Love: a feeling of strong and constant affection for another

an unselfish and benevolent concern for the good of others

These are just two definitions of love, but there are more than ten in the dictionary. Why is that? If you ask ten different people to define it, you will get ten more meanings. What is love? A word? A feeling? An idea? Love is what we all crave and search for. It’s the subject of stories and songs. 

But is it possible to define? Love may be a short, four-letter word, but that one word encompasses such a broad concept that to try to capture its meaning and importance by more words seems impossible. Maybe it’s meant to be defined by each of us for ourselves. We all see, feel, and perceive things in our own way, so it would make sense that love means different things to us. 

My experience with love will never be the same as anyone else’s. Yet I know that I have had it in my life. I have had the intimacy of someone understanding my deepest thoughts, fears, and desires. I have had someone always see the best in me and believe in the real me, even when I took on the characteristics of others in order to survive. I have had someone always inspire me to become everything I can be.

And that’s the epitome of love to me—someone who helps me become a greater version of myself. Someone who always helps me see my highest potential when I can’t see it for myself. Someone who always works to help me believe more in myself everyday. Someone who’s greatest desire for me is that I would be the whole me.

I believe this kind of love can exist even without physical intimacy because I’ve had it, and it’s what has given me hope and a reason to keep fighting through many years of separation from the one who loved me. It’s the love that feeds the soul, that satisfies the longing for acceptance and belonging. It’s the love that makes me feel valuable until I can value myself. 

What does this love look like? It looks like everyday life. It looks like hours spent talking, training at the gym, going for walks, and even plunging my toilet when I was sick with diarrhea. It looks like pages of texts that I copied into my journal so as to always have them to comfort me. It looks like someone who doesn’t try to control me and lets me make my own decisions. It looks like someone who is strong when I am weak and celebrates my victories with me. 

Personally, I think that real love can’t really be defined or explained. I can give examples of it in my life, but I can’t make anyone else understand the effect it’s had on me because it’s my life. I know when I’ve given it and I know when it’s been given to me. 

Love is personal, so everyone’s perspective on it and experience with it is unique to them. I have found that real love can’t be measured by words. I can’t explain why I love someone. I just know that I do. And in that inability to give logical reasons, there is a comfort in knowing that it exists without my ability to define why it’s there or where it came from. That is the beauty and mystery of love.