What is "Love"?

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Imported, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. Imported

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    drrionelli: Well, it seems that geo8x6 is just the most recent of us here to have found "love". Good for him!

    My question is this: WHAT is "love"? I'd like to have a decent definition of the word. Not a convoluted description. Not a flowery-worded example. Not a "if-you-have-to-ask-you'll-never-know" response.

    Of course, we all know that love does not equal sex. Those here have a track record of being in (or having been in) a number of relationships, which may or may not be of a "loving" type.

    So, to quote the old song, what is this thing called "love"? ???
     
  2. Imported

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    niner: might as well be asking what the meaning of life is :D

    I once told my (now ex-) girlfriend that I thought love was the missing piece of your puzzle... you can be born with looks, fame, fortune, health, anything.. but love isn't anything you're given, you have to make it for yourself. It's the part that completes you, the sensation that, to use a metaphor from a movie I can't remember, you wish were tangible and you could wrap yourself up in it like a blanket and never let go.
     
  3. Imported

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    Tender: my thought is that you cant really DO anything to MAKE love purposely happen,
    in other words, if it aint there--- it aint there.....
    love just sort of happens, its not something you can stop or let go of or WILL to be a certain way.
    mind you thats not to say that it controls you, of course decisions are MADE by one. but the love factor is still there even if you choose not to follow it.

    ok that might sound like blah blah but maybe it will make sense to someone....

    Tender
     
  4. benderten2001

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    Everyone will have his/her own definition of "love".

    For me, it's like the completion of one's journey...AFTER one has sought (for however long) that inner fulfillment, contentment, wholeness, --that "missing piece" for making one's physical and emotional life totally meaningful and purposeful. Love doesn't always HAVE to be of the "romantic" context necessarily, either.

    Love brings the opportunity to be accepted, nurtured, and (yes) "adored" but it offers that same opportunity to RETURN those very identical gestures because you absolutely WANT to. It's as though one is almost "compelled" ( from very deep within) to do so!

    REAL love is rare, precious, and should always be jealously guarded when (and if!) it's ever found. ;)
    Love is a gift and it carries awesome responsibilities (and accountabilities) as well. The sexual aspect of all this is but merely a single component to this otherwise mysterious "mix". Ideally, a "sexual union" would be the absolute final "sealing" (that familiar word "consummation") of an inner bonding between two people who happen to find themselves in (romantic) love.
     
  5. Imported

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    TragicWhiteKnight: Read Plato's 'Symposium'. Then disagree with it vehemently. That way you'll become a great dinner party guest :)

    Kristeva's 'Tales Of Love' and Barthes' 'A Lover's Discourse' are pretty good starts too...

    [obviously I'm not saying you can't know what love is without studying it. But, in my experience, it's the only way you can end up discussing it without it getting personal and ending in a fistfight...]
     
  6. Imported

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    hung: Love is: Something we all desire - however to love is to be able to "Give it away!!!!"

    I love my country enough to stand tall and be ready to die for this country.

    I love my bride enough to take her place and die for her.

    I love my family enough to die for them.

    Sounds very noble - but that is the ultimate display of love. I am not sucidial; however to be real we all know of people who measure up to these standards.

    This can be the goal of everyone. Hard to achieve, but in the end the real purpose of life.
     
  7. Synergistic

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    And just to round off the smartass responses, and to quote another song.

    "What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more."
     
  8. Imported

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    drrionelli: First of all, let me thank you all for your generous and insightful input! The replies are wonderful, and very much appreciated.

    Perhaps I should have put this under the "ET CETERA" heading, and, for those who might have found it more appropriate there, I apologize.

    If I may, I'd like to get some more feedback. The suggestions that "love" is something intangible or in some ways abstract are certainly valid (the literary and musical allusions are also much appreciated).

    Might we be a bit more specific in our definitions of "love"? Perhaps because we don't have a precise definition of the word is why we tend to attribute it to such feelings of helplessness at times (though, arguably, those feelings can be wonderful, too!).

