What a cliche question to ask! I have been asking this question for a while. What exactly constitutes the notion of love? What exactly do we mean when we say “I love you”? Does love magically happen when a bunch of neurons firing its electricity in a certain deterministic pattern and in certain area of our brain? Or is it some sort of non-physical emotion and sensation flowing through over our mind that is inexplicable in scientific terms and we have absolutely no control of? Or is love just exhaustive only of sexual drive and attraction?
Brain science has unanimously dictates that when we feel something called love, there are certain chemical reaction in our brain which are universal across all human. But to equate the feeling of love to the brain activity is still far from being unanimously accepted. The reason is that it’s true that when someone tells that they feel being loved, his brain chemical reaction pops up, but brain scientist fails to explain or give concrete evidence of how that brain chemical reaction gives rise to the subjective experience of love. Then it seems the first option to explain love, love = brain chemical reaction, does not hold.
Is love something that is totally beyond our control and it is just something that is immaterial, non-physical and mysterious subjective experience? A lot of people may agree with this because we are all romantic at heart. As cliche as it goes, love always win. Since we are having no direct control over our feeling whatsoever, whatever we do in the name of love is justified. Love has the power to blur the ethical boundary, as some people claim. What is love and why is it so powerful that can triumph the very foundation of our morality? I have a friend, call him Tien. Tien has a girlfriend called Loan. Tien also has a very close friend called Minh. My friend, Tien, has been cheated by his girlfriend Loan. And the person Loan cheated my friend with is Minh, Tien’s best friend. I have asked my friend Tien that whether he is sad or outraged by the unethical act of Minh & Loan? My friend says no, it’s love and you just can accept the fact without having any concrete explanation for why it happens the way it does. Minh & Loan are totally not able to control their feeling and therefore they are not blameworthy.
That strikes me a lot because it seems to me that a person can subjectively feel the sensation of love but never be able to tell for sure whether his or her romantic partner experience exactly the same sort of feeling that he or she does. With that problem in mind, how can we ever be sure the other people love us the same way as we do? and how can we ever be sure that our romantic partner truthfully love us if we never be able to experience what they feel? The way that I define love may be different from the way my romantic partner defines love. It is something like language, how can we know we are speaking the same romantic language with each other?
Does love exist without sexual attraction? Is it possible if I say I love Jun Vu but I am not sexually aroused when I am with her? I mean, I just want to be with her, but not sexually. A lot of people say no, it is impossible. Love without sexual interaction is equal to friendship or soulmate. However, there are a lot of examples of people say they are in romantic relationship but they have stopped having sexual intercourse with each other for quite a long time. Does love still exist if one of the romantic partners finds his or her sexual attraction outside of their existing romantic relationship? Does love only exist in monogamous form? Is infidelity accepted in love? Is adultery a representation of the fact that love requires refreshment?
Is love just another way of dealing with our inevitable and blatant suffering? We suffered from loneliness, illness and existential crisis and love is just another social construct being neatly established for our human mutual benefits of having a partner in enduring the meaningless suffering?
I don’t know, honestly!