Affection, devotion, passion, desire, warmth, respect or loyalty. You choose. It doesn’t really matter which one because they are all forms of love. Some are powerful and demand attention while others are more subtle and just below the surface. In recent years, love has drifted from these subtle levels to the more noticeable ones, namely passion. In my opinion, our society downplays the real necessity for genuine affection. By this I mean that we, as a society, spend so much time focusing on only one level of love (passion) that we tend to neglect and not recognize the need for closeness and trust (friendship). Love is an all-encompassing emotion that can be powerful and demanding, but also rewarding and pleasurable. Most people will throw around the word love as if It is an action that defines some sort of function; as do the words, run, jump, play, dance…The thing this, no one really can understand what the word “love” feels and does. In recent cultural aspects, the word love is thrown around without limits. Most women say they “love” chocolate, or a man can “love” his car, but when you say you “love” a person; are you in love with that person, or just so used to saying the word love that you don’t even think about what meaning is behind it.
In our society and age, the sexual barriers fell in two, almost paradoxical, ways. On one hand, sexual permissiveness increased as an acceptance for the simple satisfaction of the physical drive for sexual contact developed. One would expect this to be correlated with a poorer treatment of women as they would be perceived as “objects” for this satisfaction, yet, it was the other sexual barrier that also fell. Women’s rights took great steps forward as women were treated in a more equitable fashion. What occurred was a break between body and soul, with sexual definition assigned exclusively to the former while souls and personalities were perceived almost as neuter. Men and women were all the same with this one distinction in their physical being. Within this concept of similarity grew equality while the limited view of sexual distinction developed an allowance for the satisfaction of this specific, encapsulated, physical drive. This complete split between body and soul also explains the new attitudes in relationships and love.
Throughout the history of mankind, our culture has painted love as mysterious, complex, difficult, and sometimes, entirely un-definable. Nonetheless, love is the subject of countless poems, stories, novels, movies, songs and other art and literary works. Ironically, despite the enormous amount of material available about love, allot of it is contradictory.
For some, the concept of defining love is a near impossible endeavor. Perhaps this is due to the anxiety that once defined, love may not have the same impact than it does without definition. Therefore, the whole advent of love would be less exhilarating. Perhaps the mere fact that it is so indefinable makes it more elusive, thus, more mysterious, and therefore, more enticing. It could very well be that all of the complications surrounding love actually come from imagined situations and beliefs that we create ourselves, thus adding more power to an otherwise simple emotion.
Basically, the whole concept of love has become such a convoluted conundrum, that everyone seems to have his or her own take on what it really is. When you think about, it’s quite odd that it takes so many different forms and means so many different things to people, many of whom desire to have it in some of the very same ways, ultimately. Which leads one to question: if someone is looking for love, would they even recognize it if they found it?
How love is expressed depends entirely upon each individual. And not everyone always expresses love. While love is a feeling, the expression of it is a separate action. Often, there is a practical reason we may not always express love for each and every person we love. It’s usually a situation of time. Therefore, if the expression of love is a core ingredient to love, we must be discerning about whom we choose to love. There simply isn’t enough time to love everyone. The distinction between the feeling of love and the expression of it demonstrates how one can “love” endless numbers of people. Love is most often expressed when attention, time, and focus is given to someone. The many ways in which attention can be given to others include our senses, such as listening; being completely present in the moment; using our eyes to see, giving another our undivided attention; touching, hugging, hand holding, caressing, or sexual expression. How love is expressed depends upon the type of relationship one is in.
Regardless of whether one is looking for love, trying to find it or determine if they are actually “in love,” it would be interesting to see what would happen in the world if everyone let go of all of the predisposed ideas surrounding love and relationships long enough to experience just some of the components of love “in the moment.” If that were possible, it may also be probable to define love, for what may turn out to be, a lifetime. Real love is a choice, an act of will. It enables us to accept our differences within relationships and to choose to love the person when we want to lash out or withdraw instead. Taking the initiative to love others usually triggers a positive response. But when there is no visible response I have to remind myself that I am only responsible for my actions and reactions, not those of other people. The truth is, people and circumstances don’t cause our reactions; they merely reveal our inner condition.
Love is having compassion for others, sharing feelings and your life with another person, as well as having faith in others and forgiving those we love for the any faults that they may make. Most of all, we must be committed to those we love. Of course, this is only my opinion. No matter how long I try to explain what love is ultimately it is up to you, the reader, to define what love is to you.