What actually is love?

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

What is love? It can be defined in many ways, or perhaps it cannot be defined at all. Perhaps, like religion, you can attempt to define it, but you can never formulate words that describe it in an encompassing manner.

Do I myself know how to define it? Perhaps I would define it as having an attachment to someone, an emotional dependency, in which your happiness depends on their well-being and happiness. Or if not your happiness, then your contentment. Because you could love someone and want them to be happy, and find contentment in their happiness, even if the means to that happiness hurts you. Love goes beyond caring– or is caring a form of love, in a more inclusive but less intense manner? Are caring and love two different things, or are they a product of the same thing?

Or is love just a feeling, something more tangible than something you can touch, or more than just a feeling?

There are different kinds of love: platonic, romantic, familial, love that is given to and reciprocated by a pet, self-love and more. There is love for a state of doing or being, for a hobby or an activity– but is that really “love” or something different? Or is loving the nonliving actually love, and the “love” we have for other people something other, something deeper, or something lesser than “love”?

Is “love” for someone actually love for them, or the relationship we have with them?

How genuine is love? How genuine can it be? Is it separate and mingled with respect, or are they exclusively two different things?

In romantic love, can someone love more than one person at once? Do I myself have that capability? Or can I only love one person at a time? How can one’s significant other mean the world to them, only to be replaced by another and no longer desired?

Having only been in one romantic relationship so far in my life, I wonder– do you ever stop loving a previous love romantically, or is there always at least a speck of it left over, a bittersweet stain never removable from your heart no matter how much you try to rub it off? Does having previous loves and choosing a later love to spend the rest of your life with mean that you no longer love or crave for the previous loves and they no longer remain meaningful and forgotten in favor of your current love, or do you still carry some extent of love for the previous loves, unable to ever completely erase? And if you still love all the loves you have ever had, do you simply choose the person you love the most?

And when you love someone, is part of loving them actually loving the feelings you have from spending time with them and with being in their presence, or do you actually love the person her or himself? And when you miss your old loves, do you actually miss them, or the memories with them?

Is love of another person simply the love of their company and what you get from them, or is it love for the actual person?

Or do you love the person because of what they offer you?

Or is it a combination of both?

What is the relationship between respect and love? Are they intertwined? Are they separate? Are they complementary, or mutually exclusive? Does one birth the other? Are they mutually contingent upon each other?

How can someone love their significant other and want to spend the rest of their lives with them, only to cheat on them repeatedly without guilt and remorse? Or how can someone cheat on their significant other whom they love so much and intend to spend the rest of their life with and whom they wish to claim as their romantic partner alone, and know how badly it would hurt them to cheat, and still do it anyway?

How can people cheat on someone they love deeply at all?

I often hear people say that if someone cheated on their significant other, that means that they didn’t love their significant other in the first place. I disagree. I believe that yes the cheater may have loved their partner, but perhaps they didn’t respect them. Or perhaps they loved and respected them, but still wanted to make room to receive and give more validation, respect and/or love via increasing the quantity of people they opened themselves to romantically.

I pray that I never get cheated on, and that I never cheat on anyone. Cheating is a huge deal-breaker for me. It is one of the worst things that someone can do. But I’m also left wondering– why is it such a big deal? Why does it hurt so much?

Why does it hurt so much for your partner and even you to do romantic and/or sexual things with someone else as long as you and your partner are committed to each other? And despite knowing that you and your partner love each other romantically, but while you get romantic and sexual satisfaction from the other man/woman, you don’t love them like you love your partner?

In the case of friends, you can and should have multiple friends and there is no problem there. A relationship with one friend does not necessarily lessen the quality of a friendship or distance the friendship with another friend. In the case of romantic relationships, why do we feel differently?

Why is it different?

Perhaps it’s because we are human and the nature of desire a romantic relationship involves commitment from your partner. Perhaps it is because we crave for a relationship so special that we don’t want to think or even consider our partner and even ourselves wanting someone else; to feel like the relationship we have with one partner is not enough. There is some special about the exclusivity of the intimacy of two people; there is beauty between the magic shared between only you and one other person.

And I think we often we are taught to think that if you and your partner are committed to each other, then that means you won’t even look at another person. Or that you won’t have any sort of sexual or romantic feelings for another person.

I say that’s not true.

I say that there is beauty in being in a committed relationship where you and your partner love and respect each other deeply, and where you value your relationship as something special and priceless and unique. I believe that there is beauty in being in that kind of relationship, but also experiencing sexual and romantic feelings for someone else. Because, despite those feelings, you choose to value and cherish the committed relationship you have with your partner through rejecting anything that might compromise it. Because despite having urges to seek desires when things may be tough and confusing, you and your partner choose to work together because you two love and value each other enough and value and cherish the relationship you have instead of finding an escape.

There is beauty in the choosing of a special relationship over others. There is beauty in having options, but choosing to uphold and nurture one exclusively. There is beauty in choosing to value.

There is beauty in resistance of something good-feeling for the sake of preserving something much more valued.

There is beauty in committment.

And that commitment is even more beautiful when you are consciously making efforts to thwart anything that will compromise or destroy the person you love romantically and the relationship you have and value with them. Perhaps, it is even more beautiful and more reflective of a strong relationship to feel urges and resist them than it is to not have to make choices at all in the absence of urges.

There is beauty in choosing to value. There is beauty in loving, in choosing to love, and in choosing to preserve love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s