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Love

Passionate And Companionate Love, Prototypes Of Love, Triangular Theory Of Love, Attachment Theory And The Evolution Of LoveConclusion


Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,—and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1–2, Gideon Bible).

This widely quoted statement from the Christian Bible is not unique. More ink has been spilled about love than any other topic, except perhaps God. Speculation about the nature of love is very ancient; however, the scientific study of love only began in the twentieth century. Human love has been the primary focus, although love is not restricted to humans, as every pet owner knows. Harry Harlow (1974) demonstrated that mother love and nurturance is required for infant monkeys to develop normally. Infants deprived of mother contact became disturbed, unhappy adults, unfit for monkey society.

There are many kinds of love. The encompassing love of our parents begins our own life's journey of love, a journey that wends its way through love of parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, romantic partners, and eventually full circle to the encompassing love of our own children—and grandchildren. St. Paul was right—without love we are nothing!

The primary focus of this entry is romantic love. As Beverley Fehr (1995) noted, the emotions and feelings that underlie companionate love may be the foundation for all types of love. For example, parent-child and friendship love match this general concept of companionable love. Romantic, erotic love is a specialized love that may evolve out of a broader companionable love. But passionate, romantic love is very important to people, thus leading to strong interest by social scientists.


Love is fundamentally important to our humanity. Various expressions of love are important, including romantic, partnered love. No one theory captures all the nuances of love, but virtually all of the love theories help us to understand love better. Love may manifest somewhat differently across both cultures and ages, but overall, people are more similar than different.


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CLYDE HENDRICK

SUSAN S. HENDRICK

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaOther Marriage & Family Topics