Define "Love".


This is what I asked my friends on facebook. It got 70+ comments whereas most of my posts get a handful. I wanted to know what real people think love means. The media shows us what it can look like: sometimes two people who smile at each other with fluttering eyes, then there are stories about people like mother Theresa and children who raise money to purchase hearing aids for other deaf kids. Then there is our own story about love.

Honestly I was asking about the big kind of “Love”, not really the romantic and sexy “love”, but that’s where most people stood in their definitions. We’re all obsessed with romantic relationships. And I get it. They’re powerful!

Here’s what they said:

Some didn’t want to define it in words.

Some said it was a biological lie.

One said it was chemically akin to eating a few chocolate bars.

And many said it required sacrifice, putting the other person first.

I challenged people on their answers, mostly because I’m curious how we can love someone dearly, then be an absolute asshole to someone else. Are only some people worthy of our love? Is love conditional? Does it have to be reciprocal to be called love?

Marriam Webster has several definitions for love, and I wanted to consider what Academia says about it. The first 3 talk about love for a thing or person. They call it a desire for an object, and it involves projecting feelings onto it. The 4th definition lacks the desire to have the object, but instead involves a wish for the object. There doesn’t seem to be any projection or pull. Its has a giving quality, an allowing quality about it.

A facebook friend said this: “Love is an unconditional feeling, it’s selfless.. uncontrollable, and has no limits or judgement.. a connection between souls, that is indescribable. I’ve done my best to describe it, but no one really can. It is the most powerful and beautiful thing.” -Jamie Jones

This kind of love is big and lasts throughout time. The other kind is dependent on the thing being there… One day that hot bod will turn flabby or someone might loose their mind with mental illness. I guess then you’ll know which kind of love you had for them.

The reason I asked this question in the first place is because I know so many loving people who still hate others. And what part of them is hating, I wonder? In order to love the “big Love”, you really do have to loose your self (thank you Jamie Jones!). So when we hate, are we too attached to ourself? Are we holding onto something?

It’s funny to me how many people hate a current political figure. He’s egotistic. Always saying, “I’m so good at this, and we’re the best country in the world! Muah!” He bashes others over the internet because it’s easy to. He makes so many of us cringe and scream at our screens. And what we hate so much is his ego. He makes decisions based on it and we want to yell at our neighbors who support him, and secretly wish to find him and slap his face.

We want to rid the world of it so much, yet we hold on so dearly to our own.

T.E Lawrence wrote “The truest knowledge of love might be to love what self despised.”

You don’t have to condone their actions, and you don’t have to enjoy them. You only have to have compassion and hope for their healing regardless of what you get in return. It’s unconditional, and it doesn’t feel springy and soft, but it lasts. It lasts when the person or thing is gone, and it carries people through tough times.

I have a challenge for you: Find someone you know or don’t know personally that really rubs you the wrong way. For one day, choose to love them. Choose to see them as a human being, who suffers, and wish for their happiness and healing.

Can you offer this? Will you offer this?

Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.