What is Love??

I’ve been dating this guy for about a month and last week, he told me that he loved me.
Now, I know that it’s a great thing to be loved, and maybe I should have been thrilled, but my first response was “why?”

I mean, I know I have a sparkling personality, but seriously, what have I done to make you fall in LOVE in one month’s time??

Now, maybe this is just my cynicism talking, but I don’t believe true love can reveal itself that quickly. Infatuation, yes…Lust, definitely. But not real love. This got me to thinking about the nature of love, and the different ways that people view it. When I asked him, his response was something like: Think of a glass full of water (or whatever). My love for you is on the surface, it hasn’t gone too deep yet, hasn’t made it all the way to the bottom, but it’s still love”. Now, if that made sense to anyone, raise your hand. :dubious:

I guess for me, real love is not a “surface” thing. For me, it’s an all or nothing situation. I can’t love somebody a “little bit”. That doesn’t compute for me.

I have an ex “friend” who once told me that he didn’t want to ask questions or find out too much about me because he didn’t want to fall in love with me. When I pointed out that he had made it pretty clear that he didn’t really care about anyone but himself and would probably not care if he ever saw me again, he said “yeah, but I could still love you and not care about you”. :rolleyes: WHAT???

So, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m in the minority here. Does everyone else have such a blasé view of love that they just fall in and out of it at the drop of a hat? Is basic caring not a prerequisite for love anymore?? :confused:

I’ve also given some thought to the fact that I may not even recognize real love if it hit me in the face. I’ve been in so many crappy relationships, that I don’t think my heart is even open anymore. Hell, I could be in love right now, and I don’t even think I’d know it. I don’t want to be that way, but I think it’s a subconscious thing. Defense mechanism, I guess.

What do you define as real love? How do you know when you ARE in love? How long does it take to fall in love? Is love at first sight real?

I know that a lot of people will say that love has no timetable and that you really can’t say how long it will take, but this one month thing has gotten me kind of confused.

Any anecdotes or opinions are welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Love = phenylethylamine

I don’t really believe the spiritual description of love, to me its just another emotion caused by tangible neurons and neurochemicals interacting. All emotions are, and its just as tangible as electrons jumping across transistors (I hope that is how transistors work I just don’t care enough to look it up at the moment).

I have been high on DXM and felt insanely strong unconditional love for my enemies while high. Point being, it was pure love but it was also just due to neurochemistry. I also got diarrhea and talked to jesus for an hour too.

Not even Haddaway could figure it out. I certainly can’t.

Ok I’ll bite. I’m a teacher at a small liberal arts college, I teach psychology 101, 202, stats, abnormal etc…etc… It is a wonderful job, extraordinarily exciting if you will. I’m 35 years young and married to the love of my life.

We met in Grad school. I was tired of women, tired of being dumpee, and the dumpor…I was ready and open for love because in my opinion I knew what the otherside of love looked like. To me the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.

Chew on that for a moment…indifference means completely devoid of feeling for an object or person. That would be the opposite of love right?

I knew I was in love with my wife, when we started dating, I could see past the epic sex, and intimate sunset picnics…I could actually see myself waking up to this person, this wonderful kindred spirit, every morning.

I was not fooled however, I knew this feeling - or something like it - before, I had been blinded by love if you will. But I persevered and gave her the respect she deserved as someone I was giving my heart to . She was open to my emotions and I to her, in equal parts. This in my opinion is love. We eventually got married.

My point is this: If you are afraid to ever open up, and let yourself be vulnerable to getting hurt, then you may not ever feel what it is like to be in love, and to be loved.

So let go a little but, unplug and let the dice fall as they may. Try not to diagnose your emotions and certainly do not let yourself become an unfeeling person. I see it all the time with students who fall in love. Be aware of your feelings but don’t be afraid of them.

Oh and Wesley, Love goes FAR beyond a chemical reaction between your synapse. Far beyond…

:raises hand: Your feller’s explanation makes perfect sense to me. I think the issue here isn’t that he’s got a cheap, superficial view of love, but that the two of you have different definitions of love, so you wind up talking past each other and can’t have a meaningful discussion on the subject.

