Ah, love. It’s everywhere. We see it in grand romantic gestures and heartfelt declarations under the pouring rain in movies. We read about it in the form of twisted love triangles in romance novels. We hear about it in the copious amounts of love songs plaguing every radio station. Love is everywhere we turn, especially in the month of February. But what is love, exactly?
Obviously there are different types of love. There is the seemingly inborn love you have for your family, the platonic love you feel for your closest friends, and then the romantic love you feel for that special someone. While these types of love may vary in nature, there are certain aspects of true love that are fundamental.
Love is not harmful. Ever. Not physically, emotionally, or mentally. Authentic love at its core is compassionate, warm and above all, harmless. Sure, we all make mistakes. We call our siblings annoying pests, declare hatred towards our parents, and hurl slews of insults at our friends and significant others when things get rocky. However, these instances are typically followed by feelings of guilt. Causing pain in those we love inflicts pain on ourselves, making our hurtful words and actions our most lethal weapons of self harm. On the other hand, if someone constantly and unabashedly abuses you in any way without feeling remorseful, their love is not sincere. Their benevolent treatment of you in the past does not automatically negate their intents to cause you pain.
Love is not conditional. Love is not dependent on what a person brings to the table, but rather who they are at their foundation, their essence. Love does not retreat or vanish in times of hardship. It is not a glass wall that shatters when put under too much duress. Love is tenacious, unable to be ravaged or chased away by the first sign of trouble.
Love is not something you can choose. There is no switch that you can hit, no button that you can press, to make yourself feel or cease feeling love for another person. Similarly, there is no way that you can compel somebody to feel genuine feelings of love for you. Real love does not come down to decision making. Although it is a choice whether or not you willingly give or receive love, the actually feeling part of love is totally involuntary. If somebody claims that they have abruptly stopped loving you for some arbitrary reason, the chances are they never truly did in the first place.
Love, the kind that is true and entirely genuine, is simply good. Love is wanting the best for another person, whatever that may look like. Love is being willing to take on the good, the bad, and everything that may fall in between. Love is wanting to be around even when everything falls apart so that you can help pick up the pieces. Love is knowing that someone is there, even when you can’t see them in front of you.
The fact of the matter is, love is a force of nature. Like a fierce storm, you can occasionally anticipate its arrival and even try to prepare for it, but in the end there's really nothing you can do to prevent it.