Reflections on the Nature of Love

Written by on February 8, 2016 in Emotional Mastery, Quotations

Reflections on the Nature of Love

You may be surprised to learn there are roughly fifteen different kinds of love: Infatuation, romantic, passionate, companionate, unconditional, conditional, puppy, maternal, paternal, self-love, spiritual, soul mate, love of your country or patriotism, brotherly love, and tough love.

Oh, and as an extra bonus, let’s not overlook love of life itself!

Love is the most powerful emotion a human being can experience, and yet few are able to define or truly understand the nature of it.

But if you really think about it this shouldn’t be all that surprising considering how the word “love” has become a one-size-fits-all expression.

We feel different emotions for different situations and people and yet we use the same word (at times with the same level of emotion) to define a whole range of circumstances and relationships.

In fact, some say the meaning of the word has been devalued by the way it’s so commonly used to express feelings toward everything from each other to cars or to describe a passion for pleasure such as chocolate.

And yet, so obsessed are we with romance and commitment that if you search for information about the nature of love what you will find is a sea of narratives on romantic love, marriage, passion, and heartbreak.

One thing is clear, however, and that is that we will never stop the search for love or tire of trying to figure it all out.

Reflections on the Nature of Love

If my love of quotations has taught me anything it is this – there are very few experiences in life that are completely unique, that someone else hasn’t faced before.

From the butterflies of first love to the passion of romance to the heartache of a break-up, to unbridled joy in the eyes of a child, to the comfort of true friendship.

The Nature of Love - Love Has No Explanation

What love is depends on where you are in relation to it. Secure in it, it can feel as mundane and necessary as air – you exist within it, almost unnoticing. Deprived of it, it can feel like an obsession; all consuming, a physical pain. Love is the driver for all great stories: not just romantic love, but the love of a parent for a child, for family, for the country. It is the point before consummation of it that fascinates: what separates you from love, the obstacles that stand in its way. It is usually at those points that love is everything. ~Jojo Moyes

Falling in love is like jumping off a really tall building; your head tells you ‘Idiot you’re gonna die!’ but your heart tells you ‘Don’t worry you can fly!’ ~Author Unknown

Infatuation is when you think he’s as sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Connors. Love is when you realize that he’s as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger and nothing like Robert Redford – but you’ll take him anyway. ~Judith Viorst

The most important decision of your life, the one that will affect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself.  It directly influences the quality of your life and all of your relationships. Do not mistake loving yourself as being about feeding your ego. Only when you can truly love yourself are you fully prepared to love somebody else. ~Marquita Herald

The Nature of Love - Fathers

You can’t really understand the nature of family unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back. ~William D. Tammeuse

In my family we don’t hide crazy, we put it on the porch and give it a cocktail. ~ Author Unknown

I told my kids that we are no longer saying ‘shut up’ because it sounds mean and can hurt people’s feelings. So my kids are getting real creative with their use of words. My 9-year-old daughter was talking and talking, and my 6-year-old son couldn’t take it anymore and said ‘Silence you peasant!’~Andy Cisneros

The Nature of Love - Family

There are those who pass like ships in the night, who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight with never a backward glance of regret; folks we know briefly then quickly forget. Then there are friends who sail together, through quiet waters and stormy weather, helping each other through joy and through strife. And they are the kind who give meaning to life. ~Author Unknown

A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is. ~Jim Morrison

It came to me one day that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog that comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. I figure if I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and then maybe I will become as generous and loving as they are. ~Author Unknown

The Nature of Love

Not everything is supposed to become something beautiful and long-lasting. Sometimes people come into your life to show you what is right and what is wrong, to show you who you can be, to teach you to love yourself, to make you feel better for a little while, or to just be someone to walk with at night and spill your life to. Not everyone is going to stay forever, and we still have to keep on going and thank them for what they’ve given us. ~Author Unknown

Do you love your life? I mean really LOVE your life? The truth is in the best of times most of us are ‘content’ with life when things seem to be running relatively smoothly. But is that all that life is meant to be, coasting through the calm periods and tolerating the rough patches as best we can until we’re able to return to that place of relative hassle-free existence? Ultimately it’s up to each of us to define what ‘a life well lived’ means, but don’t wait until the end of your life to do it. Decide, and do it. No half measures. Dare to be true to yourself and accept the power you have to create a life you love! ~Marquita Herald

Love is overcoming obstacles, facing challenges fighting to be together, holding on and never letting go. It’s a short word, easy to spell, difficult to define and impossible to live without. ~Author Unknown

Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

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38 Reader Comments

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  1. Glad you enjoyed the post and I couldn’t agree more with you about the lessons we can learn from our beloved dogs. 🙂

  2. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and let me know you enjoyed the post Devin! I agree, I have some terrific people who follow ERL and sometimes we get some pretty good conversations going.

  3. Glad you enjoyed the post Roslyn, the dog quote definitely seems to be a favorite among readers. I agree with you about the importance of self-love, sadly for many that’s the toughest kind of love to embrace. Thanks for much for contributing to the conversation!

