Love is in the Grayscale


How many times have you heard the following?  True love never ends.  If you fall out of love, it was never love to begin with.  I mean, don’t get me wrong–the whole idea of love lasting forever is incredibly appealing and gives one a sense of security.  But I’ve had reason to actively rethink this in recent months & want to share some thoughts with you. 

Now before you get all up in arms, please know that I’ve been a hopeless romantic my whole life.  Trouble is, my way of loving & my understanding of ‘romance’ has always felt to me to be a bit….unconventional.  I once said to my mom as I happily sighed, I’m so in love with my brothers.  Well that sure was the wrong thing to say.  Trust me, I don’t want to make out with my siblings. I mean, Eeew

I have felt intense, passionate connection with people that I did not want to have sex with.  I have been “in love” in the contented, happy, sighing, euphoric sense with my poetry, God (in a former life), children, flowers, cats, a spring day in an open field, etc…  I’ve had the deep, strong, quiet love for friends.  I’ve even loved strangers.  I have a strong natural need for physical affection and I don’t think physical affection should be reserved for the-one-person-you’re-going-to-be-married-to-for-your-entire-life-so-if-they-don’t-hug-kiss-or-cuddle-you-then-you-are-screwed-in-the-affection-department-forever.  Maybe it’s just America that has these ridiculous norms. 

A couple years ago as I was pondering this love stuff and what it really means, a man at the busstop said to me, Love is a code.  He meant that we say love when really we can possibly be referring to a myriad of thoughts and feelings.  This made perfect sense to me.  I have used or seen others use the phrase, I love you to mean any, some, or all of the following: 

* I feel affection for you

*I’m attached to you

*I’m physically attracted to you

*I care about you & want you to be OK

*I enjoy being with you–maybe more than I enjoy being with most others

*I feel euphoric when I think of you

*I would sacrifice something to help you or be with you

*I desire you/I lust after you

*I feel chemistry between us

*I feel connected to you more than I do most people

*I enjoy sharing physical affection with you

*I want to be near you always/want you as a chief component in my life

*I want to make love to you

Well, isn’t that just a convenient laundry list!  And notice, too, that if you take any of these statements alone, it’s not necessarily your first instinct to translate it as I love you.  While I came up with this list off the top of my head, I’m not imagining this. Check out a few of the definitions of love from Merriam-Webster online:



a 1) : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternal love for a child> (2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests <love for his old schoolmates>


b : an assurance of affection <give her my love>

: warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion <love of the sea>
a : the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration <baseball was his first love>


b (1) : a beloved person : darling —often used as a term of endearment (2) British —used as an informal term of address

a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others


b : a person’s adoration of God

: a god or personification of love
: an amorous episode : love affair
: the sexual embrace : copulation
Now, don’tcha’ suppose that if we take the indivual components of this love stuff we find that in some or many cases it doesn’t last forever?  How many of you can recall your feelings for your first boy/girlfriend?  Assuming they are now your ex- and likely in your distant memory….how do you feel about them now?  Perhaps you can still say that you love them, but chances are the flavor of that love has changed.  Maybe you no longer lust after them or feel chemistry with them, but maybe you care deeply about them and have affection for them.  Or maybe that was a relationship you were better off not being in, and none of those descriptives apply.  But if you call all of it love, wouldn’t that mean that love doesn’t by its very nature last forever, and indeed has limits?
The definition of love suggests nothing about its nature or behavior.  Who says love lasts forever?  Ideally, yes, perhaps we all would seek to form loving bonds that lasted a lifetime.  There’s much to be said for how love changes us and improves our lives.  But love is its own wild beast.  Let the poets and philosophers wax on about what they think love is and isn’t, but let no one dictate how legitimate your love for someone is, or prescribe such a vaguely staunch standard such as, love lasts forever.  What part of love lasts forever—the affection part, the lust part, the attachment part? 
Recently I told a new Friend that it seems people need to define things in terms of black-and-white because they feel safer there.  But love just isn’t a black-or-white issue.  Love is in the grayscale, and I’m comfortable with it being there. 
Maybe what we need to do is not throw that word love around so much.  I don’t mean that it’s a bad word; I’d say it’s confusing and imprecise.  When those wonderful feelings well up from deep inside, maybe instead of automatically resorting to I love you, we can try something like, I’m attracted to you and want to go to bed with you.  Or maybe, I feel amazing when I’m around you and I want to spend more time with you.  Considering that many people hear the word love and either start planning the wedding or hightail it outta’ Dodge, maybe we can use more accurate ways to describe what we’re thinking and feeling.  It would cut down on the confusion and hurt feelings, and make it a helluva’ lot easier for both parties to have realistic expectations out of the relationship or interaction. 
Having said that, will I cut I love you from my vocabulary?   ‘Course not, silly.  For friends and family with whom the relationship is clear, we needn’t get all semantical as we’re hanging up the phone saying goodnight.  I think it’ll bode well to more frequently expound on what exactly I’m feeling and what exactly I’m appreciating at a given moment. For instance, right now, I’m appreciating that some readers, friends and strangers alike, will be stopping by to take the time to read a few words from little ol’ me.  And perhaps you’ll be appreciating that this blog post is just about over, or that it provided you some keen insight (I’m not banking on it).  We clear? 
‘K thanks love ya’ bye.   ;o)
~Valerie…..with special appreciation for a certain Someone who appreciates the grayscale.  Thank you for being you. ❤

2 responses »

  1. here here. I “knew” I loved my wife before we got married, otherwise I would have never done so, but what my love for her was did not really hit me until a drive home one evening from the grocery store with our <6 month old son. Love was being with someone every day. Going grocery shopping with them. Picking their underwear off of the floor. Doing all of that and not ever realizing that you were doing it. That it may as well have been you alone in the car, you grocery shopping, and your "skivies" as my wife would say.

  2. An interesting hypothesis, m’dear. Thanks for sharing. Gonna be some contemplation on this. Finding much of what this Old Wolf views as ‘love’ could be confined within your missive.

    The Greeks used a term for the love you describe: agape, a love that transcended the base physical and conflicting psychosoical construct. More for my limeades for most by Biblical lore, it is the essence of selflessness toward your fellow being and the Universe in general.

    What I perceive of this type of love is a blissful connectedness; being an element of the whole, a part of… yet in its way, separate in its existence.

    Something to think about, eh?

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