Monday, January 11, 2010

What is love? (Your answers)

I thought it would be interesting to provide you with this brief summary of your answers to the question "What is love?" as a group. Also, if you want to keep discussing this question, this is a place to post your definition and other thoughts on the subject.

Here is my summary of your responses:

1. Most of you described love as a positive feeling. Some as a feeling of joy (mainly, feeling joy just being around a person) and some as a feeling of compassion or caring for someone, which echoes the discussion in Symposium of whether love must be of something.
2. Many of you described love as a connection or bonding with another person. Only a couple of you echoed the myth Aristophanes recounts about "finding your other half," and a couple more quoted something else about "the soul's counterpart." Several of you emphasized the need for mutuality in a relationship; if only one person feels love, you said, it is not really love but infatuation.
3. Many of you described love as unconditional: love for a person, not their actions; accept them completely including their flaws; the feeling that you would do anything for a person; the willingness to sacrifice your own happiness for theirs (no one actually mentioned sacrificing your own life, as in Symposium).
4. A few of you defined love as desire, especially to be around a person all the time. Several of you mentioned attraction.
5. A small group defined love as an action, set of actions, or choice, chiefly about how one conducts oneself in relationship or the choice to work on a relationship through the rough spots. A larger number of people mentioned the word "commitment," which may fall here.
6. Only a few of you said things like: love is bullshit; love is for older people (30+); I haven't experienced real love; I worry that I might be missing the crucial imprinting period for experiencing love.

Questions for further discussion:
7. Several of you mentioned the love vs. in love distinction. What's that all about??
8. Several of you mentioned the distinction between familial, friendship, and romantic love. Are these really so clearly different? (Am I the only one who considers my really close friends my family? Don't people tend to draw romantic partners from friendship circles? And don't people's romantic partners eventually form the core of their family?)


  1. The distinction about love vs in love is clear as day to me. I could and never would be IN love with my Father. The in love distinction falls with the level of intimacy that is experienced when in love. I can't say if that even makes sense, but I'll tell you one thing, and one thing certain, I will never have sex with my dad, therefore I will never be in love with my Dad. Ew

  2. Totally! But do you ever fall in love with your friends who you're not having sex with? This happens to me all the time. I think. But maybe I just fail to understand the distinction between love/in love.

  3. I have never fallen in love with someone I didn't share some type of connection that was on a deeper level than just platonic. I believe that is where the connection differs. Although I have love for my friends, I do not identify with them on a passionatie level. I don't just mean in the bedroom, but outside as well. My boyfriend and I share passions for travels, food, and activities that I don't find to be as stimluating when done with even the closest of friends. Maybe it's because of the bedroom aspect, I don't know.