What does love mean?

According to brain science, love is an involuntary drive similar to thirst. It becomes an addiction, a craving for a specific person, during the passionate early days. However, according to psychologist Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love, it does not become true love until all three legs of the triangle are present—passion, intimacy, and commitment.  Even then, it is an addiction, although you may not feel so obsessed.  The strongly addicted feelings come back if you lose your partner.

Although various forms of love can be built on two legs of the triangle, only love that contains all three components is considered consummate love, or the pinnacle of romantic love. While passion develops quickly, intimacy and commitment can only build with time. Therefore, a reasonable definition of long-term love in a partnership would be an addiction to a single person that is backed up by a history of shared experiences and a daily commitment to the hard work of staying together.

Of course, there is maternal love and brotherly love and freindship-based love, too.  They all use different brain systems.

Looking for verifiable information on the science of attraction and relationships? We’re a neuroscientist and a biological anthropologist eager to help you put the Anatomy of Love to work in your own life.