What ‘Love’ Really Means Because It’s Not Just A Feeling

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Genessa Panainte

Love. What the hell is love? We try so hard to make sense of it, to understand it, to grasp it between our fingertips and hold it in our palms. We want, so desperately, to label it. To box it up. To put it on a shelf that we can easily pull from when we’re ready. To feel comfortable and steady and grounded as we free fall into another person.

But love, I’ve learned, is undefinable.

Try as we might, we can’t quite pinpoint exactly what it means to love someone, to know what that word means or how it feels or becomes tangible in our lives. When we think of ‘love’ we think of butterflies. We think of the first moments in meeting someone, the way our heart jumps out of our chests, or the weakness that happens in our knees. When we think of ‘love’ we think of kisses. Of fleeting, beautiful moments. Of bliss.

But love isn’t just those initial moments.
And perhaps it’s not even those moments at all.

When we look at our relationships, are we ‘in love’ in the beginning? Or are we just wrapped up in the attention we have from someone else? Are we drawn to their souls, or their physical bodies? Are we in love with their spirits, or the way they make us feel?

Because love is not just a feeling—love is an action, a manifestation of emotion, a choice, a moment of faith where we decide, with all of our selves, to be with and for that person no matter what.

For some reason, we’ve told ourselves that love is beautiful, is easy. That when we meet ‘the right’ person, they’ll fall into us so gently, so beautifully. That when we learn who we’re meant to be with everything will fall into place, like puzzle pieces finding their matches, like simplicity.

But real love is complicated. Real love is messy. Real love is decisions and actions and thoughts and emotions, and continually learning who someone is and how that someone can fit into the chaos of our lives.

Real love is knowing all the ways this world, this person, and you are imperfect—but believing in the fact that you will make a beautiful relationship, regardless of everything that says you won’t.

Love isn’t simply a feeling. It isn’t simply two hands intertwined, or two bodies coming together in lust. It isn’t being with someone who makes you laugh, or smiling as you go on dates, or kissing the lips of someone who you’ve learned to appreciate as someone even closer than family.

Love isn’t just moments that you remember, spots on a timeline in your life. Love isn’t the person whom you feel the most comfortable around. Love isn’t even finding your ‘home.’

It’s pushing, day after day, to keep that ‘home’ feeling over time and through obstacles. It’s conflicting and confusing and a whole lot of change as you both grow, together and separate.

Love is actually challenge. It’s meeting someone who pushes you to be greater, bigger, brighter than you were before. It’s finding someone who you see fighting battles with, and for. It’s discovering that your life was incredibly full before, but falling into them has made it even more complete somehow.

Love is imagining another person’s arm around your shoulders as you grow old. It’s seeing parties and weddings and anniversaries with them by your side. It’s family, maybe even children, sprinkled around you. It’s the thought of ‘forever,’ as hard as that is to actually visualize.

But love is also all the challenges that come with those things—the messiness, the confusion, the fear, the failure, the faults you will both carry forward and learn to battle in a relationship with one another.

Love is not just a feeling. It is a choice, a decision, an action, a movement. A movement towards another, despite what stands in your way. Despite all the ways the world will tell you to give up or walk away. Despite all the things that will try to break you down, break you apart.

Love is a movement towards one another, despite the impermanence of this world.

Love is saying that in this temporary life, you will choose to believe, choose to give one another your everything, choose to be one another’s, against all odds. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

Keep up with Marisa on Instagram, Twitter, Amazon and marisadonnelly.com

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