Most of us are pretty obsessed with finding love. For some of us, not possessing romantic love in our lives can leave us feeling incomplete, while for others, feeling unloved by a family member can result in deep emotional issues. What is love, exactly, and why is it something we constantly crave? How is it that we feel unfulfilled without it, and how do we know we possess it in our lives?
By dictionary definition, love is “an intense feeling of deep affection.” But that seems quite basic, doesn’t it? There has to be more to it than that. According to eHarmony, a serious-relationship-oriented dating website, love is a “powerful and permanent neurological condition.” On a basic human level, “the need for affection [to be shown love] solidifies our desire to know we are compatible with another human being, even if the relationship is on the friendship or familial level.”
An anthropologist and expert on romantic love, Helen Fisher, says that “love is a drive.” It’s a “motor of the brain.” Love resides in “the wanting…craving part of the mind.” Being in love actually “triggers the same parts of the brain as a cocaine addict.” So from a scientific standpoint, love sounds more like an addiction, which makes sense as to why most of us desire it so heavily; once we get a taste of it we want more.
In its most basic sense, love is an important part of being human, and to me, seems like it is actually a part of what makes us human. To love and be loved is a basic human need, which is what makes it so important. However, there are a ton of other things that come along with it, and depending on who you are, you may like to give or receive love in different ways.
I asked five men and women with extremely different personalities to tell me what love means to them and how they express it.
Love is time spent
“An older fiend of mine told me that love is spelt T.I.M.E, and I would agree. I feel loved when a partner or friend has time for me, because they’re spending their most valuable asset on or with me. I express love by spending time with others and by touch, like hugging a troubled friend or by holding my partner’s hand.” —Cody, 33
Love means accepting and supporting
“Love is a feeling of acceptance, security, support and sharing. I express love by doing things for others and in what I say.” —Joy, 61
Love means making someone else happy, even if it hurts you
“To me, love is everything. It can bring so much joy, but also pain and hurt. Love means doing everything in your power to make someone else happy, whether it heals or hurts your heart. Love means making sacrifices. When I love someone I express it by doing things for them like cooking or cleaning.” —Stephanie, 33
Love means being perfect together, even if you’re each imperfect
“Love means being vulnerable to joy as well as pain. It is trusting; trusting they are faithful, honest, and resilient. It is knowing you are both imperfect, but perfect together. Love is reassurance and validation, an appreciation of one another to be able to grow together and support each other. I express love by showing interest in what my partner enjoys, by making compromises and building him up.” —Ariana, 29
I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt true love
“Sometimes I wonder if I’ve ever felt true love in a relationship. I’ve said the words, but I don’t know if I meant them. Love to me means learning to be the best version of myself for another, giving up my vices and sharing my deepest secrets and insecurities and knowing they are safe.” —Bradley, 38
Though these people are extremely different, there’s a ton of common threads in their answers: acceptance, security, sharing, sacrifice. And though there is slight variation in what’s wanted, I do think there is a general consensus of what love is. And with that in mind, they should really come up with a better definition of love in the dictionary.
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Photo: Fewings, Blackwood, Leung, Cameron, Huu, Yahya; Unsplash.