What Does It Mean to Love Someone?

Love’s such a big broad word these days that you can easily smack someone in the head with it.

After all, some people LOVE hamburgers.

What’s the point of trying to define a word that, some would say (not necessarily I), has been defaced by use?

A word that means everything and nothing at the same time?

Like freedom.

Or equality.

But you see, I come across this word, “love,” even in mindfulness books written by monks.

Maybe it’s a word that everyone can use to suit their purpose.

Defining love as a theological concept would take time and to be honest with you, I’d rather play with Beethoven.

I’m going to focus only on one use of the word.

So, what does it mean to love someone?

To want that other person close to you?

For them to pay attention to you?

To want to have sex with them?

To want to spend the rest of your life with them?

To have babies with them?

Many times in my life I thought I was in love.

That I had met a special person—special not necessarily in an outward way, but special for me because she saw things in me that others did not see.

But now, when I’m on the farther side of my 20s, I begin to have my doubts.

Yes, I did love, but maybe not so much.

Maybe I loved only once or twice or three times at most.

Maybe the rest were only attempts at love or much less noble than that.

Does loving someone mean the opposite of loneliness?

Understanding and trust?

Patience and kindness?

I’m still not sure I’ve got the definition right.

Because it’s a definition that changes as we do.

If I’d have to venture a definition, though,

I’d say that to love means to care at least as much about someone else

as you care about yourself.

Or to put it in another way,

To love is not to drink all the water yourself when you’re thirsty

but to want to give the water to that other person to drink first

because you care enough about them to know that they are thirsty too.

It’s not only kindness, and it’s not entirely selfless, of course.

If that other person’s going to drink the water before you do,

you’ll feel good about having passed it on.

But there’s a consideration in love that makes all the difference.

Most of the things we do in life we do for ourselves.

Love is a lesson we’ve learned in our mother’s womb,

and when we were babies and helpless.

But it’s a lesson we tend to forget by adolescence.

And then it’s easy to confuse it for other things.

I hope I’ll get better at love as time goes on.

I hope I’ll be passing that water flask

more often

without dying of thirst.

8 thoughts on “What Does It Mean to Love Someone?

  1. Love is action where care for another fills your heart.
    I enjoyed this greatly.
    This part especially

    To love is not to drink all the water yourself when you’re thirsty

    but to want to give the water to that other person to drink first

  2. I feel that the love of soulmates inspires a person to unconditionally fill another’s life with as much joy as possible, and with a great power of empathy to experience their happiness as their own. This love never stops, and is grown from a commitment to be there for someone to accept them in whatever state that they are in. It is a very deep connection; a feeling of togetherness–it lingers in one’s heart if they are left behind, and it exists unbound by any reason why.

    “But our love it was stronger by far than the love
    Of those who were older than we—
    Of many far wiser than we—
    And neither the angels in Heaven above
    Nor the demons down under the sea
    Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee”
    –Edgar Allan Poe

    Loving a soulmate is also loving oneself first, because to care for yourself is to care for someone else in the future who might need you. I have tried prioritising the needs of my soulmate, but it resulted in neglect of my own–anorexia nervosa. They worried and cried so much because I was dying. I wish that instead of pouring all of my energy into helping them I helped myself initially, so that I could be fully present for them–so that they did not have to worry about me.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to write the thoughtful comment above. I know the quote, it is one of Poe’s best known works. It was good to read it again in the context you placed it.

  3. One can love many different ways. Loving someone is wanting their well-being. Letting them free. It is possible to love someone in silence and be touched always by their soul, the memories. The people I loved remain in my heart forever, no matter what. Thank you Vincent for your text. Stay safe. 😍💐

  4. Love is different for everybody. But I think love is realizing that it will not always be sunshine and roses, that there will be times of difficulty and pain. In those times you have to choose to love, because we do not necessarily feel loving. Choose love everyday when things are tough. Love is much more of ‘doing’, than it is ‘feeling’.

  5. It is hard to capture love, as it is different for everybody, and it evolves with us too. But at the same time, I wouldn’t say that my teenage self did not love – she loved differently, maybe even fiercely, probably a bit selfishly. I think I have always loved with all my heart, just the perspective of love itself was changing over the years. I also think that the person we are in love with impacts the feeling of love as well – so maybe that’s why it feels unique and it always seems… stronger? One thing I agree with is that my mature love is more about sharing and making the significant one happy – and I like this vision of love.

    I enjoyed your thoughts on that one greatly 🙂

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