As I’ve grown older, I’ve had to constantly redefine love as I’ve learned more about it. Layers and layers of illusion have been stripped away to reveal that which is truly love for me.

As I stripped away those layers, I was constantly reminded that intimacy is me being me, and letting you see me. For it is when I’m authentic around others, that I’m in a state when and where I know that the people who love me, love me for who I am as of this moment.

But there is more to love than just being me. Love is reciprocal. Unrequited love is an oxymoron. It is simply not possible to be in love with someone who does not return it. Unrequited love is a neurosis.

Reciprocation is essential to love, just as a child must be loved by his parents as he loves his parents, so too must a woman be loved by a man and vice versa. Regardless of gender identity, or lifestyle choices, love is absolutely reciprocal. Love can even be fellowship among a group of people with a single, common goal.

Love is letting another person grow to the greatest extent possible while doing no harm. Harm and love simply cannot co-exist. Love is a genuine warm regard for someone else and their growth, and harm doesn’t contribute to the growth of another. There is no such thing as tough love.

Just allowing other people to grow, accepting their mistakes, helping them to work through growing pains (even adults are still growing in some way), remaining calm and modeling calmness, and just being there — they are all ways to demonstrate love. These examples are all actions we may take to express our love and they are all skills. Love is a skill we must learn and demonstrate to others for the betterment of humanity.

For the people I love in my life, I let them know in one way or another, that no matter what, they can always ask me for a hug. A hug is the simplest expression of love. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s loaded with oxytocin. A hug is one of the easiest of all gifts to give.

Well, I guess that’s a rather long definition of love. And maybe it’s not so simple as I put it here. I wonder if defining love reduces its scope, it’s meaning. The value of love is in expressing it, for love isn’t just a noun. It’s a verb. Love requires action to be transmitted, to be exchanged.

Withholding love is bad for your health. It’s like holding your breath. For love to work, you must let it go out and see what happens next. Love has no guarantees, so love requires faith. You cannot force love, for love cannot exist in the same room with force. Love is a matter of choice, a series of decisions that are made to see if one’s love will be reciprocated.

Faith is not belief, it is the act of reserving judgment and holding one’s mind open to new information. Love requires faith for expression, to keep the mind open long enough to see if there is reciprocation. To put it simply, if you show up, I show up. If you stop showing up, so do I. In a sense, love can be that simple. For all acts of love are acts of faith.

Write on.

Originally published on Steemit.com, May 25th, 2018. Updated for clarity and a few small new ideas that sprang up on another pass of this article.

Written by

Husband, father, worker, philosopher, and observer. Plumbing the depths of consciousness to find the spring of happiness. Write on.

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