Is love a feeling or an emotion?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. If you try to answer it from the spiritual point of view, love is one of the strongest feelings you might have in your lifetime. But, at the same time, science gives us a clear picture how many different emotions involve when we fall in love. According to Jim Al-Khalili, a theoretical physicist and science writer: “Love is a powerful neurological condition like hunger or thirst, only more permanent. We talk about love being blind or unconditional, in the sense that we have no control over it. But then, that is not so surprising since love is basically chemistry. While lust is a temporary passionate sexual desire involving the increased release of chemicals such as testosterone and oestrogen, in true love, or attachment and bonding, the brain can release a whole set of chemicals: pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin. However, from an evolutionary perspective, love can be viewed as a survival tool – a mechanism we have evolved to promote long-term relationships, mutual defence and parental support of children and to promote feelings of safety and security.”

Biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher says that love is comprised of three key components, involving the different (but connected) brain systems:

  • Lust — driven by androgens and estrogens; the craving for sexual gratification
  • Attraction — driven by high dopamine and norepinephrine levels and low serotonin; romantic or passionate love, characterized by euphoria when things are going well and terrible mood swings when they’re not, focused attention, obsessive thinking, and intense craving for the individual
  • Attachment — driven by the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin; the sense of calm, peace, and stability one feels with a long-term partner

Love is messy, complex, sometimes incomprehensible, and difficult to manage. Love can make us happy, it can surprise us, and it can also cause sadness. When love happens, the best approach is to try your best to keep things simple and accept it all.

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