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Definition Essay - Defining Love


Affection, devotion, passion, desire, warmth, respect or loyalty.  You choose.  It doesn't really matter which one because they are all forms of love.  Some are powerful and demand attention while others are more subtle and just below the surface.  In recent years, love has drifted from these subtle levels to the more noticeable ones, namely passion.  In my opinion, our society downplays the real necessity for genuine affection.  By this I mean that we, as a society, spend so much time focusing on only one level of love (passion) that we tend to neglect and not recognize the need for closeness and trust (friendship).  Love is an all-encompassing emotion that can be powerful and demanding, but also rewarding and pleasurable.

            Love is commitment. To love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person.   Commitment can be called the backbone or building block of love.  In other words, commitment is needed in order to build a stable and trusting relationship.  Without commitment, love would not be able to grow and flourish. It can be extremely demanding on someone who isn't ready or sure that they want to commit to another person. 

I do have to admit that sometimes this can be extremely difficult and may leave one feeling a bit vulnerable.   Commitment is the ability to take a risk and to accept the possibility of disappointment or pain.  Again, I have to agree that commitment can be demanding, but to look on the bright side, it can also be rewarding.  To be able to stay in a committed relationship, says a great deal about a person; at least it does to me.      

Love is sharing.  By this I mean to share one's life, feelings, and downfalls; not just one's personal property.  Sharing is being honest about yourself and allowing the other person involved in the relationship to really get to know who you really are.  It takes more strength and courage to be able to share in a relationship.  It has been my experience (which hasn't been that long) that sharing keeps the relationship growing.  Not only do you share life experiences, both new and old, but also you learn to communicate.

     Communication is a very important aspect of sharing.  Just being able to communicate your problems or solutions with each other is a step in the right direction to a loving relationship.  So many marriages or friendships in recent years have ended simply because the couple could not communicate and share their feelings. Sharing is not an easy thing to do, but it is fundamental to the success of a relationship.

Love is compassion.  Compassion is being able to care about the feelings of another.   It is understanding and listening to the loved one's needs and desire's.  To me, in order to have compassion one must first feel empathy towards another person.  Compassion and empathy go hand in hand.  They are the state of being ultimately concerned about the health and welfare of another person. 

Love is faith.  This has to be the most difficult form of love to conquer. Most of the time when people discuss faith they are referring to the relationship that they, as individuals, have with their particular God(s).   I believe that having faith in a God(s) is important, but faith should not be limited to religious deities.  Faith can be applied to "normal, everyday" person to person relationships as well. In a marriage, you have faith that your partner will be monogamous and supporting.  Of course, when referring to a friendship, family member or coworker one must also have faith that the loved one will be honest and forthright with you.  There are so many levels to faith that we should not forget or ignore them.  It takes a great deal of faith to have a good relationship with another person.

Love is forgiving.  The ability to forgive is a great showing of love towards a loved one.  I believe that because we are human we will make mistakes and should be forgiven for those mistakes.  We have no "real" right to judge anyone else for their mistakes because we are just as susceptible to them.  Now I'm not referring to murder, rape or infidelity.  I mean the common mistakes that the average individual makes everyday.  People need to realize that we, as a society, have our flaws and that not everyone is going to faultless all the time.  We need to "forgive" those we love of small indiscretions and allow for individuality otherwise this world will never evolve.  Forgiveness shouldn't be hard to give or earn.    

If only we (humans) could see how artificial and trivial the thousands of boundaries we have created to separate and divide us really are.   Humans separate themselves not only by class or gender, but also by color, religion, or nationality.   I believe that we have only one choice in life and that is to love other people and forgive them when they need to be.  This choice can only be made if we overcome our fears, our distrust of each other, and our assumption of separateness.  I know that that sounds romantic, but it is still a hope of mine.

It has taken me years and some tough experiences to realize that love is necessary in every form.  It doesn't matter if it is to a friend, spouse, parent, or child.  Love is love in any form.  People need to use it more often.  I once read a passage from the Bible about love and it has always stuck with me.  "Deep waters cannot quench Love, nor floods wash it away." (Songs 8:7)  Love is powerful and beautiful if one knows how to show and possess it.  Granted it can cause problems, but it has answers too.  To say that love is subjective would be an understatement, but in order to have it we must first look within ourselves.         

            Love is having compassion for others, sharing feelings and your life with another person, as well as,  having faith in others and forgiving those we love for the any errs that they may make.  Most of all, we must be committed to those we love.  Of course, this is only my opinion.  No matter how long I try to explain what love is ultimately it is up to you, the reader, to define what love is to you.  So let me leave you now with the words of the great Humanist Erich Fromm,  "Can anything be learned about the art of love, except by practicing it?"

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