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Love. Such a basic word, in itself, but man, we give it more burdens to bear than it's initial meaning was meant to have.
If I look up "love" on dictionary.com, there are multiple definitions. Five, in fact. I was surprised at first, wondering what other possible meanings love could have other than, say, "An intense sense of compassion and caring for a person". But in actuality, the definitions of love are as follows:
1.
a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2.
a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3.
sexual passion or desire.
4.
a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
5.
(used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?

Wow! I hadn't expected that. Perhaps what I found most surprising of all was the association of sexual desires with love. Surely that was better confined to the page on lust, was it not? Only for it to occur to me that the multiple definitions were the different meanings for love that various people had for the word. I'll admit, I was a little miffed at first, as my own personal definition matches up better with numero uno than the others. But I decided to stop and think a moment--people's experiences and culture molds who they are, who they become, and their personal view on the world. That extends to love and relationships. My own personal experiences with love, primarily my first one, was of a deep and tender affection for the man/boy I trusted and cared for more than anyone or thing I had ever encountered before. I was completely and utterly in love. But for others, I see, that is not the case.
Some people have never felt that way. Some have only ever known perverts and immature children as potential dates, and believing them their only option, completely forgetting about the long years ahead of them, they choose to make them their boyfriends/girlfriends/friends with benefits.
I know a couple people that might fit that description (sorry if any read this and take offense). There is male friend of mine, who for long months had many FWBs (friends with benefits). I don't actually know his true motivation for this, and it would be rude of me to assume (and we all know what they say about when you assume). But I have a few guesses, one in particular being that he simply had not met any girl worth loving the way I have loved. I don't blame him--we as humans are many and varied in our personalities, actions, appearances. And some people think they have nothing better to look forward to than the relationships and emotions they have already experienced in life. Which often, I am sorry to say, are less than worth the pain and trouble they too often cause. So they go out with anyone they consider remotely attractive who they have not already dated (and sometimes exes, feeling the old relationship, however badly it ended, was better than anything else they will ever have to look forward to).
My other friend I will be referring to, a female, hasn't to my knowledge engaged in the FWB lifestyle, likely because of the many health risks involved, and also just as likely because she's got a bit of a superiority complex. But I know her to have dated, for many months (but not a year), a boy whom I believe wasn't good for her. In pictures I saw of her in the following months (I did not go to the same school as her and was unable to see her myself at the time), she always looked ill and unhappy. I also heard of many fights between her and her boyfriend, some of which I overheard while on the phone (four-waying between myself, her, her boyfriend, and my male friend I mentioned earlier). They broke up numerous times, only to get back together again. I do not recall if I ever asked her if she loved him, which is strange because I usually make it a point to ask this to my friends when they begin dating someone. But I do not remember any instance of her telling me so, nor did I ever hear her boyfriend say it. My male friend and I both agreed she could do better, but she wouldn't leave him.
It is not my place to tell people what they should an should not do, but as their friend, I gave them my personal opinion on their relationships, and suggested different courses of action they might take should they wish to. My female friend eventually broke up with her boyfriend for good, but only because he was moving to another town. My male friend had had what I would consider a girlfriend, someone more than the average FWB, and they seemed happy enough together in their open relationship. But they broke up, I am unsure why, and my friend is currently 'taking a break' from dating anyone.
I, who have never dated a person in my life, nor kissed anyone, am mystified by their ways of life. But that's just me, and that's just them. I wondered at their many loveless relationships, and the one I believe to have been loving that didn't last.
It is my personal opinion, however, that real love exists. True love, the kind you see in movies, the kind that lasts, if not forever, long enough to make it worth it. I believe in it because I have felt it, and while no, I was never blessed with the opportunity to be in a relationship with the man/boy I loved so dearly and truly and purely, I know the emotions were real. I know. And I hear songs that speak of that truth--"Enchanted", "Fearless","Love Story" and who could forget "Mine" by Taylor Swift. "Halo" by Beyonce. "More Than a Feeling" by Boston. "Underneath It All" by No Doubt. You can add your own. There are people who believe in love, who dream of it, who hope for it. I am one of them. I know any of you have lost all faith and hope, or simply haven't considered the future all that much. But there is one, and you don't have to confine yourself to the demeaning ways of the serial crusher/dater. Don't date someone if you don't think you could be with that person for the rest of your life, and that be okay. Might seem like too much to ask, or overkill, but trust me, it isn't. I have seen friends been through casual date after non-casual date and been left in the end single and drained. It seems self-destructive and painful and, above all, unnecessary. You don't have to be dating someone all the time---it's okay to be single until you meet the right person. You'd only want the best for your friends, right? Why should you have any less? What makes you think or feel that you don't deserve as much?
Bear in mind, someone being the love of your life might seem unrealistic or irrational. Which it is. That's the beauty of it. For the time you're in love with someone like that, the impossible is made not only possible, but probable. You feel like you could marry them. Then, whoa! Did I really just think that? comes into you mind. It's okay. In my humble opinion, even if a relationship ends, or a marriage ends in divorce, as long as it felt right and beautiful at the time, it was worth it. Don't you think? And just because a relationship ended, didn't make it a failure. When you no longer live with your parents, that isn't considered a failure, that's just the growth process. Think of romantic relationships the same way. It makes sense, doesn't it?
EVERYONE has a right to love. EVERYONE has a right to ask someone out OR decline someone else. EVERYONE has a right to date. EVERYONE has a right to be (or even stay!) single. EVERYONE has a right to be monogamous or polyamorous. EVERYONE has a right to be happy. Don't settle for ANYTHING less!
Because that's an example of real love, right there. Believing that anyone and everyone deserves to love and be loved for who they are and what they choose. Right?
As for the definitions of love, while I still think you should say lust if you mean sexual desire, so the distinction is clear, hey. Whatever floats your boat. Just so long as your own personal definition of love isn't anything short of real love, whether it be for a relative, a friend, a pet, or a potential partner. Don't let anyone tell you they love you if you know they don't mean it properly. And never settle for less than you deserve. Ever.
'Cause you deserve the best. And don't you forget it. :)



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