You’re defining love solely as the life-long commitment sort of feelings, while he and I define love as a whole range of feelings that vary in substance and intensity. I love my husband, yes, but I also love my parents and other family, my pets, my friends, and fudge ripple ice cream. Do I feel the exact same way about my friends as I do about my husband? No, the feelings are of very different intensities and completely different natures, but they’re both love. And, you know, it’s not like after a few years I suddenly went from “eh, he’s nice and all, but…” to the way I feel about him now, just all overnight. Love is like a plant–it’s got to start from a tiny little seed and grow. The fact that it’s just a little seedling doesn’t mean it’s not a plant.

Alternatively, let’s go back to his glass of water explanation. You brush your finger across the surface of a glass of water, your finger gets wet, right? It’s just a little wet, not nearly so wet as if you’d stuck it all the way to the bottom. The finger is still wet, though, right? That’s what he’s saying–when you touch the surface of people (no comments from the peanut gallery, all right?) you love them a little bit, just like your finger is a little wet from brushing the surface of the water.

I like the glass of water analogy, but my feeling is that love is what’s beneath the surface. The surface is lust or attraction or interest. Love is what’s left when that burns off. It’s what you have after the hundredth fight over the same thing or after the two zillionth time you tell him to pick the #$&*^ wet towel up off the bathroom floor (or whatever his annoying habit is). It’s the look you exchange when you both see something and know the other person’s going to think that’s funny and you both burst out laughing. It’s knowing he’ll be there for you no matter what and that you want to be there for him through anything. It’s getting totally pissed at him and yet still wanting to be with him. Love is about having the best time with someone in the good times AND about wanting to work through the bad times with him (after cussing him out for the bad stuff he did! :smiley: ). When something good happens, he’s the first person you want to share the excitement with and when something bad happens, he’s the one whose shoulder you want to cry on. That’s how I see love.

Love is Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Ice Cream. Available through Baskin & Robbins only in the summer.

I like short term orgies.

The answer is out there, Citygirl852. It’s looking for you. And it will find you, if you want it to. Do you want to know what Love is? Love is everywhere. It is all around us. Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up to where we belong. All you need is love!
(Unfortunately, no one can be told what Love is. You have to experience it for yourself.)

[J. Geils Band]
Love Stinks.
[/J. Geils Band]

You raise a very good question, Citygirl. The only reason I know what real love is is because I had it, once. I had dated guys before my love (ML) and I had thought that I loved them, but it was until after 9 years with ML that I really knew what it meant. Sadly, we are no longer together, but what that love was seems even more clear in hindsight.

Basically, I would describe it as this, and I know it sounds cheesy and cliche, but I would have died for him. I would have done anything for him. I wanted to have his children, and that is saying a lot for me. His happiness made me happy. Another more tangible thing is that I would have moved away from my family for him. And that is saying A LOT. I am really really close to my family, and that I would move away to be with ML really proves to me that it was real. Oh, and the fact that 11 years after I met him, I am still in love with him, says a lot too.

From Matt Groening’s Life In Hell

[Satchmo]If you have to ask, you’ll never know.[/Satchmo]

This is exactly how I feel about it. The surface stuff to me is just infatuation.

Okay, I get that, but I’m talking about man/woman (or man/man, woman/woman, whatever/whatever) type love. No, I don’t think he “loves” me in the same way he loves ice cream, but I would also think that “relationship love” should be based on more than “ice cream love”
Thanks to everyone for their responses.
I’ll reply to more later when I’ve had time to think.

I think I have finally found the quintessential doper:

Boyfriend: “I love you.”

Citygirl852: “Cite?”

sniff That was beautiful.

The difficulty lies in the insufficiency of our language. We use the word “love” to mean the state referred to in the phrases “falling in love” and “being in love” and we also use the word “love” to mean the state referenced in the phrases “I love my grandmother” or “I love my twin sister”, and that’s a different thing.

