Love | Character Strength | VIA Institute

Become Aware Of Your Strength

Understand what love is all about so you can begin recognizing it in yourself and others.
What is Love?

After millions of songs and greeting cards, love needs no introduction. That said, we want to be clear about how the term is used in the VIA Classification. Love as a character strength, rather than as an emotion, refers to the degree to which you value close relationships with people, and contribute to that closeness in a warm and genuine way. Where kindness can be a behavioral pattern applied in any relationship, love as a character strength really refers to the way you approach your closest and warmest relationships. Love is reciprocal, referring to both loving others and the willingness to accept love from others. There are four types of love, each with a biological and evolutionary base:

  • Attachment love: parent for child; child for parent
  • Compassionate/altruistic love: kindness
  • Companionate love: friendship
  • Romantic love: spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend
Which virtue is this strength?
Love is a strength within the virtue category of humanity, one of six virtues that subcategorize the 24 strengths. Humanity describes strengths that manifest in caring relationships with others. These strengths are interpersonal and are mostly relevant in one-on-one relationships. The other strengths in Humanity are kindness , love , and social intelligence .
What the Science Says

Research findings on the benefits of the strength of love found Love tends to facilitate tolerance, empathy, and forgiveness in relationships, which contribute to the health and longevity of those relationships. It is one of five strengths most associated with enhanced life satisfaction. The practice of loving-kindness meditation, in which you cultivate feelings of warmth for yourself and for others, has been shown to boost this strength in addition to a wealth of positive outcomes for the body and mind.

Explore Your Strength

Reflect on how you’ve used love in the past, in everyday life and during special or critical times.

Questions to Help You Understand Your Strength Better
  • Who are the people who matter most to you across each of the domains of your life (friends, family, partners, co-workers)? How do you express love in a healthy way with each group? How does your love express itself differently?
  • What are the ways in which you express love to others, and how is it received?
  • How well do you receive love? It is often easier to give than to receive, but good relationships are a two-way street. Do signs of love make you uncomfortable or afraid of what others may expect from you?
Examples of this Strength in Action

Wondering about times that you may be using this strength? Here are a few examples of love at work in the world.

  • Carving out some time each week to experience uninterrupted quality time in your closest relationship.
  • Going out of your way to offer support to co-workers when you see they are stressed or having a bad day. Give them the gift of supportive words and your honest concern.

Apply Your Strength

How can you make the most of love in your everyday life? In the moments that matter most? Here are some ideas.
  • Convey love at work by making an effort to understand who you're working with, finding out what is important to them and engaging with them on the topic regularly.
  • Engage in a favorite activity with a loved one (e.g., hiking, going to an amusement park, biking, walking in the park, swimming, camping, jogging).
  • Reflect on what it might look like to express more love to your community. Perhaps you already feel love for your neighborhood or city, but what might be one step forward to demonstrate that love by putting it into action?