“What’s your love in 3 words?”
The question was posed in a beauty campaign where celebrities listed what love means to them. Cheesy, I know, and not the sort of place you’d expect to find a philosophical thought starter. But there I was, trying to condense this juggernaut of a human emotion into 3 words.
What is love anyway? An intense affection? A great interest? Warm, personal attachment? (Dictionary.com is so sweet.)
At the time, friendship was the first word that popped into my head. Family was the next. Then food, since I seemed to be listing words beginning with ‘f’. What else did love mean to me? I realised I hadn’t given it much thought since stumbling through my first romance as a teenager. I remember it being thrilling and bewildering in equal measures, my head swaying between “is this really happening?” and “what the hell even is happening?” I spent nights analysing my feelings before falling asleep confused, deflated, or so happy I could burst.
Not every romance is the same, of course, but I’ve been fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to witness a pattern that unfolds each time. Love is an unexpected twist. It’s songs making sense. It’s a blinding obsession. A calming storm. A warm fondness. A losing game. A distant memory.
But that’s only one kind of love. Going back to friends and family (and food), these loves less all-consuming but for me, always more lasting and resilient. What defined them?
Is it a fierce protectiveness? Care and attention? Mutual, unwavering support? After all my deliberating, I decided that having a succinct definition of love didn’t really matter. I think love lives in actions rather than words. It’s a ‘how you say it’ rather than a ‘what you say’ situation.
It’s in the pancakes my mum makes for me on my birthdays. It’s in the books and magazines my dad hands me because he thinks I’ll find them interesting. It’s in the conversations with friends where insecurities are shared, understood, then made to disappear by waves of compliments. It’s in the times you don’t tear yourself apart in front of the mirror, letting yourself exist as you are, whole and enough.
To love someone is to build them up. To love someone is to give them room to grow. To love someone is also to tell them so and mean it. But most of all, love exists outside of words.