How to define Love

Deep in the recesses of my past, a boy once told me that he loved me.  And what was my response?

"You are not in love with me. Either that or we have very different definitions of what it means to be in love..."

This answer still haunts me.  I criticised someone for having a different perspective to me.  Not only this, but I was criticising them without even knowing how to define love myself.

So in my typical "lets overanalyse every single little thing" fashion, I have been working for some time on how to define love.

The dictionary tells us that love is

"A strong feeling of affection and sexual attraction for someone."

This doesn't even come close to defining how I see love.  I need a definition which includes friendship, lust, intimacy and trust, and yet isn't based solely on any of them.  A definition which spans time and space without excluding any type of relationship.  A definition which reflects that the desire for love is independent from the other person, yet utterly dependent on them for its fulfillment. And this is my conclusion...

Love is when the desire to both know and be known by the other person is so all-consuming that nothing less than the rest of a lifetime is sufficient to satisfy.

The difference between true love and other kinds of love is then easy to see.  

For example, the love of a parent for a child is based on the desire for the parent to know the child but being known by them to the same extent is not necessary for satisfaction.  Love which is based on lust is satisfied in far less than a lifetime.  Love for a friend is not so consumptive that it requires intimacy to the same intensity in order to satisfy.

I am happy with my definition of love, but I have a suspicion that there may be as many definitions of love as there are relationships.  Or worse still, as many definitions as there are lovers.

Which means my definition is only correct for me, for how I love, for how I want to be loved.  It is after all my definition.

What if real love is the ability to give someone that which they need most of all while retaining the capacity to receive that which you yourself desire?

No wonder it gets so complicated.  All I know is that I should never deny someone else's experience of love again, regardless of whether or not it matches my own.  

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