What is Love?
This is a question in which its answer depends on who you ask. I’m not sure that we have determined what the standard definition is. At its core, some believe love is a noun, while others feel it is a verb.
One may even argue that love can have both a negative and positive connotation however, if it has a negative connotation, then it’s probably not love. We’ll revisit this thought a little later on in the article.
There is also a matter of love depending on relationship, whether between friends, parents, romantic or other. I believe there is only one kind of love although it may outwardly look different depending on the type of relationship, however being in love mostly involves a romantic connection.
Common definitions for love:
- “Love is a set of emotions and behaviors characterized by intimacy, passion, and commitment” (Are You in Love?—This Is How You Know for Sure. (2023, April 27). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-love-2795343),
- “Love is an emotion that keeps people bonded and committed to one another.” Karantzas, G. (2020, July 14). What is love? The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/what-is-love-139212
- “…love refers to a feeling of a strong attraction and emotional attachment.” (Love – Wikipedia. (2023, May 1). Love – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love)
For most, defining love appears to be a bit complex. There is Love and there is being in love. There is love of a friend, love of a romantic partner and love of a family member, like the love between a mother and daughter. Is it all the same or is it all very different?
For me, love is simple. Love is a feeling/emotion and action rooted in acceptance, unselfishness, care & concern free from attachment , expectations and without wanting anything in return. The most important part of this definition for me is “acceptance”. Love and acceptance go hand in hand.
What is the difference between being in love and love itself
Love isn’t attached to expecting or needing something in return. Love is free and can be given to anyone whether you know them or not. You can love someone you’ve just met or have known all your life. Love is genuine care concern and positive energy towards another being.
Being in Love
“Being in love” is what we feel when someone fills a void or gives us something we are longing for. ( i.e feeling of belonging or safety, financial security or simply making us feel desired). There is nothing wrong with being in love, it can bring wonderful feelings. Its important to remember that this can ebb and flow since as humans, we are constantly changing and so are our needs, desires ands abilities.
What is acceptance ?
It’s the embracing of something or someone without a desire to resist, avoid or change it. Now this can be tough. We have all had a relationship with someone we “so call love” and have also felt and wished they would change certain aspects of themselves. But if we want them to change how can we say we love them as a person.
Don’t get me wrong, people annoy us and do things that trigger uncomfortable emotions but the minute we desire for them to change, it’s something else. This is where “liking someone and being in love with someone differs from loving someone.
Liking someone holds a bit of fondness and agreement. We usually like people that align with us versus people who disagree with us, whether it be agreement in values, interest and beliefs etc.
Being in love includes attachment and what someone provides us. We usually fall in love with someone who “makes us feel good or feel safe”. When you’re in love, you’re probably in love with what someone else provides, whether tangible or intangible. And the minute that thing is no longer there, that usually marks a point where you fall out of love with them.
What acceptance is not
Acceptance isn’t tolerance. Tolerance is when we allow ourselves to suffer for some perceived greater good. We should never tolerate abuse of any kind and we should never tolerate living outside of our potential and life path. Acceptance is embracing something that may bring discomfort but causes no harm,. See how that works. That is unselfishness at its core.
Simply put, if we are not accepting someone we love for who they are and instead want them to change aspects about themselves, then we love the idea of who they can be instead of who they are in the present moment.
How does this relate to self love ?
This form of love is especially important when it comes to self-love. When we accept ourselves we stop harsh and negative self-talk, practice more self-compassion and embrace our uniqueness meaning less comparison to others.
Self-love is the practice of nurturing and caring for oneself on a physical, emotional, and psychological level. It involves cultivating a positive and compassionate relationship with oneself, accepting oneself as worthy and deserving of love, and prioritizing self-care and self-acceptance.
At its core, self-love is about recognizing and honoring one’s inherent value, regardless of external validation or societal expectations. It is an acknowledgment that each individual is unique, with their own strengths, weaknesses, and imperfections. Self-love embraces the understanding that we are all deserving of kindness, respect, and happiness.
