Love, Actually?

Today I took a notion to look up love in the thesaurus; to investigate, inquire, elucidate, and perhaps pontificate on the kinds and qualities and misappropriations and justifications for using this word for a feeling. After all, it’s such a very big word. It’s so all-encompassing in fact, that these are the synonyms I discovered, some which are repetitive:

adoration, very strong liking, adulation, affection, allegiance, amity, amorousness, amour, appreciation, ardency, ardor, attachment, cherishing, crush, delight, devotedness, devotion, emotion, enchantment, enjoyment, fervor, fidelity, flame, fondness, friendship, hankering, idolatry, inclination, infatuation, involvement, like, lust, mad for, partiality, passion, piety, rapture, regard, relish, respect, sentiment, soft spot, taste, tenderness, weakness, worship, yearning, zeal

adore, like very much, admire, adulate, be attached to, be captivated by, be crazy about, be enamored of, be enchanted by, be fascinated with, be fond of, be in love with, canonize, care for, cherish, choose, deify, delight in, dote on, esteem, exalt, fall for, fancy, glorify, go for, gone on, have affection for, have it bad, hold dear, hold high, idolize, long for, lose one’s heart to, prefer, prize, put on pedestal, think the world of, thrive with, treasure, venerate, wild for, worship

Good grief, no wonder we might be confused!

Just as there is no manual that can assure we will be good enough parents, there is nothing that assures us success in intimate relationships, despite our best efforts or whether or not we’ve had adequate role models. There are too many variables in each human life to account for simplistic reductions.

If we attune to the din of an ever-present media (and heaven knows it has a very loud and persuasive voice), aren’t we all but doomed? This medium would largely have us believe in a romantic ideal. If we learn about relationship from script however, isn’t failure almost certain? How could one remain in touch with anything remotely close to who and what, in essence, we truly are? One might, for example, discover oneself compromised until the person that once was, that individual drawn to another in order to share this thing called love, becomes a shadow of what once was genuinely, unequivocally and delightfully unique. Resentment might cloud vision on both sides, as a future attempted as a couple crumbles to cinder.

If one expects another to fulfill an epitome, isn’t disappointment fairly certain? It takes a great deal of energy to hold oneself equal to another’s illusion. And there is no room for power plays when we seek equal footing; no room for pedestals in a long-term relationship. Living in close proximity to another helps clarify both one’s highest and basest qualities. Accepting this while being open and willing to grow with these painful realizations – along with the support and loving acceptance of another – can help both mature in unexpected ways.

What would we do, how would we present ourselves if tomorrow we and a lover parted? Would we go back to school, dye our hair green, get a full body tattoo or the job we always wanted? If the life we are living and the life we dream of radically diverge, we may have lost touch with the essence referred to earlier. Yet the person with the power to get life back on track lies within. If I live fully and make choices as though my life matters both independently as well as in relationship (meanwhile allowing the same freedom for my beloved), I am likely to enjoy and sustain a successful union. This seems to require many adjustments over time, and conciliation can be tricky. It cannot succeed with me losing myself to the needs and/or demands of another. It does require, however, that I learn to dance, and occasionally toes get stepped on in the process. I can groan in pain or realize the minor missteps. Sometimes both realizations occur simultaneously and it’s a split-second decision as to which is more important. However as I practice, I get better at knowing where these metaphoric toes are, both mine as well as my partner’s. As my significant other does the same, we deepen in love and understanding.

Of course nothing can be reduced to simple platitudes when it comes to human interaction. Yet it still seems that expectations regarding the nature of love, itself somehow requires the other to transport one into fantasy. And although this might be a welcome respite from time to time, I don’t believe it can sustain over the long term. While it can be dessert, the main meal or daily sustenance comes from consistently holding one another in a space of deep friendship and caring, of sharing a life best lived together. If it does not, consider the blessings inherent in solitude.


36 thoughts on “Love, Actually?

    1. Oh…oh…Esme! Thanks for the heads-up on Hariod’s. I’m always checking my Reader, because even though I’m supposedly notified of new posts on email, I’ve never gotten one from his. Looking forward! And thanks for your voice, as always ❤

  1. Aren’t word studies fun! In Greek there are four words to describe the emotion of love: Agápe, Éros, Storge, Philia. After this word study it made more sense but still very complex. I do agree with your philosophy. ☺️

    1. Word studies Are fun! While many kids were studying – something I never really needed to do to achieve high marks – I was reading the big dictionary – so big, in fact, it had its own wooden pedestal(!)

