What Is Love?

I thought about including this in the previous post, but I feel that love being the most valuable experience we can ever have is more my own subjective opinion rather than what applies to everyone. Anyways, here it goes…

So what is love? I have thought about this a lot, but the concept of love seems to be just as elusive to me now as it was in the beginning. The Greeks had several words for all the various definitions of love, just to begin to describe its complexity. Personally, I believe it’s the strongest of all emotions, so strong that it defies logic. Even when we know we shouldn’t do something or that it doesn’t make sense, we will ignore our reasoning for love. It’s so strong it can even defy the ultimate instinct of all living beings—that of self-preservation, and we see it every time parents care for their kids, or when someone sacrifices for their partner. We all naturally crave it and pursue it on our own ways because whether we realize it or not, love colors and uplifts our lives long after everything else crumbles to dust. No matter if it is with your friends, your family, or your partner, I believe love is what makes life meaningful. On the other hand, life without love is like eating plain bread day after day without PB or J. It’s boring, and it gets tiring real fast.

Again, I cannot quantify or validate the meaning of love—all of these are merely my thoughts on this most elusive of subjects—but in my opinion, nothing quite compares to that heart-quickening sensation you feel when you see your beloved. Maybe that will change if I ever have kids, who knows. To end this post, I included a poem my best friend wrote about love, who does a far better job describing it than I ever will.

 

What is love?

Is it that 3rd grade crush you had to conceal?

Is it something that will appeal

To the masses? To the secret admirer

Who hides behind glasses?

Is it something you wear like a medal or medallion?

Is it a primal need like that of a stallion?

Or is it a pedal that fell from a flower?

Is it the exposure of weaknesses or the yearning for power?

Is it a wound so deep, it will never heal?

What is love? But furthermore is it real?

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Connection

I believe the final stage of connection, or love, is what brings fulfillment and meaning into our lives. The Greeks had several different definitions of “love”, and the kind I mean to talk about is storge-love. This kind of sacrificial love unconditionally accepts another’s flaws; it is the love that parents instinctually have for their children, and the kind that defines best friends. This love may turn romantic where both partners magnify each other’s experiences, bringing a new sense of trust and comfort to the relationship. Different people may desire different things—some seek power and influence while others value peace and quiet—but for all of us, it is the irreplaceable, loving relationships that color our lives and give it the most meaning. Consciously or not, we all realize this, and everyone naturally seeks to form these relationships with others.

However, we are often sidetracked on our path to form these connections as we sometimes receive the wrong messages. We are influenced by the cultures we grow up in, and media is a great example of this. When we read about a romance or watch it on-screen, our idealization of relationships and love are changed to reflect what we see. We are told that we should be dating, what our partner should look like, and how they should act. This all becomes the standard, the expectation. But when these things fail to meet our needs, we become confused and disillusioned.

I believe we all come across a time when we feel lonely and isolated from others. Everyone’s situation is different, but it is inevitable that this happens to each and every one of us. When we face this low point and how we deal with it defines who we are. Unfortunately, a prolonged lack of connection to others can sometimes lead people to harmful behaviors like addictions and depression (**to be expanded in later posts**). And when our friends start finding partners, we wonder why we are always alone or whether there is something wrong with us—if there’s something broken inside. Some people, when looking for that emotional connection, try to fill that empty space inside with the physical presence of another human being. Which can be nice, but in the end, it’s a poor substitute for what we truly desire: the unconditional love of another human being. I am not looking down on those who choose that; in fact, I think it is a misinterpreted instinctual reaction to when we are feeling down. I just don’t think physical intimacy without a mutual connection fulfills us as human beings.

As for how to reach that stage of connection…I am not quite sure as I’m still working that out for myself. All I can say is that for now, what I believe will make my life ultimately fulfilling is living life with wonderful relationships, and for that I need to be honest and empathetic with those I care about. My views may differ in the coming years, but that’s what I currently believe and will chase after.