Self-love encompasses several key elements:
- Self-acceptance: It involves embracing oneself fully, including all aspects, both positive and negative. Self-acceptance means acknowledging one’s flaws, limitations, and mistakes, without harsh self-judgment or self-criticism. It is about embracing oneself as a whole, without seeking validation from others.
- Self-care: Self-love involves prioritizing one’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It means taking the time and effort to engage in activities that nourish and rejuvenate oneself, such as practicing healthy habits, setting boundaries, engaging in hobbies, pursuing personal growth, and seeking support when needed.
- Self-compassion: Self-love requires treating oneself with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness. It involves offering oneself the same compassion and empathy that we extend to others when facing difficulties or setbacks. Self-compassion acknowledges that making mistakes is part of being human and allows for self-growth and learning.
- Setting healthy boundaries: Self-love involves recognizing and honoring one’s needs, desires, and limits. It means establishing and communicating clear boundaries in relationships, work, and other areas of life to protect one’s well-being and prevent burnout or resentment.
- Celebrating achievements and practicing gratitude: Self-love includes acknowledging and celebrating one’s accomplishments, no matter how big or small. It also involves cultivating a gratitude practice, focusing on the positive aspects of life and appreciating oneself for the efforts and progress made.
Self-love is not selfish or egotistical but rather a necessary foundation for overall well-being and healthy relationships. It enables individuals to cultivate a sense of worthiness, develop resilience, and create a fulfilling life aligned with their values and aspirations.
Practicing self-love is an ongoing journey that requires patience, self-reflection, and self-awareness. It involves challenging negative self-talk, embracing vulnerability, and making choices that honor one’s authentic self. By nurturing a loving relationship with oneself, individuals can experience greater happiness, fulfillment, and resilience in navigating life’s challenges.
How to practice acceptance and experience more genuine love ?
- Empathy through understanding
- Letting go of things we can not change or control
- Being Kind
- Recognizing positive aspects in perceived negative things
- Focus on strengths
In conclusion, it is undeniable that acceptance plays a crucial role in love. Love, at its core, thrives on understanding, empathy, and unconditional acceptance. Without acceptance, love can become restricted, conditional, and prone to judgments and criticisms.
Acceptance allows us to embrace our loved ones for who they truly are, with all their flaws, quirks, and imperfections. It opens the doors to genuine connection and fosters an environment of trust and security. When we accept someone, we create a safe space where they can freely express themselves without fear of rejection or shame.
Moreover, acceptance extends beyond accepting others; it involves accepting ourselves as well. Self-acceptance is an essential part of experiencing love fully. By embracing our own strengths and weaknesses, we cultivate a healthier self-image and develop a more compassionate and understanding attitude towards ourselves and others.
The power of acceptance lies in its ability to transcend societal norms, expectations, and superficial judgments. It allows us to move beyond the surface level and connect with the essence of an individual.
When we accept someone, we acknowledge their unique experiences, perspectives, and emotions. We acknowledge that they are human beings deserving of love and understanding, regardless of their past, their choices, or their differences from us.
In a world where we often encounter division, prejudice, and intolerance, acceptance in love becomes even more important. It has the power to bridge gaps, dissolve barriers, and bring people together. It promotes harmony, unity, and a sense of belonging that enriches our lives and strengthens our relationships.
Let us remember that acceptance is not synonymous with agreement or condoning harmful behavior. It means acknowledging and understanding without necessarily approving or participating. Boundaries and healthy communication are essential aspects of love that should coexist alongside acceptance.
In the end, love flourishes when it is nurtured by acceptance. By embracing this integral part of love, we can build more meaningful connections, experience deeper levels of intimacy, and create a world that embraces diversity and fosters genuine compassion.
May we all strive to cultivate acceptance in our relationships and extend it to ourselves and those around us, thereby opening the door to a more loving and harmonious existence.
Are You in Love?—This Is How You Know for Sure. (2023, April 27). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-love-2795343
Karantzas, G. (2020, July 14). What is love? The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/what-is-love-139212
Love – Wikipedia. (2023, May 1). Love – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love