What is love? When you think about the word, what do you picture? Do you picture two people finding one another in all of the craziness of life? Do you picture someone from your past? Do you picture the entanglements you’ve been in–both good and bad—that have led you to where you are right now?
When you hear the word “love,” are you reminded of song lyrics? Of specific moments—holding hands, exchanging kisses, gentle embraces—with a person you trust? Are you imagining romantic love? Platonic love? Familial love? Or, are you jaded by someone who hurt you, and all you can think of is the ache deep in your chest from someone who left?
Love has a different definition for each and every one of us.
For many of us, love has us fall on either of two sides of the spectrum: either we embrace it wholeheartedly, or we step timidly. Either we jump in, or we stand back, hesitant because we’ve been hurt.
For those of us who are unafraid, we fall, stumble, dust ourselves off, and begin again. For those of us who are guarded, we step with tip-toes, unwilling to subject ourselves to pain and mistreatment again.
Regardless of where we stand, though, we understand love to be connection. It is not a lofty concept. It is not a fairy-tale feeling from our favorite movies. It is an emotion-filled promise.
It is real.
Love is not only a word—it is a feeling, a belief, a commitment, and a choice.
Yet, love is not always understood as deeply as it should be. So many people jump in and out of relationships without understanding what it truly means to feel deeply for another person.
Many of us leave a previous relationship without healing and walk into another down the road with a shattered, guarded heart. We’ve been conditioned to believe love is perfect and run whenever it looks different. We’ve been conditioned to accept nothing less than our soulmate, without realizing that perhaps this flawless person doesn’t quite exist (and maybe this is a good thing).
As we grow, we learn different definitions of love from the people around us: from our parents, our first heartbreak, or from our friends. Some of these definitions build us and some teach us lessons we must later unlearn.
Everyone’s story is different, just as every relationship is different.
But when we try to define this elusive, beautiful concept of love, this we can universally agree on:
Love is Emotion
Love goes beyond the physical and looks at the personality, the threads that tie us together. Love is not just the attraction we feel, but the emotions that are intertwined when two people say “yes” to one another.
We are more than faces and bodies. We are thoughts, feelings, intuition, and dreams. We are intricacies, quirks, uniqueness, and character traits.
We are special.
And to love someone is to not only to appreciate them, notice them, and relate to them for who they are, but to see their pain as your own. Love is looking at someone beyond their imperfections and flaws and saying, “I see you and I choose you.”
Love is Faithfulness
When you chose to love someone, you are also choosing to be loyal.
Love is synonymous with trust. You cannot have one without the other. As you promise yourself to another person, you also promise to show up, to be there, and to stay even when times get tough.
Sometimes life can be impermanent and moments are fleeting, especially in a digital age. But true love is something that withstands time—it is faithful, despite all odds.
Love is Commitment
Love is not a momentary decision. It is not a “yes” today, but a “maybe” tomorrow. It is not stepping forward only to pull yourself back when stressful moments cross your path.
Love is, rather, a decision that starts one day and continues from that moment forward. It is a continual choice, a continual fight, and a continual belief in one another.
Love is a Choice
Yes, love is a choice. It’s as simple as that. Although the initial feelings are perhaps unconscious, choosing to stay committed is something that has to be active and continual.
So, how do you do this?
One of the ways you can grow in love is to understand yourself and your partner on a deeper level. Whether romantic, platonic, or even familial, you can discover your person’s goals, ambitions, hobbies, and interests to strengthen your connection.
Ask your partner what he/she values. Dissect the core aspects of their personality. Study your person like a book you’re excited to read.
One of the best ways you can dive into personality types is by taking the Birdy FREE Personality Assessment! This will help you understand who you are, who you’re compatible with, and how you can strengthen your relationships and understanding of love—despite the inevitable obstacles you will face.
To learn more and take the assessment, click here.