      I visited Greece and actually learned a few Greek words back in 1974 – spent a month there. It surely does narrow things down a bit, only having four words to describe something(!) Kind of like going to any box store really, looking for, say, a box of screws. Good gods, so many choices! I’d rather have four to choose from in the end 😉 Aloha, Patrick – and thanks for taking time to offer your comments. Hope you’re having a lovely day! 😀

      1. Like the English language for love, I have 25ish hammers in my tool box which has been questioned by many. My favorite dictionary is very worn from following the trail of words. One day I found the same dictionary being thrown away and it looked like it was never used. Now I have one at work and at home. I’m a happy dictionary nerd. Hope your Valentines Day is filled with happiness!!!

      2. So funny – I have likewise rescued a good dictionary from certain ill-use or destruction. Good for you! As for the hammers, I’m married to a builder. And so of all people, perhaps I do understand 🙂 Thanks for your kind wishes! ❤

  2. I do like your definition and analogy Bela. “While it can be dessert, the main meal or daily sustenance comes from consistently holding one another in a space of deep friendship and caring, of sharing a life best lived together.”
    May we find it in our relationships with others and with ourselves. Namaste

  3. This is wonderful Bela. I think you have a healthy definition of love. 🙂 For me though I love, I love for all its parts. I like the fantasy, or rather that love has the power to transform you into that world of imagination where maybe your dreams don’t really match reality. I have, even once knowing it is going to happen, been unable to think myself out of that mental state when in the deep throes of love. I think when someone makes us ridiculously happy and full of love, whether it be a lover, or a child, we can’t help but project, look ahead…and fill our heads with future memories yet to be made. I’m not sure it’s healthy, but maybe these dreams are what help us continue to move forward and fight for something greater than what we individually could bring to fruition on our own. Love grows and evolves, just as we do, and it assures that life, at the very least, is never dull. 🙂

    1. Swarn, I’m only sharing what I’ve learned in my lifetime, I don’t hold the corner on truth. My daughters’ dad was a romantic, and it turned out badly for us as it has for many I’ve known and counseled over the years. Eventually I couldn’t fulfill his fantasies anymore, and he sought them elsewhere. I suspect that’s what happened in his first marriage as well. Only time will tell in your case – different person, different culture. Perhaps it’s what balances your scientific brain, and thus it serves you well.

      Now I’ve written more, then deleted it, then written more and deleted That(!) It’s not for me to tell anyone how things might work out or how the path they’re on might turn out this way or that. Life, if it is nothing else, is for Living! There are as many paths to the mountain as there are ways to kneel and kiss the ground, to borrow a dite from Rumi. To judge the fragile, wonderful, sense-heightening and sometimes otherworldly experience of love is not for me to do. I wish you all your heart desires and more, dear man. Thanks for your comments, as always! ❤

      1. Great words from Rumi. 🙂

        I didn’t mean to imply that I am still living in such a fantasy…it certainly went crashing down when we started having trouble in our marriage, but we worked it out. That being said, I still do not regret the feeling that comes with romantic bliss, but it can actually make you more complacent than active and that is a problem. All I was trying to see is that each stage has it’s beauty and maybe even its weaknesses, such is anything in life. The type of relationship I have with my wife now is much as you describe and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but there is a fire and fantasy that’s missing and for awhile we both had it and it was beautiful too. Such things do not last as the nature of how love is expressed and felt evolves as we do over time. I am just someone happy being the love fool, even if it leaves me broken for a time. 🙂

      2. Yes, I take your point. That fire referred to, what might be termed romantic love, isn’t it necessary in a way to propogate the species? Yet I think it unfair to expect one’s beloved to live up to that fantasy, whether male or female, if we’re in it for the long term. Familiarity breeds, if not contempt, maybe a sort of boredom? But my god, the pressure to ever rise to another’s ideal/fantasy vision of us can make one despondent in the face of diapers and piles of bills and provisioning a life – it takes so much energy! In the end, we’re each of us only human. Yet if we choose to continue, the encounter shifts to another level of appreciation; a deeper place where we begin to drop more armor, feeling safer in our ordinariness(?), and the relationship continues in these cycles, much the same as all of life’s challenges, I think – what you likewise refer to.

