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What is Love?

Image of river and bank in winter. Raleigh psychotherapy, counseling, Katherine Broadway, Love

“A purpose of a human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love

whoever is around to be loved.”

-Kurt Vonnegut

What is love? It's more than a catchy 90's hit by Haddaway. According to Tina Turner, “it's a second-hand emotion”. Author Paulo Coelho believes it is an untamed force. Pat Benatar says “love is a battlefield” while plenty of contemporary songs refer to it as a roller coaster, among other things.

We often limit our thoughts and discussions of love to romantic or familial relationships. This is a problematic attitude. It limits our ability to see the other forms of love already in our lives.

Love means many things. As a noun it means, deep affection, fondness, tenderness, attachment, compassion, care, devotion. As a verb it means, delight in, have a passion for, take great pleasure in, be partial to, relish. Nowhere in those definitions is love required to be directed at Mom or Dad, at a spouse or a partner.

We forget about the love we have for our pets, our country, our friends and activities. There is a deep affection in those relationships as well; we take pleasure in the time spent and relish our connections. Those, too, are love manifest in our lives.

How Love Looks

Tammy and Joan have been friends for years. Both are very smart women who have an almost identical reading problem. They are kindred spirits and share the experiences of lifelong shame and pain around reading. They even say that they were twins separated at birth.

They are also very different. One is extremely healthy, while the other has a chronic illness. Even so, both feel comforted by the understanding they share, and each cares for the other. This is a form of love.

Then, you have Joe and Tom. They, too, have been friends for years. They work in the same field and are quite close. When they get together, the companionship is relaxed and easy; the conversation ranges from light-hearted banter to deeply serious discussions. They have shared one another's deepest shame and sorrow.

That said, these men seldom see each other. They want to spend more time together. Somehow, it never happens. This is a form of love.

Another example is the relationship between Michael and Lois. They had been friends for many years before she moved to another city with her spouse. They met almost every week, gardened together, talked often and shared meals. It was a truly intimate friendship. Since the move, they do not talk and have not made a way to see on another. Occasionally, they will “like” one another’s Facebook posts. This is a form of love.

This leads me to Daniel and Allen. They have been part of a mutual interest Facebook page for three years, and communicate often through posts and the occasional message. They had never met in person until Daniel and his wife made an unexpected trip to Allen’s town.

The three met for the evening and had a wonderful time. Daniel’s wife’s had been negative about their friendship, believing two people who had never met could not be so close. The experience transformed her attitude. This is a form of love.

Ann and Toby have been together for ten years. Toby makes Ann laugh and comforts her when she cries. He plays with her, works with her, and shares her meals. She knows that without Toby, her life would be less rich and meaningful. Toby is Ann’s dog. This is a form of love.

Sylvia lives on the family farm. For years, she lived in the city, where she had friends and raised a family. However, she missed the land, the solitude and the peace. When her husband retired, they moved to the farm. This is love.

Love comes in many forms and styles, through many different experiences. It grows in the most unexpected places and it is often missed and unacknowledged.

All of these examples are not what most would define as great loving, intimate relationships; yet to the people involved, they are deeply meaningful and give depth and joy to their lives.

We have a national holiday specifically for the purpose of celebrating love. It is a day that is set aside to acknowledge the important people in our lives. It is not just for the great romantic or sexual love of your life, it is for all those who are meaningful to you. Take this time to find and celebrate the love in your life.


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