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What is Love?

So, now I’ve been thinking. How can you really define love? Coriolinus, the more I think about it the more I agree with you. Like I’ve said before, while I don’t think I need to wait till I feel ready to marry someone to tell them I love them, I do think it holds a lot of meaning to say you love someone. I want to be sure of my feelings before declaring my love because to me it’s a declaration of strong feelings and increased commitment.

The bible says “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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. Love never fails. – I Corinthians 13:4-8. Out of curiousity I looked up the definition on dictionary.com. Dictionary.com defines love as “a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness. A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance” and the Oxford English Dictionary defines love as “that disposition or state of feeling with regard to a person which (arising from recognition of attractive qualities or from instincts of natural relationship) manifests itself in solicitude in delight in his or her presence and desire for his or her approval; warm affection, attachment”. This bible passage along with both defintions seem to emphasize the significance of love – it’s not something to be taken lightly.

Relationships are adventures. I think now, more than ever, that love is best when it grows with time. I’ve come to think that a relationship does not need to start off with a declaration of love, but rather it starts off a little unsure, a little unsteady, and grows over time. If it is strong enough it will eventually blossom into love – the kind of love the bible passage I quoted earlier speaks of – a true love where those involved hold back nothing, realize that every moment is meaningful despite how insignificant or ordinary it may seem at the time, enjoy the little things in life, and find themselves smiling just because they’re together.

There are as many definitions of love as there are people; it’s just a poorly defined word in English (and I suspect it is in most other languages as well.) It’s easy to point at a rock and identify it as a rock; it’s easy to call it grey, or drop it and call its motion falling. It’s not nearly so easy to point at a couple and say “they are in love;” that’s why a huge amount of popular entertainment involves setting up scenarios where love is clearly involved.

Real life is (almost always) much less clear cut; it’s full of doubts and fears. That’s why my definition is different from the bible’s; though it’s a wonderful piece of prose, I don’t think that it works out so well when you try to apply it to the real world. If you look at people who get divorced on amicable terms after 20 years, by the bible’s definition, you have to say they weren’t ever in love, because that would contradict the last clause, about love never failing. That hardly seems fair, not to mention inaccurate. The way I see things, love is like a fire: it burns hot, warms you and lights the world for you… and it requires maintenance, or it’ll burn out, and even with the best of maintenance there could be a downpour and you’re suddenly just out of luck.

Another way to look at it is that to lock it down, to define your life strictly by it, is almost to kill the whole notion of love. People are always learning, always changing, always growing. That’s why the whole notion of a romance that lasts until death is so appealing; it means that the people involved were compatible enough that even as they grew, they grew together. But it’s entirely possible for people to be in love, but slowly grow in different directions. If they decide to stifle themselves for the sake of their love, to cease their growth or shunt it in an unnatural direction, then they’ve stopped being in love. I’m not exactly sure what to call the situation at that point, but it’s not healthy, and it certainly isn’t love.

You’re absolutely right that relationships are adventures: they start off uncertain, unstable, unskilled. However, as time passes, you grow more confident, more comfortable, better at it… Relationships end either because of disaster, or because it’s simply not fun anymore. In that respect, they’re exactly like adventures. Again, that’s why long relationships are impressive: they speak of both compatibility and luck.

I’ve been going on about how people keep growing, changing. Or at least, I probably should have been, as it’s a cornerstone of what I’m trying to say here. What about the people who don’t change, the couples whose relationship is exactly the same after 40 years as it was on their third date?

Entropy can, in general, be considered a *bad thing*. It is responsible for all inefficiency (in purely physical systems); it will eventually cause the heat death of the universe (assuming the universe hasn’t collapsed in on itself by that point). The way people usually visualize this is that everything runs out of energy; this is of course impossible. I’m pretty sure that’s the First Law of Thermodynamics. What actually will happen is that all the energy in the universe will get distributed absolutely evenly across the entire volume of space. The only things that will go will be concentrations of energy, like matter.

However, entropy is an inescapable consequence of the progress of time, in conjunction with the presence of randomness in the universe. You could stop time, or you could eliminate all randomness and uncertainty… either way, you end up with the same thing: stasis. True, there would be no entropy, but at the same time, nothing would ever happen, ever. I would consider that fairly hellish, actually.

The last two paragraphs were actually a huge analogy designed to answer the question in the last sentence, three paragraphs ago. There may be people willing to live their lives without any change, without any risks, without any growth. But the very thought of trying to live /my/ life like that makes me feel faintly queasy.

I’m fully aware that many people have definitions of love far less strict than my own; it’s the only way the concept of love at first sight could possibly exist. Who am I to tell them their definition is wrong, either? Even so, what it comes down to is that they’re using the word love where I would use a milder word, like ‘interest.’ Interest at first sight seems perfectly reasonable to me. But then, say they’ve determined that they’re interested in someone, and called it love, and gone to great lengths to establish a relationship with that person. Say things go well, and there is romance and fun and all sorts of good stuff. How are they to even begin to communicate the extent of their (hopefully now deeper) feelings?

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