Thoughts on Love: A response to the related forum topic.
I recently came across a thread at these very forums where several members got into a debate about love. Since most of the soft spots in my body are for football, video games, and bad movies, this didn't interest me at first. However, as the debate became more heated and the validity of romantic love as a genuine form came into question I began to think. I realized that debating the existence and validity of love is about as futile and arbitrary a practice as there is, particularly when one disregards emotions and approaches the subject from a strictly philosophical and/or intellectual point of view.
The issue as I see it is that "true love" is viewed as selfless and pure in its finest form. If we place love on such a high pedestal, it simply ceases to exist. It was said on the forum by a member who I respect dearly that romantic love is simply a glorified form of lust. Fair enough. Romantic love is fueled by sexual desire and would not exist if the yearning for physical stimulation went away. No matter how much affection a person can have for their lover, romantic love is easy to qualify as selfish because it is dependent on emotional and physical satisfaction more than it is the constant desire to give and to nurture.
The problem however is that all forms of love can be criticised in exactly the same way, even if the process isn't quite as clear cut. Much as the instinctive desire for sexual contact stimulates romantic relationships, the instinctive desire to reproduce for the continuation of the species stimulates paternal relationships. It's really just another step down the same path. While it's true that I will never know the love that a mother has for her child, the biological need for this form of love is easy to see. Parents need to love their children for the sake of the species. They are driven to give everything they have for their offspring. Whatever amazing spiritual experiences a mother feels for their child can all be related to a biological and thus impersonal need for our species to keep on existing.
I do not deny that paternal love is a beautiful and wonderous thing, perhaps far more powerful than any other form of love that there is. But when other forms of love are criticized as being less pure and thus less "real," this must be recognized for what it is. An emotional response and a personal opinion. There isn't logic behind it at all.
The point is that either love exists or it doesn't. Qualifying different types of love as "true" or "pure" is an impossible battle that can only end in inventing new words and reimagining old ones when everything is fine just the way it is. After all, "romantic love" may be related to lust, but the definition of lust leaves out any mention of affection, self-sacrifice, communication, or any of the other beautiful things present in a healthy romantic relationship. It's one small piece to a complex puzzle.
Despite the fact that I have just broken down and trivialized many treasured aspects of love in a most cynical way, my true feelings have not been reflected here. Maybe that's because true feelings can't be expressed in words.
Feelings and our own personal experiences are what determine the definition of love. If you believe you are in love, then you are in love. There's no reason to question it.
Sure, a grander experience may alter your perception of love and change your mind, but that's to be expected.. You will learn, grow, and redefine every emotion and thought that you ever experience. That's all part of being human and the personal discovery of ourselves and our emotions is much more amazing than trying to break down the logistics of a simple word.
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