What is Love?

By Calleen Wilder

What is LoveBeing a psychic, I’ve heard about, as well as advised on, nearly every love/relationship complication out there. I’ve also been asked, “How do we know when we’ve found love”, probably a thousand times or more. Today I thought I’d jot down my two cents worth on the topic and see if it helps any of you with your own situation.

So… How do we define this strange emotion that causes us to climb the highest mountains and swim the deepest seas all in order to feel it (or something like that)?

In truth, love is a mystery to most of us.  We all want it.  Yet, it seems none of know exactly what it is and how to know when you’ve got it.

People want to find their “Soul Mate”, their other half.  Problem is, most of us are so sure we haven’t found them already that we end up trashing some pretty great relationships in our perpetual pursuit of our perfect other.

I’ve decided the best way perhaps that we can all begin to understand love, is to break it down into small, more manageable parts and examine the components of what it is we’re all so desperately seeking.

Let’s begin with the question of, “How do we know for certain that we have it?” Is it when we experience that initial rush of excitement, the butterflies-in-our-tummies feeling that we’d all trade an eyetooth for?

If so, why does it seem to fade so quickly?  Did we quit trying? Did we quit putting in the effort required to keep the energy positive and loving in our relationships? Or, is love a little like everything else in our lives? Instead of that comfortable place where we feel secure and safe, we find we have to work at it. Push through the days we really don’t feel like we love our partner anymore. On those days we sure do miss that initial high though, don’t we? Yep, it’s a bit of an addiction for some.

As a result, sometimes loves leaves us wanting more. When it does, are we really still in love?

I don’t know. I only know that in a “perfect” world we would find our “soul mate” and fall helplessly in love with them. We’d always be absolutely certain that he or she was the right one, the only one, for us. They’d “complete us” as it were. But, this isn’t a perfect world, now is it?

So what are we to do? Do we settle, or feel like we settled? If so, does that mean we might miss out on our soul mate?  What if he or she really would have been the next person we met?

What is LoveHow can you ever really know?  Worse yet, what if the one you’re with really is your soul mate and you let them go, chasing some idea of what a soul mate looks like?

In the end, it seems to me that love is like everything else in this life, it’s a gamble, a risk.  You roll the love dice, close your eyes, hold your breath, and just hope you choose right.

Many of us find ourselves reminiscing about our first loves when our new love gets dented. We remember them with such fondness, as we recall how simply being in their presence made us feel giddy. We also remember how back then we never even thought to question whether they were the right one or not, simply because, we “knew” they were.

What a rush that was. Gosh, if we could only bottle that innocence and those hormones. After all, they were the ones who started this whole butterflies and fireworks thing to begin with. Also though, they’re the ones who aren’t here any longer, likely for some pretty good reasons I imagine.

Still, that first love is so potent it consumes us, as well as everything else in its path. It was GLORIOUS! Well, until it wasn’t.

Reality is, with that first love usually came our first heartache.  A truly devastating situation that made us all too aware of just how ugly some love can become.

By George, maybe we’re getting somewhere.  You see I believe this ending was the beginning of the end of our loving in a natural and unencumbered way.  That first heartbreak changed us. It “jaded” us.

Meaning, we’re now a little wearier, as well as less trusting, more distant, and wounded. We felt betrayed by love, lost in our misery. As a result, it left us unprepared to ever love that wholly, or in that particular fashion, again.

Bottom line is, you’ll never be able to be so open, honest, raw, naive, and willing to dive into love again… precisely because it hurt too much.

Still, we expect to have that exact same feeling again with someone new, precisely because it felt so “right” the first time around.  Yet what we fail to consider is we no longer have the ability to love in that same way again. I guess then that it really is us and not them. Meaning, we’re no longer capable of feeling love in the same way we once did. That ship has sailed. We’re different people now.

But that doesn’t mean we love the new person less, only differently… again, because we’re different.  Unfortunately that leaves us second-guessing all sorts of people. When that new love doesn’t consume us we convince ourselves it can’t be love at all.  It isn’t powerful enough to be soul-mate-love.