        Long-term is not for everyone – I do believe there are levels of learning in this life, and we do seem to have choices in this. Yet the opportunities for growth might well be unsurpassed. Still, life is an adventure, and there is wisdom to be gained in many places.

        Blessings on the day, dear Swarn! Aloha ❤

      3. You make your point well, when a fantasy goes to far it’s unhealthy. Not living up to someone’s fantasy is exhausting, and when someone doesn’t live up to yours, you can punish them unjustly. I guess I was referring to more of that fantastical feeling that love brings, where we sort of have some blinders on, and fill in gaps, overlook faults and everything is generally wonderful. I love it…but you have to come down from that eventually and start to realize that you have a real person that loves you and try to not let the fantasy that fills your brain prevent you from seeing the real person. Because I think when you really love somebody it comes with a true understanding of who they are, and also accepting the fact that they also may change, and so you just have to be in the moment as well. 🙂 You have a wonderful day too Bela!

      4. Aren’t words fun?! Haha – so interesting to really pinpoint what we’re trying to say while only having words to use. Many thanks, Swarn, for taking the time to clarify (and re-clarify) your points, here. Sweet blessings to you!

  4. Beautifully written, Bela. It looks like you put together a thesaurus of synonyms on love 🙂 I agree that one of the things that makes a relationship tick is two people to be themselves individually and also make time for each other. You mentioned ‘practice’. To get along with each other, we have to spend time with each other and not let each other’s habits get to us. We practice and fall more in love by communication, talking too, and more importantly be there for each other both in the best and worst of times – that’s how we connect.

    One of the strongest forms of love is being with each other and don’t need to say too much to each other. You simply connect with the presence of each other, knowing that the other person will have your back come what may 🙂

    1. Mabel, thanks so much for your perceptions on love. It’s interesting how you summarize your thoughts too – my husband and I are exactly the way you describe – we often don’t say much at all, yet enjoy being in one another’s company. At first the felt very uncomfortable for me; I felt the silence like a weight, and thought I had to fill it. I grew up in a large, emotionally volatile family. Lots of noise, good and bad, all the time. Over the years, I’ve learned to love and embrace the silence, knowing all we need to say will be said in time.

      Not letting others’ habits get to us – now there’s a point, for sure. So we compromise and it’s an exercise in courtesy which carries through to less intimate relationships, as well.

      Be well, enjoy the day, and again, Mahalo! ❤

      1. Always a pleasure to read what you put out here for all of us 🙂 Silence is golden, and good to hear you and your husband can enjoy each other’s company as you are. Like maybe enjoying ice-cream quietly between the two of you. The simple, subtle things speak the loudest 😀

        Enjoy the love, Bela ❤

      2. Thanks so much, dearest Mabel! Yes, silence Is golden, for sure. It took me years to settle into simple, but something in me knew it was what was needed, and ultimately craved. Journey began at 18, became more fully realized by my mid-40’s. LONG time. I think it ran deep in the genes, honestly. Some kind of karmic break-through. Others in my family enjoyed forays into nature, but just couldn’t drop the chaos of city life and volatile emotions. Glad to leave that stuff behind! Aloha ❤

  5. Your wonderful and erudite reflections about love are immensely inspiring and evocative. I wish youngsters could understand the illusionary aspect of love!
    Who thinks about all those words, Bela when one falls in the so called love, which is actually just knowing each other and why they got attracted…passion is the hallmark that guides them unknowingly and in most of the cases they end up in a ditch!
    Surprisingly all these synonyms don’t include ‘sacrifice,’ which is considered to be real love in some cultures and mythological stories. This form of love believes in ‘giving’ and can never crumble…apparently because ‘giving’ is expected to go on and on.
    You are so right… “ Nothing can be reduced to simple platitudes” as human relationships are extremely complex and are intertwined. No lovers can be one island in themselves and the connections they have with others affect their love.
    Enjoyed reading your take on love 🙂

    1. Ah, Mahalo, Balroop – many thanks for your reflections. Yes, sacrifice – what?! Ours is a selfish culture, by and large. Yet making concessions seems to be required of any relationship, long-term, even friendship. I tell you, if somebody had told me friends make the best lovers when I was 20 (as surely they must have done), I would have murmured something like, ‘Eeeewww. Gross.’ I definitely had male friends and lovers and neither crossed the line. Now I think wow, I bet (friend so and so) would have turned out to be a really good long-term partner. I guess we mature if and when we do. And some of us just get lucky. Others realize what it takes and dig in, and/or learn along the way. What a dance! Enjoy the remainder of your week, dear one, and blessings. ❤

  6. bela, i think this timely offering is going to help a lot of us in the coming month as venus stations and retrogrades. your perspective and wisdom offers a grounded place for reflection and appraisal. you regularly hoist just the right flag for so many readers. 😉
    p.s. how beautifully that photo captures your shared bliss, come what may. i am so very happy for you two and your journey.

