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Love is any of a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection or profound oneness. Depending on context, love can have a wide variety of intended meanings. Romantic love is seen as a deep, ineffable feeling of intense and tender attraction shared in passionate or intimate attraction and intimate interpersonal and sexual relationships. Love can also be conceived of as Platonic love, religious love, familial love, and, more casually, great affection for anything considered strongly pleasurable, desirable, or preferred, including activities and foods. This diverse range of meanings in the singular word love is often contrasted with the plurality of Greek words for love, reflecting the concept's depth, versatility, and complexity.
The definition of love is the subject of considerable debate, enduring speculation and thoughtful introspection. Some tackle the difficulty of finding a universal definition for love by classifying it into types, such as passionate love, romantic love, and committed love. However, some of these types of love can be generalized into the category of sexual attraction. In ordinary use, 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). Dictionaries tend to define love as deep affection or fondness. In colloquial use, according to polled opinion, the most favored definitions of love involve altruism, selflessness, friendship, union, family, and bonding or connecting with another.
The different aspects of love can be roughly illustrated by comparing their corollaries and opposites. 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 mutual and "pure" form of romantic attachment, love is commonly contrasted with lust; and as an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is commonly contrasted with friendship, although other connotations of love may be applied to close friendships as well.
Agapē is one of several Greek words translated into English as love. The word has been used in different ways by a variety of contemporary and ancient sources, including Biblical authors. Many have thought that this word represents divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love. Greek philosophers at the time of Plato and other ancient authors used the term to denote love of a spouse or family, or affection for a particular activity, in contrast to philia — an affection that could denote either brotherhood or generally non-sexual affection, and eros, an affection of a sexual nature, usually between two unequal partners. The term agape is rarely used in ancient manuscripts, but was used by the early Christians to refer to the self-sacrificing love of God for humanity, which they were committed to reciprocating and practicing towards God and among one another.
Agape has been expounded on by many Christian writers in a specifically Christian context. Thomas Jay Oord has defined agape as "an intentional response to promote well-being when responding to that which has generated ill-being."