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Definition of Love: The True Meaning of Love & What It Should Feel Like

Is the definition of love about liking or feeling romantically or sexually attracted to another person? Here’s the true meaning of love and what it really is outside its dictionary definition.

meaning of love definition

Love is a tough word to explain, and the meaning of love? That just gets more complex and simple at the same time!

In the words of Foreigner back in 1984 *ask your parents*, “I want to know what love is, I want you to show me.” Yes, a band of men with very bad hair sang those exact words. Even now, all these years later, we’re still asking ourselves what the true definition of love is.

What does it actually look and feel like? Yes, there is a definition of love in the dictionary. If you’re going to look it up, love is defined as “a strong feeling of affection and concern toward another person, as that arising from kinship or close friendship” or that it is “a strong, usually passionate, affection of one person for another, based in part on sexual attraction.” But these are not really enough to explain the overwhelming flood of emotions that we feel, is it?

What is the true meaning of love? And why does everyone define it differently? Honestly though, the reason? Love can be defined in many ways because it’s different for every single person who experiences it. 

[Read: Is it love? How to recognize true love when it comes your way]

What is the true meaning of love, and what does love mean?

Explaining love is like trying to explain why water is wet – it just is!

There are various kinds of love – romantic love which usually includes an intense feeling of deep affection and involves intimacy, lust, and sexual attraction; family love which arises from kinship and parental love; friendship love which is a platonic love felt by one person for another; and love you have for the things you do.

Every single type and feeling of love is valid and real for you. As they say, love is love.

It’s entirely possible that you experience and define love in a different way from someone else in your life. We’re all unique, and that means we recognize, experience, and feel love and affection for another person, be it from the same or opposite sex, in slightly different ways too.

[Read: 23 facts about love that will definitely blow your mind]

However, there is some common ground at least. The true meaning of love is quite blurry, but many people put it down as:

1. The ability to understand and accept another person as they are, completely.

2. Wanting the very best for a person and helping them to be the best version of themselves they can be.

3. If it came down to it, you’d sacrifice your own happiness for theirs.

4. Wanting to build a future with that person. 

5. Seeing the good and bad parts of someone and loving them anyway.

6. A deep connection and a feeling of being whole. 

[Read: 15 traits of selfless love that sets it apart from selfish love]

As you can see, the true meaning of love is wide-ranging, and you might have a different idea of what it is to you.

For most people, however, the above statements ring true. You want the best for that person and hate to see them struggling or suffering, and you’d sacrifice your own happiness to ensure that they’re smiling.  

Love in all its types has these definitions, whether we’re talking about family, friends, or romantic love. When people fall in love with a person or thing, we want it in our lives and become attached to it, to the point where being without it is painful and impossible to endure.

[Read: What is true love? The signs of love to know if your love is real]

What does love feel like? Is it even real?

Is love real? Yes. However, as mentioned, love is different for everyone. It’s possible that you’ve never experienced that completely “sweep you off your feet” type of love. You might never, or it might be just around the corner, but you will experience your own version of love in a way that’s right for you. 

The true meaning of love isn’t about Hollywood depictions. It might not come into your life, knock you down to the ground, and swing you around several times.

Maybe it’s more of a calm and gentle feeling for you, but it doesn’t mean it’s any less worthwhile or any less meaningful. 

What does love feel like? Again, it depends on the person! For some, love feels comfortable and warm. It’s like going home, it feels safe. However, for others, love can be dramatic, overwhelming, and at times leave you unable to breathe.

This latter type of love can potentially lead to toxicity, especially if such strong and passionate emotions aren’t reciprocated. Thus, love can have both positive and negative effects as different people have different ways of how they practice love.

[Read: The signs you could be wasting your time in a one-sided relationship]

Can you see there are different definitions of love, depending upon the circumstances?

The true definition of love is when two people are aligned. That’s when the rollercoaster of emotions stops, and everything becomes still and cozy. When that happens, many people falsely believe that they’re falling out of love or that passion and deep affection have left. That’s Hollywood’s fault.

