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Essay on Love

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An essay on the subject of love that I originally posted in my Livejournal, but decided to transfer here as well.  Please be aware that it was late at night when I wrote this.

I think I'll begin with some basics, and like many basics, these have their roots in Greece.  In the English language, we ahve the word "love".  Granted, we have other words we use as synonyms (affection, fondness, adulation, etc. - The Oxford American Desk Thesaurus, 1998), but these are usually interpreted as varying aspects of love.  This creates quite a muddle, doesn't it?  The Greeks, as in so many things, seem to have hit on a much simpler and more logical way of doing things.  There were at least three words for love in Greek.  "Agape," " phileo," and one eros (definitions are taken mainly from Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).  Agape, as seen in the passage from I Corinthians, is a sacrificial love.  It is a love of service.  It is putting others before yourself.  This term is used in reflection of how a Christian is to behave towards all others.  It is upheld as the most important "love."  Phileo is closer to the English word.  It means a "tender affection."  Basically, it's "brotherly love" or "love for mankind."  There was also eros, which is a physical, erotic love.  It was more in teh nature of lust.  It was also used to indicate the romantic love that people seem to think so highly of.
So where am I headed with this?  Oh yes, now I remember.  Which sort of word do we mean when we say we "love" someone?  (I'm ignoring the "I love my car" sort of thing in this conversation).  I see four possibilities here.  It's either one of those meanings (that would be three of the possibilities) or we mean something unique to our era.  I think it's safe to discount the latter option, as people's feelings tend to be pretty commonly held, but it is apossibility.  I'll let you ponder that for a moment. 
So what do you mean when you tell your significant other you love them?  You might want to ponder such a question.  And if you can make up your mind quickly, you probably skipped a few things and need to go back over it again.  And for those of you wondering, when the Bible says "love your husband" or "love your wife," it's using agape.
Now, slipping back into English terminology...On the subject of infatuation, here's my thoughts.  I do not believe that infatuation has to do with they physical while love focuses on the heart.  In that case, infatuation is the same as lust.  Rather, infatuation is very heady, emotional, and effusive.  It is based mostly, if not wholly, on feelings.  Love is based on more than that.  Love is largely based on determination and friendship.  Thus, there is no "love at first sight."  That is either lust, infatuation, or a combination of the two. love takes time to develop.  If I may use an example, watch Fiddler on the Roof sometime.  And pay especially close attention to Tevya's song "Do You Love Me?"  Ask any couple thats been married for a long time (that means a good 10+ years, not 2 years and 6 months) and most likely they'll tell you something along the lines of, "I love them more every day," or, "I thought I loved them when I married them, but I didn't understand love until much later."  Ok, they'll probably say it better than I, but you get the idea.  Why is this so common and nearly universal?  Think about it.  I trust you're intelligent enough to figure this out.
So, can you really love someone after 3 days?  A week?  A month?  Can you really know someone that well that you can love them that much in that span of time?  Agape, certainly.  Phileo, probably.  Eros, certainly.   But the English/American meaning for love?  I highly doubt it.  In fact, I'll go so far as to say that it is an impossibility.  Think about that before you tell someone you love them.  Unless they assume you mean one of these meanings, of course.  Does love fade?  Well, if it does, then it can't really mean anything, can it?  If love does not last, then by its very definition it can't be love, now can it be?  Infatuation can last a long time, that's for sure.  But love does not end.  So you can't really "fall out of love."  Once again, think about it enough and you'll get the idea. 
I'm probably managing to offend a great many people with this, and I'm probably telling a lot of people that they don't really love someone.  Get over it.  It's my essay and it's my thoughts.  If you don't like it, don't read it.  But you might find it interesting to think about.  I've thought about it a lot, and frankly, this post is just the tip of the iceburg.  Now, continuing...
So these people who fall in love 3 times a week/month?  Are the "in love"?  Quite probably, yes.  It seems to me, from my observations (yes, I've actually got notes from studying this...maybe I can find them in a little bit) that the term "in love" is the same as infatuation.  Teh same as a "crush," if you will.  It comes, it goes, and people move on very quickly.  Usually.  Sometimes it lasts a bit longer or much longer.  But it's shallow, being based on appearance, similar interests (yeah, that's actually pretty shallow when you think about "love"someone just because they like the same things you do?), or you move in teh same crowd.  Or maybe it's based on the fact that they're "so different."  That's shallow the same way liking someone because they're just like you is.  Yes, I know it's important to have similar interests.  Let's face it, I'll never get along with someone who hates planes, guitars, and books.  But is that enough to base a relationship on?  If so, I am basing it on physical objects and physical expressions of abstract ideas.  Not that solid of a base when you get right down to it.
So how much "love" do you need to make a relationship work?  Well, here's the asnwer I've come up with after studying (once again, I have notes around here somewhere to support this.  I've had lots of curiosity, time, and opportunity to make studies of these sorts of things).  Absolutely none of the English romatic love.  None is required.  None is needed.  It's nice, certainly, but not necessary.  What is necessary is a drive and desire to make things work out.  Any two people, if they are committed, seem to be able to get along together.  With some exceptions of course, but as a general rule.  Ok, so about this point you're probably saying "Whoa!  Wait a minute!  That's just not right!"  Well, think about it with me for a minute.  How many people who 'love' each other do you see in America?  How many of these people stick together for years on end?  Uh huh...a small percentage, isn't it?  If you consider how many people break up with boyfriends/girlfriends, how many weddings get called off, and how many marriages fail, almost no relationships survive.  Granted, those people who go through 6 "boyfriends/girlfriends" in a month are weighing the scale down a lot, but you get teh idea.  But yet in cultures where marriages are arranged, people tend to get along swimmingly.  I just read a poll from a place where some people aragen marraiges for children and others choose their own mates, and you know what it said?  Something like 75% of the young adults polled siad they'd prefer to have their marraiges arranged, since they tended to last.  Those relationships aren't founded on romance, now are they?  I'm probably not saying this very well, but I think I got the point across.
I think I'll stop here as I've lectured long enough.  Yes, I know I'm "inexperienced with love," having only been in one relationship.  But I have been able to observe many other relationships in my life, and I've paid attention.  I've taken notes, asked questions, and kept track of things.  So I might just know a little more about things than you might think.  I've been able to look at it from teh outside as an objective observer instead of one immersed in the mess.  Dont' get me wrong, I yearn for a time when I may love someoen and they'll return teh love.  I believe in "true love," as they say, and I believe it is important in life.  But I seem to have come to startingly different conclusions than many people my age have.  And since no one else really seems to have a clue and many seem to agree in a general sort of way, maybe there's some hope for my ideas after all, hmmm?