Love is an adaptation that causes us to feel an attraction toward something that we recognize as self. It takes priority in decision making over logic, which is one of the reasons love can drive us crazy. However, it is advantageous to the group if logic is second to love because it ensures the safety of the entire group.
Logically, it might be best to be rid of a group member but love makes us want to keep them alive and around. To love and be loved is to stimulate that neural cluster and synapse it to the character of you and your loved ones. That connection releases a lot of pleasure and therefore causes a withdrawal when we don’t have it or if we lose it.
We are born into families and usually experience some love from our caretaker whom we can love in turn. Because we develop such early expectations of love, we never lose our desire for it. I know that love exists and I know that I want to be loved. Using empathy, I know that you are like me and want to be loved as well. Unfortunately, loving others often comes with a sense of vulnerability since you don’t know how someone will react to your love. That uncertainty triggers fear and we become afraid to love.
Our fear of loving others becomes habituated when we learn lessons like “Don’t talk to strangers” or we hear stories through the media of terrible things people do to each other. To defend ourselves from possible pain, we put on a front which is a character that is emotionally detached from yourself.
When we put on that front, we are no longer in the moment. We’ve been replaced by an emotionless character that keeps the person safe from the unknown aspects of others. Many strangers will not even look you in the eyes because of the emotional connection that comes with eye contact. “Don’t talk to strangers” soon becomes “Don’t look at anyone, just keep to yourself.”
The word “love” can refer to the whimsical feelings of a child to complex feelings of passion and so many things in between. We’ve heard love referenced in stories and we often think that if our versions of love don’t live up to the stories, then we haven’t found the real thing yet. It’s important to remember that the word “love” is a description of a feeling, not a definition of what you should feel. Any attraction you have toward another organism, object, or idea is love. Some things are loved more than others but it’s all still love.
When you communicate with others, look for the intention and find the love that they are trying to share. If someone is telling you about their favorite video game or about their PhD thesis, they are sharing that information with you out of love. They truly want to share with you, they are trying to share their love. People love what they know and talking about it allows them to share that love. It’s your choice whether you want to dismiss the information overload or simply mirror their love and feel it for yourself. Put out love and you’ll get love back, even in tiny doses.
We often think that love must be all-consuming but you have the ability to love anything that you find similarities with. You can love all humans because you are one, independent of their individual personalities. You can love all animals, including insects and invertebrates, because you are one. You can love all living organisms, including plants and bacteria, because you are one. You can love everything in the universe that is made up of matter and energy because you are too. We often say that our love is merely a reflection of god’s love; it’s time for us to own it. Our love comes from us and we can give it to everyone and everything.