What can I say about love that hasn’t been said before? Nothing. And yet, love appears as an elusive imp.
I took the liberty of asking some friends, in various stages of relationships, how they would sum up love in one-two sentences. (Because I’m a nosy person who cannot keep myself out of my friends’ business, even when I want to stay out.) What did they say?
“Love is knowing that the absence of the beloved would crush your existence, be too great a loss of self to bear without much pain, and, also, love is choosing to endure through all things with humility, kindness, and patience in order to demonstrate the depths of that love.”
“Love is unselfish.”
“Love is the warmth you have in another’s presence when you and the other person knows each other’s flaws, but still have admiration and respect for the other and, ultimately, you feel at home with them.”
“Love is the greatest thing God ever created.”
“Love is putting up with someone even when they’re being an annoying twerp.”
In my own, personal experience, love is reaching out when you know someone needs it, hopping in a car at night to drive to someone’s apartment because that’s what they need, staying on the phone at night to listen to someone’s problems and ask the right questions. Love is being there, no matter the situation or your own personal feelings about whatever is going on or when you’re not feeling anything at all.
The dictionary definition is even simpler. Or, perhaps not. Because, while thorough, this definition still doesn’t seem to be able to scratch the surface of what it truly is to love.
loveləvnounnoun: love; plural noun: loves
- an intense feeling of deep affection.“babies fill parents with intense feelings of love”
- a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone.“it was love at first sight”
- a personified figure of love, often represented as Cupid.noun: Love
- a great interest and pleasure in something.“his love for football”
- affectionate greetings conveyed to someone on one’s behalf.
- a formula for ending an affectionate letter.“take care, lots of love, Judy”
- a person or thing that one loves.“she was the love of his life“
- BRITISH informala friendly form of address.“it’s all right, love”
- BRITISH informalused to express affectionate approval for someone.noun: a love“don’t fret, there’s a love”
- (in tennis, squash, and some other sports) a score of zero; nil.“love fifteen”verbverb: love; 3rd person present: loves; past tense: loved; past participle: loved; gerund or present participle: loving
- feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).“do you love me?”
- like very much; find pleasure in.“I’d love a cup of tea, thanks”
Perhaps it’s a good thing that we can’t understand or fully define love. Think of how boring it would be if we knew everything about it already! This way, with the mystery of space and time and the workings of the human mind melding into one emotion, we are able to enjoy the vast unknowing-ness and the discovery of understanding that comes from continual experiences.
But you know, not everybody wants to experience love because loving someone means making yourself vulnerable to pain. It’s easy to become jaded because that one person did that bad thing that broke your heart and returned your love with malice. Scars replace flowers in the soul. Love can seem like an illusion, a myth that only the blind and dumb would want to believe in. But is that truly a life worth living?
Is it truly a good life if you don’t have people to trust, to have complete faith in? To depend on someone? Betrayal, lies, the destruction of fantasies, the imposition of reality, those all come against us throughout life, no matter how hard we try. Is that any reason to stop the pursuit of love?
Parents are humans. Siblings don’t always stand up for you. A lover might find love elsewhere. A partner might betray trust. But isn’t the experience of love better than living without it?
In this instance, I would agree wholeheartedly with Shakespeare: it is better to have loved once than not at all.