But Really, What Is Love?

A new song is being written about it every day, another poem about it is being performed. Love is the only thing that people crave more than power and money and ownership. What’s the big deal about it? (Not a rhetorical question, I really want somebody to answer that for me.)

I hear people question the meaning of that four-letter word probably too often. Hell, I question it. But then again, I question a lot of things, so nobody here is shocked. Because I’ve never experienced romantic love, I have actually asked a couple of my best friends, in the past, how they defined love. While one friend focused on how the person of interest makes you feel, another touched more on the idea of building each other up. And yeah, their answers were justifiable, but I almost felt unsatisfied with their answers.

Which leads me to figuring out what love means to me. And I don’t have a solid answer, which annoys me to no end, although I know that it shouldn’t. In the dictionary, it just says that love is an intense feeling of deep affection, which yeah, I guess that’s what it is, but there’s so much more to it than this textbook answer, right? Or do we, as people, just think that there’s more to it because it’s so desirable?

What kills me about love is that people go to extreme lengths to look for it in a romantic way, and then when they can’t find it, they believe that they’re unlovable. Which is totally insane, right? When most people look past that idea of a person they could be in love with—all the way in the background, blurred out—are the people who already love them.

But I know what everybody who’s told that thinks, “yeah but that’s not what I mean”. The idea of being in love [or just not alone in general] is so blown out of proportion, that people get this idea in their head of what love should look like. And let’s be real here: movies and books and social media don’t help, either. If anything, they probably make it worse.

This craving for another person in your bed, a hand to hold, or just someone to build you back up when you’re crashing into a million pieces, is so strong that I think a lot of people take what’s right in front of them for granted. For one thing, you need to be alone at some point to figure out who you are; if you’re constantly on the lookout for someone new, how are you supposed to find the time of day to love yourself?

Which, yeah, I get that that sounds cheesy, or sad, or both, but I totally believe that you can’t truly learn to love someone until you learn to love yourself. You can really put all your focus into this one person, or a series of people, and seem so damn happy with your life, but then what? Is all that there is to you is this one person? How can that possibly be enough?

And on top of that, when you get this idea in your head of how love should be, and what kind of person Your Person is supposed to be, you get a reality check once you’ve passed the Honeymoon Stage. You realize now you’ve got a person with as many issues as you do—sometimes even more. How are you supposed to take care of them, when you don’t even know how to take care of yourself? Answer that one for me.

What’s kind of funny is that people would assume that I’m a little skeptical about love because I’m a child of divorce, but you know what? I don’t even have any memories of my parents together and happy, so their separation didn’t seem like the world was ending to me. I remember being with Mom at night while dad worked, and mornings with Dad while Mom worked. I didn’t really see a love and a marriage deteriorate. I’m not going to say that I was unaffected, but it definitely wasn’t as crazy as anyone would think. If anything, my parents’ relationships with other people was what I used to figure out what looked right and what didn’t.

But past my skepticism and anxieties, I want to experience what love really feels like. I understand that my parents love me, I accept my siblings’ love for me, I acknowledge the love my friends have for me, and I’ve even learned to love myself. But I often wonder if that’s enough to build a life alone.

So I guess you can call my a hypocrite. Because as much as I don’t want to take on someone else’s baggage, or have to find the money to spend on an extra person in my life, or have to share my thoughts and self with right now, I feel like I might eventually meet someone that won’t make me fear those things. I’m at a point in my life where I’m really selfish, trying to figure myself out, and super careful with the things that I say and do. And I am one hundred percent sure that those are words coming from someone who doesn’t want a relationship, no matter how much I ogle over men with beards and blue eyes and feelings.

Love is confusing. It starts out as a little kindling, and slowly bursts up into a thousand flames, and then calms to an imperfect little fire. Sometimes, it eventually burns out; other times, it lives on. The system is always changing, as the lives Love affected move along.

I used to say that ideally, I wanted a Marshall and Lily kind of love: they’re part-time lovers and full-time friends. In my head, their fictional, small-screen relationship emulates what romantic love is meant to be like. They sacrificed for each other, supported one another, shared everything. Sure, there’s no such thing as perfection, but I think they come pretty damn close (likely because it’s fictional, but let a girl dream).

Truly, I believe that our emotions control our lives, and love is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, emotion we feel. It makes people do crazy, out of character things; it makes people think irrationally. But it’s also the closest thing we have to magic, and the reason there’s a such thing as Happily Ever Afters. I’ve watched love happen and evolve from the outside looking in for so long, that I think I’ve seen all the shapes and sizes it comes in, and how to figure out love vs. lust vs. abuse and fake love.

And honestly, I can say that I love myself. Sure, I have issues with myself, because hey—who doesn’t? I give myself my alone time, which I cherish maybe a little too much, and I even do the things that make my heart the most happy, like dancing and drawing and writing and listening to music and watching movies, and doing my makeup and my hair, and hanging out with my family and my friends. I even treat myself to new clothes or Taco Bell every once in a while.

I think that’s the best way to show yourself what true love is—by doing the things that make you happiest, and feel good about being alive. Because, at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want: to be happy, to feel alive, and to be happy about being alive?

You tell me.

Prompt: What does love mean to you? How do you show these emotions and actions to yourself?

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A twenty-two year old who lives through words and her Netflix account. She makes herself laugh more than others, and she claims that she is okay with that.

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