At first, it sounds like a silly question.
Not to Julie. She was trying to pin down a new definition after having been in an abusive relationship for eight years. She wanted love. She wanted to be in love and be loved by someone who treated her right. But the years of abuse had conditioned her to believe that love is painful and not worth the effort. Now after several years in recovery. She wanted to try again. So, what is love?
Love is a noun. The object of deep affection is sometimes referred to as my love or a love. A person might have a love of theatre. Or they might refer to a partner as the love of my life. As a noun, love is a term of endearment reserved for special people or things.
Love is a verb. It’s also an action word. It does something. Love as a verb does not sit and watch, rather it propels a person into expressing or showing their affection. It is not enough to say one person loves another, there must be some decisive action that demonstrates love in a manner that is appealing to the one who is loved.
Love is a feeling. When love is felt, there is a deep sense of warmth, wholeness, and passion. It is not generated from the external but rather is an internal feeling. A person can express love to another and they, in turn, can feel that love, but real love is generated from within, not borrowed from others.
Love is an attachment. This is seen most often in a parent/child relationship. There is a deep connection and bond created when a child is born. As love grows, so does a parent’s dedication to the child. This becomes a lifelong commitment of love despite difficult circumstances and trying moments.
Love is affectionate. The desire to touch, hold, embrace, and kiss another comes from an outpouring of feeling loved. This is not just physical, it is also mental where deep intimacy and connectivity can be formed. Sexual passion is another expression of love. However, lust is not love. Lust rushes, love waits.
Love is patient. It waits for another person to arrive at the same destination or draw the same conclusion without pushiness, aggression, or badgering. Love recognizes that each person must come to their own decisions in their own time and is willing to patiently wait.
Love is kind. There are courteous gestures such as saying “please” and “thank you,” listening, smiling, and offering to do a service. It is nice and thoughtful behavior that demonstrates respect for the other person. It is not sarcastic, insensitive, or inconsiderate.
Love is respectful. When another person establishes a boundary, love respects it and doesn’t try to push the limitations. For instance, due to limitations at work, a person might need to set a boundary of limited texting during work hours. This is respected and not repeatedly challenged.
Love is caring. There is a genuine concern for others. It is compassionate. When another person is hurting, there is an outpouring of understanding and empathy. It does not dismiss another’s pains or minimize them, rather it comes alongside and supports.
Love is trusting. It is not quick to jealousy. It does not jump to poor conclusions with little to no evidence. It is not accusatory and does not assume the worst. It believes, trusts, and assumes the best until given evidence to the contrary.
Love is humble. It does not boast about himself or herself, and is not arrogant about their accomplishments. It is unpretentious. There is a deep sense of contentment that exists even when life is difficult, trauma ensues, or circumstances are unfavorable.
Love is gentle. There is a tenderness and soft touch that comes with love. Gentleness is an intentional mildness where a person goes out of their way to be soothing, such as holding a hand. This show of love is sweet and useful when comforting someone who has suffered a great loss.
Love is cheerful. The feeling of love stimulates feelings of joyfulness, happiness, and satisfaction. This is a pleasant experience and leads to enthusiasm. It is visible and can be seen on the face through a smile and a lighting up of the eyes.
Love is forgiving. Instead of holding onto the wrongs or offenses of others, love lets things go. It is merciful. But there should be limits to this or a loving person is likely to be taken advantage of by abusive and unloving people. Abuse is not love.
Love is truthful. It relishes in honesty and genuineness. The transparency of love reflects safety and security. It should never be demanded or insisted upon. Dangerous people often misuse the term love, but it is in this definition that they are revealed. Dishonesty is not love.
Love is faithful. It is devoted to those it loves without question. Even when hurt, the devotion still stands and is steadfast. There is dependability that comes with love. A person is reliable, available, and present.
Love is hopeful. One of the best traits of love is the optimistic viewpoint. It sees in others what they sometimes don’t see in themselves. And it then is expectant of a positive outcome; not in a pushy or demanding way, rather in a hopeful manner.
Love is lasting. Love is not fleeting. It is not here one day and gone the next. It endures through difficult times and persists even when there is little hope. True love doesn’t end, although it may transform or morph into other types of love.
After reviewing the definition of love, Julie was ready to move forward in finding a mate who would treat her in a loving manner. She often referred to this definition while dating and used it to create healthy boundaries in her new relationships.