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A Deep Dive Into Love

What is love really?

Love is one of the most complex and perplexing human emotions and human experiences. The definition of love and the experiences are different for each person.

But according to Helen Fisher, a renowned Biological Anthropologist, romantic love is not an emotion, but instead a drive. “It comes from the motor of the mind, the wanting part of the mind, the craving part of the mind. The kind of part of the mind when you’re reaching for that piece of chocolate, when you want to win that promotion at work. The motor of the brain. It’s a drive.”

There's more than one definition to love, of course. Here are a few more:

  • “The act of caring and giving to someone else. Having someone’s best interest and wellbeing as a priority in your life”

  • “An intense feeling of deep affection (for someone)”

  • “A mix of emotions, behaviours, and beliefs associated with strong feelings of affection, protectiveness, warmth, and respect for another person”

  • “The feelings associated with the physiological, biochemical reactions occurring in your brain in response to social bonds with another person”

Triangular Theory of Love

Proposed by Robert Sternberg in year 1985

Three components of love:

Intimacy: encompasses feelings of attachment, closeness, connectedness, and bondedness

Passion: encompasses drives connected to both limerence (romantic) and sexual attraction

Commitment: encompasses, in the short term, the decision to remain with another, and in the long term, the shared achievements and plans made with that other person

Types of love, according to the triangular theory:

Intimacy alone: liking love

Passion alone: infatuation love

Commitment alone: empty love

With intimacy and passion, you get romantic love

With intimacy and commitment, you get companionate love

With passion and commitment, you get fatuous love

With intimacy, passion and commitment, you get consummate love

(The most ideal type of love, when the spark just never dies. It’s hard to imagine yourself with someone else and you don’t feel complete if you’re not physically and emotionally with your partner.)


Infatuation: “an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone or something”

Fatuous: “silly and pointless”

Is love real?

We don’t exactly know if love is real or not because it is not an external and physical experience. But if you believe feelings like happiness and disgust are real, then love is too.

Neuroscientists also believe love is real, because the brain is hardwired in a way to make you feel that way -- in love.

Basic parts of loveBlend of chemicals in brainLustEstrogen and testosteroneAttractionAdrenaline, dopamine, and serotoninLong-term attachmentA set of hormones and brain chemicals—oxytocin and vasopressin

The four “happy hormones”

  • Serotonin

  • Dopamine

  • Oxytocin

  • Endorphins

All these are produced when a person falls in love as well.



Definitions: Oxford Languages

Researcher: Hailey


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