Love: What is it?



Written because...

"If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain."

Emily Dickinson

Much has been written about love. What is love, anyway? Is it the romantic love that we read about and see in the movies? Or is there something deeper? I've compiled some thoughts and some writings about love in order for you to think about it.

What is Love?

The Kinds of Love

Love Poetry:
"How Do I Love Thee"

How to Make Love Grow

The Importance of Loving Yourself

The Gift of Love

What is Love?

Love is one of the basic human needs as set forth in Abraham Maslow's Hearty of Human Needs. It isn't as basic as the need for food air, water, food, shelter, sleep, or sex, nor as important as safety, security or self-esteem, but it ranks next to the need for belonging and below the need for truth , order, justice, beauty, unity, effortlessness and self-sufficiency.

Nevertheless, we all need love. It is a basic human need. To say we don't need love is to not be in touch with our feelings, or with reality. To not be loved makes us a sad, bitter, or unfulfilled human forever searching and never finding what is needed by everyone. In that situation, if we have never been given the unconditional love that we each need, either from our parents or from a lover or spouse, we, in turn, are incapable of loving others.

 If we married someone who was never shown or given love as a child, that person may have been incapable of loving you. You must realize that this is not your fault. You will have to learn to give yourself love. People can't always be expected to meet our needs. We are truly lucky if we were given love as a child and given love in a marriage.

 Love can mean many things, and different things to different people. When someone says, "I love you", they may not mean it in the same way as you would mean it. Couples should, at some point, have a dialogue, explaining to each other what they mean when they declare their love. It should never be taken for granted.


Here are some thoughts to ponder about Love:

God is Love.

Love is a many splendored thing.

Love makes the world go round.

The love you give will come back a thousand times.

Love is not selfish.

You must love yourself before you can love others.

It is far, far better to have loved and lost that to never have loved at all.

Does "I love you" mean "Do you love me?"

Love is blue.

"Love Thy Neighbor as you Love Yourself"

Love is a verb, not a noun. If you say you love me, you should show it in actions. If I love you, I show it in the way I treat you.

Unconditional Love is loving someone through the good and the bad, in spite of their faults, even when you are upset with them or mad at them. Unconditional love can be counted on to last.




The following poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, part of "Songs From the Portuguese", is an example of all-or-nothing romantic love... to die for love. It is considered to be one of the most romantic and most
well-kown love poems of all time.

"How Do I Love Thee?"


Elizabeth Barrett Browning


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
my would can reach when feeling out of sight
for the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
in my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.



Many have written about love...

One such is Kahlil Gibran, in "The Prophet":

As Almustafa, the chosen and beloved prophet of God, was leaving the city of Orphalese to return after twelve years on his ship to the isle of his birth, Almitra (the seeress) asked him to give the people some truths that they could pass down to their children so that the wisdom would not perish.

When asked what to speak of, Almitra said "Speak to us of Love."

"And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice, he said:

When love beckons to you, follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,

Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.

He threshes you to make you naked.

He sifts you as to free you from your husks.

He grinds you into whiteness.

He kneads you until you are pliant;

And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

 All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

 But if in your feat you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God"

And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

 Love has not other desire buy to fulfill itself.

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.




This, to me, means that you have to risk in order to love. Love doesn't promise a life free of

pain. Because we dare to love, we open ourselves up for the pain that inevitably follows.

It is because we love that we are shaped by its good and its bad.

Yes, love is wonderful and we should all feel love in our lifetime.

Because we have loved and lost, we shouldn't give up on love.

Each person deserves love, and there is the right person in this world

who can give us the love we deserve.

At the same time, we shouldn't depend on another person to give us the love we need.

We should love ourselves, and we should love God, for He never stops loving us,

no matter what.


"Love Yourself"


Linda S. Nix

C. 1998


Those of us who have gone through the pain of divorce often don't feel that we are very lovable. We may have been told by our spouses that they don't love us and haven't for a long time, or that they haven't ever love us. They probably have made us feel that everything is our fault -- that it is because of who and what we are that they don't love us.
(This is a cop-out -- an excuse to relieve themselves from any of the responsibility of the failure of the marriage).
Lots of us have heard, "I love you, but I'm not in love with you anymore." The loving feelings are gone, and coldness, anger, and resentment have taken its place. We come out of a marriage feeling unloved and unlovable. I was told, "You are too hard to get along with. Nobody could ever love you." My husband laughed at the thought that I would ever remarry, hinting that nobody would ever want me. Of course, he was wrong, but the words that were spoken hurt terribly and for a while I believed him.
Each of you have your own painful personal experiences about how you now feel unlovable, but you won't have to feel that way forever. Everyone who has gone through a divorce has doubts about ever being loved again, but the fact is that you should not dwell on that thought. You must believe that you are lovable because you are.

 The solution to the problem of not being or feeling loved by another person is to learn to love ourselves. We must love ourselves before others will be able to love us. We have to learn to be what we want to become. We have to be what we want in another person. When we believe ourselves lovable, others will love us.
Even if we (at the present time) do not have romantic love, there are many other types of love that can fill the empty hole in our hearts. We have the love of our children, our parents, our friends, and our pets. An important thing to remember is that we need a variety of sources of love because it is impossible for one single person to provide all of the love that we need. If we count on one person to give us the love we need, then what happens if they leave us, either through death or divorce? We should open ourselves to love from many sources.

How can we ever begin to love ourselves enough to heal?

Here are some ways:

  • Love yourself into emotional good health and into a good life of your own.
  • Treat yourself well, not as others have treated you; for you deserve the very best.
  • Embrace and love all of yourself... Your past, your present and your future... for you must love yourself before others will be able to love you.
  • Forgive yourself as quickly and as often as it is necessary, for none of us are perfect, and we learn and grow best from our mistakes.
  • Ask for help, for time, or for whatever you need from caring, supportive people.
  • Stop feeling like you have to explain or justify yourself. You are a worthwhile Child of God.
  • Let go of mistakes after you have learned from them.
  • Don't expect perfection -- there was only one perfect parson and even He suffered on Earth.
  • As you grow, you learn. Throughout our lives we will always face challenges that force us to grow.
  • Tell yourself over and over each day that you love yourself, and that you are a lovable person. You will start to believe it.
  • You must love yourself fully before you are capable of loving anyone else unconditionally.
  • Give love to others. It is hard at first, for if you have never received unconditional love (that is, you are loved for your good as well as your bad, and you are allowed to be human) it is hard to give it. But in making a conscious decision to love, you will be able to.
  • At first you may have to force it and fake it, but it will slowly come. You will learn to love yourself.
  • Remember, you were put on this Earth for a reason. You are a very special, unique human being who deserves love. You are a worthwhile person. Love yourself!
  • Love will come to you again. Always believe it.


"The Gift of Love"

Love is the most healing therapeutic gift I can give myself. I do not have to reach outside myself to find love... it already exists within me. Today I embrace myself in unconditional love.

My parents, my friends, and my lovers may not have given me the love I need; however, today I realize that love has never left me. It is when I don't nurture myself that I frantically search from someone else to love me. This desperation leaves me as I go inside myself and discover that I AM LOVE.

Today I will open wide the door of my heart and allow the love to come flowing in.


From: The Daily Word

Back to Divorce Recovery Main Page


Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Five Stage Model
"The Prophet"
by Kahlil Gibran
The Daily Word Magazine
"How Do I Love Thee"
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning