What is Love? A Guest Post by Jenny Hansen

Welcome to Life List Friday here at Jess’ Happiness Project. She’s hanging out over at David Walker’s place while we chat it up here.

Every commercial I’ve seen today is about romance. It’s almost Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. And on TV…in magazines…and spreading like wildfire across the internet.

(source: fucsia.hubpages.com)

The yearning for love and connection seems to be built into our DNA. And humans, particularly those in the Western world, place an incredible amount of focus on the subject.

We dream of love. We write songs and novels about it. We chase love. We build shrines to it. We sacrifice for love, work for love, and cry about love, in all its various embodiments.

It’s stunning to see such a wealth of attention paid to a topic with very few clear answers. Is it just me, or have you noticed how difficult love is to define?

  • There’s love between friends
  • The deep connection between parent and child
  • The close community of family
  • Romantic love typically seen during dating
  • The deeply shared life-bond of romance and friendship in long-term couples.

Certainly, there’s more but these are the first five that came to my mind. Here’s how Psychology Today answers the question.

What is love?

Three different people will give you three different answers. Heck, I might give different answers on different days. As a psychology major at the University of Missouri, I participated in an experiment where we walked around campus, asking this question.

Here are the five answers to “What is love” that I never forgot:

  1. Love is finding joy in the other person’s happiness.
  2. Love is wanting what’s best for one another, even when it’s not what’s best for you.
  3. Love is not being able to imagine your life without that person in it.
  4. Love is a completeness of being. Where the other person not only fits with you, but becomes a part of you.
  5. Love makes you braver than you ever knew you could be.

Complete strangers gave me food for thought that affected me for the rest of my adult life. So, now I’m asking you: “What is love?”

I can’t wait to hear your answers down in the comments section!

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after the newly walking Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.

When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at jhansenwrites and at her group blog, Writers In The Storm. Every Saturday, she writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

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37 responses

  1. I think love is all those things and more. It’s the deep and profound emotional connection we feel to another. But more specifically, love is an entirely unique experience for each and every individual. And there are a million different types and levels of love (parental, romantic, friendship).

    1. Oh I so agree. There are many many different kinds of love. But what glues them all together is that no matter how mad you get or hurt you get, you forgive because you love.

    2. It’s a tough one to answer, isn’t it?? Thanks bunches for the blog love, Nat. You are such a sweetie pie. 🙂

  2. I don’t know, Jenny. According to those Kay commercials, love is a swan shaped trinket from the mall.

    I’m like… so confused. 😉

    1. It’s ok Grasshopper, when the time comes you will know…go with the giant fake fuzzy flowers. That is what true love is.

    2. You got my point exactly, Renee! And why does the heart pendant always work on us gals? Because they’re pretty and we love that our honey looked at something pretty and thought of us.

      Which drags us back down the philosophy path… Oy!

  3. Love is being so comfortable with someone that you can finally burp in front of them and not feel shame! 😉

    1. LOL. Well, then that’s Joe and I. I always say ‘excuse me’ but he just says ‘there is no excuse for you.’ Hahaha

    2. LMAO, Darlene! OK, I can go with the burp. I can’t get cozy with the other end…I just can’t.

  4. Wow! That’s a hard question. You definitely get extra points for taking a brave (and very good) stab at it, Jenny. I’m going to chicken out of this one, but I’ll leave you with this. It’s like the color blue, you can’t describe it, but you know it when you see it.

    1. Eloquent as always, Gary!

  5. Blue is when green starts to mold.

    And love? Love is not fighting over the remote control.

    1. OMG, I’d love to see that as a plaque, Mark!! “Love is not fighting over the remote control” is just fabulous. 🙂

      1. Is that how you and Tara are? Blissfully channeled? LOL

  6. Love means never having to ask, “who farted?” (My hubs’ answer)
    Love is all of the above and we all have additional definitions. It’s the warm feeling I get when my husband winks at me, when my granddaughter runs to hug me, when my grown son puts his arm around my shoulder and kisses my cheek, when my 30 yr old daughter (mother of 2) calls when she’s really sick and says, “I need my mommy”, and it’s when my Mom tells me, “I’m glad you and I are so much alike”.
    Nice post, Jenny.

