Do You Know What Love Is?

October 19, 2004

A couple of three weeks ago a friend sent me an email asking me what my definition of love was. I wrote back a quick nothing saying that I liked the Jonathan Edwards / O Henry / Robert Heinlein definition: love is when you put the interests of another before your own interests.

I did not elaborate, and she complained that this was disinterested benevolence and not "a whole lotta love." So, let me try again.

I like to define my terms and break complicated ideas into bits. So lets break affection down into love, lust, and friendship.

I stick with the notion that love is putting the interests of the beloved before your own interests, but I add two caveats. Requited love requires that your beloved love you, and put your interests before their own. That is the point of "Gift of the Magi" and failure to keep that point in mind helps explain why so many of us are willing to turn ourselves into doormats in the name of love. Furthermore, I personally feel that we can put anothers interests before our own and yet not abandon our own interests. J and I regularly negotiate - figuring out what the other wants and trying to figure out a way to satisfy both of us, or at least frustrate us both equally.

Lust is simpler. It is the urge to rub the bacon with a particular individual. It is a powerful emotion, and combined with love can produce something quick to spark, quick to satisfy, and quick to burst again into flame.

Friendship is the third. One powerful wedding cliche is the invitation bearing the phrase "Today I marry my best friend." It is a cliche because it is true. Friendship, the desire to spend time with another, to talk and converse, share minds and interests, is perhaps more lasting than lust, more reliable than love. A lifelong friend is a good thing, and one to be cherished.

From what I know of this friend's current romance, she has friendship with her honey, and has been fantasizing about rubbing the bacon, but she is not sure about the love bit. He, meanwhile, is talking about kids, minivan, and vast quantities of domesticity (which is freaking her out a little).

I do think that for a long-term relationship to be successful it has to have love, lust and friendship. Different couples will combine them in different proportions; the two partners may well feel these emotions in different mixture: one may be love-friendship-lust, the other friendship-lust-love, but as long as they communicate it might just work.

Posted by Red Ted at October 19, 2004 09:00 PM | TrackBack

Thank you. :)

And... check, check, and check. Not only that, but they're all mixed up together. He calls me "Mrs. B" and it turns me on something terrible. Why this is, I don't know, but there it is.

I'm sure about the love bit, now. Wasn't then... am now. I'm realizing that time apart is simply not as good as time together. My house is *lonely* without him there. Weekends are not enough.

He loves me even though I am crazy (because I am crazy, he says), and I love him best when he's bein the doofus that he is.

Friends first, lovers later is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Posted by: KJ at October 22, 2004 02:48 PM
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