What is Love?

Introduction

Love is one of the most intense and powerful human experiences. At its best, it is what makes life most worth living. At its worst, it has started wars, ruined fortunes, and destroyed families.

People use the word 'love' to describe how they feel about a person, a friend, an animal, an object and their beliefs. Why? Can the same word that describes how parents feel for their children also describe how one feels about a painting? Do different forms of love exist or is there just one type?

These questions can leave one dissatisfied with how the word is defined, understood and used. Certainly, a word everyone utilizes almost daily and so widely needed investigation. But to do so is to tackle the same philosophical question that great minds have pondered for thousands of years...what is love? Philosophy brings us various theories of love, one being Plato's that love is born of need or lack, a desire to complete oneself. Aristotle believed that love is an intrinsic appreciation and concern that one feels for another. An ideal example of love is difficult to identify. Surely it cannot be the love one feels for a thing like a painting, because some people acquire objects they love and still search for a greater love. The same holds true for our bond with animals.

Ideal love cannot be identified with the institution of marriage, given how many marriages end in divorce and how much malice some people show towards their spouses. Nor can it be identified with the bond between parents and children. Consider how many children stop talking to their parents, and how many parents abandon or mistreat their children. An ideal example of love would have to show a prolonged, complex bond, which both people experience as satisfying. Can ideal love exist in reality-or only in fantasy?

This question gives us a crucial insight: we must see the difference between reality and fantasy with love if we are to attain ideal love. But how does one separate reality from fantasy when it comes to an experience as subjective as love?

First one must understand the word 'love' as it is used today, in all scenarios and contexts in order to explain how someone could say "I love my car" with the same conviction that another says "I love my dog" or "I love my spouse." We can find greater value in love if we develop a deeper understanding of the emotion; only then can we truly develop meaningful love relationships.

The theory behind OMADAMO, explained below, offers a clear explanation of what love is and how it develops. More importantly, it establishes a methodology of how we can all work at developing and maintaining better love relationships. Love, like anything worth having in our universe, is something we need to work at. Just like seeds that we plant, love can wither and die due to neglect, or they can be nurtured to blossom and flourish through nurture. Ideal love is something achieved.

What does it mean to achieve love? Aristotle tells us that some activities help us achieve something separate from ourselves. For example, if you build a table, you perform actions that lead to a separate product, the table itself. If you dance a tango, the tango is inseparable from the sequence of movements you perform. Love, therefore, is more like the tango than the table.

"For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."

Rainer Maria Rilke (Poet)