    1. Thanks, Marcia. And it’s nice that your hubby keeps it so simple, isn’t it?

    2. LOVE these thoughts Marcia! Beautiful and um (glancing at your hubs’), real!

  7. Love is so complex and yet, worth fighting for. Worth risking it all for the emotion it brings. Because when love first touches you, it’s like a gigantic wave that knocks you down and leaves you laughing, searching for your clothes. But I have also learned that our best emotions aren’t the exclusive province of our relationships. We pour them into our work, friendships, we bring them to our dogs and the arrangements of flowers, we get depth of an almost artistic thoroughness and intensity by offering our keenest feelings and actions to a lot more than the people we date or sleep with or whatever. Our relationships are maybe even the place we practice love in a relatively safe environment so we can then go out into the world with clarity and vigor and share in a sphere wider than the one that’s cemented over calamari at a local restaurant. It makes small things matter, it ever saves the small from being small, bringing importance to life.

    1. “It ever saves the small from being small, bringing importance to life.”

      I think that’s beautiful. That’s one of the lessons I’ve learned again and again. My favorite memories are of time spent together, my favorite gifts are the ones that mean more conversation, and my best treasures are photos of those memories.

    2. Annie, I’m in awe of your answer. That’s so inspiring!!

  8. […] Lara Schiffbauer is ringing my Cowbell with her very  inspirational post on handling life’s challenges. While she entertains y’all here, I’m over at Jess Witkins place asking anyone who will answer What Is Love? […]

  9. I love your five Love is… points. For me, love really does boil down to the ability to put others ahead of your own needs. Not to the point where you lose yourself, but if you are in a healthy, love filled relationship, the other person is thinking about you, and so you have a balance. Of course, with children it’s all about giving them the love they need, while teaching them to love others, so they can one day find that balance and carry it forward. I don’t know… I think I’m rambling. lol

    1. I like your ramble, Lara. I think you’re right.

    2. I agree, and I’m not even a mom yet. Just watching my sister and sister in law with their kids, I’m in awe all the time of their patience and intense love.

  10. Lovely post1 (Pun totally intended :D) My favorite description of love comes from the Bible…”Love is patient, love is kind”…especially “Love always hopes”

    1. You know what’s so funny? I almost put that Corinthians in as a graphic. 🙂

  11. I’ve always liked the definition that love is caring for someone so much that you seek the best for them. That seems to me to cover romantic love, family love, and friend love.

    1. Very romantic! I try to remind myself that often, that if I think I know everything about my love, I’ll lose him. There is always more to learn about the ones we love and we must remember to strive to learn their story. That’s love.

    2. Very true, to both of you. I think being excited for them to be the person they dream of being is a huge part of the equation.

  12. Love is giving of yourself.

    1. Awwww…thanks, Cousin. That’s a lovely answer. 🙂

  13. So I’m sitting here reading this post, enjoying my glass of wine after, yet another, horrific day at the ol’ D.J. Anyway, I was starting to get all gooey inside reading about your definitions of love…and I agree with all of them by the way – I would add that I think love, in terms of a marriage, as being able to let go completely and just be yourself in all your nerdy glory…ok, that’s just me. In terms of being a parent, I think love is knowing you would give up your life in an instant for your child…provided they would still be totally protected after you were gone..

    Then, I turn to my husband, eyes aglow, and (as casually as I can) ask him what his definition of love is…

    Without hesitation or looking away from the TV he said, “Sex.”

    1. LOL. Oh I love how the men have weighed in on Jenny’s post! Well, we wouldn’t have love without a little from your column A and his column B. 🙂

      1. Ain’t it the truth! LOL

    2. Dang, Kate!! My husband’s answer was almost identical to #4 and I got all gooey over that. He really said, “Sex”?? (Why am I asking – of COURSE he said “sex!”)

  14. […] Well, allow me to give you directions.  You can find Jenny talking about definitions of love here and Marcy talking about overcoming anything for 30 seconds here!  […]

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