What is love?
Who needs Google with the enchanting and thought-provoking responses below:
LOVE IS LIFELONG FRIENDSHIP
Agony aunt, Virginia Ironside
I’m saddened when perfect young couples break up because one says they don’t “love” the other. Nine times out of ten, they do feel love, they just can’t recognise love for what it is. They think love is a grand passion which will sweep them off their feet — but it’s not. Grand passions are usually short-lived. Love is kindness rather than passion, forgiveness rather than romance.
As we enter our senior years, I’m more likely to hear “I love you” from friends than I am from a man. That’s not because love is becoming a debased word — though “Love ya” has replaced “See ya” as a conversational sign-off — but because the older we get, the easier it is to find we love our friends and, sometimes, even our enemies.
As we age, no longer clouded by need, self-absorption or sexual longings, we become aware of our connections with others, that we love each other despite everything.
LOVE IS . . . BEING READY TO TAKE A BULLET FOR HIM
Romantic novelist, Barbara Taylor Badford
Love is an ever-changing emotion. In those first heady days, when a woman initially sets eyes on a man, love feels physical. There’s a yearning to touch him, make love to him. If you’re lucky, you might even experience a coup de foudre where you instantly ‘click’. It’s something I’ve often written about in my novels.
But as this lust subsides and you live with and learn more about the person, it hopefully yields a deeper, less selfish love, one where you’d gladly give your life for your partner. I knew within a week of meeting Bob, my husband of 51 years, at a lunch party, that I wanted to spend my life with him.
I remember dashing upstairs to apply makeup in the hope of impressing him. It was as if we’d known each other for years. We’ve been together ever since; he proposed within weeks. Not a day goes by when we don’t tell each other how much we love each other. We’re still as affectionate, warm and sexual as we’ve ever been.
We didn’t have children so there are just the two of us. Of course, we have quarrels. He says I’m bossier than Napoleon; I say he’s like Bismarck. But when he’s not around, I miss him dreadfully. All these years of love have taught me what love is: caring about the other person more than you care about yourself. I always want to ensure Bob is not only physically well but happy, too, and looks his best. He feels the same.
He respects me, cares about me and wants what is best for me. And I know if it came to it, we’d take a bullet for each other.
LOVE IS . . . THE NEW RELIGION
Philosopher, Simon May
From ancient times to the 19th century nobody doubted what love meant, and all the great philosophers had definitions. Why, then, are we still searching for a satisfactory answer? Because love is our new God. In Britain, we have many faiths, but only one universal religion: the religion of love. For whatever people believe, almost everyone believes that a life without love is fundamentally flawed.
This view has been evolving since the late 18th century — the birth of the romantic period: the exact moment when, as a society, we started losing faith in God. Since then, even atheists among us have borrowed the rhetoric of old religion to describe love. We say it’s unconditional, everlasting, selfless and pure, just as God is said to love us. But since only divine love can be unconditional, we are condemned to go on searching for an answer that reflects the realities of human nature.
LOVE IS . . . A LIFELONG WORK
Chief executive of relate, Ruth Sutherland
Love is the glue that binds us together — the currency that makes our relationships work. Giving and receiving love is also vital for our mental and physical health. Yet it can be elusive and difficult to hold onto. It’s no surprise, then, that we’re desperate to know the secret to it. What I’ve learned from the thousands of couples who turn to Relate every year, however, is that there is no secret. The idea that there is only one person out there that each of us can truly love — The One — is just a social construct.
As human beings, we’re capable of loving lots of different people, in different ways, at different times in our lives. And when we’re in a relationship, love can ebb and flow. The first flurry of passion inevitably fades, but the love that remains will change with the circumstances of our lives. At Relate, we often tell couples that ups and downs are proof a relationship is working. For, in reality, love needs to be worked at to be maintained.
Just noticing the other person counts for much more than grand romantic gestures. Sometimes the fantasy version of love in the movies can get in the way of the real thing. There are couples who are truly unhappy, for whom moving on is the best outcome, but for others, it’s possible to reinvent the relationship, reignite the spark.
