I shall preface by admitting that I have not experienced romantic love, and am naive to the notion of romantic love. However, I know what love is and in my daily life, I openly and warmly give and receive it; I am pretty much an open book as appropriate. When the time comes for romantic love, I am certain it will be quite glorious (my friends say that I’m very particular and have an idealized view of romantic love and that I write people off too quickly, send me Meetup Links and insist “You are sooooooo stubborn”, “I think you just need to go on more dates” etc which I sometimes resist with excuses, though I am making serious dating a larger priority in 2019). I do feel disappointed and somewhat jaded with the state of modern romance as many of my friends can attest to - its instant gratification and the lack of respect, chivalry, and dedication demonstrated by it, I guess it’s a reflection of the lack of integrity out there. It is somewhat disappointing that people are rather entitled, self-centred or validation-seeking. I personally think the best kinds of love bloom slowly and develop healthily with time and no rush. I suppose that it is the way it is, and the only journey through it is the one both inward and outward.

There are many different kinds of love. Love is, above all, a commitment to yourself. Love is … the connection between people who are willing to work together to add value to each other’s lives. Love is not flowers and roses and sunshine and the vanity of an Instagram post, that’s endorphins and validation, that’s not the way life works. Love is not pushy, insistent or demanding, that’s an obvious red flag.

I am eternally grateful that I have experienced parental and platonic and even stranger love to generous and challenging extents and am essentially all the better for it. Love fulfills you. Love is realizing that you have the power to better yourself. Love is tactful honesty. Love is learning to see the good in yourself and others. Love is an inner peace with someone who truly understands, challenges and supports you. Love is recognizing the beauty of life - that the world is bigger than ourselves. Love is pushing through boundaries - love is encompassing and evolving. Love is working through and on your issues even though you feel like withdrawing. Love is compassion. Love is standing up for someone when you recognize that they do not do it for themselves. Love is self-love. Love flows and grows. Love helps you to find and evolve yourself and set healthy boundaries, if not you risk not loving Y O U R S E L F, whom I think you should prioritize fully if you truly want to love others. I think that the purest form of love is giving without expectations (unconditional love) - which is challenging for many to attain. Love is letting go of expectations. The purest form of love occurs when you do not impose your expectations or standards on anyone, which, I think, is extremely challenging as humans are geared to be self-centred, seeking fit and compatibility and chasing our own goals and essentially “creating ourselves” (though then again one could argue … why enter into a relationship with just … anyone? Time is the opportunity cost). This pure and magnificent kind of love is being open, not judging, listening and providing empathy, strength, protection and support. It is investing effort to truly understand the needs and wants of another - essentially, their love language. Love is consistent action and the opening of your mind and heart. Love means respecting another’s boundaries and their growth and being healthy, productive and value-adding to them. Love requires balance and compromise, and requires one to be less self-centred. Love is self-acceptance, acceptance and self-awareness. Love is freeing, allowing someone to truly be themselves and develop. Love requires honesty in a direct yet respectful manner, which is not easy, but always, real and authentic. Love requires self-respect and respect for another, as people are so different, grow at different paces and value different things in life. Love is letting go of a lot of nasty stuff, of potential conflicts. Love requires you to surpass hesitation and deeply care about another even if it is not in your nature to do so. It is the ultimate form of personal growth. Love is about listening, maturity, trust, opening yourself up to being vulnerable, to the possibility of being hurt, rejected and of feeling fear. Love requires patience and dedication and consistency, and is more a choice and commitment than a feeling. Love requires suspension of being calculative, and being open-minded and accepting of one’s flaws. Love is authenticity, being yourself and recognizing that people have different values. Love pushes you out of your comfort zone, into a different yet more solid dimension. Love pushes you to understand yourself better on a deep level and nourishes and fulfills you. Love is sometimes a suspension of logic and rationality.

I shall end off with this quote which deeply resonated with me “The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are lovedloved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” This Valentine’s Day and on all other days of the year for that matter, remember to open yourself to giving and receiving different kinds of love and be all the better for it.