Friday, November 4, 2011

What is this thing called “love”?

We say it all the time. We think it all the time. And yet, we spend our entire lifetimes trying to figure out what it is. And some of us never figure out what love is. Some of us are clueless as to what love really is, and we spend our lifetimes looking and looking for it, in constant misery and unhappiness. And so, some questions --

What is Love?
1. What is this thing called “love”?
2. What do we mean when we say “I love you,” or when we ask “Do you love me?”
3. Are there different kinds of love, or is there only one love which is exhibited/experienced in different ways or varying degrees?
4. Is the concept of love objective, or is it different for each person? Does the definition of love change depending upon the situation?
5. Is the religious and Biblical concept of love different, separate, and/or distinct from the “romantic” concept of love?
6. Is being “in love” different from love generally? Is there a difference between being “in love” and being “in” love?
7. Is being “in love” different from being “in like” with someone?
8. What is love? Oh, let us count the possibilities. Is love --

-- a thought? an emotion or feeling? an attitude?
-- a psychological condition? a left-over remnant from infancy, when mommy and daddy protected you and provided for you?
-- an obsession? a form of insanity?
-- an electro-chemical reaction in the brain? raging hormones? some other purely physical or biological condition?
-- instinct or a genetic condition? or a result of socialization?
-- fate or destiny?
-- a myth, a construct or abstraction that was invented to facilitate sex and the formation of associations to provide security for one another?
-- a myth, a lie that we can use to get what we want from the other?
-- a liking of the other? an affection or sentiment for the other person?
-- an attraction to the other? physical attraction? intellectual attraction?
-- a want or desire to possess or consume the other?
-- a want or desire for companionship, to be with or in the presence of the other?
-- a want or desire for physical, spiritual, and/or sexual closeness and intimacy with the other? a passion or craving or hunger or longing for the other?
-- a bond between persons? a unification of persons? a want or desire to integrate, interpenetrate, and become one with the other?
-- an enjoyment of the other? a want or desire to utilize the other to make us happy?
-- romance and dreaminess? a feeling of pleasure or ecstasy or thrill?
-- something that is profound and intense? something that leaves you breathless and weak in the knees
-- a feeling of security or contentment? something that makes you happy or satisfied?
-- something that leaves you warm and fuzzy? something that leaves you miserable and depressed?
-- an act of reason? a rational decision? a conscious choice or act of the will?
-- a concern or care for the other, without regard to what they can or cannot provide us?
-- a desire or will for the good of the other? for the happiness of the other?
-- something that we take from the other?
-- a right that we may properly demand from the other?
-- an inter-personal, two-way, reciprocal relationship? or something that may be given or experienced whether or not it is given to us in return?
-- a gift of self? a commitment to the other? a sacrifice for the other? a subordination of self for the good and sake of the other?
-- a gift to the other without regard to whether the other deserves it or not?
-- a compassion and respect for the other as he or she really is, flaws and all?
-- an affirmation of the value of the other as a person, rather than a thing or means to our own satisfaction?
-- a duty or obligation?
-- eros, philia, agape, and/or amore?
9. Is love something that is primarily centered on or concerned with the self, or with the other person?
10. Does love involve our bodies only, or our souls as well? Does love involve only a portion of our bodies or the totality?
11. Is love something that we experience physically, spiritually, or both?
12. Is love purely corporeal, temporal, and worldly, or is it transcendent as well?
13. Is there any relationship between love and friendship? Is the love of another greater than being their friend? Is love deeper than friendship?
14. Are there things that we would accept in a loved one that we would not accept in a friend? Are there things that we would accept in friend that we would not accept in a loved one?
15. Is love a moral good? If it is a good, should a love relationship with another always be pursued?
16. Can you love someone even though you do not like them? Can love co-exist with hate? with anger?
17. Does love mean “never having to say that you are sorry”?
What is the source or cause of love?
18. Why do we love? How does love (or being “in love”) happen? What causes love? What is the source of love? Where does it come from?
19. Is the cause or source of love something that is external to us, or is it internal?
20. Is love something that is necessarily temporary, or is permanent love possible?
21. What does it mean to “fall in love”? Is love really something that we “fall” into? And is it something that we fall out of?
22. Is love ready-made? Is it something that just happens or just doesn’t happen?
23. Is love something beyond our control? Is love the result of an uncontrollable force of attraction or affinity?
24. Is love thrust upon us, like Cupid’s arrow? Are we compelled to love without regard for our reason or free will, or even against our will?
25. Does loving someone depend entirely upon the other person? Do we love them because they “make us happy”?
26. Which comes first – attraction and happiness, or love? Does happiness and/or attraction cause or otherwise lead to love, or does love lead to happiness and attraction?
27. What is the source of happiness? of attraction? of desire?
28. Is it still love if it is painful or annoying? if we are disappointed or unhappy?
29. Do we love because the other person fulfills us and completes us?
30. Do we love the other person because of some attribute of that person – because they are physically attractive or smart or funny or honest or a good provider or someone that shares our values?
31. How well do you have to know someone before you can sincerely say “I love you”? Is “love at first sight” possible?
32. Is there only “one, true love” for us, a soul mate, a Mr. or Miss Right? Should we have to “settle” for anything less than the best?
33. Is it possible to love an unsavory person? an ugly person? a boring person?
34. Is perfect love between two persons possible? Do two persons have the power and ability in themselves to create this perfect love, or is some outside assistance needed?
35. What is the cause of the loss of love? Is the cause of the loss of love something external to us; is it something beyond our control?
36. Do we stop loving the other person because of some attribute of that person? Do we stop loving them because they no longer “make us happy”?
37. Can we “make” the other person love us? If the other person does not love us or stops loving us, is that because there is something wrong with us? Will they love us again if only we change?
38. Is love possible in an arranged marriage? If so, how?
39. Is love possible in other involuntary relationships, such as parent-child and brother-sister? If so, how?
The Ultimate Question About Love
40. What is the most perfect and truest love? the Love that will provide the answers to all of the previous questions?

