There is no consensus when it comes to defining love. Poets, philosophers, scientists, and the writers of romantic comedies have put a great deal of effort into understanding why and how it happens. Despite their efforts, no one seems to be able to define, or explain it in a way that satisfies everyone.
My people (sociologists) would most likely talk about it as a social construction that carries with it great meaning in our culture. Then they would probably discuss how definitions and experiences of love vary according to time and space. You would hear the words “context” and “problematic” a lot. Like a lot. One of us would suggest that it is a tool of the patriarchy, and another sociologist would agree with them, but also make a case that it is an invention of capitalism.
Sociologists aren’t very sentimental. In fact, they will with great pleasure de-romanticize love and any other human experiences that bring joy to people’s lives. They make wonderful friends during a breakup. Incidentally, they can also be pretty supportive when you’ve imbibed in any deviant behaviour, because by the end of the conversation, you will feel that the only things that you violated were a few arbitrary social norms.
But, I unlike my fellow sociologists, do believe in love in an organic and human way. While I don’t have a hard and fast definition, I can explain it…
Love is when you irrationally worry about your partner dying anytime you are apart from them. I know that I’m in love when he doesn’t text me back in a timely fashion, and I immediately assume that he is dead or near death. I know that I’m in love when I begin to work under the assumption that every time we part ways, it will be the last time I see him. For me, a key tell is when I opt to send texts like: “be safe” or “don’t forget to lock the door before you go to bed”, or “When was the last time you tested your smoke detectors?” instead of something sexy.
Naturally, I only feel that my love is reciprocated when I can detect a parallel brand of neurosis from him. I’ll often blatantly ask “Do you ever worry about me dying?” Until I’m satisfied that he is sufficiently irrational about my mortality, I feel my love to be unrequited.
I blame my family for this ridiculousness. Every time it rains or snows each and every one them sends a “drive safely, roads are slippery” text.
*I’ll never not think that feminist Ryan Gosling is wonderful. I worry about him.