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What's Love Got To Do With It?

love (luv)   n. 1. a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personalities.

Crayon Heart ImageWebster certainly didn't do justice to the word "love". But, when I ask others to describe love (we're talking romantic love, not love you have for your grandma, The Simpsons, or Oreos) they fare no better.

We know love when we're immersed in it, don't we? But to put that feeling into words is difficult.

Why?

Because there isn't one answer. There isn't a single definition for love. Everyone has their own expectations of what love is. For that reason, defining it for the masses is nearly impossible. And, even defining love for ourselves is a struggle because as we grow and experience, our definition of love alters with time. All love is constantly evolving.

Think back to when you were a teenager, and you fell in love for the first time. You may look back at that youngster and laugh, "I didn't know what love was." But, try to tell that to your teen self.

No matter what you say, that younger version of you would have adamantly argued that it was true love. And, you know what? That would have been right.

"What?!" you say. "How can a teenager know real love, true love? Don't you need to grow together, have experienced more life, have been hurt and felt pain before you know the pleasure of love?"

That may be your definition now. But, it probably wasn't then. And, that doesn't make your "today" love any more real than your love of yesteryear.

Love is nothing more than the strongest, deepest romantic emotion you've ever had for another. So, when you're 16 and fall head-over-heels for someone, because you haven't had much experience, that is love for you. It's real. It's strong. It's deep. And, its powerful. That's why teen heartbreaks are so traumatic, because they're real.

Now, you look back and can say, "That wasn't real love. Now, I know true love. It's so much more. It's grander, more expansive, and enveloping." You're right. That's love to you now. If you ever have another relationship again like the one in your teen years, you wouldn't call it love, because your definition of love has grown. It's stronger, grander, and more encompassing.

Once you've experienced a new level of love, the old level no longer is love. Love is on a sliding scale that only moves forward. You can always love more, even within a single relationship.

The love I feel for my wife, 16 years after I first fell in love with her is so much different than it was then. Now I wouldn't call that feeling love, because we have grown and experienced more as a couple.

But, now that we understand these different tiers of love, we never have the right to tell another that they are not in love. "You don't know true love like I do" or "I love you more than you love me" are comments that are never acceptable, because they are hurtful and can NEVER be proven. We cannot compare our feelings to others' feelings. We'll never know how happy, sad, frustrated or in love someone else is. We can only make assumptions based on our own experiences. Therefore, when we hear, "I am in love" or "I love you" we need to believe it. That person is telling you, "I've never felt so strongly for anyone else." Applaud them. Congratulate them. Love them back. For, they are in love.

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