What is love?

August 13, 2013

pink rose cuWhat is love?

I’ve gone round and round with this my whole life.

I’ve had lots of experience with brotherly love, although not with my actual brother: I have it with my male friends who make me laugh and who love me unconditionally just because I’m me. What a gift!

Girlfriend love is worth all the tea in China, however much that is. Infinite value.

It took me a really long time to get fatherly love and my father had to die to really show it to me, but I’ve got it now and it’s so cool. I also had it with a man I married, and yes, that was a total mismatch. Wrong role for sure.

And then infatuation–OMG, don’t we all just adore swoon-inducing infatuation? It burns out quickly, once reality appears, but while it’s burning it’s red-hot stuff.

Finally, I thought I’d found love, that romantic and angst-ridden feeling that has a lot in common with feelings of impending doom, and in fact, that’s what it was: doomed.

My writing coach and I have had a few discussions about my decision making skills in relationships as reflected in my draft manuscript, and although perhaps she didn’t mean to, she led me straight to what I think is my final definition of love: my final answer. What is love?

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I know. Not the stuff of fairy tales. But that’s what it takes to make a love relationship work: looking in the same direction. Not in the mirror. Not at someone else. Not behind you. And not traveling your own path.

Yes, all the gooey feelings are still there, but in mature love, you’re traveling together to the same destination and helping the other get there. I’ve got that, finally, now.

It’s pretty damn cool.

15 comments on “What is love?
  1. Julie Phelps says:

    Good read, Carol. Thanks.
    You give me hope that someday I will find that very same type of love.
    Glad you have it now,

  2. Barbara says:

    Beautiful post Carol….that quote reminded me of a Martha Beck video snip I watched some time ago…I was so taken by her words that I wrote them down: “There is this prevailing fairytale that romantic love is the solution to all things, and we put too much pressure on our intimate relationships, and we see them as a sure thing, locked in, never going to change, we will be happy forever. So we make those deals, but people change, people always change, so you can get 2 people pretending that they haven’t changed, and then you get this mess that goes all sideways. Realize that you’re both changing all the time and keep the communication wide open between you…so you don’t have to constantly go back to the starting line and be what you were then, you go forward with someone by your side traveling at the same pace. So our relationship model is 2 people facing each other gazing into each other’s eyes for ever and ever- a more useful model would be 2 people walking side by side at about the same pace…if you allow that to happen, you’ll find that the people you love are right next to you even though there’s no compulsion or force. If you try to pretend that the thing you set up, however many years ago that was, is the way it’s always going to be, your true selves will rebel, because we are all born to change. So risk being open and communicating about all the changes between you, and you stand the best possible chance for a lot of satisfying relationships.”

    • admin says:

      That’s lovely. Communication really is the key, it always is. And if you’re with someone who doesn’t, it’s probably going to end badly.

  3. Great post! I’ve been asking and answering (and asking, and answering…) this question my whole life. Somebody once said to me, “Love isn’t an emotion. It’s a state of being.” Which I think might be the best answer I ever heard. In my case, it seems to be true that love has to start with WILD infatuation, or it won’t last! And then the hard work of living with another person, and the art of falling in love with him over and over again. Did you ever see that scene in “Best Years of Our Lives, where Fredric March & Myrna Loy explain marriage to their grown daughter? THAT’s love!

  4. Amy Blitchok says:

    This is a pretty big topic to tackle – one of those questions for the ages. I have always equated the desire to be loved with the desire to be understood and accepted – as is. When it comes to turning that love into a lasting relationship, communication is key, but so is a strong sense of commitment. If you always have an exit strategy in the back of your mind, you won’t work as hard to sort things out.

  5. Susan Cooper says:

    Love is different for each person. I have been blessed to know many different kinds of love and have become a better person for the love I have been shown. I also believe in showing love to others. It also helps me grow and become a better person. 🙂

  6. Hi Carol,
    So many things have been said about love, and so many myths are running about it. Plus there is a big confusion (that you make the way I see it) because the word is used for many different thing which have no reason to be merged altogether.

