Seems like this has to be on the list somewhere, but it's a word that's become so fuzzy from overuse and from being spread thickly over so many things that it's hard to work with in any precise way.

This one is tough, as the English word “love” covers everything from agape to eros to philia and so many different virtues have been swept under its name over the years.

One distinguishing thing about love is the prominence of emotion. You can imagine being dispassionately kind, considerate, respectful, etc. but being dispassionately loving seems more like a contradiction.

Prototypes of loving include that between parents and children, and that between lovers. (The book Character Strengths and Virtues pivoted from talking about the character strength of love to talking about research on “attachment” almost entirely, for example.)

Complementary virtues


Contrasting vices


Virtues possibly in tension


How to acquire or strengthen it


Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere

Inspirational quotes

  • “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” — Matthew 22:36-40
  • “Why love among the virtues is not known / Is, that love is them all contract in one.” — John Donne, To the Countess of Huntingdon