There are many, many answers to this question.
Biologically, the first stage of love is tied to a release of serotonin, pheromones, and dopamine, creating amphetamine-like effects. This causes the symptoms usually associated with love, including lack of sleep, lack of appetite, and a general feeling of excitement. This wears off after one to three years. At this time the level of chemicals is reduced, and oxytocin levels increase. While the cause of love seems to be mostly social, people with differing immune systems tend to be attracted to each other.
Cultural definitions of love vary, but most can be put in the following categories:
Love of a partner or spouse
Love of one's family
Love of friends
Love of superiors
Love for one's god or gods
While English only has the term "love," other languages may have several terms, which may define each type of love, or varying levels of it. For example, in ancient Greek "eros" is infatuation and passion, while "agape" is pure romantic love.
Charitable love is a common category, but unlike the other concepts it is not universal.
In societies that have a system of arranged marriage romantic love is often seen as undesirable. For example, medieval marriages involving anyone of class were done for political and economic reasons; anything that got in the way was considered bad for the family. The people watching the first performances of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" would have felt sad for the parents, not their foolish children who died for their love.
Often these societies will offer alternatives. Medieval chivalry offered a chance for men and women in positions where they could not be together to have a distant relationship, while it was common for royalty to have mistresses, who they loved romantically, alongside wives, who would be used for official business and for continuing the family line.
In modern India, teenagers will gather in spots to watch each other at a distance, much like the chivalric system in Europe.
Posted 3506 day ago