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What Is Love? 20 Thoughts from a Totally Unqualified Expert

It’s tough to imagine a world without love.

What would be the point, really?

At a fairly young age, we tend to discover the fact that our souls more or less run on pure unfiltered love, so once heartbreak hits us, if we want to keep on chugging along,… well, we have to find a way to see through our own tears and breathe through our own gurgling snot and get back out there in the world somehow.

Pretty early on, we figure out that the only way to deal with losing love is to close your eyes and love some more.

It’s tricky at times, that’s for sure— some people would even say that it can turn your hair grey after a while, and I’m in no place to argue with that fact (or so says my bathroom mirror). Yet, as a species, as a dominant life force capable of so much utter destruction and chaos and sadness here on Earth, we humans sure do one thing right. We keep on loving, and we keep on looking for love and serving it up to the people in our lives.

So, I thought it might be a cool idea to take a look at trying to categorically do what really cannot be categorically done.

I thought it might be interesting and somewhat inspiring (as well as a bit laughable and radically humbling) to try my hand at tackling the age old question: what is love? There is no right or wrong answer, of course;  love is way too fickle and much too clever for any of that stuff. And besides…what the hell do any of us really know about it anyway?

  • . 1 of 21
  • All Aboard 2 of 21

    However you cut it, we are pretty lucky to find love and to have someone we care about more than anything in the world. So why does love only seem to really sock us in the gut when that person is leaving? Love seems so damn important to our sanity and our well-being, and yet we often don't really know the weight of our own hearts until that train is pulling away from the station, so to speak.


  • One of a Kind 3 of 21

    When you end up being with one mate for years or decades, or (gulp!) even a lifetime, you are really saying something about what you're made of; you're saying: I roll with this person and I watch them from across the kitchen or across the bed in the predawn light, and I want to make it possible to be with him or her for more time. So I will change what needs changing.


  • People Watching 4 of 21

    Isn't it pretty funny how so many of us tend to compare ourselves to other couples when we're hoping to make ourselves feel better about our own love affairs and relationships? We spend so much time second-guessing other people's choices and the way they messed things up. Crazy, isn't it? We think about them, they think about us...all because it's easier than thinking about ourselves and the way we treat the person we are actually in love with.


  • Together 5 of 21

    It is truly amazing how resolute and impetuous people are when it comes to matters of the heart. Each time we fall in love we do it like a landslide; the debris of our regular life goes up in a great thick fog of dust and rumble as our heart crushes anything in it's headlong path. No one can keep us from loving whoever the hell we want to love whenever the hell we want to love them. And I think that is one of the coolest things about the human race.


  • Bad Advice 6 of 21

     I roll my eyes into the back of my head when I have to listen to some married guy tell some unmarried guy not to throw away his life by stepping up to the altar anytime soon. I know men like to bond over the fact that they would be out getting insane amounts of 'action' at least 5 nights a week if they had only seen the light way back before they popped the question. Whatever. I suspect most of these guys don't even believe their own hot breath. It's a lazy, stupid way to live your life when you offer advice like that.


  • Old Flames 7 of 21

    I think that some respectable attachment to our old lovers and love affairs allows us to draw just a tiny bit of heat from yesterday's embers That in turn keeps our current engines running that much brighter and hotter in the here and now. The past is a fine balance to be sure, but experienced hearts can safely benefit from it if they're wise and respectful.


  • I Want It All 8 of 21

    When we share our lives with one other person and invite them into our world without condition, we are signing up to be a part of  a lot. Their student loans, their horrific taste in 80's music, their annoying bathroom habits, their snoring, their dirty dishes, their parents, their parking tickets, their inability to know what beer is good and which one sucks, etc. That's how much we are willing to put up with. That's how much we failed to hesitate for even a moment when the choice about love was ours to make.


  • Love is Blind 9 of 21

    I like the fact that I can head down to the grocery store today and before long I am going to cross paths with some couple holding hands or just plopping food into a shopping cart together, laughing. I like that before long I am going to be blown away at just how different two strangers seem from one another, yet also how perfect they somehow appear together. In a world that increasingly depends on polarity and exclusion, when it comes to society in general it's good to know that love is still as blind as it ever was. And maybe even just a little bit blinder.


  • Then and Now 10 of 21

    The past, your memories, are yours to reflect upon and feed off of. But new pictures of an old flame are probably never going to do you any favors. Love comes in many forms, that much is true, but always remember that within its present form rests your fate. Use your romantic past to better yourself, but a word to the wise: don't ever pine for it or try and 'Friend' it on Facebook, unless you want to open a million cans of worms all at once.


  • Forgiveness 11 of 21

    Many wise people agree that change is inevitable in life and love, and so any relationship worth its salt will be seriously tested time and time again down through the years. Quite a few of those times we will be called upon to forgive our partner, other times we will gaze into their eyes and beg them to forgive us. We don't always use words when we ask for mercy and forgiveness, but true partners know when it's on the table. And for love to last, I often suspect that that is the most difficult, powerful thing we can ever do, really.


