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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Crazy Little Thing Called “Love”

Love is a profoundly tender, affectionate, and passionate “four letter word” that has not only perplexed and captivated human hearts and minds, but challenged and motivated mankind to action. Often it can become flippant between its attributes showcasing an extreme high with feelings of adoration, to its lowest in the depths of desolation and unrequited pain. So let’s begin with asking: What is love? 

Image Credit: Getty Images/Tetra Images

People from such disciplines like science, psychotherapy, literature, religion, philosophy, and even film and music have pondered over this word for many years. Scientists say it has to do with some sort of chemistry; psychotherapists say love has many guises, faces and characteristics; and literature and philosophy state that it is a passionate commitment between two individuals and creates a bond that is stronger than death. Love is, and will always be one of the hardest things man will understand. Love is silent and subtle, yet delicate.

According to Google, last year the phrase, “what is love?” became the world’s most searched and it’s guaranteed that no one has got to the bottom of it and no one ever really will. Love, being such an unconscious word is one of the most profound emotions known to man and there’s never going to be a real definition. The meaning depends on each one of us and how we perceive the beauty that lies in the enormity and occasional beast that is in fact, love.

Two winters ago I was discussing the subject of love with one of my best friends and it’s never easy to talk about with him because we never come to a well defined answer. Asking “what is love?” is not even an easy question to respond to, especially when asked right on the spot because there’s so much to love and all that it encompasses that most times we’re only touching the surface. “Love is a whole different beast,” he says and it’s something I can sadly agree with.

Days later he would narrow it down to four key elements, stating them as follows: when you’re excited to see that special someone, sharing moments, having intense affection, and being able to dance through life with them. That’s how he sees love and while I see how he concludes such a definition from his experiences, from my own I’ve always pegged love as being something different.

For starters, I’ve always considered it a strong feeling, affection, and attraction for another but mainly believing that it can only strengthen and prove the test of time from the roots of a solid friendship. Friendship is the key and without it being encompassed in the body of love, you might just endure a whole set of challenges down the road. As time goes by and changes occur inside and out, friendship is vital to sustaining romantic love. Like my best friend believes, love is dancing through life with someone but without friendship, sometimes the other might take a seat while you’re dancing alone. Love is tough but friendship makes it work and by giving the best of yourself to that one true person who knows you best of all, laughing, sharing with them and ultimately being able to love them becomes effortless. On the other hand, what better foundation for love is there than an intimate friendship?

In addition to friendship being a key element in love’s makeup, it comes off as a deep caring bond between two people that results in trust, intimacy, and a relationship that enhances both partners and their personal purpose. Within that love, there is the ability and willingness between both individuals where you’re allowed to be whom you choose to be and the choices you make without compromising your identity. Love is looking past their imperfections because to you they are perfect.

“To love someone means to see him as God intended him.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky got it right. There have been many times I hear how relationships, marriages in particular tend to go sour because either friendship, intimacy and balance is lacking in the marriage or that the spouse has simply chosen to develop their “better half” into someone they are not. Personally, I don’t believe altering a loved one is a display of love. It’s a rather selfish nature of creating one’s own definition of love; an egocentric ideal that could not flourish in any aspect within love.

In today’s age the complicated four-letter word doesn’t secure a relationship or marriage as PolitiFact estimated in 2012 that the lifelong probability of a marriage ending in divorce is 40%-50%. That’s almost one in two couples and though it’s a grim fact, love proves from conflict that it thrives on balanced attention and affection. Love is a two way street and most times when a marriage goes south, it’s because one of them was not able to fully open up to their spouse, or they became unable to fully understand and love who they are first.

Love is frustrating and because of it, it edifies patience. Nobody likes waiting, especially when you’re in love with someone. You want to be able to spend every waking moment with them, talking to them, smiling at them, hugging and kissing them, listening to them talk about whatever quirk they’re enamored with while engaging in silly conversations that only you two would enjoy and find laughter in. Love includes compatibility and it doesn’t matter if your astrological signs line up or not or that you’ve made lifelong vows to each other; love is like-mindedness and being well-suited for the other while understanding that person. Distance makes no difference to love as the person whom we see in front of us may be the least compatible than the person who is perhaps thousands of miles away. Initially it all becomes more than an emotion when involved with the charm of love and becomes a drive as powerful as hunger with passion that feels engraved in our brains and core.

Sometimes on our journey through life, we will find and experience love in the most unusual places and at the most unusual times. When the belief of love comes into consideration through kismet, serendipity, fate—it becomes a mysterious journey that we travel upon and often leaves us puzzled in terms of our life’s road: where do we go from here?

