Despite its colloquial origins, the phrase “love is a many-splendored thing” is a surprisingly accurate summary of current theoretical and empirical understandings of love. Although love has been loosely defined as an attitude toward another individual or set of individuals that motivates a person to think, feel, and behave in ways that foster greater connection and closeness, the challenge of defining love more precisely is that its nature, expression, and even outcomes appear to be anchored to the types of relationships and developmental stages in which it appears. Scholars achieve greater consensus when considering its importance, as love—in its various forms and contexts—is largely accepted as the most important of all human needs. Love’s status as a cultural universal perhaps explains why it has piqued ...

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