  4. The Morrison quote is a favorite of mine Beverley, I suppose because acceptance is a challenge for most of us at one time or another. Thanks so much for sharing – and by the way I loved your article!

  5. Thanks Sue – for sharing and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  6. Thanks for stopping by William and for letting me know you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  7. You’ve made a great point Dana about the way in which we each define love. I have to be honest, I love my dog more than most people I’ve known in my life, and many would consider that shocking … except of course if they happen to also be a dog lover. It’s up to each of us to define our values and priorities. Thanks so much for sharing, always value your thoughtful insights. 🙂

  8. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on love Donna, I always value your thoughtful insights.

  9. Oh wow! Beautiful
    I love 🙂
    A great post for inspiration. My favourite has to be the quote about the dog. Dogs are lovey creatures. We humans need to learn a lot from them.
    Thanks for sharing X

  10. Devin says:

    Your post put a smile on my face. I enjoyed reading the entire piece, and spent almost as much time reading the comments

    My favourite is the William D Tammeuse quote- You can’t really understand the nature of family unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.
    Devin recently posted…Positive Affirmations That Help You Almost ImmediatelyMy Profile

  11. Roslyn Tanner Evans says:

    You touched me with the quote about the dog and the many different types of love. Both are things we otice & experience yet sometimes slip right by. In preparation for not just Valentine’s Day, but the entire month of all things love, including heart awareness, we decide to post 2 love quotes daily on our page. An endless way of sayig how, who, what to love. Most of all, I fortunately learned the power in loving self. All else follows.

  12. Beautiful post as always Marquita! I believe our quest for love is inherent to the human journey. I’ve heard it said that “we are born of love” and that to me means the essence of our human beingness…is love. It is the stuff that poets, artists, writer and philosophers have pondered through out the ages. I really love so many of the quotes you shared and the one from Jim Morrison really spoke to me. As I get older, I realize that accepting someone for all they are…and all they are not…is truly an expressions of unconditional love. My post this week is on the heart and it’s interesting to see how litle we actually do know about this organ of feeling and love. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day weekend and thanks for the thought-provoking and poetic post!
    Beverley Golden recently posted…Hippie: Think Values Not LifestyleMy Profile

  13. Sue Kearney says:

    Beautiful collection of inspiration, as always. Thank you! I’ve pinned the image quote I loved the most (the last one) and I’m going to share this post with my tribe.

    Sue Kearney recently posted…What Monkey Business are you cooking up?My Profile

  14. A great post, and at an appropriate time of the year, so close to Valentine’s day.
    Back in medieval times, they had classes on “Courtly Love”. It is funny to see some of their perception of love compared to how we view it today.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  15. Dana says:

    Hi Marquita,

    This was such a poetic post 🙂

    I absolutely adore the quote about the dog. They love so unconditionally and want nothing in return. We have a lot to learn from them.

    I think it’s easy to confuse love for a whole host of things that really are anything but love.

    It took me a while until I understood that (at least for me) – love is letting others live their lives as they feel they need to. Saying good-bye if necessary and doing it with everyone’s best interests at heart.

    Love is romanticized so often. Nothing wrong with it, but it isn’t absolute.
    It’s expressed in many forms and it’s all good (as long as we aren’t harming or violating anyone).

    Beautiful post.
    Dana recently posted…Why Losing My Job Actually Saved My LifeMy Profile

  16. Hi Marquita,

    Indeed there are so many ways love exists. It can be a roller coaster ride, but that always ends. Being married for 20 years, I can only say that the absence of my husband, even for a day causes a longing for him. Just to know he is in the next room is a comfort.

    I realized he was “the one” when it was painful to go home without him before we were married. That to me is love…a bit unnoticed but powerful.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…How To Start A Blog On WordPress – And WhyMy Profile

  17. I understand what you mean Jeri since I too was married for many years before we divorced. Just looking at my own experience the biggest challenge seems to be finding a way to keep growing without growing in different directions. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  18. Thanks Dave, I know you’re just as big a fan of quotations as I am so I’m really glad you enjoyed the selection. I always try to find (or create) insightful reflections that get to the heart of life.

  19. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Rose, and I have to tell you I so admire how tight and supportive your family is! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and contribute to the conversation. 🙂

  20. Jeri says:

    One of the things I enjoyed about being married for almost sixteen years was how the love grew and changed over time. Granted it all came crashing down in the end, but many people I’ve met in the past year have only had relationships that have lasted one, two, or three years and they’re as old as me. I think some people don’t give love enough of a chance. Passionate love only lasts so long, but it can be fostered into other more lasting types of love.
    Jeri recently posted…#Publishing: Romance Books by the NumbersMy Profile

  21. Dave says:

    I am certainly a romantic at heart. Beneath it all, love is what inspires everything I do – every minute of every day. You have assembled a number of beautiful quotes, some that I have never heard before, but that really struck an emotional chord for me. Thank you, Marty!
    Dave recently posted…Last HopeMy Profile

  22. Best pre-Valentine’s post, Marquita. My sister and my brother both are the people who always let me be my insane self (and I let them) without any question, but lots of humor. That is a very special kind of love that really doesn’t get shared with anyone else, no matter how close a friend. Those two have known me forever and still like me. That’s love!

