Is Love an Emotion?

November 11, 2015

Is love an emotion? Let’s put aside loving your job or a piece of clothing in which the use of the word “love” is as a superlative. That still leaves romantic love and parental love: Are either of these emotions? I think not and here’s why-the time frame for emotions and love are radically different. Emotions sometime last as little as a few seconds, rarely more than an hour. Emotions come and go. If we recollect that we were mad for an hour or afraid for an hour close examination reveals that actually we felt that emotion a number of times within the hour, it wasn’t one continuous emotional episode.

In contrast, parental love is not momentary but endures for a lifetime. It is a commitment. Loving your children doesn’t mean that you might be afraid of the risks that they take, annoyed when they don’t show up for a meeting with you, sad when they are disappointed, and happy when they succeed.

While romantic love does not usually endure as long as parental love, sometimes it does, and even when it doesn’t, it’s not a momentary state but again a committed attachment during which many different emotions are felt. In parental love and romantic love, you care, you’re involved, and you’re more susceptible to experiencing a variety of emotions. And those emotions don’t endure, they come and go, lasting only seconds or at most minutes not a lifetime as is found in parental love and hoped for in romantic love.