  • The Real You 12 of 21

    Removing yourself from your own skin and using your mind to step outside of your life now and then might just be the greatest gift you can give to yourself and your partner. Look, I know it sounds half-baked but I'm serious!  When we really take the time to see things far removed from our distinctly unique, quirky, and often flawed perspective, we are prone to discover jaw-dropping observations about ourselves. It isn't easy, trust me— I've learned that the hard way. But the more you crawl outside of your skin and try to understand who you are to the people you love, the better off your life will be.


  • Love/Hate 13 of 21

    The way I see it, when it comes to loving someone, in a way you have to sort of hate them a little at some point, otherwise you don't really know what it feels like to truly love that particular person, you know? I guess what I'm saying is that I think that's why love kept alive over long periods of time is actually able to grow and morph into something even cooler than the drunken sensation you feel when you first fall for someone. Back then you thought you really understood what it was like to be totally in love with him or her, but in truth it was still way too soon...and you had no idea. Crazy, huh?


  • Just The Two Of Us 14 of 21

    No one, not your best friend, not your hair stylist, not your preacher/priest/rabbi/shaman/etc, not your in-laws, and not even your own parents can ever understand, even remotely, what kind of world you are living in when it comes to your own personal love affair/relationship. Sure, you will depend upon and even need those people to advise and comfort and help you many many times throughout your life, but the fact will always remain: only you and your partner know what you two are up to. And in a way, I really dig that notion.


  • Love = Own It 15 of 21

    Life is fast. Love is fast. We are on a constant moving sidewalk away from every thing we have ever known, and we're heading straight into an absolute mystery. So talk, my friend. Talk to the person you are sharing life with. And urge them to talk to you. You two chose each other and jumped in to all this insanity together and now what? You've clamped your jaws? Well, un-clamp them before it's too late. Stop making excuses. I'm talking to you...and I'm talking to me, too.


  • Do You Believe? 16 of 21

    Listen, I know that my wife and I obviously could still have had all of the things that love offers up without a silly document saying we are wed. But that notion doesn't matter to me since I honestly believe that the fact that we are married, and that we did make the effort to give that to each other once upon a time, ends up making me feel stronger and safer and, I dunno, more committed to what we are doing, than if we had never tied the knot. It's hard to explain, but I seriously dig marriage almost all of the time and it has nothing to do with any God or religion or laws.



  • Cheaters 17 of 21

    There are lots of people out there who cheat on their partners for more reasons than any of us could ever tally up. But before you join that worldwide army of philanderers ask yourself one thing. Can you live with the guilt? If you answer 'Yes, I can,' and you really feel that way, if you seriously feel as if you need to do this and that you deserve this for suffering for so long, then I'm here to tell you to just get on with it already. See, in this world you are either a cheater or you are not. And you have just answered the question.


  • Ripples 18 of 21

    When you are in a relationship with someone and you love them and they love you, you both are pulling a whole lot of people into your collective orbit. Once you guys became a serious, steady couple, you were suddenly connected to your partner's friends and family and even their co-workers and neighbors, because their entire life is now affected by you being in it. That being the case, every person who has contact with your partner will be affected by his or her mood and demeanor and spirit. And guess what? All of that stuff is affected directly by their relationship...with you.


  • Overwhelmed 19 of 21

    Loving someone else with all of your heart is tough, nasty work sometimes; overwhelming, too. Don't worry though, you're not alone. The love we have to cultivate and nourish and protect for our romantic partner is way different than the stuff we have for our family. That love is a given; it's all built-in and so it's pretty easy. This other kind requires dedication and commitment and tenderness and big giant ears that listen really good. And it's seriously exhausting sometimes. Hang in there.


  • Practical Romantic 20 of 21

    Don't forget to notice love in the little things in your life. When you smile to yourself at the sight of your partner's car in the driveway as you pull in, when you stare at them for a couple minutes as they sleep next to you on the couch, this is the stuff at the root of it all. This is the stuff that actually makes your world spin. Keep doing what you're doing. Keep noticing love where you're noticing it. And most of all,  keep smiling to yourself for noticing that crap to begin with. You're a 'Practical Romantic', you see, and that's the very best kind.


  • Forever 21 of 21

    Go for it. Go for forever. You can do it. Love one partner for the rest of your life. I feel like I can, and if I can, then anybody can. Maybe it won't work out in the end. Oh well. At least you tried. At least you and he/she believed in the possibility of 'together forever' for a while; that's more than a lot of folks ever have. There's nothing that says you can't make it happen, and I think that's pretty damn special. So go for it. And when you're both dead and gone, they'll raise a glass to the two of you and say, "Well, they sure did it, didn't they? ...They sure proved that true love does exist and that it never really ends."


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