What is Love? Find Answers to this Eternal Question Here

Love has challenged thinkers since the beginning of time

Young couples on the road together
Cultura/JAG IMAGES/Riser/Getty Images

The challenge to define what love is has challenged and perplexed thinkers and lovers since the beginning of time. While the dictionary defines love as "strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship," others offer more profound and insightful ways of looking at it.

According to These Great Minds, Love Is...

"One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love."—Sophocles

"Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing."—Goethe

"Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness."—Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence."—Erich Fromm

"Where love is, no room is too small."—Talmud

Writers and Poets on What Is Love

“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.”—Pico Iyer

"Love liberates. It doesn't bind." — Maya Angelou

"We love because it's the only true adventure."—Nikki Giovanni

As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.—Pooh in A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh

"Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile."—Elizabeth Browning

"Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired." - Mark Twain

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.”—Ernest Hemingway

“In life, it’s not where you go; it’s who you travel with.”—Charles Schulz

"Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile."—Franklin P. Jones

"Attention is the most basic form of love; through it we bless and are blessed."—John Tarrant

"Love is like quicksilver in the hand. Leave the fingers open and it stays. Clutch it, and it darts away."—Dorothy Parker

"To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia."—H.L. Mencken

"Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it...It really is worth fighting for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more."—Erica Jong

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”—Mark Twain

"Sometimes love is stronger than a man's convictions."—Isaac Bashevis Singer

"Love stretches your heart and makes you big inside."—Margaret Walker

"Love has no awareness of merit or demerit; it has no scale... Love loves; this is its nature."—Howard Thurman

"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind."—in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream 

"To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven."—Karen Sunde

"Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other."—Rainer Maria Rilke

"Loves makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place."—Zora Neale Hurston

"True love is eternal, infinite, and always like itself. It is equal and pure, without violent demonstrations: It is seen with white hairs and is always young in the heart."—Honoré de Balzac

"Love is more than three words mumbled before bedtime. Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day."—Nicholas Sparks

"In the final analysis, love is the only reflection of man's worth."—Bill Wundram, Iowa Quad Cities Times

"Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up."—James Baldwin

Is Love Laughter? These Wits Say It's So

"Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania."—Dorothy Parker

"To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer. To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy then is to suffer. But suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you're getting this down."—Woody Allen

Actors and Composers on Love

"Maybe love is like luck. You have to go all the way to find it."—Robert Mitchum

"A love song is just a caress set to music."—Sigmund Romberg

"Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit."—Peter Ustinov

Was this page helpful?