What is Love?
What is love? Love is such a central part of life. We love family, we love partners, we love things, and historically people have talked about love for the divine. But what is love, really? There are so many complicated things under that one word; it seems to resist definition. One useful definition though is that ‘love’ is simply the name for ‘a good relationship.’ That is why we can love a person and love a TV show: in both cases, we are talking about a kind of relationship that is life-giving and inspiring, even transformative.
What is a good relationship, then? Aristotle said that truly caring for a person involves helping them grow into their best self: helping them find ‘good being’ or ‘good living’, which he called 'eudaimonia.' Love is helping another person, as they help you, flourish as much as possible within the ups and downs of life. So ‘love’ does not label a simple feeling. Love, or a good relationship, is complicated, so the feelings that make up love are diverse: there is initial infatuation, but then also joy, anxiety, hope, admiration, desire, anger, compassion… It is a lifelong journey to give and experience love—to enrich the relationships in our lives. Depth therapy is one good starting point for doing so.
Image: Portrait of a Family, 1922, Edith R. Wilson
Jack is a depth therapist and the founder of Archive. He has a doctorate in theology from Oxford University and a degree in neuroscience from Melbourne University. He is the co-author of The Imagination Machine (Harvard Business Press, 2022)