I suspect there’s a lot to the answer to this question right here but I’ll explain more:
What Does “Love” Mean?
Of course, it depends on how we define “love.” Unfortunately, our concept of love is often limited by the idea of being “in love” with another person, with butterflies in our stomachs and a compulsive need to be with them. But that hearts-and-roses version of love falls short of what it means to truly love another.
Love is a complicated word for us in the English-speaking world. It’s a word that I really wish we had multiple words for instead of one. Remember that old saying about how many different words Eskimos have for snow? There’s a reason for that to be so believable. When you are surrounded by snow, you need different ways to describe the different kinds of snow. Even outside of that culture, we have snow, flurries, blizzard, etc. to describe different levels of snow fall, because just saying “it’s snowing” isn’t really informative enough.
The Greeks used to have multiple words for love as well. Eros for romantic, sexual love, agape for unconditional love, and so on. But in 2020 America, we have one word for it, despite the hundreds of different ways we can “love” each other.
The relationship I have with my spouse is, obviously, the one that we look at when we think of love. We can extend the idea of love to family, or really close friends, but it’s still so much more than that.
I do love my wife. I do love my family, and I do love my close friends. I know that, in each of these cases, there are people I would unquestionably do anything I could for them. I hurt when they hurt, and I’m happy when they’re happy. Their well-being is important to me, no matter how far away we may be from them at the current time.
But what about the rest of the world and my interactions with it? That where love really becomes an action, a verb. I love my readers by sharing helpful stuff with them, I love strangers by raising money for suicide prevention, or cancer research. I love social media connections by offering help and tips on technology.
But, let’s also admit that it would be weird to say to someone reading this that I love them, right? I don’t even know them, how could I possibly love them? How awkward would that make our interaction?
I get it. That would be awkward, so let me just say it this way. All you folks out there reading this, sharing this, learning from this? I do this because I love you, but I only say that because we haven’t come up with another word to describe the different types of love. Sharing things is a loving action, even if I’m not “in love” with any of you.
And no, you don’t have to say it back, we can just let this drop… 😉