Now that part about love being a whole different beast? Well, it becomes worse when it’s shaped as a triangle; an unrequited love that pains and sits right in the center of your being everyday as your psyche takes a great beating of seeing the one person you can’t have as perhaps they don’t know how to love, or simply because their affections lie elsewhere. Whatever the case is, that pain doesn’t go away easily and it will unknowingly haunt you. Every so often I feel that unrequited love is not just real pain felt, but a validation of love’s true definition. If you could love someone and keep on loving them without ever being loved back, then through this truth and misfortune, this love was real because it hurts too much to be anything else.

Image Credit: Getty Images/Abby Marshall

With all that I’ve seen and felt in my years, love isn’t a mere feeling but rather an act of will. Being able to love another person in this world is one of the greatest strengths we can possess and become also one of our greatest weaknesses. Love isn’t easy and it can be extremely difficult not just on one’s own mind but on the body, especially the heart. Through the loss of a loved one, extreme heartbreak or through the tumultuous circumstances of a divorce, some have found their own hearts breaking in a physical sense with a rare condition called, stress induced cardiomyopathy also known as “broken heart syndrome”.

“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” — Rumi

Love, with all that it includes brings purpose and we do not go through any pain or heartache for nothing. Through the pain we are shown what love is and what it isn’t and a lot of times through it all, a greater understanding is built. In our society we’re shown what love is through music, films, literature and poetry, but we often question ourselves and what we believe; what is love? Is this love that I’ve felt? Man is built in such a way that he is not only selfish at times, but vulnerable in his attainment of love. We are all created with the ability to feel love and receive it but through our lives and circumstances, we tend to build these barriers that not just blind us from feeling or receiving, but ultimately giving back. Why is this? Simple. Love comes with the risk of pain and rejection.

“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” — George Sand

I remember seeing a book on a neighbor’s shelf in her kitchen called What is Love? A Simple Buddhist Guide to Romantic Happiness and it was incredibly thin. That got me thinking immensely that love isn’t simple and love isn’t just a mere, eighty pages. It’s thicker than that. It’s more complex than that. It’s a whole world full of stars and just two lovers swinging about them. If it engulfs your whole heart and your mind, you know it’s there and it’s certain. There’s no doubt about it. I can’t persuade people to believe what love is and isn’t, but for me love is that. Love is that elation you get, the mood swings and the sleepless nights, the constant thinking about the other and it transcends time, age, race, gender and geography.

In all simplicity and without dismissal, it should be noted that there’s love for your family, love for your friends and your pets, love for your life, love for your faith, love for your career and without any of these facets, what is there to live for in this life? Love creates happiness and happiness brings an abundance of love to your life. The two go hand-in-hand as happiness grows from more loving and without either one, the journey through life can become miserable and dreary. Love is a vital element to our existence as we need to feel it and realize it in order to become happy and feel more secure. With sustaining love’s harmony, we must reciprocate and love others or else the balance becomes disturbed. Researchers have proven that it is the quality not the quantity of our relationships that move us up the path to true happiness. Happiness is a key component to life and through it, we find love. They are the two single things we have in this world that bring immense meaning and purpose to a life well-lived.

Love is a chance. Love isn’t about being comfy in a relationship, being trampled on, or a disconnected marriage that lacks intimacy and friendship; it’s a risk and it involves the possibility of an awakening that ultimately brings true value. Without love there is no happiness. Most importantly, love is real. It’s an adjective, a verb, an attribute, and oddly enough has a personality. It cares for us and shows how we are all interconnected. Love is everywhere around us and while it is everything in this life, everyone is capable of it because love is inherently free. Being able to see it, feel it and give it boils down to realization and one’s own spirit and strength.

Love is a strange definition and not everyone is going to have the same answer. They’re all based on perception and personal history. It is a giant wheel of emotions and if we’re lucky, we’re able to figure it out soon enough. If not, well who knows where you’re going to go. Life is a giant puzzle and we’re just here to find our pieces and solve it with what we have. Along the way, don’t be afraid to love yourself and love others, open up your heart, and most importantly, listen to your heart because not only can you find true fulfillment this way, but you’re going to understand yourself and your true desires too.

All-in-all, I believe love is just a four-letter word until someone wonderful, beautiful and perfect comes along in your life and gives it true meaning. Eventually they encompass that solid definition of “love” that you all so curiously ponder and seek. From my experiences and what I’ve witnessed with matters of the heart, love comes when you least expect it but only when you are ready to be who are you; when you’re certain about what you want out of life and not when you look to someone else to fill a void. Being who you are at the right moment brings about a great beauty to love. A lot of people don’t notice love coming for them because they’re too busy to let go and open up a little, or because the walls they built around their heart become too comfortable, but what’s life worth if you can’t take the plunge?


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