How does one describe the feeling of ‘love’? What are the symptoms? And are they the same for everyone? You can think of love as describing a color. You can’t, really. You can point at a nearby tree and say, “That’s green.” But describing the color always leads to further comparisons. The same goes for love. We can read novels and listen to songs. We can watch a couple pass us by on the sidewalk. We can watch romantic movies that make us feel. But everyone just guesses as to what love is.
Love makes the journey worth it. And luckily, along that journey, you can at least know what love isn’t and through that realize what love looks like.
Love isn’t bound.
Love shouldn’t have you “in chains.” Love should not conjure up phrases and images of being “tied down,” whipped or in handcuffs – that language only reinforces the sexist stereotype of the controlling, nagging girlfriend. Love is not about being dictated, conquered, or changed by another, instead love is liberating.
Love is having the freedom to be yourself and knowing the other person appreciates and cares for you just the way you are. Love is understanding you don’t own the person and also realizing the person doesn’t own you and your time.
Love isn’t ownership.
You are not a trophy. The complex wholeness of your self does not exist to validate your partner. You belong to you. You have the right to make your own choices about your body, your presentation, your job, your interests, and your life.
Love is partnership, not ownership. Love isn’t marking your territory, but rather respecting your partner’s life outside of the relationship. It’s knowing you’re both individuals with differences that are respected.
Love isn’t a competition.
Love isn’t about keeping score. It’s not a back and forth of who can one-up who. There’s no time to wait to text back and no reason to act like you don’t care.
Love is when you’re on the same team. Sure, you may disagree, but your goal is the same. You want the best of one another and the relationship.
Love does not gaslight or condescend.
Love listens, works to support both or all parties involved. Love respects.
You are not talking too much. You are not doing too little. You belong. You matter. Your wants and needs and goals are valid, and should be taken seriously. You deserve to be taken seriously; you deserve to be treated with kindness and fairness.
Love isn’t based on physical chemistry.
Love is not defined by how fulfilled you are physically, but instead by the emotional and mental stimulation. Yet so much of society’s focus on physical attributes distracts us away from remembering that crucial element.
It is true that when searching for the one, physical attraction and sexual chemistry are vital, but it’s also true that physical intimacy is doubly fantastic with someone who engages you intellectually, than with someone who is just good in bed but doesn’t arouse you mentally.
Love isn’t conditional.
Love isn’t expecting things to fit into a neat box. It’s not loving one day and withholding it the next.
Love is messy. It’s accepting that sometimes you’ll have bad days. It’s supporting each other through those hard times, instead of hurting one another. It’s unconditional.
Love isn’t perfect.
Love isn’t pristine and shiny. It’s not fight-free.
Love is arguing and disagreeing. It’s learning to admire each other in new ways when your partner surprises you. It’s an adventure of unknowns that you wouldn’t want to do with anyone else.