In an attempt to accrue information for articles, as well as satisfy my own curiosity, I recently distributed another survey. (Thank you to everyone who participated!) My question was ambitious: I asked people to consider what the idea/institution/phenomena/feeling of love meant to them. I was hoping to see whether different types of people felt a certain way about love – would older participants have a different perspective than younger contributors? Would men and women interpret the idea in a disparate manner? I have to admit, I was mostly hoping that the insight I received would help me better understand how to identify love in my own life, however, the main conclusion I could draw was that there is no right or easy way to do this.
No two answers to the survey were the same! The only significant trends I saw in participants’ understandings, were that love looks and feels differently depending on the context, that having love for a family member may feel different than love for a platonic friend which may feel different than love for a romantic partner, and that the media portrays an over-simplified interpretation of love.
Rather than analyze the results of my survey, as I originally hoped to do, I am choosing to share some of the responses I received, as I could never convey their message or paraphrase them appropriately on my own. If you are someone who is confused as I am about the meaning of love, don’t be discouraged! Although the people who answered this question seem to have remarkably insightful wisdom into the topic, many of them sent me messages expressing how impossible and intimidating the question was, how difficult the topic is to put into words, how long it took them to formulate any sort of coherent response. Take heart in the diversity of these answers and know that above all, we are each responsible for and capable of creating our own understanding.
What does “Love” mean to you?
- It is warmth, comfort, security, fun, eye-opening, and exciting. It also can take a lot of work and effort and can absolutely drive a person crazy.
- Love = a mutual desire for dependency. A partnership. Trust. Honesty. 100% devotion.