The Definition of Love

You can stop taking quizzes in Cosmo. Here’s what love really is.

Love is still wanting to hold someone after you climax. After the initial euphoria from the orgasm wears off, you’re replaced with a sense of calm rather than a panic. You don’t want to search for your clothes, scramble to find your keys and figure out the best way to tell them, “See ya later forever!” You’re fine with chilling out in bed with the person and maybe ordering pad thai later.

Love is unattractive. It can expose our worst traits: Jealousy, irrational fears, heated anger; the gang’s all here! While it can bring out compassion and tenderness, it can also make you behave like the ugliest version of yourself. That can be okay for a little while, but love with real longevity should be like a xanax rather than an adderall.

Love is not afraid to be schmaltzy. There’s a reason why the most popular love songs are so lyrically simple. You can drown it in metaphors all you want but love usually boils down to, “You make me so happy. I want to hold your hand. I just want u 2 be mine 4ever!” You can be a 50-year-old linguistics professor at Columbia University and still find something to relate to in a Mariah Carey ballad if you’re in love because the feelings are so universal. It’s humbling, isn’t it? No matter who you are or what your background is, love can reduce you to Mariah Carey mush.

Love is an all-consuming drug. It gives us these natural highs we’ve only read about in books or heard in songs. It’s addictive. It’s what keeps us going to bars, drinking glasses of wine, going to that stupid house party in Bushwick; it’s all for the possibility of finding love. In the wrong hands, love can be dangerous and scary. If someone lacks a healthy foundation, love can kill. All of these crimes you read about in the newspapers are usually linked to passionate love. “I did it because I loved them just…too much.”

Love is not what our parents had. In high school, you never wanted to think about your mother and father having once slept with people in the backseat of cars and feeling warm and happy. That would make it feel less special and young. It would make love have less to do with you when, EXCUSE ME, it has EVERYTHING to do with you.

Love is getting drunk with your significant other at a party and taking a cab home with your bodies intertwined. You feel safest in these moments, the most secure. Entering a social gathering with someone who loves you is the biggest security blanket. People leave the party as a parade of droopy expressions and sad cocktail dresses. But not you. “Sorry guys, I’m in love! I’m taking a car!”

Love is fucking stupid. Love is fucking smart. Love is about betraying yourself, of compromising your ideals for someone else’s approval. That’s actually the bad kind of love, but I guess it all blurs together when you’re young or when you’re old or when you don’t love yourself.

Love is your significant other telling you about their favorite album and then making a point to fall in love with it on your own. Love is wondering why your better half loves certain things. You think you can find remnants of them in their favorite films, books and songs, but you usually can’t.

Love is finding yourself feeling protective over someone else’s well-being Love is being incensed with rage when someone or something has done your lover wrong.

Love is wanting your partner to cum. And if they can’t, just say, “That’s okay. I’m enjoying this.” It might be bullshit, but they’ll be orgasming in the next five minutes. Trust me.

Love isn’t always marriage. Marriage is spending $60,000 so everyone can know that someone loves you. You know what’s certainly not love? Debt. In some cases, love can be divorce.

Love is a back massage, a mindfuck, a hard cock, a pair of perfect breasts, of feeling unashamed about the cellulite on your body. Love is someone giving a shit about you enough to argue. Love is not passive. Love is “Don’t fucking touch me right now.” Love is “Who the FUCK were you talking to?” Love is sometimes hating yourself for a second. Love is hate. Period. Indifference is the real killer of love and the true antithesis.

When love leaves you, you should be lying on your bathroom floor with no resolve. You’re smoking cigarettes in the bathtub and crying about everything bad that’s ever happened.

Love is someone seeing the beauty in you and wanting to bask in it every day all day. Love is not guaranteed. We are not owed love. That’s why when we get it, we know how lucky we are and hold on to it for dear life.

So, yeah. That’s what love is. Anyone know where to get some? TC mark

Image via Gregory Jordan

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • laine


  • Annie

    This is beautiful.

  • Mariajose G.

    Fucking genius. If you find where to get some of that… let me know too, k?

  • little girl

    I love this. You're putting my feelings into words.

  • Brian McElmurry

    This is really great. All true.

  • Justin Park-Yanovitch

    Sometimes, also, love is not knowing why; and sometimes just not knowing.

    Love is doubt. The the strength of our grip bolstered by slick of the ice on which we tread.

    This is wonderful.

    Thanks, Ryan.

  • Jess

    wow. just wow. so beautiful.

  • brittany_borghi

    Ahhh get me all choked up why don'cha! My favorite: “Love is a back massage, a mindfuck, a hard cock, a pair of perfect breasts, of feeling unashamed about the cellulite on your body. Love is someone giving a shit about you enough to argue.”

  • Kyle Angeletti

    Very well written Ryan.

    Nice to read this on a beautiful day.

    • Justin Park-Yanovitch

      Agreed. So nice to sit outside in the sunshine and read this lovely thing on this lovely today. It's 70 degrees here in Maryland.

