What is Love?

I have reached a point, in WIP, where an unloved person is questioning the meaning of love, and find that I am running into a familiar problem – this stupid bottle neck we have created for ourselves with the word ‘love’.  We possess a rich language with precise words for so many shades and yet, we have managed to dilute a word of magnificence and splendour into four letters that stands for everything from chocolate to worship, and every possible aspect of life in between.  Stupid.

 So I am asking for some help here.  Leaving aside the nonsense ones, such as chocolate, and the abstract, such as faith and country, how would you all define love for the following:

 1  Children

2  Parents

3  Friends (I am meaning true friends here not acquaintances, and I also include same sex (not sexual) friends and different sex (again not sexual) friends

4  Spouses and partners (I’m not including the sexual although of course it is important:) it’s the core of love I am after, the glue)

 Are they the same? Is the emotion different? do they mean completely different things?  Is one definition sufficient?  Any aspect found in all four?

 How can each be defined?

 Your opinions would be most welcome.

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3 thoughts on “What is Love?

  1. It’s different for different people, I suppose, but for me, of the four you have listed, only one had an impact on my definition of self. – being a mom. My love for my son is definitely different than it is for others, And it is a love I have to fight against. The urge to insulate, to protect and to give in because of my love for my son would not, in the end, serve him well. He needs to crash, he needs to hurt, he needs to be denied, because it will build him into a better man. And I know too, that one day I will have to watch him walk away to a life of his choosing, which will be both a heartbreak and a joy. So while that is the love I hold most dear, it is also the most fragile, and the one that would hurt the most if I was suddenly denied it.

    My relationship with my parents being the flip side of that, I adore them, I love them, but all the while I was growing up I knew I would walk away from them one day,

    With my son, I struggle against keeping him too close, my parents I struggled against to claim my independence. I was aware quite early that the relationship would change over time, but the loss of my Dad last year made me realize that one of those dynamic shifts was away from parent/child to friends. I hope my son and I can do the same – push and pull our way into a true friendship as well.

    The benefit of the friend type of love is that there is neither push, nor pull. The dynamic is more fluid, there may be times of steady contact, times of absence, but it doesn’t change the bounds of the friendship itself. It is more relaxed.

    ANd then there is the partnership. This love one is often misconstrued and sometimes turns into something ugly and corrupt as a result. It has (or should, I think) elements of definition, part of who I am is my husband’s wife, but only because I choose it to be so. We have been together since high school and are closing in on 20 years. To not use part of that steady relationship to define my life would be to ignore his importance, his impact. But me as a wife is not a set of roles, it the label for something special. Apart we are whole, we each have our lives and all of those relationships, but together, we thrive. It’s more of a symbiotic relationship than the others. Some people have a foul label for that – co-dependent.

    I’ve always hated that phase. We are human, we are social creatures. Of COURSE we depend on others for that socialization, for help, for community, for affection and so much more. To insinuate that that is a bad thing seems utterly ridiculous.

  2. alberta says:

    I wonder if care might be the common link between them all, care as in concern not liking, children and parents might well have a genetic component but friends and partners are chosen. I’m wary of the word passion although it does fit so many loves but it is a trifle high jacked to denote sexual passion more these days.
    Thanks for your comment Julie

  3. Julie Glover says:

    I have long thought that our single word “love” for a myriad of objects is inadequate. The ancient Greeks had four words for love, which included distictions for friendship love and erotic love. Even as I love my husband and children, the way I express it comes out differently. I am certainly far more protective of my children and feel a sense of responsibility that I simply don’t have with my spouse. Interesting question, Alberta.

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