What is love? Everyday we are inundated with images claiming to be representations of love. Can you even really answer the question “what is love?” What does it truly mean “to love” someone? There is disconnection between my mind, my expectations, my heart and above all my actions. I am so consumed with thinking of what love ought to feel like that I often settle for a cheap imitation just so I can feel something in that moment. From Fairytales to Fifty Shades of Grey my generation is getting plenty of mixed messages on what love should look like.
Is it a feeling? An action? Chemistry? Commitment? Why do people, once they believe they are “in love” can seem to fall out of it so easily? We have become a hardened generation of invincible people, our hearts impenetrable; guarded by a thick wall of invulnerability. The soothing advice of friends after a break up is often comprised of cliché sayings like “there are plenty of fish in the sea,” “on to the next one” or “you don’t need a relationship, you are just fine on your own.” Are we though? Are we designed to be happy being alone? Or hop from one person to the next in an exhausting cycle? We aren’t a generation of cohesiveness; we can and do find ways to satisfy all of our desires independent of one another. If we want sex we Tinder, if we want companionship we have different groups of friends for certain activities, if want stability we work to provide it for ourselves. Maybe the pursuit of satisfaction individually instead holistically robs us of one of the most beautiful gifts between two people, intimacy. To be intimate with someone you have to experience the good, the bad and the ugly.
We have our smart phones, our apps that tell us when to go to sleep, what to eat, when to drink, but we don’t have anything telling us when to open our hearts, and how to open our hearts.
I am terrified of being hurt, so much so that I can’t imagine giving all of my broken self to someone. I long to be emotionally naked, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of my heart. I just do not know how or where to being. I look around me and people use the word “love” to describe anything from adoration of pizza, to the latest pop song. If we’ve watered down the meaning of “love” so much, and we use it so freely, what meaning, if any does it have anymore? Has communication altered our perception so much that there remains no pure definition or definition(s) of what it means to love and be loved?
Merriam Webster defines love as 1. “A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” 2. “A sexual passion or desire.” 3.” An affectionate concern for the well being of others.” With an interpretation so ambiguous no wonder so many people are confused. In many other languages there are multiple words for “love,” lacking a single, universal definition. In Greek there are six different definitions to describe anything from the agape or “pure and ideal love” to philia, a dispassionate love, motivated by practical reasons. The Japanese have three words to explain love, ai, koi and ren’ai, these cover anything from maternal instincts to a selfish longing. Maybe there isn’t supposed to be one definition, maybe the clarity and knowledge of what love is gained through the pursuit of knowing oneself and allowing yourself to become vulnerable, to all various definitions and experiences of love. I do know that my love for cheese, while passionate and pure, should not mean the same thing when I use it to indicate affection for another person.
I do not have all the answers. Part of my journey in searching for my North Star, is understanding what it means to me to love, and to love deeply with all of the intensity of my deep and burning soul. My first step is admitting, I do want to love, and I need to be loved be in return.