Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.
The word "love" can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts.
For example, compassionate outreach and volunteer workers' "love" of their cause may sometimes be born not of interpersonal love but impersonal love, altruism, and strong spiritual or political convictions.
People can also "love" material objects, animals, or activities if they invest themselves in bonding or otherwise identifying with those things.
Most commonly, love refers to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment.
Ancient Greek philosophers identified four forms of love: essentially, familial love (in Greek, storge), friendly love (philia), romantic love (eros), and divine love (agape).
The complex and abstract nature of love often reduces discourse of love to a thought-terminating cliché.
Several common proverbs regard love, from Virgil's "Love conquers all" to The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love". Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, defines love as "to will the good of another." People can be said to love an object, principle, or goal to which they are deeply committed and greatly value.
Non-Western traditions have also distinguished variants or symbioses of these states.
Many other languages use multiple words to express some of the different concepts that in English are denoted as "love"; one example is the plurality of Greek words for "love" which includes agape and eros.
Although the nature or essence of love is a subject of frequent debate, different aspects of the word can be clarified by determining what isn't love (antonyms of "love").
In recent years, the sciences of psychology, anthropology, neuroscience, and biology have added to the understanding the concept of love.
Helen Fisher, a leading expert in the topic of love, divides the experience of love into three partly overlapping stages: lust, attraction, and attachment.