    I certainly hope that I'm not coming across as a pedantic jerk, but so many words that we use are so easily defined. How can we define "love"?
     
  9. D_Martin van Burden

    D_Martin van Burden Account Disabled

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    I'm sure Merriam-Webster might feature something similar...

    [link=http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=love]Love[/link] is...
    • A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
    • A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance.
    • An inclusion of sexual passion and intercourse as well as the (usually) concommitant love affair.
    • An intense emotional attachment, as for a pet or treasured object.
    • A person who is the object of deep or intense affection or attraction; beloved. Often used as a term of endearment.
    • An expression of one's affection.
    • A strong predilection or a reference to the object itself that leads to great enthusiasm and passion.
    • ...or a tennis score of zero.

    Call me crazy, but though these definitions are pretty descriptive, wouldn't you agree that there's something missing to them? I read this notion in a manual on trauma reenactment syndrome, but I think the point can apply here, too. There's something about love that words simply cannot define. Whenever we are in love or feel a deep and strong love for another, emotions well up and rise to the surface. It is often described as joy, as comfort, as co-dependence, strength, emancipation, relief, enthusiasm. It's the twinkle in your eye, the grin that reaches ear to ear, the warmth you feel when you nestle or are nestled into someone's arms. It's that thought that gets you through a tough day of work; it's a warm meal or a hot bath, a cozy fire. I can go endlessly with the metaphors, but there's a very strong non-literal component to love that makes it difficult to describe, or as you say, define.

    The definitions above define love, but they only give a limited perspective and insight into what someone in love feels like inside. Try asking someone who has been married for many years, or someone who has a successful relationship for a long time; ask them what love means. You'll get a ton of different answers, maybe, but I think you'll get a fair share of people who are... speechless...

    Their eyes, their lips, and the wide shock smile on their faces might say it all. They may say it with a glance, by squeezing the hand of their beloved, smiling. But they can't put it in black and white on a page, on a screen, on a web site. But even if we can't find the perfect or even the adequate words to describe how we feel when we love someone, that doesn't make those feelings any more or less important, vital, crucial, or present.

    'Sides, why don't you want to take all the magic out of love by making a linguistic science of it? :)
     
  10. B_RoysToy

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    God is love; love is God. If we experience romantic love, it's only a small portion of the all-encompassing love of God, which induces an esthetic state of being. He (or She) first loved us, when we learn to return this love we are taking the first steps to complete happiness. The object of our love takes first place in our lives, even causing us to give our very lives if necessary. Our finite minds can't truly comprehend such an infinite love.

    Luke
     
  11. Imported

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    wvalady1968: Great answers! I've been thinking about this question for a few days, and "love" is very subjective. So if a friend came to me wondering if he was in love, I think I would ask the following questions:

    1. Is your lover almost perfect just the way she is?

    2. Does your lover feel the same way about you, or is she always pointing out “little ways” you should change?

    Note: If you’re with someone who has habits that you believe you’ll be able to change later, bells should go off with red flags waving. You can’t change anyone. This is carved in granite.

    3. If necessary, would you give up any friend or relative who couldn’t accept your lover as your spouse? Is she the most important person in your life?

    4. Are you with her because you care for her and want to be there, or because the sex is regular/good, or other people think better of you when they see you’re with her, or [Heaven forbid!] you don’t want to be alone.

    5. Do you want to help her to achieve her dreams and life goals? Would you be willing to sacrifice time and money to do this? Does she genuinely feel the same about you?

    6. Does she complete you? Do you feel like a part of you had been missing and that, with her, you are whole?

    7. Do you make each other laugh?

    If the answers are yes, you're in love.
     
  12. Imported

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    junk792: [quote author=RoysToy link=board=meetgreet;num=1073349737;start=0#9 date=01/07/04 at 19:54:38]God[/quote]
    I don't believe in it.
     
