I’ve been thinking about love a lot lately. And I’ve arrived at the conclusion that this simple little four-letter word, whilst the source of much-publicised joy and heart-ache, can also be the source of much confusion.
Why the confusion? I hear you ask. What can possibly be so difficult to understand?
Anyone who’s ever played the word association game in a group context will realise just how many different versions of the same word can exist. We all have our own unique interpretation of what a particular word means. The concept of love is no different.
To some people, love is the (usually brief) experience of butterflies in the stomach and an inability to think of anything else except the person of the moment. To others, love is physical attraction. Some people believe that love and passion cannot be separated, that a feeling of love must necessarily be intense. Yet others believe that love is a deep connection that is built over time, that it endures even after the butterflies fade. Some people believe love can last. Some believe it must come to an end.
And then there are methods of expression. According to Gary Chapman, author of “The 5 Languages of Love”, everyone has different ways of expressing their love. Some people want words. Others want time. Yet others want physical demonstrations. Some people think that showering gifts is the only way to show someone you love them. For others it’s small acts in the day to day that count.
In all of this, there is no right or wrong version. Just differences. But whatever our beliefs about love, it seems to me that in order to truly share an experience of love, the different parties involved in the relationship, be they friends, family or lovers, need to have some shared ideas of what the word means and how to express it. In situations when these shared ideas are absent, where the people involved have very different represensations of what it means to love, the giving and receiving of love can become difficult.
We all know the saying “somtimes love just isn’t enough”. But, when peoples’ representation of love are mis-matching, is it also possible to argue that sometimes less than love is enough? And what about the words versus actions debate? Is it possible to accept one without the other?
It’s a veritable mine-field of a subject, and I could go on and on. Or, I could just propose a simple solution to the problem that came to me the other day as I was munching on this little gem. A globally adopted equation that would solve all the confusion. Love = chocolate. Who’s in?