What exactly is love?

What exactly is love? This question has been asked for thousands of years and remains unanswered.

Thousands of years ago, the ancient philosopher Socrates asked this question: What is love? and answered it with the words of Diotima, the teacher of love: “It is neither an immortal thing nor a thing that must perish, but is bound between the two. …… It is a great spirit, and just like all spirits, it is an intermediary between the gods and the mortals.”

Thousands of years later, contemporary philosopher Roland Barthes, in Ramblings of a Lover, is still saying, “I am really trying to figure out what love is all about.”

According to my understanding of love, it is a feeling of two people being in love and in love with each other, an urge for two people to become one. It is a sudden burst of passion. Once the passion wanes, it is futile to talk about love: love is either the embodiment of passion or nothing at all. When passionate love occurs, the loveliness of the beloved is so dramatically exaggerated that the same object is seen so differently, so differently, by the two who love and those who do not. It is for this reason that Proust repeatedly expresses the view that all those caught in the web of love love not the real object, but the fictional object of their own minds, their own feelings themselves.

Perhaps research has finally shown that the feeling of “love” is nothing but an illusion; but there are people who go through the mental process called “love”, and in whom the line between loving and unloving is as clear as black and white. In any case, “love” is a wonderful feeling, and it seems to me that it is beautiful no matter what kind of people it happens to (whether they are of the same sex or the opposite sex, old or young), and that it is a rare and therefore cherished and respectable human experience. Love itself is not sinful, although the people involved sometimes have to sacrifice it for other values, as the heroine of “A Dream on the Bridge” sacrificed it for family values. If a love affair happens, it happens, and not only should it not be blamed for any reason, but it is certainly beautiful from an aesthetic point of view.

The occurrence of love may be related to the quality of life. According to social historians, in pre-modern Europe, most marriages were contractual and based on economic conditions rather than on mutual sexual attraction. In the marriages of the poor, there was a means of organizing agricultural labor. The kind of life characterized by never-ending hard labor was unlikely to stir the passions of love.

The occurrence of love may also be related to the way people live. In ancient times, women were not easily accessible and therefore often inspired romantic love; in modern times, women are no longer unapproachable, and there is no need for a long period of courtship, so that people may not be able to “fall in love” in time to move from overnight love at first sight to a life of cohabitation. Some extreme practitioners go so far as to say, “In three days, we have become an old married couple.” In the post-modern open space, many men and women have created a poverty of love by overspending on sex, and they yearn to have real love. “This is a time when the hunger for love is extreme, and because of the lack of it, it is hungry.”

There are mixed feelings about passionate love. Those who admire it regard it as the most joyful and cherished of human experiences; but there are many opposing views, from all different angles. Malinowski, the famous anthropologist, says: Love is a passion, and this is the same for Malaysians and Europeans; it more or less destroys the mind and body; it leads to many dilemmas, causes many scandals, and even many tragedies; and it seldom illuminates the life, opens up the mind, and overflows the spirit with joy. Giddens, on the other hand, says: nowhere has passionate love been seen as a sufficiently necessary foundation for marriage; rather, in most cultures it has been seen as an irremediable detriment to marriage.

In terms of the relationship between love and marriage, the evolution of love has gone through these two stages: in ancient times, it had little to do with marriage and existed only between romantic lovers. In modern times, through the popularization of Hollywood-style love, it became an ideal to marry someone in love, but in practice, in marriage, passion eventually turns into tenderness and affection. Moreover, in many marriages, there is no passion at all, only tenderness, and in some cases, not even tenderness. Such marriages are no different from those of ancient times. While the ancients strictly distinguished between love and affection, today’s people are gradually uniting the two. Today’s love has therefore undergone a major transformation: in ancient times, love is passion, marriage is the tomb of love, is the obstacle to love, is the love and love is incompatible with the thing; in modern times, love in the initial burst, gradually transformed into affection; passion gradually transformed into tenderness, love and marriage to achieve a certain degree of combination, is no longer incompatible with the two poles.

One thought on “What exactly is love?

  1. I found solace in this article’s exploration of the human emotional experience. It’s beautifully written and resonates deeply.

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