Love is liking someone for themselves, for their soul, for their actuality, their presence and essence; not for their talents, the way they make you feel, for looks, or any other superficial reason. Love is not merited; it is freely given. It is being able to see the ultimate good in the other person and desiring that part of them with all your heart, with all your power. Of course, you see that the other person is flawed, and you don't approve of their evils. In fact, you might even despise their evils. But you are willing to accept the person as they are and work with them from there, that they might achieve that ultimate, freeing good in them. Love is unconditional. Love is also not limited to marriage: it transcends all relationships. Love is not selfish, and a true lover is always ready to do the greater good for others' sakes. Love is also patient, giving, freeing, and not possessive. No one belongs to anyone. We're all free enterprises, who are free to give our affections as we please, and anyone who desires to be master over someone else isn't loving, at least, not purely; that person is obsessed, possessive, and controlling, and also probably lustful. Love unites by revealing differences, not by bodies intertwining. Each person needs to know they're loved, from the greatest sinners (even Hitler) to the greatest saints. Everyone wants and needs to hear that someone sees in them true beauty. Passion, when directed by love, is good; yet, when people start treating people as objects or as a means for self-good (as opposed to the other's good), it is when it stops being love, and falls into something more savage and less moving and powerful (and thereby, boring, bland, and just like everything else in this world...). This is why extra marital sex or silly lust relationships seem less interesting to me-they're far less moving than true love.
Anyway, as for the common misconception that love is a sort of warm and fuzzy feeling inside that just magically develops because of something incredibly insignificant: Love isn't "just a feeling". To say that is an incredible insult to anyone who's ever loved. It's not a "game", and it's not a "toy". Love is not manipulative in any way—true love is freeing and honest and well, true. It's not any of the things you hear about in stupid "love" songs played on Z100. Love is so indescribably wonderful, it has to be nothing short of a spirit, with its own vivacity, life, and unpredictability. To say it is merely a feeling would be making Love, the most superior thing in anyone's life, to be as important as the feeling you get when you feel sick to your stomach, or the feeling you get when you're hungry. Love is alive, it's mystical, it's goodness in its highest, most unpredictable, dangerous, adventurous form... it's so beautiful, so amazing, so completely freeing... well, I've come to the conclusion that Love is God.
To love is to experience every good thing ever made at once. Take it from the greatest poets, from the greatest love stories ever written, from the philosophers of truth, from those who cry each night for someone to love them—they know that love is something far greater than anything else in this world. So, I take love very, very seriously, and so should you.
I'm not saying that sex has no part in love—I'm just saying, that it's not the be-all and end-all in love, and that I'm tired of seeing it be misused. Do you know how many times I've heard guys blabbing on about how certain girls are "hot" and about sex? It's so superficial, so false, I can't understand it. True sex is found in the freeing bonds of marriage. It's an adventure, a wild chance, and now you're in it together forever—you'll never be alone (in a bad way) again. But of course, what sort of adventure would marriage be if love was never tried or tested? If you love someone only when times are good, you do not love that person. It's also so unrealistic to assume that you will always be passionately on fire with love; if all you're riding on is feelings to make a marriage last, well, it'll last as long as feelings do. Feelings are fickle. True love is not. True love is steadfast and sure, even in the most dire of situations. If love doesn't last, then it isn't true. Some people have truly loved, and those people who were able to love truly were known as the saints.
This is why I don't approve of divorce, and why I hold marriage to be such a high institution, a sacrament. How hideous it is to break off something that was hallowed and sacred in unity and love! Love unites; if you don't think you're going to stay with someone forever, then don't marry them. It's not worth all the heartache you'll go through later. It is better to remain single and alone than to get married and know that your marriage will fail as soon as "something/one better" comes along. It's also best not to interfere with dating until you're sure you want to get married, for this sort of sensual/sexual love is reserved for marriage. If you have it outside of marriage, well, that destroys the whole point. It ruins everything I just said. It makes this whole argument seem invalid. It makes sex and love and everything sensual less special, less mystical, less adventuresome; it makes each lover seem exactly the same, each new love as dull as the last, each emotion of excitement nothing more than just a perk, a high—it makes love no more different than being addicted to smoking cigarettes. How plain, how horrendous is that!
What's so special about sex and love if you're going to share yourself with multiple people? What are you searching for? Sensual pleasure? Do you enjoy letting others use you, or do you enjoy using others? Do you enjoy being left cold once a relationship is over, or do you enjoy leaving others cold to find someone better, because the soul you had was not good enough? Or are you looking for something else, something deeper, something more, something to fill the emptiness in your longing, desperate heart? Are you dying to experience even a taste of true Love? Do you just want someone to let you know that you are not alone; that you are beautiful; that you are loved and wanted? I wish, if this is you, that I could see you right now and say all those things, and lay my heart bare for you, and pour out all the feelings, wisdoms, and comforts of love that may or may not ever be reciprocated. Do you know how much I feel the same way, and long for all those things, and I know it seems hopeless, but you should not lose hope, if this is you: look for goodness, and Love is not far away. Love defines us; love gives us meaning.
You may agree or dissent as you wish, but this is my most heartfelt and deepest conviction. To love is to live, to see the universe in color; everything else falls into the two-dimensional, dismal prison of black, gray, or white.