See also above, 70 possible answers to the question of love.


I "LOVE" This Post said...

You KNOW I must really want to answer this question since doing so is causing me no small amount of physical pain.

Love is complex. The word has been distorted to mean so many things that truly are not 'love' - most people I know agree that 'love' is a verb. The things that go along with that are feelings.

It makes sense. Even when we meet someone and 'fall in love' we - well, normal people, anyway, can't do enough for each other. We serve and serve with joy, expecting nothing in return but, again, in normal situations, receiving much anyway from he or she who wants nothing more than to please us as well.

To clarify then, love is service.

Generally speaking, food poisoning or other things that can make us physically or mentally ill should not be confused with love.

All of your examples of why we 'love' - sure - we can decide, logically or not - to 'love' someone who is beautiful (by whatever measure you choose) or smart or talented or sexy or funny or charming or whatever. But those attributes are simply devices, innate or constructed, intentionally or not, to get our attention so that we might come to 'love' the being possessed with those things. Hence, we might then serve them.

We have discussed more than once the subject of souls and how people are connected by them - even people a great physical distance apart. Like the ability of love to multiply, our souls are equally able to form unions with many other souls. Having a 'soul mate' is simply one of those feelings, and not a 'love' thing. If one is content with one's mate, then that is a fine soul/love/whatever connection.

Now I have to stop and go back and read the post again. Then I'll be back.

Love This Post - part 2 said...

Most of your observations about what love is can be answered with a resounding YES! Love, again, considering the distortion of the word, is so very many things. It seems to have become the catch-all word to describe anything that makes us happy or sad, from the birth of a baby to the death of the pet.

Maybe that's a good thing, maybe it's not. I don't know. I do know that I certainly have my share of 'loves' - people, places, things of various sorts. I like a lot of people that I wouldn't necessarily choose to serve, willingly anyway, and there are people that I know that I love that I don't do a very good job serving.

We can't force someone to love us, and we can't foist our love (or service) on those who won't have it. For whatever reason. Your question regarding love in an arranged marriage - my grandparents were in just such a marriage and had 10 children and my grandfather died of a broken heart not long after my grandmother died. That is love. That is service.

Many of your points should not be categorized as love, but as factors in relationships. But you know that.

Sometimes these feelings that we call 'love' are simply little seedlings that we have planted in our hearts; we nourish them with tenderness in silence and joy, waiting until such time as they are free to grow in the light of day. That's a beautiful thing, sir - it gives us hope that perhaps life really does go on.

Of course, to answer your last question - that's the easiest one of all. Without a doubt, the sacrifice of Christ, which made all of this possible, is the greatest and truest form of love and will ever be so.

I'm Done Now said...

I really need to finish this.

When the desire to serve has left us, then so has love left us.

If we think perhaps we don't love someone anymore, but we continue to serve them willingly and fruitfully, then love has not left us.

Because to love someone is to serve is to love is to serve is to love...

That's just it.

She Who Writes Long Comments said...

Left you speechless,eh? ¦D