For the 1960s band, see Love (band). The term is also used in tennis.
Love has many meanings in English. It can mean an intense feeling of affection, an emotion or emotional state. It can mean to act in a way which considers someone else`s needs as more important than your own. It can also be used to describe a feeling of attraction towards a person in a romantic and/or physical sense. This is sometimes called romantic love to distinguish it from affection between family members or friends or between human beings and their pets. Love is also a deep liking for something (anything). Special love is a special affection for someone or something, a feeling or emotion. Unhealthy love is the sharing or desire to share something which would not be good for you or the object of your desire.
Various different types of love exist. Dignity is a self love. Friendship is a simple love. Family can be a lifetime of love. You can love by helping your neighbour. Anything you share is love. You can share time, goals, problems, activities. You can love your children or parents. You can love for a lifetime, or you can show a little loving friendship for a moment.
Anytime you share with another, you are expressing love. That is the commonality. Opinions vary on how to define goodness or good love:
love between family members: parent's love of children, etc.
Some languages, such as ancient Greek, are better than the English at distinguishing between the different senses in which the word love is used. For example, ancient Greek has the words philia, eros, agape, and storge, meaning love between friends, romantic/sexual love, unconditional (possibly sacrificial, unreciprocated) love, and affection/familial love respectively. However, with Greek as with many other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words totally, and so we can find examples of agape being used with much the same meaning as eros. At the same time the ancient Greek text of the Bible has examples of the verbagapo being used with the same meaning as phileo. Hebrew contains the word 'ahavas' for 'affection' or 'favour' but most notable is the word 'khesed', which basically combines the meaning of 'affection' and 'compassion' and is sometimes rendered in English as 'loving-kindness'.
As a person develops their relationship with a loved one over time, the relative strengths of the elements tends to change. Generally love will start off strong in passion but weak in the other elements. However as time passes, the other elements may grow and passion may shrink — this depends upon the individual. So what starts as Infatuation or Empty love may well develop into one of the fuller types of love. Likewise when a person has known a loved one for a long time, passion may fade, changing love from Consummate to Companionate, or from Romantic love to Liking. Note that the feeling which Sternberg terms passion is similar to, if not the same as, that termed limerence by Dorothy Tennov. Sternberg states that a relationship based on a single element is less likely to survive than one based on two or more.
Christians believe that love to God and to other people (God's creation, as they see it) are the two most important things in life (the greatest commandment of God, according to Jesus Christ. See The Gospel of Mark chaper 12, verses 28-34 in the Bible). Saint Augustine summarised this when he wrote "Love God, and do as thou wilt".
Many Christian theologists see God as the source of love which is mirrored in humans and their relationships.
Different cultures have deified love, typically in both male and female form. Here is a list of the gods and goddesses of love in different mythologies.