I don’t define love. Defining puts limitations on it. I love. Pure and simple.
I recently had this experience:
I said “I love you” to someone who was neither lover, nor family, nor friend. (Well, ok, maybe friend, kinda sorta, but not in the common sense of social interaction.) It was someone who touched my heart deeply in a given moment, and I love him. Anybody overhearing me could have been shocked, and quite possibly could have made up their own (gossipy) stories about what they heard. Which makes me sad, and caused me to think a bit more about the limitations we put on love when we reserve it for specific (labeled) relationships.
You don’t have to be in a defined relationship with someone to love them. In fact, I would argue that you can love many (many!) people with whom you are not in a specific relationship. We all do.
And that’s the beauty of love: it simply is what it is. It defies definition.
The minute we choose to define it as “platonic/familial/romantic” (or any other definition you can think of) is the moment in which we choose to limit love to one aspect, to the exclusion of all others.
Think of it this way: It would be like knowing there is a beautiful pasta sauce on the menu, filled with myriad flavors and ingredients, and asking for only the pureed tomatoes. When in reality love encompasses all aspects. It’s the entire pot of sauce, and then some!
The “then some” are all the intangible benefits that come from enjoying a beautiful, robust, full sauce: the joy, the memories, the warmth, the aroma, the pleasure, and the nourishment. That is what Love is. It’s everything, all at once, defying definition or labels.
Love, therefore, is not a possession. It’s something you can give, something you can receive, and something you can never own.
Like the sauce, it’s an experience in a moment, followed by another, and then another… intangible, tangible, and wholly delicious. It multiplies as it is shared. Like the sauce, in being shared it connects us with one another in a moment, an experience, and a joy.
So don’t worry about what someone might think (or what label they might attach) if you say “I Love You.” Focus instead on the joy you feel at sharing your truth in a given moment. It will come through.
P.S. Next week we’ll explore the expectations we have around saying “I love you” and how they undermine the very essence of Love itself.