“There are three categories. Being alone, living alone, and feeling lonely.” – Eric Klinenberg.
While the three mentioned categories may overlap, they are separate entities with their own needs, feelings, and perceptions of what love is. Singles are more prominent than ever, and collectively, we are waiting longer to get married than ever before. Why is that? Commitment issues? Or has our society redefined the meaning of love? The climbing ratio of singles compared to those who are married or in a dating relationship could be attributed to several factors, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a fundamental change in our definition of love.
At 23, I define true love as a complete foundation of trust, respect, compassion and a willingness to serve the other person; and looking back I notice that definition has not changed much over the years. If anything, the characteristics I now look for in a mate have drastically changed.
Like any other ambiguous term, the word “love” is subjective and its definition will change depending on who you ask. Love toward a sibling or relative is completely different than love toward your spouse; in the same respect to love a friend is completely different than the love for ones child. Our perception of the word is shaped by intimate and subtle interactions with the people that inhabit our lives. We learn from parents, friends, family, and even strangers can teach us a thing or two about relationships.
A couple years ago, I was walking downtown with a female friend of mine, and a much older couple (I pegged them in their late sixties) the man, in passing said to us, “Two is better than one!” Granted, we weren’t together –strictly friends– but for some reason I’ve never been able to forget that moment. Seeing that man with his wife joyfully in tow in what I assumed to be a long, happy marriage, made me certain of the kind of relationship I wanted. “So that must be what love is”, I thought. By all appearances, those two people embodied my definition of love.
As we grow older and more mature our definition of love must evolve. With each new experience we uncover new heights of love and compassion. I believe it’s an amazing escape from a world filled with uncertainty, much like a great book or movie, but something more tangible, something you can experience with all five senses. And despite the outcome, you’re bound up, to whatever extent, with that person for as long as you remain on this earth.