I was cleaning out my closet over the weekend and ran across a box of some of my old high school assignments. I’ve kept a few of my favourites over the years.
However, one in particular stopped me in my tracks. It was a paper I wrote when I was 15 and in grade 10. I was in a grade 12 sociology class (yes, I was a high achiever back then too) and the assignment was to write an essay about the definition of love.
It just so happened that around that time my parents had recently divorced and I was kind of a mess myself being a hormonal teenage girl. So now when I read this essay, I was blown away by it. I guess I was a coach even back then…
Would I say a few things differently now? Sure. And it is a bit idealistic in places, but the gist of it still holds true in my mind.
Here it is…I fixed a few punctuation things but tried to keep it true as much as possible to the original hand-written copy seen here in the image. BTW I did score an A+ +1 on it…:).
The Nature and Concept of Love
by: Heather Wilson (1987- age 15)
Love is a four letter word, often said but rarely heard.
In today’s society love is considered taboo. If you love someone you are weak and shallow. It is the thing today to get a divorce or to have many unmeaningfull relationships.
You are cool if you never show emotion and a sappy sentimental if you do. Love has no place in the world of today when everyone wants to be independent.
I think that love is still here but it is buried. Everyone needs love to survive on this crazy planet. Without it, we would just fade to nothing.
What is love?
A question many of us would like the answer to, but there really is no set definition. We cannot just explain love in a few words, a sentence or even a book.
It’s a feeling of warmth and tenderness for someone. It’s a feeling of security and strength, honesty, trust, acceptance and understanding. It is all emotions in one.
Love is simple yet complex.
In the book, Loving Each Other by Leo Buscaglia, two people try to explain what a loving relationship should be:
- A loving relationship is one in which individuals trust each other enough to become vulnerable, secure that the other person won’t take advantage. It neither exploits nor takes the other for granted. It involves much communication, much sharing and much tenderness.
- A loving relationship is one of trust and acceptance which creates a tender, warm feeling of security and contentment. It offers unlimited support and strength upon which one can always draw.
I once read a on greeting card a short verse that caught my attention and I will always remember and hold it to be true.
“Love like the ocean is vast and forever, and sorrow a shadow passing over the sea.” ~unknown
To me, loving someone is caring very deeply about their thoughts, their well-being, that they accept you as you are and that they understand, trust and respect you. You feel secure in knowing that they won’t leave you. You are happy. You want to always be with them and you want to shout to the world that you love them.
There are many qualities needed for a loving relationship to work well. But I believe the four major qualities are communication, affection, forgiveness and honesty.
Communication is the most essential ingredient of a relationship. The couple must talk about how they feel, listen to one another, share life’s experiences and just make sure that the message of love and understanding is given and is understood. They must be each others’ best friend.
The couple that never talks or never shares feelings is sure to feel empty and it will probably not last too long. Do not assume that someone knows that you love them, maybe they do, but everyone likes to be told.
Affection is also very important. People seem to fear both giving and receiving physical affection. In early days, no one even considered giving someone a hug or a pat on the back in friendship or even love. Now though, that is changing. Many doctors say that demonstrated affection is necessary for good health. A hug can make the day for many people.
It’s the person crying out “You tell me you love me, well SHOW me!“. Just a little hug can lift depression and it shows that someone cares enough about you to take the time to hold you.
Forgiveness. Many of us think that to forgive is to be weak. But it takes a very strong person to totally forgive and forget the act of someone. If we say we forgive someone, but then always remember the hurt, we are not really forgiving someone, just pushing the act out of our head.
The way to forgive someone is to separate the act from the person. Not always easy, but if you looked at—the act and then the person and how much our relationship means, we often find out that long-range relationships are more valuable than momentary pain caused by a negative act.
We also always want people to forgive our wrongs with nothing in return. Well, how can we expect people to forgive us when we won’t forgive them? We must perceive the individual with compassion, as vulnerable, imperfect, capable of fear, and much like ourselves before we can totally forgive and forget.
Honesty is very important in a relationship. We assume that our partner is going to tell us the truth. Without trust there is no relationship and can be no love. So we therefore trust each other to tell the truth at all times.
We often tell people little white lies in order to save them from pain. But are we really saving them from pain by not telling them truth? They may find out by other means and be doubly hurt because we lied. If someone asks us our opinion of them, we often lie or say nothing. They, then believing you, go out into the world and later find out from someone not as close as you, that they have bad qualities as well. The person would be very hurt to know that you didn’t have the guts to tell them the truth and what you really thought.
When we cannot tell a person the truth, we often dress it up (i.e. make it sound better than it really is or leave parts out). But if two people love each other enough, the truth, whether good or bad, should be said with love and understanding and given in a gentle way.
A few more ingredients for a loving relationship are:
Freedom from jealousy—we must learn that we can posses no one and that one person cannot fulfill all our needs. We must grow and learn in self-respect and knowledge.
Acceptance—We must accept each other for what we are and not try to change that.
Consideration—We often treat our casual acquaintances better than we do a loved one. But it is the the little things left undone and thoughtlessness that destroys a relationship.
Sharing dreams—We want to share everything with the one we love. We want someone who won’t laugh at our dreams. A dream is a private thing and sharing them proves our love and trust.
Courage—We must have courage to face our daily problems, arguments and frustrations. We must be bold and commit. We must give our relationship a chance.
There is nothing greater than loving and being loved in return. We may not know what love is exactly. But it makes us happy and gives us a reason to live. Each and everyone of us needs love whether we care to admit it or not. It is the human experience.
What’s your definition of love? Please share in the comments below.