You've got a no-fail means of recognizing the really dependable people out there—a nifty inner gizmo Martha Beck calls a trust-o-meter. The problem: Over the years, it may have gotten a little out of whack and now need a little fine-tuning. (Or maybe a lot.)
I'm writing this in the African bush, where I've just watched five lions dismantling a dead buffalo, a hungry leopard stalking impala, and several baboons snitching part of my own breakfast when my back was turned. Out here, my safety depends on the knowledge, courage, and selflessness of just a few human beings. Some of these people I know well; others I've barely met. We are of various colors and creeds, sharing only a conflict-riddled ancestral history. Yet I feel safer at this moment than I once felt in my suburban American bedroom. It's not that I'm blind to life's fragility or the dangers around me. It's just that I possess a gift offered by many mistake-filled years: At my age, I have a pretty good idea what and whom to trust.
It's because I've learned to depend on a handy little inner mechanism—you've got one too. Call it a "trust-o-meter," a bit of hardware preinstalled on your hard drive the day you arrived, tiny and vulnerable, from the stork factory. Ever since, your trust-o-meter has been programmed up the wazoo, first by caregivers, then by you yourself. If your inner software is working well, your trust-o-meter is guiding you safely through life's many hazards. If it isn't, you smash into one disappointment or betrayal after another. The good news is that no matter how faulty your trust-o-meter, it's never too late to debug the system. Trust me on that.
Love is the emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. In religious context, love is not just a virtue, but the basis for all being ("God is love"), and the foundation for all divine law (Golden Rule).
The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure ("I loved that meal") to intense interpersonal attraction ("I love my wife"). "Love" can also refer specifically to the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love, to the sexual love of eros (cf. Greek words for love), to the emotional closeness of familial love, or to the platonic love that defines friendship, to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love.  This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.
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.