What is Love?

One of my favorite phrases is “I’m not smart. I’m internet smart.” So instead of trying to answer this question on my own, let’s see what the internet has to say about love. A quick search for “what is love” gives me the following: “A strong positive emotion of regard and affection,” “A sensation that magically generates when the right person appears,” and “One of the most difficult questions for mankind.” Of course there’s a variety of videos, and a lot of songs offered up as well. But there’s no easy answer on the internet, not even the beginning of an answer.

At this point many would say that we don’t need a definition. Others would say that everyone already knows what love is, so there’s no need to waste time trying to define it again. Maybe they’re right. But I’ve never taken someone else’s word as truth, or not even question what they’ve assumed, without testing. The worst case is when everyone thinks they’re talking about the same thing, and it turns out they really aren’t. And there are so many factors that influence what we see as love: How you were brought up, your ideals, your ethnic background, your drives and your previous loving encounters; all of these influence what you see as love. And the same is true for me. The problem is that we have different ideals, ethnicities, drives and very different loving encounters. The definition is important because it’s the foundation to our building. The better the foundation, the stronger the house. It helps us move to a consensus on what is love, even if we don’t agree.

So, let’s start again. What is this thing called love? It covers quite a bit of territory. From a single glance to a lifetime of commitment. From a single searing touch to the ultimate offering; sacrificing yourself in defense of your country. There is the commitment one may have to an animal, or group of animals. There is the attachment to an organization such as a school, or hospital, or sports team. There are those who are deeply involved with inanimate objects, or their art. Finally, there is the most intimate and possibly unhealthiest of all relationships in the broadest sense of the word – those who are in love with themselves.

Love covers a substantial range of relationships, and in such a variety of intensities that it’s no surprise it’s difficult to nail down. Maybe one of the other reasons it’s hard for us to understand is that we call them all by the same name. Why don’t we have different names for them, like the Eskimo have for all the different types of snow?

I’m going to take another stab at defining love as others do in our pop culture: Love is a many splendored thing, Love is all around us, Love is letting someone go, knowing they’ll come back, Love is eternal, Love is like a rock. Unfortunately, no matter how good these phrases and the music make us feel, they are all clichés. They sound good in a song or poem, but aren’t going to do us any good if we’re trying to develop useful tools. Some say that it’s impossible to talk about love without becoming a poet or lover. Perhaps everything I’ve said above is proof of this sentiment?

That’s a load of crap. It only looks hard because no one has taken the time to really nail down one specific thing that people do and call it by the romantic name of “love.” Since you and I are mavericks, we don’t have that problem.

The meaning of love here is an attachment between two people that lasts for a lifetime. That’s it. Not too hard, and it doesn’t matter whose life we’re talking about, because when one half of the couple dies, you don’t have two people any more. I’ll identify this special kind of love by capitalizing it: Love.

Now, some romantics are going to ask, what about the family? What about parents and kids? What about really close siblings, three or more? Why can’t they all be in Love? The answer is that they can! As far as we’re concerned, the Love that they share is only between two of them at a time. The Love that exists between a mother, father, and child is three-fold. That between mother and father, that between mother and child, and that of father and child. Each one must be treated separately for what we’re going to do.

Love is a lifelong attachment between two people. Now, where does Love come from?