What is love?
This is an age-old question, and I do not believe that there is any simple answer to it. Love is as different and versatile as there are human personalities. Love, is ever changing, and ever-deceptive.
The question remains unanswered though; What is love?
I could bring forth the cavalry and write down all that I ever read and learned about the psychology and brain chemistry of love. I am not going to do that though – not now anyway –, because I would like to write from the heart, not from the mind.
For me, the concept of love is very simple; Accept me as I am, with all my flaws and mistakes, with all my imperfections and limitations. If you cannot do that, then you cannot call it love. You can call it anything else, anything you want, just, not Love.
What love is NOT though, is sacrifice. Sacrifice is an act of selflessness and strength that you perform to help someone who, otherwise, will be lost or severely damaged by life’s events. Sacrifice does not ask for sacrifice in return, but love asks for love in return. Love needs love, in return.
Love cannot live without taking back. Because at some point the giver will be depleted. The tank is going, sooner or later, be empty. If you do not take back love from your partner, then love will suffocate and die. For love is a living thing, a fire if you may say so, and if it is not fed regularly, it will inevitably wither and diminish.
So, in short, for me, love is acceptance, and sharing.
Expressing love can be a tricky thing. It is amazing how the human brains are so diversified that even showing emotions can be such a complicated thing. While there are some common grounds in the social habits of humans for showing affection, like uttering the words: “I love you”, or kissing passionately, this might not be enough for some people.
Some among us need other forms of communications to actually feel the sincerity of their partners affection. Gifts, Quality time, and Touching are among the various methods of communicating love. Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages goes into details about the fact that communicating affection is not easy or straightforward as one would think.
Gary, describes in his book – with live cases and examples – how hard it can be for a couple who do not speak the same love language to communicate effectively. Hard, but not impossible. It takes dedication to learn your partner’s love language. This, is the key to having a long term successful relationship.
This means that there could be two people who actually love each other and give love to each other, but they do it in the way they know how, i.e. in their own language, not in the partner’s language, and still both would eventually get their love tanks depleted and would feel immensely frustrated with their partner just because one is speaking only English, while the other is speaking, say, only Arabic.
Falling out of love
It happens, and it is natural. And it is at that point that we start seeing the flaws and the imperfections in our partners. At that point, when the brain chemistry stops playing tricks on your senses, continuing the relationship is a decision that has to be made consciously.
“We have been led to believe that if we are really in love, it will last forever. We will always have the wonderful feelings that we have at this moment. Nothing could ever come between us. Nothing will ever overcome our love for each other. [..] Unfortunately, the eternality of the in-love experience is fiction, not fact. The late psychologist Dr. Dorothy Tennov conducted long range studies on the in-love phenomenon. After studying scores of couples, she concluded that the average life span of a romantic obsession is two years.”
― Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages.
If the communication between the two sides is disrupted and problematic, then it is safe to assume that the relationship will just end at this point. But if the couple are aware of each-other’s love language, and they are willing to accept the flaws of their partner as a part of who they are, then such a couple can have a long and happy relationship.
Counselling is a very powerful tool. Having someone who can professionally see the full picture of the relationship and not being biased to one side can make all the difference in whether that relationship continues or dies.
Sometimes the easy way is just to leave, but holding on, with the right positive attitude, can truly change your life for the best.