Everyone could use a little more love, though especially Bostonians this week. So I wrote down some thoughts.

According to Google:

Love is “An intense feeling of deep affection.”

To love is to “Feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).”

Love is often boxed in, laid out with a specific set of rules and regulations, so that YOU WILL KNOW THEY LOVE YOU IF THEY DO THESE 5 THINGS (or 22 apparently). It’s segmented into actions and looks and words that ultimately prove nothing. Everybody expresses and experiences their feelings uniquely, and love is no different.

I spent a good part of my late high school and early college years trying to dissect love. I read stories, studies, and opinions on the subject – even tried experiencing it myself – and it always seemed to elude me. I think I’m starting to realize why.

I’m an extremely analytical person, sometimes to a fault. I research a subject, come up with a strategy, implement it, and analyze data. The unfortunate thing is that you can’t. Analyze. Love. You can’t make a points system with a checklist that will magically tell you when you know someone’s in love with you, or vice versa. One point for calling you back, 3 for flowers, 5 for remembering your favorite animal is the blue-footed booby. Of course, saying I love you would have to automatically reach the allotted number of points, but you’d have to deduct for unloving behaviors such as lying, forgetting your birthday, and not arguing fairly…

And then you’re this

Not only would that be exhausting, but it would be fruitless. Our perception is our reality – everyone feels and expresses their love differently. “Real love” is only definable by the individual experiencing it. The only distinction I’m willing to make is the love that encourages growth to both persons and the love that discourages it.

Love is not always patient, it is not always kind, and it certainly can show jealousy. The difference between Encouraging and Discouraging Love is that, with encouraging love, these instances are outweighed by times of patience, kindness, and understanding. When there is a fault in an Encouraging lover’s actions, the lover recognizes the pain they’ve caused and wishes desperately to remedy the situation. As my mother says, “it’s not hard to be kind to the one you love.” Love is one feeling of MANY that a person has in any given moment, it is not a trump card. Every feeling that contributes to a person’s decisions can be diluted or intensified by the other emotions. Love can be healthy with confidence and happiness, and it can be consuming and harmful with fear and anger.

“Love at first sight” may occur for certain people. Those who experience strong attraction as love may experience that feeling daily, while they’ll only consider it such if that love continues after conversing with and getting to know the person it is directed towards.
Let’s talk about “love at first sight.” When you say you love someone at first sight, it implies that the only tangible reality you have to go off of are their looks and the way they carry themselves. Everything else is your perception of who they could be based off of what little you know (and in this case, what you want them to be.)

Or maybe it’s just hormones

It is my belief and observation that those who claim to have experienced “love at first sight” are the ones who are willing to believe that the perception they have is actually reality. Maybe this person just happens to be very close to their first impression, or maybe they are so devoted to that perception that they can look past the discrepancies. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never experienced love at first sight.

That’s not to say that this love is “less real” than other types. Whenever I see “Real Love” in media, the implication is that it is everlasting and that if, one day, you no longer feel it, it never existed in the first place. A better definition is that you can feel love how you want and there is every possibility that those feelings will change. From moment to moment, neither you nor the person you love is the same, so how can your feelings permanently remain the same? In fact, even someone in love feels differently from day to day or hour to hour or moment to moment. That’s why it’s so much work and so imperfect. There is no control for love. There are no rules. There are individuals and basic societal guidelines that may work better for the majority of people, but could be catastrophic for others.

I am no expert on love…I haven’t done or felt it long enough to know everything about even my own experiences with it, but I have observed and analyzed and read other people’s observations and analyses. For me, love is admiration without idealization, it is compassion without pity, it is awareness that you are closer to someone than most (any) people ever will be, but that you will never know everything that person feels or thinks or does, and that’s okay.

Love is not perfect, but how could it be when neither lover is?

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