Love: has it lost its meaning?
Some idle thoughts on “love.”
A dictionary definition of love is:
- To have a great attachment to and affection for.
- To have passionate desire, longing, and feelings for.
- To like or desire to do something very much.
- To be in love, an intense emotion of affection, warmth, fondness, and regard towards a person or a thing.
Nothing in these definitions suggests that sexual intercourse has to be part of love, and more importantly, nothing in these definitions, suggests there is any form of exclusivity about love.
Humans seem to have very contradictory notions about “love.” Consider the love between one human and another. Parents are expected to love all their children equally. Children are expected to love mother and father equally religions preach that God loves everybody; yet the notion that a woman may love two, or more, men at the same time is not accepted. Why?
We are conditioned by years of expectation about what is “good” about love and what is not and yet there is never a clear definition or explanation of what is “good.”
Reality changes with time. People, in general and by the law, have now come to accept that love can exist between two adults of the same gender. Not that many years ago this was considered, by the majority and by law, to be impossible.
Will further time change the notions of exclusive love?
The meaning of the phrase making love has changed over time as well. In the 1920s, a man making love to a woman meant trying to make themselves appealing to the lady, what in modern times is called “chatting up” it did not, in the 1920s, imply any physical connection between those involved. Time passed and now it means sexual intercourse taking place. I wonder what it will mean in 30 years time?
We are sold the idea, in so many very expensive advertisements, that physical attractiveness is desirable as it leads to love. So many television programmes reinforce this notion, especially the fake reality shows. In just about all of these, and here I must admit to making a very limited amount of research on this, they stress the desirability of being physically attractive above all other human aspects; certainly in the fragments of these shows that I have been unfortunate enough to watch, the only efforts at attraction seem to be appearance and wealth. The appearance is contrived and the wealth possibly fictional, but there is a constant stress that these things are all that matters in human relationships. I can only assume these shows target an audience of young and inexperienced people, the impressions they give to such an audience is not going to help them live a happy life.
Love and affection seem to be similar, with love being a stronger version of affection. It is certainly possible to express and experience physical pleasure through applied affection, without a strong emotional attachment, without being in love; it does also seem a long lasting relationship needs to involve affection, it also need tolerance and forgiveness; but does it need love? Love may be the catalyst that fires the start of a relationship but any relationship that lasts into old age will experience a lessening of the fires of passion, it is then that affection, tolerance, and companionship take over as the main ingredients of that relationship. This is a natural evolution and the way things should progress. All the fictitious media sales pitches of an enduring passion for 50 years, are inventions, sales pitches, to promote dissatisfaction and so to sell the dissatisfied person something.
The word love has been debased by lazy journalists for many years, instead of seeking words that describe a less intense relationship, they say these are in love. They say we love this object or worse still, the people love this politician. These are misuses of the word love and every miss use reduces the real meaning. People may admire the rhetoric of a politician, they may find they agree with the ideas they claim to hold, but this is not love, any more than a politician's expressed beliefs are their real ones. Since the word love is now so misused, we need to find another one to replace it. Maybe replace it with two words, how about passionate affection? Certainly, the phrase, to make love, in the modern media meaning of, to have sexual intercourse, is about as lazy as saying to have sex, which again is taken as meaning to indulge in sexual intercourse. Since our sex is our gender, then we all have sex all the time, constantly, never stopping. No wonder we get tired!
If love is to regain its true meaning we have to find less lazy ways of expressing emotions that are close to, but not reaching love.
Valentine's Day has become the commercialised outlet for declaring love, leaving aside the fact that marketing people see just about every public anniversary as a sales event; the sales of cards and flowers on 13th and 14th of February has become big business. This diminishes the emotional and human effect of its message. But remember these same marketing people make a sales event of the night the dead rise from their graves, to take the souls of the living. (Halloween for those who just think it a day to dress up kids.)
Valentine's Day is yet another example of how commercialisation trashes the true notions of love. The twin attacks of commercial greed and lazy journalism, which inextricably connects love to sexual intercourse, are destroying the real meaning of love.