The English word love can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts. Often, other languages use multiple words to express some of the different concepts which English relies mainly on love to encapsulate; one example is the plurality of Greek words for "love". Cultural differences in conceptualizing love thus make it doubly difficult to establish any universal definition. American psychologist Zick Rubin try to define love by the psychometrics. His work states that three factors consititute love: attachment, caring and intimacy.
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". As a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like), love 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 commonly contrasted with friendship, though other definitions of the word love may be applied to close friendships in certain contexts. When discussed in the abstract, love usually refers to interpersonal love, an experience felt by a person for another person. Love often involves caring for or identifying with a person or thing, including oneself (cf. narcissism).
John Major has his own idiosyncratic definition of love. According to this version, the best sort of relationship involves both pints (of beer) and sex; a suboptimal relationship has only beer or sex; but love is what is left in the relationship once beer and sex are removed.
In addition to crosscultural differences in understanding love, ideas about love have also changed greatly over time. Some historians date modern conceptions of romantic love to courtly Europe during or after the Middle Ages, though the prior existence of romantic attachments is attested by ancient love poetry. Because of the complex and abstract nature of love, discourse on love is commonly reduced to a thought-terminating cliché, and there are a number of common proverbs regarding love, from Virgil's "Love conquers all" to The Beatles' "All you need is love". Bertrand Russell describes love as a condition of "absolute value", as opposed to relative value. Theologian Thomas Jay Oord said that to love is to "act intentionally, in sympathetic response to others, to promote overall well-being".
In the Holy Bible1 Corinthians 13 Love is defined as:
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
A person can be said to love a country, principle, or goal if they value it greatly and are deeply committed to it. Similarly, compassionate outreach and volunteer workers' "love" of their cause may sometimes be borne not of interpersonal love, but impersonal love coupled with altruism and strong political convictions. People can also "love" material objects, animals, or activities if they invest themselves in bonding or otherwise identifying with that item. If sexual passion is also involved, this condition is called paraphilia.