Yes, I've already written a blog post to lament the question ‘what is love?' However, that particular evaluative piece acts as a textual deconstruction, focussing on the conveyance of the emotion through song, not life experience. Of late, this same question has played on my mind quite a lot - not because I am searching for the answer, but rather, because now I think I know.
Love is when you spend every waking moment with your partner, and never tire of them.
Love is identifying your partner's flaws, and accepting them as part of the complete package.
Love is when you can (and forgive me for the cliche 'rom com' scene) stare into one another's eyes endlessly and never feel the need to look away; in these moments, time stands still.
Love is when your partner makes your "heart beat faster and slower at the same time" (The Hot Chick, 2002), and you know it’s not an arrhythmia.
Love is when "parting is such sweet sorrow" (Romeo and Juliet). Your heart aches to see them sitting at the bus stop blowing you kisses and waving solemnly as the bus pulls away. You can’t bear it and you both find yourselves texting immediately to say you can't wait to see them again the following weekend.
Love is unconsciously quoting classic poetry and prose whenever your partner is on your mind.
Love is talking about the future but living in the now.
Love is following up on something your partner said a week ago, because what's important to them is important to you.
Love is about equal sharing: thoughts, opinions, compliments, domestic chores.
Love is asking them for a first kiss at the end of your third date instead of expecting it.
Love is willingly working at a relationship, but simultaneously taking each day as it comes - with ease.
Love is failing to notice that you've spent seven solid hours walking hand-in-hand, because it’s just so natural.
Love is sharing so many private jokes that you only ever seem to remember those from seven days ago or less.
Love is accepting that your partner may have a conflicting opinion on a topic, and not only respect their perspective, but empathise with it before they disagree.
Love is not only meeting your partner's family early on in the relationship, but wanting to be a part of it, too.
Love is the mutual knowledge that you will be together forever - and not being afraid to say it out loud.
Love is spending four hours reading and responding to your partner's emails each night when you are oceans apart (and looking forward to it), because it's how you stay connected.
Love is knowing you can make a fool of yourself in private, and your partner will love you even more.
Love is nurturing your partner when they are sick, fetching cups of Lemsip and tucking them into bed to sleep during the day.
Love is when your partner tells you every day how much you mean to them, how lucky they feel to have met you, and squeezing you to make sure you are real.
Love is when you can go about your career with a sense of confidence and independence because your partner boosts your esteem daily, telling you how competent and amazing you are, especially in those moments of self-doubt.
Love is complete clarity. It's not an obsession and it doesn't threaten to consume you because when in (mutual) love, there are no doubts.
Love is not singular: it is not just physical attraction, nor is it simply a companionship. Love is the inability to imagine a life without the person you want to fall asleep next to every night; the person who you know will be the perfect mother or father to your children; the one you are best friends with; and the only person you are and ever will be physically attracted to.
Love is letting your partner fall asleep on your chest, and switching Netflix programs to something they would find relaxing, even if you’re not interested in it yourself.
Love is knowing you can be yourself completely, and never doubt that you are loved in return.
Love is reading this blog in three months time, and realising how foolish it was to think I could ever define what love is, because love is infinite and ever growing.
I certainly am lucky to be in love.
Postscript: It’s ironic that only days after drafting this blog post, my blissfully happy and fulfilling relationship came to a grinding stop. The following realisation in the wake of a series of sudden and unexpected events - however crushing - is what prompted me to write this postscript.
Although romantic love may only be temporary in certain situations, love itself (regardless of the people involved) is everlasting and resonates in all of us, even in the most heartbreaking of situations. It may reside in the passion you have for your career, the potential you see in your students and the hope you draw from that, or in the safety and comfort your family provides.
What love is is unyielding - even when it seems like it's no longer in existence. What may perceivably ‘break a heart’ does not necessarily eradicate the feeling completely. That ache in your chest, the emptiness in the pit of your stomach, the numb feeling taking over your body - that is love taking a battering, and fighting back with force.
Even in the broken hearted, love is what keeps us going; a friend’s thoughtful and reassuring text, a kind letter of thanks from a student, or a parent’s warm and reliable shoulder to cry on are perfect examples of this – and as I recover from my own situation, I take strength from all three.
I've noticed that during emotional crises, we as humans don’t give ourselves enough credit. More often than not, it is the love we have for ourselves that sees us soldiering on against all odds: ice-cream and movie nights, days of solitary introspection, and allowing ourselves to cry aren't marks of weakness, but shows of strength. It is such strength, this love of self, that gets us through painful situations, even if at that time we childishly believe that all love is lost.
In hindsight, love isn't something that can be taken away or diminished entirely. Love is within us and is the flame that keeps the fire - us - going, always.
Written by Belinda Pearce