What Is Love?
What is love? There are so many answers to this question and not one is satisfactory to any one person. And yet, if we’ve thought of some kind of love, even if we haven’t seen it or any example of it, the chances are it likely exists. Because how else would you have even thought of it? Who knows, perhaps it’s your gift to the world.
Let’s take a piece of love and put it in the context of a relationship… a romantic relationship. Is it reasonable to expect that one person can fulfil a person’s need for love in the all realms - physical, romantic, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual? I’ve come to realise through my own personal growth that love comes in many, many forms and many manifestations thereof. I’m not just talking about love languages, although that has been an exceptionally useful model to navigate behaviours and differences in how we give and receive love. However, as with all models, they're flawed and come with limitations. So just as there is no one love, there is no one model or system to look at love. Either we craft our own or we stitch together a few models, piecing the things we like so that we have a Frankenstein model, which in essence is still making our own.
A while back, I wrote that love is a feeling and a commitment as well as a choice. That seemed to satisfy me at the time, and yet as I dug deeper into the topic of love, I realised how avoidant that statement is. Yes, it is true. You can choose love or not. You can feel love or not. But it avoids the actual answer of the question what is love? Or rather what does love mean to me? And in parallel to that, what is love in relation to the people and things in my life… yes things, because we can have love for things.
There are several men who have come into my life over the last year. They’ve all showed me deeper meanings of love by their actions and expressions. Two have cried in my arms and one simply messaged me to say that I’m beautiful, just because. One was in love with my soul. One was afraid of my emotions, because he never wanted to see me hurt. I’ve cried with every single one of them, and they’ve sat with me and allowed me to be a complete and utter mess. In each moment I’ve spent with each of them, they’ve shown me deeper, kinder, and newer waves of love. I’ve seen them through challenges at work and challenges with the women they date. These men are my proof that real men exist in this world and don’t expect or want anything from me other than for me to be fuller and fuller expressions of myself. How did I get so lucky?
Now let’s take the women in my world. I have so many beautiful, powerful, and raw women that inspire me on a daily basis. These women come in a variety of flavors and dances of love. They accept for me for me and allow me to express femininity in the realm of true sisterhood. They didn’t judge me when I complained about people in my life. One sat with me and listened to all the stories I had made up in my head about a situation. When I exhausted myself after 30 minutes of talking, she asked if I had felt better after sharing all of that. When I said I was still angry. She responded, "eYah that’ll continue to happen. Let it go. Allow it to evolve. In time, it will pass." It was a reminder to me why I love stories so much. All kinds of stories. Life is a series of stories from one to the next. Stories are moments and moments are just a cycles of breathes.
So what is love? I love all of these people in my life, and I only went over close friends. There’s still family - living and dead, pets - living and dead, memories and dreams which may or may not be real or realised. I encourage you to write an exhaustive list of the things and people that you truly, deeply love.
Ask yourself questions like can we reasonably accept that one love can fulfil all our wildest dreams on all realms of existence or is there a reason we have so many different levels and layers to love in our life? And is it so wrong to call a man or a woman beautiful while they or you are romantically involved with someone else? Is it expected that those words of admiration and other love languages are required simply from the partner and not the friend or other? That sounds like a lot of pressure to me.
If it takes a community to raise a child, why wouldn’t it take a community to keep a relationship whole and complete? There’s nothing more beautiful than shared experiences with your partner and your community or tribe. If we did more of that then the whole world shares in love and community. What a beautiful thing that would be.