  13. Imported

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    roedhunt: Love's meaning is one of lifes many little secrets...
     
  14. Imported

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    getnbiggr: [quote author=TragicWhiteKnight link=board=meetgreet;num=1073349737;start=0#4 date=01/06/04 at 02:42:12]Read Plato's 'Symposium'.  Then disagree with it vehemently.  That way you'll become a great dinner party guest :)

    Kristeva's 'Tales Of Love' and Barthes' 'A Lover's Discourse' are pretty good starts too...

    [/quote]

    You might also try Laura Kipnis' recent book "Against Love: A Polemic" which is really smart and very, VERY funny...
     
  15. Imported

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    getnbiggr: Apologies for a long-ish post.  But here's an excerpt from a New York Times article that Kipnis wrote about "love" for Valentine's Day, 2001.  

    Thought that some might find it interesting/funny/though-provoking...

    -- J.

    ************************

    A Treatise on the Tyranny of Two

    By LAURA KIPNIS
    October 14, 2001 The New York Times Magazine

    Love is, as we know, a mysterious and controlling force. It has vast power over our thoughts and life decisions. It demands our loyalty, and we, in turn, freely comply. Saying no to love isn't simply heresy; it is tragedy -- the failure to achieve what is most essentially human. So deeply internalized is our obedience to this most capricious despot that artists create passionate odes to its cruelty, and audiences seem never to tire of the most deeply unoriginal mass spectacles devoted to rehearsing the litany of its torments, fixating their very beings on the narrowest glimmer of its fleeting satisfactions.

    Yet despite near total compliance, a buzz of social nervousness attends the subject. If a society's lexicon of romantic pathologies reveals its particular anxieties, high on our own list would be diagnoses like ''inability to settle down'' or ''immaturity,'' leveled at those who stray from the norms of domestic coupledom either by refusing entry in the first place or, once installed, pursuing various escape routes: excess independence, ambivalence, ''straying,'' divorce. For the modern lover, ''maturity'' isn't a depressing signal of impending decrepitude but a sterling achievement, the sine qua non of a lover's qualifications to love and be loved.

    This injunction to achieve maturity -- synonymous in contemporary usage with 30-year mortgages, spreading waistlines and monogamy -- obviously finds its raison d'être in modern love's central anxiety, that structuring social contradiction the size of the San Andreas Fault: namely, the expectation that romance and sexual attraction can last a lifetime of coupled togetherness despite much hard evidence to the contrary.

    Ever optimistic, heady with love's utopianism, most of us eventually pledge ourselves to unions that will, if successful, far outlast the desire that impelled them into being. The prevailing cultural wisdom is that even if sexual desire tends to be a short-lived phenomenon, ''mature love'' will kick in to save the day when desire flags. The issue that remains unaddressed is whether cutting off other possibilities of romance and sexual attraction for the more muted pleasures of mature love isn't similar to voluntarily amputating a healthy limb: a lot of anesthesia is required and the phantom pain never entirely abates. But if it behooves a society to convince its citizenry that wanting change means personal failure or wanting to start over is shameful or simply wanting more satisfaction than what you have is an illicit thing, clearly grisly acts of self-mutilation will be required.
    .........

    As love has increasingly become the center of all emotional expression in the popular imagination, anxiety about obtaining it in sufficient quantities -- and for sufficient duration -- suffuses the population. Everyone knows that as the demands and expectations on couples escalated, so did divorce rates. And given the current divorce statistics (roughly 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce), all indications are that whomever you love today -- your beacon of hope, the center of all your optimism -- has a good chance of becoming your worst nightmare tomorrow. (Of course, that 50 percent are those who actually leave their unhappy marriages and not a particularly good indication of the happiness level or nightmare potential of those who remain.) Lawrence Stone, a historian of marriage, suggests -- rather jocularly, you can't help thinking -- that today's rising divorce rates are just a modern technique for achieving what was once taken care of far more efficiently by early mortality. . .
     
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