The Emotion of Love Explained


I recently asked a close friend of mine who was in a new relationship, “Are you in love?” He gave me a look and said “What is love anyway? How are you supposed to know if you are in love?” These are two questions that many of us ask ourselves. Somehow we know what love is but we struggle to find a clear answer. Here is one take on love as a feeling that we found very eye opening... Brace yourself, it's a little different...

The Building Blocks of Love

The latest research on love has shown that feelings of love come when “people connect over a shared positive emotion” (Fredrickson, B.). In other words, the feeling comes when you are physically close to someone and you both experience the same positive feelings and are aware of it. In a way it’s a bonding moment where you and someone else (your spouse, child, parent, friend, neighbor, a stranger or more than one person), feel joy, gratitude, hope, amusement or another positive emotion — together.

In it’s most pure form, the feeling of love is simply a positive feeling that is shared with someone in close proximity to us.


There are three necessary conditions to allow feelings of love to happen:

  1. Safety: At that very moment you feel safe (if you feel threatened or in danger, you cannot feel love)
  2. Proximity: You are physically close or connected with the other person. The connection can be through eye contact, touch, conversation, etc.
  3. Presence: You slow down to really notice and be present in that moment (you cannot feel love if you are busy doing 100 things at a time)

So the feeling of love doesn’t last forever (remember: no feeling lasts forever). The feeling of love lasts just a moment. However, many moments of feeling love with someone can lead to a ‘love relationship’. This is a special bond that we have with our loved ones, whether our spouse, our children, family or friends. This bond develops over time.

NOTE: We humans deeply crave connection and feelings of love, so we often blindly chase certain relationships, instead of focusing on creating positive moments of connection. During this chase we may experience other feelings such as jealously, sadness or fear. These are not feelings of love, but they are feelings we can experience in relationships.

What Do the Body & Brain Do when Love is Felt?

When you are experiencing the feeling of love, your body and brain put you in a state of calm and connection.

Your brain produces Oxytocin, a hormone that calms down the part of your brain that is responsible for fear (the Amygdala). This leaves you feeling less stressed and more open to interacting with people - essentially you are more social. At the same time, your Vagus nerve, the nerve that connects your brain with many internal organs including your heart, soothes your heart rate. This also calms you down and leaves you more open to experience positive connections with others.

During the feeling of love, your senses are heightened so that you can pick up more information about the other person. This helps you to then intuitively know who to trust and who not to trust. Your facial muscles around your eyes sharpen so that you can see others better. Minuscule muscles in your ear are flexed so that you can better hear the persons voice.

Finally, our brains also replicate the feelings we witness in those that are close to us (close in proximity or in relationship). This means that our brains mirror feelings so that we feel the same emotion as the person we feel connected to. This is what you might call being on the same wavelength. This multiplies the feeling of the positive emotions.


Behaviors that Come From Feeling Love

All that is happening in our body makes us want to act in a certain way. It’s as if the body is suggesting how we should behave.

When we feel love we may have the urge to…

  • trust someone more,
  • become more loyal to them,
  • spend more time with them,
  • seek more contact (eye contact, physical affection, conversations, and time),
  • express our feelings of love through words “I love you”,
  • hug, kiss or show the other person that they are important to us through care and actions.

What is the Feeling of Love Telling Me?

Feeling love is telling us that we have connected and shared a positive feeling with someone else.

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Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity, Crown Publishing

Fredrickson, B. (2013). Love 2.0. Hudson Street Press.


1 Response


May 03, 2015

That kind of thnnikig shows you’re on top of your game

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