LOVE IS . . . able to conquer all
Christy Campbell, married for 37 years
The second most beautiful girl I ever saw in my life was going down the escalator at Camden Town Underground station. I was 17 — but even four decades on I still remember my knees knocking, then running down to the platform to see the doors of a bright red tube train closing behind her. She turned and looked at me for a second — high cheekbones and soulful eyes. I was in love. I never saw her again. The butterflies in my stomach eventually went still.
Normal service resumed as fumbling young-adult relationships came and went. Then, at a party when I was 23, I saw the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, in a gauzy, hippy princess dress. She spoke. I was in love. She was my wife Claire and we’ve been together ever since. So what is love like this — the feeling for a partner whose very presence is enough to cause collywobbles? Some say that astonishing, all-of-a-tremble overture to the great symphony is just a hormonal reaction.
Maybe so, but it’s an excellent start. Stick around and you’ll discover that enduring love is utter faith in another human being. And more, too. Sex is part of it — as is laughter — but love is more than just overwhelming desire. Without loyalty, it is just passing infatuation. Without passion, it is comfort food. Without trust, it turns into jealousy. Over the years it will be tested to near destruction. Stick with it, though, and love really does conquer all.
LOVE IS . . . only a trick of nature
Psychology Professor at Birmingham City University, Craig Jackson
Many psychologists argue over the purpose of love, but most agree it’s an emotional response to a stimulus and causes chemical changes in the brain. That stimulus is usually another human — a partner, child, parent — though it could be a pet, too. Some people experience the same response to an object like a bike, car, even a lawnmower. Someone in love shows much more brain activity on MRI scanners than someone single or widowed, though neuropsychologists can’t agree which areas are responsible.
Their brain also has more serotonin — a vital neurotransmitter lacking in the depressed — and oxytocin (a hormone known as the love drug). What we don’t know is what causes that surge. Personally, I side with evolutionary psychology that love is a clever hoax that nature plays on us. If you look back to pre-history, we were naturally polygamous because for the species to survive we had to spread our genes as much as possible.
Only when we started moving into caves and creating a society was monogamous love foisted upon us. For society to ‘work’, its members had to be stable — co-dependency on another person (what we call love) aids conformity. If you’re single you’re more vulnerable if you get sick — there’s only you to pay the mortgage.
In a monogamous relationship, you’ve got help and more security. Crucial to understanding love is realising that our brain has developed some control over it. Otherwise, we’d all be leaping on the first person that took our fancy and proposing marriage non-stop. Some men who’ve suffered severe front-brain head injuries sometimes lose this control and become verbally inappropriate, part of what is known as disinhibition syndrome.
There are also people pathologically obsessed with falling in love, a condition known as erotomania. I’m a romantic, so this pains me to say, but love is really just a convenient label we give to a chemical reaction in our brain.
LOVE IS . . . JUST being there
Rabbi, Laura Janner-Klausner
The other day I sat with one of my oldest friends, holding her hand and listening to her talk when I suddenly thought: “You have accompanied me through births, deaths, marriages, illnesses and you’re still here”. The overwhelming emotion I felt at that moment was love. I call it The God Moment — when you look into a person’s heart and feel a cerebral, emotional experience that can only be defined as love. Love is a willingness to be there for another person.
It isn’t about fluffy, romantic, hyper-emotional moments — although those are great. It’s about supporting someone in their hour of need. In Judaism, love is about action. Whether loving God or a stranger, it’s about what we do practically that shows our love. So love for our parents is about how we look after them.
Love for our partner is how we care on a daily basis. There is so much love in the world but people don’t say it as often as they could. There is something wonderful about hearing the words spoken that say: “I’m alongside you and I will be there for you”.
LOVE IS . . . the greatest gift
Cardinal, Vincent Nichols
For some people, life is just a series of sensations and experiences, with no underlying pattern or purpose, no truth holding it together. Beauty is just a fleeting moment to purchase or possess. But that is to miss the point, to miss the wholeness of life which can be found through love. When we feel the love we express the deeper coherence and harmony we crave, for which we were created. Love expresses the desire for a radical togetherness that is rooted in our hearts.
