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.

vulnerability and care theory of love), including oneself (cf. In addition to cross-cultural differences in understanding love, ideas about love have also changed greatly over time.

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Love as a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like) is commonly contrasted with hate (or neutral apathy); as a less sexual and more emotionally intimate form of romantic attachment, love is commonly contrasted with lust; and as an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is sometimes contrasted with friendship, although the word love is often applied to close friendships.

(Further possible ambiguities come with usages "girlfriend", "boyfriend", "just good friends").

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.

Modern authors have distinguished further varieties of love: infatuated love, self-love, and courtly love.

Non-Western traditions have also distinguished variants or symbioses of these states.These effects rarely last more than a few weeks or months.Attraction is the more individualized and romantic desire for a specific candidate for mating, which develops out of lust as commitment to an individual mate forms.Interpersonal love refers to love between human beings.It is a much more potent sentiment than a simple liking for a person.Abstractly discussed love usually refers to an experience one person feels for another.