"How do you know when you're in love?"
In order to answer the question, one must first secure a definition of love.
Love n. 1. A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
2. A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance.
3. Sexual passion. Sexual intercourse. A love affair.
4. An intense emotional attachment, as for a pet or treasured object.
5. A person who is the object of deep or intense affection or attraction; beloved. Often used as a term of endearment.
6. An expression of one's affection: Send him my love.
7. A strong predilection or enthusiasm: a love of language.
8. The object of such an enthusiasm: The outdoors is her greatest love.
Katherine Hepburn said, "Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get, it's what you are expected to give -- which is everything." So love is when you feel the need to give everything you have, everything you are, to another? According to the Joyce Brothers, "The best proof of love is trust." In order to love, we must trust, but does trust always indicate love?
Lydia Maria Price touted love as a miracle drug. "The cure for all ills and wrongs, the cares, the sorrows and the crimes of humanity, all lie in the one word 'love'. It is the devine vitality that everywhere produces and restores life." Love, then, lightens the burdens of life, and allows our cares to slip away. This hasn't been my experience. There are moments of elation, moments of soaring exhuberance where all is right with the world, punctuated by ache and sorrow and need and longing.
Do we love through nature, or, as Albert Ellis put it, is "[t]he art of love... largely the art of persistence"? Is love merely an extension of need? "Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.' Mature love says, 'I need you because I love you.'" (Erich Fromm) Are we defined by love? As stated by Charles Augustin Sainte-Bueve, "Tell me who admires you and loves you, and I will tell you who you are." Before we love, are we nothing? No one?
I'm reminded of a scene from a touching movie, about an obsessive-compulsive composer and a waitress, who fall in love. She demands that he say something nice to her, to which he responds: "You make me want to be a better man." This, to me, defines love.
In response to the question: How do you know when you're in love?
"I know I'm in love when the presence of another inspires me to be a better person."
So... how do you know when you're in love? You're welcome to leave a comment here, or you can mail a narrative response to:
The Love Wisdom Project
PO Box 721
Smithville, MO 64089.