Love is often described as the greatest emotion of all. And no wonder with so many movies based on the theme of love, and romance novels, and people who fall in love. It’s a huge topic.
On Google, it’s the most popular search: Love. There’s all sorts of descriptions—love for parents, partners, children, country, neighbour, God. They all have different qualities. You can buy loyalty, companionship, attention, perhaps even compassion, but love itself cannot be bought.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines love as “an intense affection for another person based on family or personal ties”.
We love other people, or we say we love other people, when we are attracted to them and when they make us feel good. Notice that a key phrase in the dictionary definition of love is the phrase ‘based on’. This phrase implies that we love conditionally; in other words, we love someone because they fulfil a condition that we require before we can love them. How many times have you heard or said, I love you because you are cute; or I love you because you take good care of me; or I love you because you are fun to be with?
The Beatles sang the popular song “All you need is love” and we love that song. It says so much, doesn’t it? Problem is so many of us think romantic love is all that matters. But the ancient Greeks, unlike us, did not have a single word for love but many.
- philia (friendship)
- eros (desire)
- storge (affection) and
- agape (unconditional love).
Perhaps that is another part of our problem. Our language invites us to think of love as a single, unified thing, when it is nothing of the sort. I suspect that words are not enough to address this topic. It’s a huge issue with many dimensions, and deeply personal.
What Love Is Not
(This section has been sourced from an article written by Harriet Sun, University of Texas at Austin. Copyright WSN Press, Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc)
Here are a few things love isn’t. Love isn’t a feeling. Although real love is often accompanied by strong feelings, love does not equate with the sense of floating on clouds. Unlike the type of love that movies, television, and songs portray, people in love don’t always feel ooey-gooey around each other.
A relationship wouldn’t last long on emotions. In fact, knowledge is the basis of a healthy relationship.
Knowing about the other person is key. You say, I fall in love—it happens. If I were to start a relationship with someone, I need to know that person, I need to know, Do I trust that person? Is this relationship going to work? Is God part of this relationship? Does that person have any sort of commitment, not only to me, but to God?
Knowing about the person’s personality and character is so important. One good test is to list the qualities that attract a man to a woman or a woman to a man. If the list is long, we know a lot about them and like those things. If the list is short, we either don’t know a lot about them or we know a lot but aren’t attracted to his or her personality.