarity would seem especially important: some would even claim that when we fall in love we fall into narcissistic identification. 

 Psychology research has shown two basis for love at first sight. The first is that the attractiveness of a person can be very quickly determined, with the average time in one study being 0.13 second. The second is that the first few minutes of a relationship have shown to be predictive of the relationship’s future success, more so than what two people have in common or whether they like each other. Family therapists maintain that the reason we’re attracted to someone at this very deep level is that basically they are like us in a psychological sense. Others suggest that the very act of falling in love set in motion old patterns of how we love.

Love at first sight is a common trope in Western literature, in which a person, character, or speaker feels romantic attraction for a stranger.The name Romeo, in popular culture, has become nearly synonymous with “Lover.” Romeo and Juliet, does indeed experience a love of such purity and passion, that he kills himself when he believes that the object of his love, Juliet died.  The power of Romeo’s love however, often obscures a clear vision of Romeo’s character, which is far more complex. Even Romeo’s relation to love is not so simple. Mean while Juliet’s first meeting with Romeo propels her full-force toward adulthood. All of this started with a glance. I wonder how many of us “love” at first glance? I wonder…

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