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As an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is sometimes contrasted with friendship, although the word love is often applied to close friendships or platonic love.

Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.

The word "love" can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts.

Love has additional religious or spiritual meaning.

This diversity of uses and meanings combined with the complexity of the feelings involved makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.

For example, compassionate outreach and volunteer workers' "love" of their cause may sometimes be born not of interpersonal love but impersonal love, altruism, and strong spiritual or political convictions.

People can also "love" material objects, animals, or activities if they invest themselves in bonding or otherwise identifying with those things.

vulnerability and care theory of love), including oneself (cf. In addition to cross-cultural 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, although the prior existence of romantic attachments is attested by ancient love poetry.

Many other languages use multiple words to express some of the different concepts that in English are denoted as "love"; one example is the plurality of Greek words for "love" which includes agape and eros.

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 (antonyms of "love").

Love as a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like) is commonly contrasted with hate (or neutral apathy).