The Relativity of ‘Love’ – As Is, Where Is

I keep coming back to this question… What is love? Google knows, since I typed in ‘love is…’ and it immediately retrieved the Bible definition and told me that I’d visited the site twice before and that’s just from this location. I tend to refer to the Bible definition because I think it’s the most comprehensive one and the one I most try to live by. But I’ve asked the question of others and the response is always different… Everyone seems to have a different understanding and expectation of love.

I have never believed that the expression or expectation of love could be universal. We are individuals with our own needs and desires and expectations. We are unique souls with our own experiences and our own socialization and our own personalities. We are special snowflakes that thrive in varying conditions. Searching for that condition however is one of the more trying experiences some of us will ever have. Our understanding of what love is and the expectations we have of our loves will be as unique as we are.

What is most painful though is when your understanding and expectation run headfirst into someone else’s. Or, maybe its heart first. It’s fucking devastating when the love you want to give and receive just does not seem to align with the love that someone else wants to give and receive. And sometimes that person’s spirit calls to you on so many other levels. It happens in family relationships, it happens in friendships and it absolutely happens in romantic relationships.

Communication is key. I keep saying it. Speak up about what you are feeling and do not let your emotions be muzzled. If your partner refuses to listen, maybe that’s the wrong person for you. Maybe you’re the wrong person for them. Listen to what your partner has to say. The message may not always be the one you want to hear, but it’s what the person is feeling. Respect it. Be fair and honest and gentle with your speech. Arguments are inevitable. Two different personalities, two different realities, two different human beings trying to coexist as a unit will invariably cause friction. Start and end with kindness and gentleness and you pretty much can’t go wrong even if you end up parting ways. Learn your love language and teach it to your partner. At the end of the day, if you truly want to be together, there is always a way. It may, most likely will, require compromise, but communication is first, that’s the foundation. Then, comes the work. The everyday work. The intentional, deliberate actions and gestures that confirm, affirm and validate your affections. The daily tasks that build the structure. The fun and the sex follow almost effortlessly and create something of beauty. Something lasting.

For me, love has always been about seeing the perfections in an imperfect person. Loving the entire person even when they do things that I sometimes don’t even like. It’s about patience and kindness and forgiveness. It’s about taking someone as I met  them where I met them and journeying with them to where  we want to be. It’s about taking the bad with the good because sometimes no matter how awful the bad is, the good is just awesome. I’m not talking about abusive relationships – if someone hurts you physically or emotionally or sexually, please, LEAVE (I’m going to get to that one soon…I think…). I’m talking about the small stuff, the day to day annoyances – the irritating in-laws, the annoying talkativeness, the tendency to be flaky, or forgetful or finicky.

Love can’t be perfect and relationships can’t be perfect because people can’t be perfect. We are all flawed creatures, with our idiosyncrasies and our imperfections. With our individual tastes and appetites. With our own distinctive weirdness. True love should transcend those. It should look at another person, see the potential for 50 years of happiness even when the person has a single (or OK, not usually a single) annoying habit. It should create a safe space for a person to be their most authentic self on the way to becoming their best self. It should stand it’s ground and say ‘I love you today even though, damnit, I wish you wouldn’t say that or do that!’ Some people never make it past the growing  pains though, past the teething stages, where so many things can be uncomfortable and the temptation to throw in the towel is greatest.

The truest iteration of love is when it flourishes in spite of and not because of. Take someone as they are, love and appreciate them and if the feeling is mutual and if the circumstances allow, you will both become the most exceptional versions of yourselves, for yourselves and for each other.



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