It’s been said that one of the key ingredients to happiness is love. Sure, there are those who readily abandon love or reluctantly surrender to love for other means: fame, fortune, recognition or advancement. But ideally each of us, at some point and time in his or her life, surrenders and suffers to the turmoil of love. When we don’t have love, we desire it. When we have love, we desire more of it, or we want another kind of love, or to experience love with someone other than the partner we currently share love with. If the love we give is not returned, then we believe we are unworthy of love. And when we have love, and then lose it or let it go, we seek to reclaim it. Even those who claim to have never loved or lost loved, still believe in the idea of love. And they, too, hope to obtain it.
Many of us view love objectively: How much does he or she love me? How long will he or she be with me? How long will he or she care for me? How much do we really love one another? Rather than subjectively: How do I love him or her? Am I really being open and understanding to his or her relationship desires and expectations?
What do men and women think they mean when the use the word “love”? What ideas do they have about love? How do they define it? The word love has become like the smell of an old used storybook; once owned and circulated throughout the centuries; and yet filled with adventures longing to be discovered.
Although many of us believe in love, it’s rare that we can agree on what love is. Many of us become quite impaired when searching for the right words to define this simple but powerful word. We use language packed with adjectives like: first love and old love, tender love and sexual love, timeless love and endless love. The truth is that “love,” has never been nor will it ever be susceptible to a single well-defined meaning. Words are not stagnant; they don’t remain the same forever. They are constantly developing and changing. A word such as “love” signifies a vast, collection of past beliefs and experiences and the feelings one has built up around them. As a result most people define love according to their own biases.
“Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused,” wrote James Baldwin.
Maybe it isn’t really important that we all agree on a single definition of love. Maybe what’s important is to acknowledge that each of us has a definition that is real and vital to ourselves. How we choose to love is based upon our definition and ideals of love, and the same goes for that of our partner’s. We may not agree, or even accept, other ideals about love, nevertheless we must respect our partner’s definition of love if we expect our definition of love to be accepted and appreciated.
How do you define love? Let us know in the comments.
by: Collette Gee