Wednesday, November 14, 2007

love bites

I think it is quite possible that the word love is one of the most over used and over rated terms in existence. We use the term to express feelings of intimacy towards another person, we use it with family members as the ultimate expression of close bonds, and also we may use it with our closest friends.

But the fact is that love, as a feeling is interpreted by each and every person in a completely different way. What one person sees as love, another sees as companionship, and another sees as lust. What level of the feeling is most accurate? Does love have to be a life long feeling that surpasses all others in the realm of intimacy, or can love be something that’s truly felt for another person, even in the short term?

I was speaking with a friend the other day about this very topic.. what is love? And he had a very interesting take on it. He told me that he had been in love before, but it had not been with women that he had dated. He fell in love with 2 women whom he had been strongly drawn to, but had never been intimate with. He explained to me that he did not think being in love was to spend your life with someone and to be their companion, or to put the other person’s best interests in front of your own. He told me that was an American’s idea of being in love, but Europeans thought that to be in love was to be infatuated with someone.

So I asked him well, what then when you meet someone, and you’re infatuated with them, then you move in together, you have children, and you develop a routine.. will you still be infatuated with them? And if not, what then? Are you no longer in love and where does that relationship exist in your mind? Well, he told me that he thought it was ok and healthy to have extramarital affairs, and that as long as it didn’t hurt anyone, it wasn’t bad.

Hmm.. I on the other hand have been in love only twice. I have only felt love completely once. I couldn’t imagine the bond that I experienced in my past relationship was not love, but merely companionship. The demise of the relationship ultimately brought about better situations for the both of us, and in that way, perhaps my Belgian friend was right, it is an American thought process that to truly love someone, you must be able to let them go if they need something else. Maybe somehow that thought process is American, but it feels much more solid to me than the other way.

But, as I posed the question, does love always have to be something earth shattering and long term to affect us the way a deep relationship would? And if it isn’t long term, why is it dismissed as something less than love? We've all heard the term "love affair", which often tends to be a short, forbidden, steamy series of sexual or intimate moments between lovers. Why then, does that read to me as "lust"? All of it reads to me as a blurry line that can only be deciphered by a person's own identification of their emotions.

According to, the definition of love is: (yielding a whopping 20 results only solidifies my feeling that the concept of "love" is quite undefinable. I've edited the list to spare you...)

1.a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2.a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3.sexual passion or desire.
4.a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.

5.a love affair; an intensely amorous incident.
6.sexual intercourse.

7.affectionate concern for the well-being of others.
8.strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything.

12.the benevolent affection of God for His creatures, or the reverent affection due from them to God.
13.Chiefly Tennis. a score of zero; nothing.

Some other emotional situations that fall into the love conundrum, invariably blurring one's ability to decipher their feelings at base level:


1.the state of being infatuated.

2.foolish or all-absorbing passion or an instance of this: a mere infatuation that will not last.


1.intense sexual desire or appetite.
2.uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness.
3.a passionate or overmastering desire or craving.
4.ardent enthusiasm; zest; relish: an enviable lust for life.

Companionship (with only 2 results (the latter referring to a professional companionship so I left it out), this situation which many of us find ourselves in, instead of the more passionate, 20 variants of love)

1.association as companions; fellowship.


Anonymous said...

I like your post.

Research a little bit on the multiple greek words for "love." You'll realize that there is only one word in the english language for what there are multiple words in other languages.

Anonymous said...

For another perspective on love, may I also briefly recommend reading about C.S. Lewis' work "The Four Loves" on wiki.

CS Lewis is typically categorized as a theological writer, still I think his observations on love can be applied and understood universally.

I believe the ultimate and purist form of love (something it would behoove me, personally, to acquire) is that of charity or agape.

Mlle said...

Thank you for posting :) I'll definitely read the page on C.S. Lewis.