What Is Love?

When I was a little girl, I believed that love would be packaged up in a beautiful story like it always did in my favourite fairytales. Whether it was Snow White, The Little Mermaid or Cinderella, the ending was always the same – the handsome prince would save the day. The prince and princess would fall hopelessly in love and ride off in some beautiful sunset. When I grew up, I desperately sought out for my own prince, and was left only with disappointment time and time again when the storyline in my head did not match my reality. Reflecting back at my past relationships, it is clear that my present-day definition of love has been shaped from the lessons I learned from each person who really touched my heart. Here are some of the experiences that taught me a little more about what love is…

Just because you love someone that does not necessarily mean that he/she is the right fit for you. In my early twenties, I met a man who lived in another city. I admired him and dreamed of how a long-distance relationship would work. That fantasy would never play out in reality. We were in different timezones, were in completely different stages of our lives, and had different priorities. While I loved him, and to this day have a special place for him in my heart, I know we would never work in a relationship together. We weren’t the right fit.  I have realized that you can love someone, but that does not necessarily mean you are the right fit together.

Love takes many different shapes and forms. Sometimes it feels more passionate than other times, sometimes it feels intense and strong, and sometimes it feels safe and steady. But regardless of the form, the root of love is a constant – it is always there, just dressed up differently. I once dated a guy who one day came home and told me the words that no woman ever wants to hear, “I am not in love with you anymore. I do not want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Ouch. After that breakup, I reevaluated my definition of love. I realised that a committed relationship is not just about a feeling of being “in love”. It is not about lust, or chasing the high of unsustainable chemical reactions and hormones (also commonly referred to as “butterflies”). Love is about commitment, respect and dedication. Love is about honouring that commitment both to your partner and to yourself. Love is a verb, not a destination or a pit stop.

If someone hurts you, it does not automatically mean he/she does not love you. I fell in love with a man who I know loved and adored me with everything he had. Little did I know that the same man who loved me so dearly, would be the same man that would hurt me beyond belief. In the process of picking myself back up from the breakup trauma, I questioned the meaning of love. Because in my world, you don’t hurt the people you love. But I realized that even if you love someone, you can still be at battle with your own issues and demons. As a result, you can make decisions that have unintended, hurtful consequences on the person closest to you. That doesn’t mean the person loved you any more or less. I have realized that the man who hurt me did not do so because he did not love me, he just had his own stuff going on that caused him to make poor decisions. And unfortunately my heart was a major casualty of those decisions.

So what does love mean to me today? The different people that have come in and out of my life have been my teachers in the subject of love. Each person who had a piece of my heart taught me a valuable lesson and provided an opportunity for me to craft what love looks like in my world today.  I will probably be an eternal student in the subject, but this is what love means to me:

Love is commitment. Love is a verb, not a noun. True, authentic love can only be shared when the two people in the relationship encompass self-love first. Love is not fleeting; it does not come and go with the feelings and emotions of the day. Love is not dictated by lust, rather, lust is just one of its many forms. And while love may not look like how it was portrayed in fairytales, it is magical. Because for love you will make sacrifices, you will be selfless and you will say sorry even when you know you are right. And when you hit a roadblock where the odds seem stacked against the survival of your relationship, you will fight for it with everything you’ve got. Because love is worth it. Because the person you have chosen to commit to is worth it.

Sometimes you will do things for love without rhyme or reason. And sometimes love is the only reason you need.

Amy C.

Photo credit:  Jack Fussell

10 Comments

  • Reply May 1, 2012

    C Creature

    Love is not “I’ve bought you some tulips, honey,” but “I’ve covered a live duck in chocolate for you.” It may even begin as a nightmare and end as a fairytale. Love never speaks with a universal imperative or expresses itself in conventional gestures–it struggles around language to convey its significance.

    Love, as I understood it, is an unwavering aim that never seems to hit the target. If we can identify all the qualities of love or map it all out on a piece paper, then it is nothing but banality and meaninglessness, for its very essence is irreducible. Love, as you stated, is a verb that circulates around the nothingness. It is everything and, equally, nothing–so much can be said about it, yet we can never fully articulate it. It intends without intentionality: love is a winged thought.

    The more we want love, the more precarious it seems, but because its precariousness is what keeps us yearning, desiring and ever aimlessly aiming. Love may never meet all our expectations; it may even dismay us. But we give all that we can till its mourning dove departs.

    Amy, you’ve written a lovely piece. It sounds like the sweet song of a chickadee–very resonating, ever-relateable.

  • Reply May 2, 2012

    charles

    great article, thanks for the insight, i really wish more people knew what you know.

  • Reply May 16, 2012

    Justinne

    Wow. This post is amazing! Well-written, truthful, and different 🙂

  • Reply May 18, 2012

    ripples

    So true. And don’t forget, love is about compassion without expectations. Great article.

  • Reply June 1, 2012

    Melissa

    This was so beautiful to read and gives me hope after my hardest heartbreak that love is still worth it. Thank you for this.

  • Reply July 18, 2013

    Jacqueline

    You need a like button on your articles! Loving your blog. Insightful, Intelligent, Honest. Thank you.

  • Reply August 11, 2013

    Vera

    I love the article, but i just wanna ask, what if the person your choose to fight for, doesn’t fought back?.. uhmm..

  • Reply November 5, 2013

    Sera

    Dear Amy, I just found your site and I am in love with your thoughts..

    I’m falling in love with this man, an odd thing to feel since I’ve promised myself to set aside these kind of unnecessary feelings at the moment and focus on the most important things such as study, rebuilding my relationship with my family and friends, blooming my passion for my future career, and repairing the damages I did to myself and my life.
    But he came out of nowhere, and I did try to avoid blooming any beautiful feelings for him, in fact I tried hard to be skeptical about him so that my heart will get tired and decided to shrug off everything and get back to my own world.
    After such hard efforts at avoiding my feelings, I decided to open myself and try to experience this feeling and to accept the sweet and bitter things that may came my way.
    Yes, they came and still keep on coming. When those bitter things came, I realized that I’ve been hard on myself and too scared and did over-thinking about everything. I got so paranoid, and scared of losing my pride. And the worst was that I thought about the future a lot and that made me became so tired and exhausted because I was afraid unnecessarily on whether those future I thought about would happen or may not.
    But then, what’s wonderful is that being in love with him makes me want to be positive and optimistic about everything. Those bitter things came and yes, they did hurt me but in some way, they gave me the opportunity to develop mature thoughts, and taught me how to be relax and enjoy the ‘now’, and, to love myself before I can love another human being. Being in love teaches me to find comfort in my positive thoughts and taught me to love myself more than I ever did before, and helped me improve my thinking to suit the level of a woman. An intelligent woman, that is.

    “Authentic love can only be shared when the two people in the relationship encompass self-love first.” I love that. Thanks for this wonderful post, Amy <3

  • Reply November 15, 2013

    BROKEN

    Thanks for helping me facing a lot of my confusions..

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