It is certainly possible to love your boyfriend or husband the same (generally deep, lasting, unconditional, affectionate) way you love your grandma, but that’s not usually the topic at hand when one person in a newly-formed couple tells the other “I love you”. They’re usually referring to the first one (powerful, intoxicating, passionate, idealizing, perhaps idolizing).

And you need to distinguish between that and yet another experience/state, the somewhat less lofty condition of having the hots for someone. There’s a tendency of people to dump everything that smells even faintly of pertaining to pheromones and hormones and neurochemicals into this category, as some in this thread have already done. (Incidentally, that’s as reductionistic, and as useful, as attributing your political opinions and cultural tastes to neurochemicals. You, and you know who you are, may hereby consider yourselves to have been dissed. :stuck_out_tongue: Th-ppppt!)

The “falling in love” thing is definitely all wired up with the chemistry of mating, but it also involves cognitions, reactions to your appraisals of the other person and your appreciation of the other person’s character and personality. You do end up inclined to see the other person through the proverbial rose-colored glasses, but it begins with some assessments that cause you to decide to be open to that. The “getting the hots” thing, in contrast, does not by itself create much vulnerability (or serious passion), and indeed one can be quite conscious of not even liking another person while still finding them deliciously hot in a specifically sexual way.

My translation of what your boyfriend said is that he is falling (or has fallen) in love with you — that the emotional keys have been turned and he is open to you, vulnerable to caring deeply about you and about how things go with the two of you, and that he’s getting high on it all and fervently wants it to be mutual and to last and last and last. No, it isn’t the love-in-perpetuity thing of best friends and 30-year marriages and grandchildren, although that can sometimes be the outcome. No, it would not make sense to expect that kind of thing no more than you two have had time to know each other. And no, I would not derogate it for not being that by calling it “infatuation” or worse terms. Falling in love is one of the most delicious and thrilling experiences known to our species.

Baby, don’t hurt me…


Bah. if you’re going to be reductionist you need to go the whole damn way. I do not contest that our feelings may be a function of neuroreactions occuring in the brain, But Love is not this fleeting ecstasy you speak of. Love is strong, love is intense, love is painful, love is open, love is vulnerability, love is desire, love is most definitely not fleeting. Your phenylethylamine, substance L, cocktail L, whatever may be directly responsible for many of the intenser feelings of love, but it is most definitely NOT love. If anything reducable then Love is a complex state of (ultra)long term potentiations in the both positive and negative, chemical changes, neural rearrangement, neuron cell make up etc of the brain which make our eyes light up whenever we see our partner, makes their happiness essential to ours, makes us curl up in utter pain should their love for us ever dry up, makes us care, makes us feel. Love is unique. It is shaped by our thoughts, experiences and the people around us. Do I think Love could possibly be reduced to its chemical constituents, equilibrium constants and neurotransmitter receptors? Sure. Eventually. But Love is most definitely not simple. At this point in time it is indistinguishable from an emergent property, from magic. I respect your view, but you should in turn give Love respect. No matter how much we can reduce it. It is absolutely amazing and oh so very real. Being able to explain it means nothing.

Guys sometimes say that in hopes of getting lucky with the girl.

I like to sum it up in the cliched overused phrase “Love is never having to say you are sorry.”
If you can do something terrible to someone, and that person forgives you unconditionally, then, thats love!

I asked a similar question not too long ago but asked it in a different way. So not that this has been done before, but this thread might also give you some food for thought.

oops, I forgot to make my point!

Even if we understand it’s physical intricacies no matter how you slice it love is not easy attainable. It is shaped by experiences, people, thoughts, feelings, situations, values, convictions, morals, principles, and the list goes on and on. Things which are irreproducable. That, in my opinion gives it worth. not worth in the sense when people say love is worth the pain and misery, but worth in the sense that it IS an emotion which humans can experience and it should not be degraded because it has a physical basis.