What is Love?

There are different kinds of love, such as brotherly love, romantic love, love of God or country. In this article I will be discussing the love between two people.

To start, let's eliminate a few examples of what is NOT love. "Oh my - just look at him/her - who wouldn't be in love? I want him/her so much!" This is desire or lust, the deep wanting of another person. It is not love. "I can't stand the thought of her/him talking with another man/woman. If I see him/her hanging out with good looking people, I'll have to put my foot down. I want them to be mine, and only mine". This is also not love. It is jealousy, control and a sense of ownership. "As long as they bring in their share of the money, I don't really care what else they do. We have an open relationship". This is not love. It is a financial contract. "I would do anything for them, even if I had to stop seeing my family or even lose my own life". This is not love. It is a subservient, self-loathing need to be controlled, sometimes permitting abuse or damaging behavior from the other person. "I'm so happy I'm in love again, and not alone any more". This is probably not love either, but a need to have companionship. Some people will settle for someone clearly not right for them, just to escape the feeling of 'having nobody'.

But I still havn't answered the question of what love actually is. To start, love always puts the other person ahead of ourself, but does it without reducing our self-worth in any way, because our partner will want to put US ahead of themselves. If each person gives all, the relationship is in balance, and each person feels like the apple of their partner's eye. I remember an old story about a young man who had a gold pocket watch, but no chain to fasten it to his pocket. His young wife had beautiful long hair and she took pride in how nice it looked and knew her husband loved it too. The young man decided to sell his pocket watch in order to buy his wife some ivory combs that she could keep in her hair. On Christmas morning, they gathered in the living room, and the man was shocked to see that his wife had short hair. There were just two gifts under the tree that year, and so she opened hers first to find the combs which she no longer could use. He opened his gift to find the chain he had wanted for his pocket watch. She had sold her hair to buy the chain, and he had sold his watch to buy the combs. Knowing the sacrifice each had made, they embraced and felt the love each other had.

So love should include sacrifice if it means that we can give the other something that they want. Ideally, both people would feel the same about the other, and make similar sacrifices. They should have a deep, uncompromising fondness for one another, and the natural course will be for it to include physical attraction and desire. And if they should ever decide to move on, you'd still only wish them the best, as you also move on. How do we get to this point? We have to first love ourselves. That means accepting our mistakes, recognizing our strengths, and the ultimate test: being happy to be alone. That's right. If we can love ourself first, we send a signal that we are worth loving, and we therefore become more attractive. If we love our own company, so will others. The right person sees who we are and we make a choice based on our own desires for a mate, and not on shallow needs or wants. This is the kind of love that can last a lifetime.