For centuries human beings have been obsessed with finding their better other half. Even now, the only real reason anyone goes to the gym is to maximize their chances of attracting a potential mate. Billions of dollars are spent on makeup, skincare products and magazines which outline effective dating tips. All this emphasis on how to love has blinded us to a more intriguing question-WHY do we love? Science and psychology seem to have no clue, but over the years Philosophy has had some interesting ideas.
“Love makes us whole again” was Plato’s theory. He claimed that once upon a time human beings consisted of two separate humans glued together, with two heads, 4 arms ,4 legs and so on. One day the humans angered the Gods, and Zeus punished them by splitting them into two, leaving them to suffer the agony of being incomplete until they are lucky enough to find their significant other.
Later on in the 18th century, Schopenhauer reasoned that love was a biological trick to lure us into having babies. Any species that wants to compete in the evolutionary tree has excel in reproduction. Therefore, it is not a coincidence, that humans, being the most successful species on Earth are also the only species that gain pleasure from sex (other than dolphins).
According to the Nobel Prize winning British philosopher, Bertrand Russel, love is an escape from our loneliness. It is the only thing that can quench our physical and psychological desires. He put forth the idea that humans are intimidated by the cold cruel world and hide in their protective shells to isolate themselves. However, love’s warmth and intimacy help us overcome this fear and allows us to escape our shells to live life to its fullest.
Some theories are not as pragmatic as the ones above. Siddartha Gautama who later became known as Buddha, believed that love is a misleading affliction. He proposed that the reason we love is to fulfill our base desires, and like all desires, it only leads to more suffering. Buddha’s teaching states that all attachments of this world are detrimental and need to be disposed of in order to reach nirvana, an enlightened state of clarity, wisdom and compassion.
Bear in mind all these are just theories, and there is not yet a definite answer. Maybe all of them are wrong, maybe all are correct. For now we can’t say. We can however provide you with more questions to ponder about. Does love actually make our lives more meaningful? Can we love only one person? Is love all we need? Do we even need it at all? And why do we put ourselves through love’s crazy emotional rollercoaster if there is no clear benefit to us?