...never having to say you're sorry.
Love is the most beautiful, yet most complicated, thing in life. Some say we love too easily, some say too little while others say we don't get it at all. It is the most complicated of human experiences and emotions. Love sometimes blinds us with devotion. Other times it opens our eyes to meaning and truth. Sometimes it is a feeling...sometimes a fact. We love things, people, animals and some love "God". And all these loves mean different things to different people...which makes it all the more complicated to know what love "means".
Defining love is like defining the wind. We feel it, we see its affects around us, yet we're not sure from where or why it comes. Some of us are quite sure it comes from "God" while others narrow it down to some genetically driven function and creation of the mind. The idea is that somehow love perpetuates the survival of mankind through procreation...therefore it has that simple purpose for some people. Maybe we are just animals driven by our lusts and mating cycles to continue evolution through "survival of the fittest"?
If we look for love, we don't find it. If we wait for love, it might find US. Some of us are in "love" with love...while others repel it like the plague, preferring instead a life of quiet solitude.
Some of us are move lovable than others. Some are attractive with easy going dispositions. Others are neither attractive or easy going. Some love superficially (external beauty, pretty things, cuteness...) while others love things internal such as thought, talent and other admirable qualities that come from the heart or soul...whatever those terms mean to you. Some skate through their love lives counting on their looks. Others demand understanding and acceptance of their more inner qualities before calling it love.
All in all...for me love comes down to total behavior and combines the factors of thought and action. I think we love ourselves by how we care for our external attributes such as personal health and hygiene. We also love ourselves by nurturing our minds with reason and understanding...balanced by a healthy dose of "I don't know nor never will...everything". We love others by placing those self love values on another person.
While we love things such as our pets, possessions and hobbies...that love is NOT the same as loving another human. It is much easier loving pets for instance because they tend to be more responsive to us. We feed them, they sometimes respond by licking us or snuggling next to us (I have never found the licking part to be that enjoyable...at least by an animal). If we show care and love towards them, most animals respond positively with undying love. Of course, this love is quite conditional, don't you think?
Human love on the other hand is a bit more complicated. Sometimes the more you love someone, the more they push you away. Many people are very uncomfortable with intimacy and closeness. Why is that? I will suggest that in most cases it is so potentially powerful and to an extent requiring submissions of our own will or individuality to love in return...that we instead take a safer road towards survival where we don't ever allow another to have that kind of power or influence in our lives. Many people have been burned by love either within their family or with a significant other to the extent that they are unwilling to love or trust again. The balance of give and take, the ups and downs of emotions...and the timing of mutuality in our relationships makes love a rare and delicate experience to contemplate.
For me love means making yourself ready and lovable. Without a good dose of self-love, I don't think it is possible to truly love another well. Too many relationships are imbalanced in that regard...I think psychologists call it "co-dependency". The most historic or powerful love stories we seem to love but not always emulate are of two strong, iconic individuals who find each other at a common level of existence and bond based on the strengths in each other versus "weakness" or need. At the end of the day, I think this is the kind of love most thinking persons aspire to.
Finally, I think true love is described best in this poetic scripture...
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails;
...I Corinthians 13