Now think about it. Don’t rush into anything. Because I want to know what love is.
Oh – is that a song?
Seriously, we all have different notions of what constitutes love. And I guess for the sake of clarity here I am talking about romantic love. Because I do know from experience that love between friends and love between family members can often take on an entirely different set of values, expectations and definitions.
So what is your sentence?
I took a poll and here are a few random responses:
“That indescribable feeling that you have found your soul-mate, your missing piece.”
Man, that is so poetic. Beautiful really and I’m getting all tingly just reading it. And I have no doubt that it’s true. For the first six months. Maybe only three when you’re my (advanced) age. We all relish that oogly-googly sensation that envelops us when we first fall. Some of us relish it so much we feel compelled to go look for it again as soon as it inevitably wears off. Because it always wears off (thus that word inevitable). Always. And when it comes to the long-term love sweepstakes, oogle and google don’t go very far. They are really more like an addiction that a true sentiment. As for soul-mates and missing pieces, well, my personal jury is out on that too. My friend C is my soul-mate and I love her to pieces. But we are not romantically inclined. And a missing piece implies that there was something inherently wrong with me that only another human being can fix. Don’t buy that either, thanks very much.
“Knowing that someone has your back just like you’ve got theirs.”
Okay yeah … but I have my son’s back and would willingly die for him any day of the week. I’m pretty sure he would kick the crap out of anyone who messed with me too. Yes, that’s love but it’s not just love. It’s friendship, it’s family, it’s human-being-hood. So it’s not helping me in my quest for that elusive one-sentence definition.
“When the person you’re with makes each day so much better you can’t believe you were even alive before them.”
I’m sorry but puh-lease. Please refer back to oogles and googles. I’ve been in love a few times in my life and I’m pretty damn sure I was alive before those times and equally sure I survived the demise of those “loves” as evidenced by the fact that I am still breathing. Yes, being in love makes each day better but so does sunshine, a warm ocean, blue skies and a nice chilled Pinot Grigio.
“When you miss him the moment you part.”
Again, that’s addiction. And yes, I know we miss those we love when they are not near and yes, that does signify affection. But I also believe that with mature love, being apart (and contentedly so) means embracing all aspects of a realistic life with gratitude. And anticipation.
“You cannot define love because it’s different for everyone so why try to define something undefinable?”
Party-pooper. I know it’s a tough one but I do think that you cannot truly engage in “love” until you define for yourself what that means. If not you’re setting yourself up for huge disappointment when you discover that your definition differs vastly from your partner’s.
“It is that warm, fuzzy feeling (in stomach and heart) that makes you become wide open, exposing your vulnerabilities to the loved one.”
I’m sorry but warm and fuzzy (to me) equals oogly-googly. And although I do not dispute that it’s an awesome feeling, it really is just a feeling. Like feeling happily full after a turkey dinner or ecstatically thrilled after your team wins the big game. Feelings are feeling; feelings are not love. Because love is a verb (see back a few blogs). Love requires action.
That said, I do like the “exposing vulnerabilities” part. Because only when we are willing not only to expose our vulnerabilities but own them completely are we able to love and be loved.
“Love is a relationship with no judgment or jealously”.
Um … maybe. But realistically, we do get jealous and we do judge. I actually believe a small amount of jealousy is good for a relationship. As for judgment – well, I will admit right here that my beau has a few shirts that I have no trouble judging. He’s had a few haircuts too.
But I think we’re getting closer.
“Love is knowing the worst thing about your partner and still loving them unconditionally.”
Okay … now we’re getting somewhere. Because yes, love does involve “for better or worse” and sometimes the “worse” is so shit-kickingly rotten you want to run for the hills. You know, in search of oogle and google. But you don’t. You stay and you and your partner work through “worse” and keep on working until you figure it out because you’ve had “better” and you know that with enough work you can get back there.
It’s the whole “work” thing that seems to be an issue. Because nobody wants to equate love with work. And I’m pretty sure if you check back I’ve already written that blog.
But I do subscribe to the 80/20 rule – if 80% of your relationship rocks, 20% can be shit. Get over it. We’re all human. Agree to disagree.
“An unspoken code of respect, trust and oneness that is ever fluid, ever growing, ever changing, ever strengthening and never questioned.”
I’m liking this one. Mostly because it embodies several concepts which I hold dear. 1) respect 2) trust 3) fluidity 4) commitment (ever-strengthening). Because commitment means hanging in there. No matter what. Period. Even when things are fluid and ever-changing. You stick around and do the work.
Damn. There I am back to that pesky work thing again.
But it does lead me to the grand finale which is, of course, the one-line definition that I have finally come up with after many years of research, dug in the trenches, covered in the muck and slime that invariably accompanies the truth. Ready? Here it is –
“Love means being willing to do things you don’t want to do.”
Because we all skate through our days happily doing what we want, when we want, with whomever we want. That’s easy. We enjoy the company of others when they are enjoyable, we enjoy hobbies and pastimes that we find enjoyable, we enjoy eating foods that we enjoy and generally we just have a jolly-good time enjoying whatever it is we enjoy, whenever we choose to enjoy it.
However, most of us don’t much enjoy doing things we don’t enjoy and therefore don’t want to do.
And therein, my friends, lies the proverbial rub. Because if you love someone, you will rally all the gumption you possess and do things you don’t want to do. And you will do this because you “love”. And because the person you love is more important that your own selfish fulfillment of your own personal “enjoyment”.
A few examples:
H likes to climb mountains and K doesn’t. K lovingly grants H the freedom to climb as much as he desires. But on occasion she accompanies him to the crag, maybe to take photos, maybe to bring a picnic lunch, maybe to allow him to throw her off a cliff (it’s called rappelling, not murder). It matters not. She participates in his passion because she loves him.
R loves a nice back massage before bed. S would rather watch more television or walk the dog than rub R’s shoulders but he rubs her shoulders anyway.
A wants to party and have fun. D is faced with some pretty serious life decisions and is broke and a bit fragile and would rather lie low until he works out his issues. A goes out and parties regardless because she is not enjoying D’s current space. Damn. This is not going to end well.
See – the big stuff goes way deeper. Way deeper than showing up and being nice. It goes to that “worse” thing … that defining moment when you are looking at your “love” and all you can think is “What the heck was I thinking?”
It goes to that exact moment when chasing oogly-googly sounds like a whole lot more fun that hanging around “worse” to see if it gets “worser.”
It goes to “doing things you don’t want to do”.
And allowing your partner to know that you are IN THIS. And no glitch big or small will sway your commitment. You are IN IT and you’re STAYING and you’re DOING THE WORK and oogles and googles be damned you are going to stay and if your partner is “worse” you are going to rally and fight and pull them up with all the strength your heart can muster because you know that one day when you are sinking fast they will do the same for you. When every ounce of your romantic, fluttery heart is urging you to run to oogle-google land you STAY.
You do something you don’t want to do.
Because in the end, when the worse turns back to better, you DO. You did. You did want to stay and you do. And you WILL. Because you are willing to do things you don’t want to do – you are willing to – sometimes – put the other person FIRST.
Because you love.