Next week we celebrate Christmas; the celebration of the most profound love story. We are being enticed to feel love, to be touched by the Lord’s beauty, which can fill our hearts with love and delight. For the coming of Jesus brought this, the greatest gift we can ever receive — love.
LOVE IS . . . what your dog feels
Vet, Noel Fitzpatrick
The love we feel for our pets is incredibly special but, after two decades working with animals, I believe that it pales in comparison to the love they have for us. If we could learn from them, the world would be a happier place. For as humans, we know what unconditional love is, but we’re not capable of it.
Animals are. Unlike us, they’re not governed by their moods, or what happened yesterday. They’re not judgmental or vindictive.
Unless they’ve experienced repeated cruelty, they live in the moment, approaching every encounter as a new opportunity to share their love. That’s why the most vulnerable people often form the strongest bonds with their pets, because they’re most open to that unconditional love.
I recently met a woman who had suffered terrible depression, and her dog helped her through the hardest times. I’ve seen a child with cerebral palsy whose dog soothed her to sleep, and a man with terminal cancer who died with dignity because of the strength he drew from his dog.
It’s a symbiotic relationship: we express our love looking after them, they express theirs in the comfort they give us. And it works. When our pets greet us, no matter how terrible our day, their delight at seeing us makes us feel better. When our other relationships falter, their affection is guaranteed.
This week, I reunited a woman with her dog after six weeks apart. Nobody seeing the dog’s tail wagging and her tears of joy could doubt that they loved each other. There’s little doubt that we are a nation of soul searchers, after ‘What is Love?’ was revealed as one of the most popular internet searches of the year.
LOVE IS… PETS AND PRESENTS
CLIO HARWOOD (9)
I think there are two types of love: the kissy kind grown-ups have, and the kind of love that the little boy in the John Lewis advert has for his penguin.
That reminds me of the love I have for my dog, Honey. She is loyal, sweet and loves me no matter what and I get a really nice feeling when I see her waiting for me after school. She looks so pleased to see me, too. I think that must be love.
JAMES PRICE (6)
Love is buying lots of presents. Oh, and being kind, too.
KRISTAL ALWAR, a millennial
Some say, Love…
…and yes those three words turn into a melody of a familiar song. Love or a reminder of it either fills your mouth with sweetness or leaves a bitter aftertaste. Truth is we have either scorned or are still kindling the fireplace within our hearts. If you are lucky enough to find love hold onto it with every fibre of your being.
If you have found and lost…. cherish what you had. More often than not it is easier to remember the hurt than it is to remember the happiness.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we consciously relive the pain?
A very dear friend asked me to share with her what love is to me. Love is the laughter in a room filled with the people that mean something to you. Love is a friend asking you if you’ve eaten today. Love is the feeling within your soul as you listen to your partner speak about their day… be it bad or good. Love is the sound of a musical note that we haven’t heard before.
Love is the verb that resonates within the movement of your day-to-day life as we remember why we work so hard to provide for the people we love. Love is hurt. Love is kind. Love is brutal. Love is rain and sunshine.
Love is unicorns and fairy dust and stars on a cloudless night. Love is prison. Love is free. Love could be. Love will always be found in me. Having experiences that have thrust me into a darkness and underworld of misery and heartache I still rise to find the beauty that emanates in the purity of a lost soul.
I think that’s what everyone strives for. A little bit of pain to remind us that we are human… thus answering why we relive the hurt, And still we want the other bits of ourselves to be filled with the capacity to be human through it all. To be good even when we don’t see the good in ourselves.
These will guide you:
Be open to the world but create an atmosphere that you can breathe in and find solace.
Speak freely but remember to engage without judgement. Be kind with words for they will be in your atmosphere forever.
You hold within your hands the means to love unconditionally. Be careful not to feed a mouth that bites and if you get bitten may the scars be a reminder of how you shared and how you have healed to feed again.
So maybe we are broken…but broken glass will always reflect rainbows… You just have to find the right light.
To anyone reading.
You are loved.
– Daily Mail/ TYI