What is Love?

love is a verb; sex is a noun

I’m taking some healthy space from a couple of my people right now – or rather they’re taking space from me to process some of their own sh*t – and I’m doing my best at whatever I can to support them from afar.

Part of supporting them is allowing them to take the space that they need without making it about me. This probably includes not sending them my every thought via text message, even when I want to – hah!

Okay – I’m exaggerating my need to contact them for humour, but I have observed in myself the desire to share pieces of my day with someone. Naturally, like anything else I observe, I began to ask myself why.

Why did I want to share these pieces of my day with someone whom was not needed nor effected by them?

It’s been an eventful day in my town as they recover from a windstorm as well as an eventful day in my personal life, but I had no need for their advice, encouragement, presence, time, money or anything else they could offer me. I didn’t even have the time to chat, yet I found myself wanting to share with them and to invite them to share with me.

Why?

This deep inner questioning brought me to the fuller understanding of how I want someone to be in my life.

Our lives are to be shared; we are not meant to walk them alone. I believe it is also true that we are meant to walk only our individual paths; no one else’s.

So how do we do this individually, together?

I picture every person on the planet walking their own individual dirt trail. Although two people can never be on the same trail, their individual trails can cross or come alongside the other for periods of time. We can make choices that cause us to roll alongside or distance ourselves from, another person’s trail. Or we can do our own thing without considering others and see who happens to pass by.

If two people both choose to be close to one another their trails can flow closely enough for them to witness each others’ lives in an intimate, meaningful way.

No matter how badly either of them want to, they cannot physically get off their personal trail and into the others’. They can only connect with each other from within the confines of their individual trail. This means that one person can offer as much love, hate, support, grief, kindness or negativity as they are capable of, but it will only be received if the other person chooses to accept it.

This also explains why no one can help another person without the receiver making the decision to accept the help and doing the work for themselves.

I want to witness the lives of those I love, and for those I love to witness this life of mine. Not to fix it, control it or change it, but simply to witness it. I want to be intentional about whose trail I allow mine to flow next to and who I allow to witness my life.

How do I know then, who these people are? How do I know when I love someone?

I consider love a verb; when I actively love someone, I think of it as the act of giving patience, empathy, kindness and vulnerability to another person. When I allow myself to be loved I am actively accepting the patience, empathy, kindness and vulnerability that someone is offering to me.

Anything that does not feel like patience, empathy, kindness or vulnerability, is no longer considered love to me, and anything that does feel like this, is.

Anything that does not feel like this, but is disguised as love, I no longer choose to receive.

This is a shift for me because, I don’t know about you, but that’s not the image of love that I grew up hearing about.

I grew up hearing that love is butterflies in my stomach and stars in my eyes. That it was wanting to impress, thinking about them all the time and anxiously awaiting the next meeting, communication or touch. A desire to be with the person all the time. A tingling on my skin when our bodies got close.

Now, at my wise old age of 28 – hah! – I no longer think that’s what love is at all.

I still have a lot of time to change my mind, but I don’t think I want to. I might be coming to know how I want a partnership to look and it contradicts what society taught me was right.

I want people in my life who want their trail alongside mine as much as I do. People who offer me patience, empathy, kindness and vulnerability – a.k.a. love. People who allow themselves to make the vulnerable choice in accepting my offerings of love. People who, if there is a large hole in our trails and I fall into it, choose to climb down their side of the hole to meet me where I’m at and who allow me to do the same for them.

Those who fall into this category are my people. They love me, I let them – or I’m learning to anyways, it’s a work in progress. I love them, they let me – some of them are learning too. It works.

It more than works, it’s love! True, unconditional love!

I don’t expect any of them to feel tingly or fuzzy inside or to be missing me or anxiously waiting our next connection, nor do I expect myself to feel any of these things towards them because these stem from need, not love. Need is where the excitement comes in. The sparks, the anxiety, the thrill. Need is where sex comes in.

I consider sex a noun; the feeling of sparks, nerves, excitement and need. We were created with the innate need for sex or our species would not have survived.

Sex can, and often does, come without love. If everyone involved is a consenting adult there’s nothing wrong with this and many people fill their personal needs of sex and love with different people rather than one and may choose to live this way their whole lives. I’ve walked sections of my trail this way quite happily and will likely continue to do so until I happen alongside someone who chooses to be in love with me, and I them. This is to say someone whom with I form a mutual balance of offering and accepting of each others’ patience, empathy, kindness and vulnerability along with a reciprocated sexual desire. In which case, maybe we’d choose to lay our trails out alongside each others’ for a while.

For how long? I have no idea. I suppose for however long it makes sense.

Am I meant to choose just one person for the rest of the length of my trail? I have no idea.

Commitment and what that means to me will have to be a future article – probably requiring future experience and thought seeing as I have no idea. For now however, I’m going to continue practicing love like its a skill!

The outcome doesn’t concern me, as long as I can feel good about how abundantly, fearlessly and vulnerably I’ve loved.

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