What is love? And, no, I'm not reciting the popular 90s song by Haddaway. I'm asking if we as individuals really have a firm grasp on what the definition of love really is.
I feel before anyone becomes intimately involved with someone else, they should have a definitive and thorough understanding of what qualifies as what love means to them personally.
In many ways, what love means is subjective to people on an individual basis, and I personally don't see anything wrong with it being so. We, as human beings, all have our personalized standards of what we expect a partner to live up to whom we choose to commit to.
The primary root I see most problems stem from in relationships is there being no clear definition nor understanding of what love means among the parties involved. Too often, couple members expect each other to automatically know what actions appease their personal standards of love. Sadly, our standards of love have been shaped by unrealistic and uncommon scenarios Hollywood has portrayed to us in movies with "love" stories embedded in them.
In many cases, men and women in relationships have not thoroughly articulated what love means to them to their partner, which, in turn, makes it impossible for them to satisfy one another. This lack of understanding can lead to great frustration and resentment.
A lack of understanding as to what your partner considers love and vice versa branches from these factors:
Either one or both parties in a relationship were not genuinely seeking to understand the other person's standard of love when it was articulated to them.
Either one or both parties in a relationship did not perform self-examination and soul-searching to discover what types of actions from someone else constitute as love to them individually.
Either one or both parties in a relationship have impracticable or unreasonable expectations of love that cannot be reasonably satisfied.
While I, myself, can't nor shouldn't dictate what love should mean to you, I do believe Scripture provides a pretty good template to build upon in helping us decide what love means to us personally:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
When we choose to be intimately involved with someone, it is our responsibility as adults to give a clearly defined and unconvoluted depiction of what love means to us, to the other person. Our perceptions are all unique, and it's cruel and unfair to expect someone else to decipher what those are on their own. It's not their responsibility to do so, and we must help them understand.
If you can't definitively explain what loves means to you, then, you have no business being in a romantic relationship with anyone.
Furthermore, as long as your perimeters of what true love should look like are feasible, quantifiable, and realistic, you shouldn't settle for someone who is not willing to uphold those standards. If you have certain standards in that regard, you should respect yourself by choosing not to waste your precious time in this life with individuals who just weren't meant for you.
So, today when you talk to your partner and when you say "I love you" to them or vice versa, maybe it's time to ask each other, "Are we sure what love means?"
From the Soul,
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