By Andrew Keith
What is love? Is it when you feel butterflies in your stomach every time you see that special someone? Is it when you wake up in the morning thinking about them? Is it when you find someone who you think is perfect and can do no wrong? Is it even real?
The definition of love has been misconstrued in today’s society, and it is misleading youth from knowing what love truly is. We use the word a lot. We casually say, “I love that song” or “I love that movie” or “I love that shirt” but love is much deeper than the latest Frank Ocean album. Love shouldn’t be a go-to term that merely shows you prefer one thing over another. It shouldn’t be a word that we seemingly use effortlessly or without any real, substantive thought. The important question to ask now: why do use it so much?
The word “love” is so hackneyed in the culture that we overlook its true meaning. We have created an idea of love that is so shallow and basic that we can classify just about anything we find pleasing as “love”. Oh, I really like this ice-cream cone? I love it. Oh, I’ve been dating this person for three months? I love them. Love is not just a strong feeling of positive emotion. Love is far, far deeper than that. Love requires sacrifices.
I recently stumbled upon a rant meant to inspire young women to not to settle for a man who doesn’t make them feel “electric” every hour of the day. It warned young women not to “waste [their] time with someone who doesn’t make [them] swell with happiness every time [they] open [their] eyes and see him beside [them].” It even goes on to advise women not to “do things [they] hate to do just because he wants to” and that everything should feel “effortless” when you’re with him. Ah, so that’s where the issue lies. We live in a society that believes true, unconditional love is a perfect relationship that can be found through a bit of luck and a strong, unwavering foundation in one’s flawed self. Love might be influenced by both, but they are not the necessary ingredients for a functioning, practical love. The closest relationship reflecting true, unconditional love is found in a parent’s love for their child or children. As depressing as it may sound, you won’t unconditionally love your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife every time you see them. There will be times where you don’t feel that “electric” feeling, where you look at the person you care immensely about and feel no strong emotions at all. Love isn’t based on the physical relationship, but instead on the content of that person’s character, flaws included. Does it mean you don’t love that person? No, it merely means you’re being reasonable and realize that struggling is part of the process. You must be able to sacrifice some of your time, some of your effort, some of your personal passion, in order for any relationship to function properly, but particularly for romantic relationships. If both people in a relationship believe that their priorities trump the other’s, how is that relationship supposed to last? A selfish heart has no role in a real relationship. Unfortunately, it inevitable that selfishness intrudes, but being able to set that aside even when it might be inconvenient means you exhibit the real qualities of love, not just the cultural ones.
Love is a complex, incomprehensible, intangible, and misconstrued concept that is defined in the most basic of terms by our culture, affecting millions in the process. Have you ever wondered why divorce rates seem incredibly high? It is in part due to the culture that feeds us the lie that love is effortless and merely requires someone who is willing to sacrifice everything they have and everything they stand for in order to serve you and make you happy. Wake up. It doesn’t work that way, and it never will.
P.S. I must acknowledge this is pure trajectory as I have very little personal experience with love considering my youth, but I thought this issue was necessary to mention since it holds such prominence in our culture. I see the effects of the current mentality towards love on a daily basis, and I feel as if no one cares to stop and think about what love really means. This article is simply meant to encourage you to meditate on what you believe defines love. Don’t be afraid to comment below whatever thoughts, questions, or concerns you might have.