    We call “love” the feeling that we can have for parents, children or friends and although there are a few common points in affects or bonds, they are still very different things that this “love” base on a relation between two humans beings and engaging them on a sexual level.

    The primary sexual bond with its particular chemistry and the erotic emotions definitively put this kind of love in a special arena which is precisely the one being addressed each time a novel a movie or a TV series is talking about “love.”

    Are there different kinds of love? I’d say yes but when we look at it attentively we see that these kinds can be summarized in just two: “Love passion” and “Love companionship” and while the latter belongs to every day’s life, the former, searched and desired by people all along their lives, belong to the world or exhilaration and extraordinary.

    So what is the difference? While love companionship is the one that can bring you and your sweet heart sticking together till the end, along the calm flow of one peaceful river, love passion is the one that burns, and I would say hopefully it does! In love passion everything is intense from love making to the extraordinary thing we do for each other, and the magnified vision that we have of anything having played the slightest role in the love story. In love people can hardly work sometimes. And of course there is no way that anyone can maintain this intensity for 25 years! So nothing forbid that a love passion turns into a nice love companionship, but living such a love, it’s burning it. And I don’t see it in a negative way, burning is the essence of life itself. And the ones having lived a wonderful love passion will be rich from it all along their life whatever the way it ended.

    In short I disagree with the definition of my country fellow Saint-Exupery because it only applies to “love companionship”. In “love passion” you “gaze at each other” and not only you’re seeing a soul to which you get closer than you have ever been to any other, but you find there a whole world boosting your imagination and creativity, giving you a strength that you’d never thought you would have, and leading you to a higher level of perception because all your senses are set in alert like they never were!

    So whenever we are so lucky to hear it ringing our bell, LET’S FALL IN LOVE, my friends!

  7. I don’t want to get in between Carol and Francois in this discussion! But. We have a woman’s opinion here and a man’s. Women tend, me included, to have a desire for romance. I was raised with Prince Charming and Happily Ever After fantasy and the perception was that love, romance and passion would be there forever…not that Disney said those things. And, what a disappointment to see it all fizzle rather early on in my marriage. I was married for almost 27 years–staying put because it was ‘the right thing’. What I longed for was a man who understood me or at least made that effort–what Carol, and Saint-Exupery, referred to as the walking side by side love. I continue to hope for that love, with the wisdom and experience now to know that the passion is requires work- it needs to be intentionally fueled over time. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t, as Francois says in his writings, look at the scenery or dream of passionate seductions. But, I think it’s possible to commit your heart to one person and then work to stay true to that commitment-joyfully.

    • admin says:

      This is such a thoughtful assessment, Walker. Commitment and staying true–big issues. “Work” is something people think has to be “hard” but here’s a case where it is a joy. Thanks for the stimulating ideas….

    • Hello Walker,

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dismiss at all “Love companionship”, which by the way I lived happily for very long years. The reservation I had from Carol writing about the topic was only that she was seeming to dismiss the other sort of Love, the “Love Passion”, as unattainable, promised to failure, etc …
      And I strongly disagree with that. Well even more so because it takes as presupposition something that is untrue for me, and that would be that the only value with be in everlasting. When will people on this earth understand that nothing is everlasting! 🙂 Things move, things change, they have a beginning and an end, as life does! And it’s exactly that which makes them beautiful. And even love companionship is not a long quiet river. Of course there is hope to make it last longer because unlike in “love passion” we don’t require mystery, exhilaration, magic, or ablazing eroticism from our partner.
      But hey then, explain to me why half of the Films, TV series or Novels are constantly offering to the public, stories about passionate Love that people (okay mainly women) are daily devouring for nourishing their vicarious dreams? You never know how long will last a passion, but all the ones having lived a real one know that they never saw their life as bright as in these times. And whatever will be the end of it, whatever the grief and forlorn yearning days, they’ll stay rich from it till the end of their lives.

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