    1. Aloha Weaver, and thanks so much for your astrological affirmations and your sweet well wishes. Haha, flag hoister – got a kick out of that, as well 😉
      The photo was taken by a good friend back in 2011 or so – good grief, was it that long ago? Yet it does capture our essence, even though I was dog-tired at the time 😉 Was the end of a very long house renovation project.
      Anyhow, Mahalo for popping in, and look forward to your future posts. What times we’re living in! ❤

  7. Ah Bela, such a beautiful article and subsequent discussion, all of which I’ve read with care and interest. It seems a peculiarity of love that it stands and is supported in relationship (with others), and yet also stands unsupported, as if self-sustaining, unpreoccupied with attaching itself to an object of affection, simply being ‘in the air’, as we sometimes say. Perhaps love is one of the strongest arguments against the notion that consciousness is entirely a matter of brain states, as somehow love seems to permeate time and space, and can be ‘picked up’, as if psychically, beneath the level of the intellect and normal perception. Time and again people and artists have written of how love is mysterious, somehow ‘in the air’, as I say, and not solely a conduit of emotion between two individuals, not solely a feeling thrust into consciousness by the nervous system’s operation of chemical transmissions. Perhaps this thinking has strengthened the argument for a God who is synonymous with love, and who both pervades and yet is beyond both time and space? I don’t know Bela, and my knowledge of relationships and their formulae for success is pitifully inadequate, my life of solitude being causal to that, to a large degree. That said, I have always felt that love is all that really matters, and it being impersonal, can be dwelt in with or without relationship. Perhaps I’m as bemused by it as Cole Porter was. H ❤

    1. Of course you would end up with one of my faves, Ms. Ella 😉 She and Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone … gosh, I could digress. And isn’t it best recorded in memory on the scratch of needle on vinyl … sigh. I gave away most of said vinyl here, along with my turntable, due to the humidity. Yet here it is, whenever we like, just like that! What’s not to Love about that? 😉
      Oh, on another note. So. Yes, if God Is, God is surely Love, I cannot disagree. Any ‘healing’ work I ever did with clients was purely from the heart which flowed through the hands (balanced with education, for sure, as people like to analyse). Still. (Now you see, I changed the ‘z’ for an ‘s’ just for you in that last word!)
      I don’t feel as though consciousness resides solely (or even within) the head. Enneagram head types might argue with this, but us kinesthetic types know differently. Perhaps it’s just that, and perhaps it’s even tribal (as Caroline Myss, for one, would say), who the heck knows? For sure for me, it IS ‘in the air’ and permeates all of life on earth and beyond. [This is the only reason I mentioned the cosmic consciousness part to you in my last comment on your last post – which you can remove from its published state, I wouldn’t at all take offense. It took me years of living in Hawaii to even Mention to anyone the kind of work I once did. It is of course with me still, but I prefer to utilize whatever juju I possess in growing things; in touching in where I do with animals and few people when asked.]
      On balance, if one does not love oneself, it’s hardly going to meet with much success in relating to other human beings. As my friend Sean Mulcahy penned in one of his song lyrics, “Love allows.” I can’t think of a more succinct way of stating it. We allow our dogs their dog-ness (thus they are very naughty in public, racing around like wild things, so we take them to ramble in nature, as heaven knows, they get bored in their fenced 1/2 acre yard – same as they did on 2-1/2 acres or 65 before that!) We allow and enable other creatures to be what they are but help them survive, if we can. Allowing humans to be – well, that’s quite another matter, when there is so much potential harm that can be done, not only to one another but to the planet. And I’ll stop there, wordy one that I can be. Only I do try and love them, in the end. [Forgive them, for they know not what they do? yikes.] Love to you, respected friend. ❤

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