Love is complicated. Love makes people crazy. Love can be euphoric.
I think the best summation I’ve read of love is from Cheryl Strayed, bestselling author of “Wild” and “Tiny Beautiful Things.” In the latter, she explains her definition:
“A proclamation of love is not inherently ‘loaded with promises and commitments that are highly fragile and easily broken.’ The terms you agree to in any given relationship are connected to, but not defined by, whether you’ve said ‘I love you’ or not. ‘I love you’ can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful and I’m going to do everything in my power to be your partner for the rest of my life. It can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful but I’m in transition right now, so let’s go easy on the promises and take it as it comes. It can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful but I’m not interested in a commitment with you, now or probably ever, no matter how groovy or beautiful you continue to be.”
This is part of one of her Sugar advice columns, where she continues:
“The point is, Johnny, you get to say. You get to define the terms of your life. You get to negotiate and articulate the complexities and contradictions of your feelings.”
You get to say. And if anyone you love starts to tell you that your definition of love must match theirs, it’s time for a serious conversation. Perhaps this is why love goes so wrong so often – we stop accepting our partner’s definition and instead try to make them fit into ours. Accept the love, or don’t. But don’t try to change it.
She concludes with, “Be brave, Be authentic, Practice saying the word ‘love’ to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.”
Happy Valentine’s Day.