Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. -Michael Leunig
If happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, then love is life’s greatest aspiration. There is no single emotion more powerful than love. To love and be loved is to have moments of perfection. I don’t know of anyone who does not wish to be in love. If you do not, the desire will probably return before long.
And yet, love is very complicated. The emotion itself is not easy to define. I find myself constantly refining it as I go through life. In my younger years, it started out as passion. This feeling of “love at first sight.” As I grew older, love involved intimacy, which began to creep into my relationships. This, of course, led to romantic love, though for shorter periods of time. And, finally, in my late twenties, love seemed to carry with it a sense of commitment.
Given the number of times my definition of love has changed, I have to wonder if it’s going to change further. And, indeed it has, because researching this article on the Science of Love has taught me quite a bit. Drawing on the experience of thousands of relationships, dozens of psychologists, and hundreds of experiments, I have a much better idea of what love is, and how to achieve the epitome of love – consummate love. Having this type of love is rare and difficult. Through our research, we found that by reshaping our view of what intimacy really means, it becomes possible to enjoy consummate love. First, I’m going to better define what love is, according to psychologists and scientists.