What Is Love?

Right now, in my small group, we are all in dating relationships. As a result, when we talk about dating, I think often about love. Growing up in the U.S. where I watched romantic comedies and learned all about falling in love from church, friends, and culture in general,

I just thought this was funny and not necessarily appropriate.

there always seemed to be a big debate. Is love a feeling for someone, or is it an action done for someone? I think most people might know what I mean when I mention this debate. Some people argue that love comes from the heart. Love constitutes the deepest, strongest desire for the well-being of another person. To love someone is to think of them before yourself and to desire their happiness above all other things. A person in love represents the highest, purest form of selflessness, and it is precisely the feeling of love that causes this. Others argue that the feeling of love proves insufficient, for how can another know love without tangible proof of it? Words mislead. Therefore, the only true expression of love is action. Love is a verb. It is a selfless giving of one person to another through palpable expressions for the other.

I disagree. Love is neither a feeling nor a verb, yet it is both. I believe neither of these arguments fully appreciate what love is. First, love as a feeling misleads. Ask anyone who loves their partner, and invariably, they will tell you how their love a year ago meant something entirely different than it does now. The feeling of love is a cloud; it constantly shifts shape. It leaves one unsure about love. What combination of feeling sums up love? One day love feels one way, and the next, it changes entirely. Furthermore, we cannot base it on attraction. Lots of people will appear cool, fun, attractive, engaging, and worth spending time with. They elicit a great feeling. Potentially, hundreds of people might meld well with any one person. We cannot base love on an emotion that a person could possibly have for multiple people at one time simply because of appearance, emotional connection, and attraction. Love is more than finding someone to be really awesome.

Love can be a verb, but when does action stop being something nice and start being love? People possess the capability to do selfless acts of kindness for someone they may never meet. Should this be called love? More specifically, in a romantic relationship, when do acts of kindness turn into acts of love? If it comes at the point of when someone does it out of feeling love, then the argument for “Love is a verb” dies. Additionally, what motivates the action? Is that motivation love? If so, then love is motivation. If not, then one could be said to love or be in love with anyone who receives kind-hearted selflessness. That seems wrong, too.

I propose love to be something else: love is history. To truly love or be in love, the absolute requisite activity is shared experiences. The commencement of these experiences may derive from a feeling or an attraction, but the composite result of spending hours with someone is love. Love consists of laughter, tears, celebration, arguments, trips, late nights, meals, and a whole list of other activities. Nonetheless, these activities themselves are not “love”. They may be loving. They may spawn from love, but not a one of them comprises all of love. Love is neither a feeling nor an action, for to speak so shallowly of love is to betray it. Love is a state of being born from the compilation of shared experience with another. Therefore, love never begins; it simply grows. One day, you may wake up, reflect on the composite emotions felt during your shared experience with a partner and realize, you love them. To do so requires a great, magical, and difficult journey.

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About ben adam

The world is going to hell in a handbasket, and we might miss Armageddon because we're too busy watching MTV and CNN. Please, read a book, throw a ball, bake some bread, and for goodness sake, turn the TV off.
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3 Responses to What Is Love?

  1. chelcie says:

    The feeling of love is a cloud. Beautiful metaphor friend!

    I recently read someone who wrote “love is not an emotion, it is energy.” Blew my mind! It is energy! It is an inherent universal energy that anyone can access. It is a shared energy between two people, between masses of people, and an energy one can share with nature and the universe itself! KA-POW!

  2. ben adam says:

    YEAH! Well put! Furthermore, you know I don’t usually say things like this, so you should know I don’t do it hastily. We in the Christian community call that energy G-D. As the book of 1 John says, “G-D is love,” and in my opinion, the G-D who created everything and is in everything is nothing short of universally accessible. Thanks for reading Chelcie! Peace!

  3. ariel says:

    That’s awesome because I have been having those same thoughts as you put in your last paragraph lately. The idea about a shared history. I like to say that I feel a bond with people from high school because we spent 4 years together as friends. Four years, in my experience, is the time it takes for me to start to feel a deep love for a friend, though it’s a bit shorter for someone I love as a partner. But in any case, yes, I see those experiences and especially the act of experiencing pain and suffering together as something that bonds me to someone. Once I have cried with someone or shared in their pain, I cannot help but continue on with them. En cambio (on the other hand), experiencing happiness with a person does not always bring about this reaction. When I spend a lot of time on vacation with someone in a pleasant environment, it doesn’t always turn out the same. But of course, I believe the love experience needs happy and sad moments. I enjoyed this post as well, Ben.

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