In truth though, it most certainly could be.  In fact, I believe we all had to lose that total-consumptive quality of the first love in order that we can also work, raise a family, get a hobby, and do something else worthwhile with your life other than just love one person.

Perhaps then just as we have aged, so has our love.  It doesn’t make it less.  In fact I believe it makes it deeper, more stable, and far more able to withstand the ups and downs that automatically come with two people living a life together.

Consequently, when it comes to holding out for that perfect person, I don’t really believe that there is only one perfect person, one “soul mate” so to speak. Instead, I believe there are many potential people who will enter into our lives. People we may choose to love and build a relationship with, or not.  But that decision is always left up to us. What we do with all of those glorious opportunities.

Fate and Destiny will provide the opportunity, perhaps even the initial encounter. Still the outcome is always our choice.  Things don’t just come together without our participation.  Not things that last through rough weather anyway.

Too, I’m at a point in my life that I don’t want a “soul mate” to come and rescue me from my life.  Now I really only want a partner who will work, play, and love with me.  Who will compliment me while not consuming me.

Remember too that whomever you are with has their own assets and their liabilities, since none of us get out of this Earth-life clean.  Still I’m afraid there are no White Knights available, other than perhaps, the one you’ve already got, even if they look a little rusted and dented some days.

This doesn’t mean you should stay with someone simply for security and familiarity, because if you don’t really care for someone, let them go, someone out there will. Don’t ever delude yourself into thinking you’re doing them a favor by staying… you’re not.

Know too that if you feel like you’ve “settled”, you will spend the rest of your life feeling that way.  And that’s no good for anyone either.

Therefore, I would propose that you look at your relationship (provided you have one) and evaluate it with clear eyes and a loving heart.  While they may not be exactly what you thought they would be, ask yourself, “Can I live without them?  Would I want to?”

What is LoveOver the years I’ve encountered too many people who just pick their love apart by trying to categorize it by asking the age old question of am I in love or do I just love them?

My thought is, if you love someone, you love them.  If you want to snuggle up to them when it’s cold, or cry on their shoulder when you’re sad, you have a good one. Too, if they’re the first person you call, or want to call, when something goes right or wrong, chances are, you’ve got something right.

After all, those fancy whistles, butterflies, and swooning knees are far less than what they’re cracked up to be. That never lasts.  It didn’t last.

In my opinion a good relationship is basically comprised of a few very simple ingredients. Those being: I believe if you love someone, if you respect them as a human being, if you honor the way they try to live their life, if you can’t wait to see them after work, or lie around with them on a Sunday afternoon, you just might have found your match.

I also believe if when you think of “home” you think of them, you’ve got a “keeper”.  As Dr. Phil might say, they are your soft place to fall.

I also believe love grows more full-bodied (no pun intended) and deeply soulful with age.  That a love that can endure hardships of any kind and keep on ticking, in spite of the fact you’re likely not diligently tending to it, is a good love.

I know for sure that while we’re here on this planet, we need someone to help us through our difficult times, as many relationships fall apart precisely when they’re needed the most.  So, when you find one that doesn’t, you just might want to hang onto it.

Love is a state of mind. It’s a commitment you make to always try to love that person, regardless of whether they’re experiencing their high times or their low. It’s as strong as steel, as reliable as the setting sun, and as deeply responsive as you choose to make it. It’s a very special gift. A blessing accompanied by some work.

Yet with all that said, love does end sometimes. So even though divorce isn’t always the right option, sometimes it’s the only option. There really are those times when we’re put with a certain person, but it’s only meant to last for a while.

Only you can know this. Just be sure to take off those teenage first-love-rose-colored-glasses before you make that choice.  Choose to stay or choose to leave, but choose.  It’s all in or none in for me anyway.

In the end, love is always worth the risk.  But if you don’t give love, the receiving is not nearly as fun. Being in love is very simple if we’d just quit picking at it. That greener grass can lure us though (ha)!