Love means fondness, affection and tender feelings. It is a warm and kind affective state between persons, especially of opposite sex. It is a process of interpersonal attraction. Mother’s affection toward the child and vice-versa, love towards one’s own country, or patriotism, relational attachment and sexual passions are also called love. It is considered to be a positive emotion. We express love through language, and gestures. From the intimate physical contact with the mother’s body, the child is able to understand her love and all other emotions through tactual sensation.
Loving involves attachment, i.e. “being close to”. Love also means possessiveness. Harlow (1959) studied attachment behaviour of baby- monkeys in experimental laboratory conditions. Infant monkeys were separated from their mothers at birth. There were two one-way-see- through glass rooms for experimental observation. These baby-monkeys were put with artificial mothers in these rooms where surrogate mothers were made of iron wires having wooden-heads and heating arrangements for warmth.
There were two wire-mothers in each room; one mother was covered with soft cloth; the other mother was left bare – the wire nets only. A feeding bottle with milk was inserted in the wire-mother’s breast part of the body.
In the other room, there were the same surrogate mother-monkeys, but of the two mothers the cloth mothers were fitted with the feeding bottle and the wire mother was left without the milk. There were four infant monkeys in each of these situations.
Harlow took two measures of attachment, i.e. the amount of time spent by the baby monkeys on each of the surrogate monkeys; and the reaction to a fear-inducing stimulus, it is found from the experiment that irrespective of the surrogate mother-monkeys’ breast feeding conditions, they were deeply attached to the one who was soft cloth mother.
The baby monkeys were frequently running to the cloth mother and clung to it closely when frightened. Most interesting was the scene that when the two mothers were kept side by side, the baby would typically suck milk from the wire-mother’s breast while holding tightly the cloth mother. From these experimental observations it is obvious that love and attachment emotions are different from the satisfaction of basic drives.
Love is also interpersonal attraction in case of human beings. Self-love, and love for others are the functions of the “libido”-the life energy- a hypothetical concept contributed by Freud. Loving means the ability to feel empathy (awareness and understanding of emotions and feelings of another person) for and loyalty to another person. Caring, attachment, belongingness, and intimacy are the components of love.