    Wonderful quotes–best of luck with the book!
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…Hawaii, Hiking – Part 4 – Kauai – the Napali Coast HikeMy Profile

  23. Welcome Mi and thank you for sharing your thoughts about love! Regarding your comment about selfish and selfless love, research generally refers to conditional and unconditional love, but I don’t want us to get too invested in labels. The point I wanted to make is that there is more to love than romance, which I think we all known even if the lines get a little blurring from time to time. 🙂

  24. Of course I agree with you Catarina about there being different kinds of love, which is why I published the book and this post. For the most part I think the overuse of the word has simply become a thoughtless habit … kind of like how some woman call others “sweetie”. That one makes me cringe every time. But being the romantic that I am, I’d like to say if there is an answer it’s not to beat ourselves up for the overuse, but rather to challenge ourselves to focus on being more thoughtful about how and when we express our love. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and contributing to the conversation!

  25. So glad you enjoyed the post Lenie, and that image and quote you mentioned are certainly among my favorites as well. Most of those I consider ‘family’ in my own world are not related by blood so that quote is especially meaningful to me as well. Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation. 🙂

  26. Couldn’t agree more with your Jeannette, and I think most people prefer that it not be defined because they love the notion of it being mysterious and unexplainable. Thanks for stopping by!

  27. Thanks Eric, for your good wishes and for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  28. I really think using the term “love” has become a habit and we just aren’t aware of how often we use it. Love was not a word used very often in my family, in fact my grandparents idea of love was a couple of dollar bills shoved in our hand and a pat on the head, so I must confess it really takes a lot for me to use that word. Maybe that’s a good thing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Phoenicia!

  29. I hear you and there is no question there is a lot of “magical” thinking involved when it comes to romantic love. Thanks for your good wishes and for contributing to the conversation Lea.

  30. I agree Sabrina, that is a real gem! Thanks for your good wishes and for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  31. Catarina says:

    There are different kinds of love. How you love your parents and siblings is different from how you love a partner.

    Honestly believe love is a word that is abused enormously. Calling a stranger love is one example. Or someone saying they love another person when they are in fact with him/her for money, or some other reason that has nothing to do with love.

    We all know what love is and unfortunately I doubt that most of us have the same definition.
    Catarina recently posted…What’s the future of government?My Profile

  32. lenie says:

    Marquita, I always love your quotes and your images and the image of the two little boys is the one I absolutely adore. How poignant. I also like the accompanying quote the best. In my case I have a family member who is a best friend and another best friend who is a “sister-friend”.
    Thanks for this terrific post.
    lenie recently posted…25 Salt Uses for Better Cooking, Easier CleanupMy Profile

  33. Mi Muba says:

    Hi Marquita
    Never knew before that love has that much types and there are still more depending upon the nature of relationship between the two persons. We most heard of selfish love and selfless love as well; I don’t know you would also call them types or not.
    One thing is pretty much clear without love a society can never survive and also if a lot of complications arise in every kind of love even then a society distracts from its right path. That is why we are watching a lot of chaos everywhere around the world.
    Many thanks for this lovely post on love.
    Have a great rest of the week
    Mi Muba recently posted…4 super cool tips for frugal homeschoolingMy Profile

  34. Erica says:

    I love the picture included of the baby holding onto the finger. I also never get tired of hearing the quote about love and dogs. There is much that has been written about love, and I believe, part of being human is trying to really understand love. I’m sure an inspiring book about love will do very well.
    Erica recently posted…8 Healthy, Sexy Benefits of MacaMy Profile

  35. Phoenicia says:

    You have noted some beautiful quotes in this article. My favourite being;

    A true friend is someone who let’s you have the total freedom to be yourself…………

    Love is overused these days. I have caught myself saying I love something when I truly do not, for example a favourite dish.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Humble pie – how often do you eat it?My Profile

  36. Lea Bullen says:

    Hi Marquita,

    I like the quote about love being like jumping off of a building. You know the potential to get hurt is high but you can’t help but do it anyway. Probably because you want something magical to happen.

    Best of luck with the book. I’m sure it’ll catch the eyes of many around this time of year.

    Lea Bullen recently posted…Make Life Easier with These 10 Simple TweaksMy Profile

  37. Jeannette Paladino says:

    Marquita — love is too mysterious to define. You know it, when you feel it. And love differs — my love for my husband was different for my love of my very best friends. I loved all you quotes. Good luck with your book.

  38. Great list of quotes on love, my favorite one is the one from Andy Cisneros. Kids say the darnedest things. It reminds me of conversations from my kids when they were little. Good luck with the book. It sounds great!