Love encompasses a variety of different emotional and mental states, typically strongly and positively experienced, ranging from the deepest interpersonal affection to the simplest pleasure.An example of this range of meanings is that the love of a mother differs from the love of a spouse differs from the love of food.Most commonly, love refers to a feeling of strong attraction and emotional attachment.Ancient Greek philosophers identified four forms of love: essentially, familial love (in Greek, storge), friendly love (philia), romantic love (eros), and divine love (agape).Modern authors have distinguished further varieties of love: infatuated love, self-love, and courtly love.Non-Western traditions have also distinguished variants or symbioses of these states.Love has additional religious or spiritual meaning.This diversity of uses and meanings combined with the complexity of the feelings involved makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.
The word "love" can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts.Many other languages use multiple words to express some of the different concepts that in English are denoted as "love"; one example is the plurality of Greek words for "love" which includes agape and eros.Although the nature or essence of love is a subject of frequent debate, different aspects of the word can be clarified by determining what isn't love (antonyms of "love").Love as a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like) is commonly contrasted with hate (or neutral apathy); as a less sexual and more emotionally intimate form of romantic attachment, love is commonly contrasted with lust; and as an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is sometimes contrasted with friendship, although the word love is often applied to close friendships.(Further possible ambiguities come with usages "girlfriend", "boyfriend", "just good friends").Abstractly discussed love usually refers to an experience one person feels for another.Love often involves caring for, or identifying with, a person or thing (cf.vulnerability and care theory of love), including oneself (cf. In addition to cross-cultural differences in understanding love, ideas about love have also changed greatly over time.Some historians date modern conceptions of romantic love to courtly Europe during or after the Middle Ages, although the prior existence of romantic attachments is attested by ancient love poetry.The complex and abstract nature of love often reduces discourse of love to a thought-terminating cliché.Several common proverbs regard love, from Virgil's "Love conquers all" to The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love". Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, defines love as "to will the good of another." People can be said to love an object, principle, or goal to which they are deeply committed and greatly value.