Thomas J. Scheff

Thomas Scheff Ph.D.

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What is This Thing Called Love?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Posted Jun 22, 2015

Source: Shutterstock

Poets, songwriters, and earnest lovers have been trying to explain romantic love for thousands of years. But scholars haven't quite begun to define it, or at least agree on a definition. The serious study of emotions is a relatively new field, compared to behavior, cognition, perception, etc. So we have no agreement on other emotions either, such as anger, fear, grief, and shame. It may be difficult to make much progress in research until we have some clear definitions. Modern societies, especially English-speaking ones, tend to ignore and disparage emotions, but that might be a serious mistake.

Robert Sternberg has suggested that love has three components: Commitment, Intimacy, and Passion (most love scholars would agree that sexual attraction is one element). But what about mutual understanding, admiration, concern and other possible elements?

Let us count the ways. Any suggestions? Or does it take away the magic?