  • moonratus

    Love is also what leaves you dry heaving on the toilet, constipated, and without any inclination of release of any kind… cathartic nor gastrointestinal.

  • Julian Assange

    You dick!

    Way to make me cry, in front of my mom.

    This was so adorable.

    • Amanda

      I cried too :'(

  • No

    i enjoy some of your other work, but i don't think you really captured what love is here.

    • no name


  • Joy J.

    Wow, now I can finally stop taking quizzes in Cosmo.

  • Zeolite

    “Love is hate. Period. Indifference is the real killer of love and the true antithesis.”

    good, agreed, also did you get this from Sally Forth last Sunday comics? I wrote Alice's quote down.

    • Fyrehed

      Love and hate come from the same place and too much of either is not a good thing but they are not the same. Hate is a lot cleaner, simpler: it serves a specific need and outlet, by lifting oneself through lowering others' value or by bringing others down to the same level of misery. Love is really, really gross, and often not at all satisfying or rewarding, like, for example: cleaning the shit off your wrinkled lover's ass when they don't even remember who you are anymore.

      • Tomek

        love comes from the heart.  hate comes from the mind. 

  • Nayd Galura

    Love is CHOOSING to stay after falling out of love. You get to know the person's flaws & imperfections and accept them because that's who they are and not putting it in a box that's labeled “over it”.

    We may be right in our definition of love but I think and feel that it's much much more than that. And to whoever has found THE love, good job!

    • Kay

      I agree that you have to accept a person's flaws and imperfections when you're in love, but sometimes if you really love someone it IS best to leave. Sometimes people you love are just not compatible with you and the most loving gesture in that situation is to set yourselves free.

  • Matt

    You people really think that's beautiful? “Love is a hard cock, a pair of perfect breasts”. Is that really even part of what you think love is? I get that the writer is trying too hard to be edgy and deep, but seriously? “In some cases love is divorce.” Explain to me a situation where being loving involves telling someone you promised you would never leave that you are leaving? Get a clue people.

    • Britt

      If that's all you got out of the whole piece, you should probably start again. Also, if you really don't understand how love can be divorce, then you've never loved somebody who wasn't right for you.

      • emily

        Well put. I'm in that situation right now and I'm scared about how it will turn out.

    • Kiah

      Excuse me, Matt, but I happen to agree with Ryan. Sometimes love is as simple as a hard cock and a perfect pair of breasts. Sex is beautiful and a time when we are at our most vulnerable, our most intimate with our lover. It's not trying to be edgy or deep, at least that's not how I take it…it's about trying to boil love down to its pure simplicity rather than the overly ornamented portrayal we tend to see in media today. And yes, in some cases love is divorce or an ending of some sort. Sometimes when you love someone you realize that you are not what they need and vice versa and thus together, you do not create the kind of love you are looking for. Divorce is often a result of negative emotions but there are occasions when it is ended mutually and for the benefit of both parties rather than to harm one. And this is from someone who just got dumped by her fiancee who promised to spend the rest of his life with her. Try to be a little more open minded. Just because someone doesn't share your view on love doesn't make either of you wrong or right…it's simply your opinion.

    • Amanda

      You aren't looking at the whole picture. Either that or you don't get it at all.

    • Victoria

      One of my coworkers divorced his wife years ago and they have a better relationship now than when they were married. They love each other, their children, and the life they've cobbled together since the divorce. Sometimes divorce does not mean leaving, it means admitting that something is not working and you love the other person enough to try and make a situation better.

    • LucyA

      Well, if you love someone you probably enjoy their penis/vagina/what-have-you and if you don't then you probably are not in romantic love with them and should stop pretending.
      And divorce is complicated, sometimes you leave because you know a relationship, no mater how in love you are, is not working and is in fact detrimental.

      Also seriously how are boobs and cocks not important if you're banging someone?

  • Kiah

    Also, thank you for posting this Ryan. We don't know each other and probably will never meet but it's always nice to see someone shares your views on someone, especially in the case of love which there is not enough of in this world. This was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for making me smile! :)

  • Amanda

    Absolutely beautiful. This is so raw and truthful it made me cry.

  • melissa

    that actually made me cry

    • emily

      me too.

  • Alice Ashleft

    Love from your perception sounds like quite a ride, Ryan.

  • pfft

    this made me love you

  • Fred

    Honest, and no sales pitch. Makes love sound pretty horrible really. I guess it is.

  • try this...

    Here is love: ……..Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails….And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    • SisterRay

      The Bible? Really? I think I like Ryan's version better.

    • Ashke

      Yeah, that's what I've heard at every wedding I've ever been to. Thanks for the reminder though.

  • Noexcuses125

    This is my first comment ever to a blog. I had to write to tell you that your piece resonated so much with my perception of love. Beautifully written, gutsy, passionate, vulnerable … just like love. Thanks for writing it.

  • uhnonnymus

    Definition of hate: the way I feel about Ryan O'Connell.


      haha you are so pathetic

    • kristy

      Definition of no life internet troll: anonymous user.

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