I agree with ScarletPeaches in that it is a verb and not a noun. I think that's why people have such a problem defining it because they try to associate with feelings. Feelings change, not only within ourselves, but from person to person. When a person says, "I know exactly how you feel," do they really? No. It's impossible to know exactly how someone feels. So, love as a feeling would vary so much between people that in the end, could it really still be considered "love"? If we say we love someone because of the butterflies and mushy stuff we feel, what is it when we wake up and have a bad day where those feelings aren't there? Do we still love that person? Not by the noun definition. I believe that's why so many people give up on a relationship. When that mushy feeling isn't there, they say they no longer love that person. The butterflies come and go when I'm with my wife. If I gave up on the relationship when I didn't feel all giddy inside, it would've been over a long time ago and thrown away a good relationship. But, there's no other person I'd rather be with because I want to love her and I've dedicated myself to loving her (a verb). If we love someone by the verb definition, it takes on a more realistic definition. We put action into it and not our ever-changing feelings.
This thread got me thinking and also had me diving within myself to see if I might possibly be a whole person on the inside. Not to mention as a child to be taken from my parents and placed within foster homes ...it gives a clear idea of unconditional love verses conditional in a family situation .
When I start to think about my marriage and if it sides more with unconditional verses conditional love and if the overall essence feels the same as it did when I was a child...to compare it to my definition of conditional verses unconditional.
I think and know we take delight it pleasing each other and the more I please my husband the more he wants to please me and sometimes things in life creep up that puts one or the other doing the trying to please part..this could be construed as conditional part of love. But is also a reaction that occurs in unconditional love.
It is the overall essence that surrounds us of feeling safe. That we are exactly where we are suppose to be. It is also the feeling that together you are going to create something wonderful...something not seen but felt. It is seeing the vulnerable,and the strength and the weakness and even the undesirable in someone and embracing all of it knowing that it mirrors our own comings and short comings.The person just fits. They make you feel that you have room to grow and be yourself.Not to mention that your sharing your thoughts and desires with someone and the sound of life is not an empty echo. This falls in the unconditional arena.
I can look back and shudder at someone who has broken my heart and eroded my trust and left me hurt ,cold,wounded,feelings of loneliness, where I had to pick myself up and survive. To wipe my tears from my heart so that I could see clearly.
Even though I might not like the person anymore who hurt me...I can still love them because I know what their vulnerable child heart encased in an adult body looks like. But I stay clear of them ...I can love them but not be in love with them..and I can do this from a distance.
Euphoric feelings are just chemicals released to make us feel in love...those chemicals fade...they don't entirely disappear they come and go within a relationship that swims in unconditional love.
So........I guess you could compare me to a broken vase that has been glued back together...I just hope some of the pieces have not been shattered beyond repair.
I guess its easier to know what love is by first knowing what the absence of love feels like.
Can we honestly be at a point in our life where we are whole..completely whole in and of ourselves? I think we can be happy with who we are because all our experiences define us...and we can stand tall and think we are molded just fine...but in the end we are all probably broken vases put back together in some way.
For me, some of the most compelling thoughts about love were penned by Martin Buber in "I-Thou". When one enters into a relationship with another person -- whether the life long devotion of partnership or by passing a stranger on the street -- love is when "I" loses itself, fully or partially, in "Thou".
I respond to the words in front of me. You posted a comment that any reasonable reader would interpret as drawing a parallel between Martin Buber and Ayn Rand. I found such a comparison far-fetched. Now you reply that, against all appearances, you were not making such a comparison. Okay.
In the context of this forum, I respect everyone's religious views, as I expect they will mine.
Well, I am a Sufi Muslim, and the ultimate goal is to love God. God is close to us, but humans are not close to God. There are selfish reasons, ego, etc. that are in the way. A Muslim saint long ago said that even Paradise and Hell were veils in the way of the Beloved (God), and she didn't care about them. Love is to get closeer to the object of one's love. There is a lot of Sufi poetry on this kind of thing, like the works of Rumi.
As a side thing, I heard that the heart has many neurons and can think; not just the brain thinks. Something like that.