The Beatles sang “All You Need is Love,” but what is love, anyway? Trying to pin down what exactly it is and why we feel it is no easy task.
There is no universal definition of love. Everyone feels it differently and has different ideas of what love means and how to express it. But this doesn’t stop people from trying to put love in a box and give it a specific definition.
This happens most noticeably around Valentine’s Day when we are constantly confronted with an idealized love. Most often this concept involves lots of expensive jewellery, candlelit dinners and romantic music lingering in the background.
The problem with this picture is that it doesn’t match reality. The love that is most often put on a pedestal is an unfaltering, everlasting, passionate love between a man and a woman. It lacks diversity and inclusivity, and the fact that this is supposed to be the ultimate expression of love undoubtedly leaves many people feeling as though love is lacking in their lives.
The truth is, there are many kinds of love, and all of them enrich our lives. We are so consumed by the idea that we need to find one special person to share the rest of our lives with — to “complete” us — that we become blind to the fact that we are already surrounded by wonderful, loving people. Science has already cast doubt on the myth of lifelong love, so why are we still so attached to the old norm?
Love can change over time just like our ideas about it should. The classic idea of love is that it is an eternal passion that never fades despite how many years a couple spends together. Many people waste their time searching for this mythical type of love. Expectations of love have become so high that the type of love people want to feel cannot realistically be achieved.
Just because you don’t have a significant other in your life does not mean something essential is missing. Many single people feel the need to drown their sorrows with bottles of wine on Feb. 14 because they think they have a serious void to fill; they believe that some intrinsic part of their life is missing.
If you don’t have an all-consuming, world-altering love right now, consider looking for the small moments of love in everyday life. Love can come from anywhere, from anyone, at any time.
By reducing our conception of love to a single expression we do it and ourselves a disservice. Love is such a hard word to define because there are so many different types and degrees of love. There is love that lasts a year, love that lasts a few months or love that lasts a few seconds when we catch someone’s smile. The people you love today may not be the same people you love tomorrow. This scares many of us but that shouldn’t be the case. Eternal love is not the only kind of love there is.
Couples are not the only ones who have something to celebrate around Valentine’s Day. Love is not something to be monopolized by two people but something to be shared with everyone.