True love doesn’t have us feeling sick every day, wondering what’s going to happen. It doesn’t mean constant arguments and screaming at each other. It’s not about being unable to eat over the long term because you’ve always got butterflies. 

We’re told that we should always go for butterflies because that means it’s special, but those butterflies don’t last beyond the infatuation stage.

When love takes over, the butterflies actually feel like their work is done. That’s probably a very good true definition of love – when the butterflies settle down, and contentment takes over.

[Read: Infatuation vs love and how you can tell the difference]

Love feels comfortable, but it also feels like you would do anything to protect that person. In many ways, that’s what it means to love someone.

It means that you would sacrifice yourself in some way to ensure their happiness, health, and safety. It means that while you don’t stop doing the things you enjoy or dedicate your entire life to that person, you want them to become the very best version of themselves that they can be.

It’s easy to be taken over by love, allowing it to swallow you whole and put your own wants and needs to one side.

But it’s important to remember that you’re just as important as the person you love. If it is not an unrequited love situation and the love is reciprocal, they’ll probably be doing all they can to ensure your needs are met anyway— loyalty, attention, security, and all the other good words related to love that you could possibly think of. Keep that balance – you’re just as important! [Read: What you should know before your first relationship to love way better]

The strongest signs that define the meaning of love in a relationship

Now we’ve debated what the true meaning of love is and know that it’s a very blurry subject to pinpoint. How can you tell that you’re actually in love?

There’s no firework-laden moment when it happens, and sometimes it actually creeps into your life without you even noticing it until a few months or even years later. Let’s look at some signs that you might actually be in love. 

1. They’re the ones who make you feel better

If something happens to you, or you just have a bad day, they’re the ones who make you feel better and bring a smile to your face like no one else can. [Read: Puppy love to real love – 15 signs you’ve graduated to true love in your relationship]

2. You value their opinion

Even for something as simple as wanting to know if your outfit looks good, you value their opinion over everyone else’s. Although, remember that your own opinion is just as important too! 

3. When they’re ill or upset, your heart literally aches

The real meaning of love is true and complete empathy. If you see your love in any kind of pain, it’s almost too much for you to bear. Your ultimate goal would automatically be taking their pain and upset away, even if you know that you can’t. That’s probably the true definition of love right there. 

4. You’re their biggest supporter

Whatever they do in life, you’re their biggest cheerleader, and want them to succeed beyond everything else. It makes you feel proud of them whenever they do well.

It’s a pure example of love when, as Rabbi David Wolpe said, “it is when one person believes in another person and shows it,” and that it “is a feeling that expresses itself in action.” Having a supportive mate can make one feel confident. [Read: Very powerful but small gestures that show love in a very big way]

5. When you’re with them, you feel your best

You’re happier, lighter on your feet, smile more, and generally feel your best when you’re around them. They take away your worries and help you to feel content. It’s not even just about sexual activity, but you genuinely just want their presence and company.

6. If you’re away from them, you don’t feel right

While it’s normal to be away from your partner in some situations, if you are away from them for any length of time, you feel like something is missing, and it doesn’t right itself until you’re reunited.  

7. You know that you would do anything for them

The term “anything” should be taken with a pinch of salt here, but if asked to do something, you would consider it.

Of course, it depends on what that thing is, but you would move heaven and earth if you could – sometimes without them even asking you to. That’s just what unconditional love is. [Read: How to prove that you love someone the right way]

8. You see your future with them

The meaning of love is when you see them in your whole future. When you look forward, you see them in your life and see the two of you together, building a life. That future doesn’t have to be the traditional type, but if they’re in the vision you have, that’s a good sign. 

9. You feel upbeat and more positive

When you’re with them, you just feel happy and behave positively. They inject a sense of happiness and joy into your day, and it’s a great feeling to have. 

10. You’re not going through emotional rollercoasters all the time

Don’t worry if the ups and downs slowly ebb away. This is normal! It means you’ve moved past the “not being sure where you stand” stage. You’re now in love, happy, and content.

Of course, love can still make people crazy occasionally— either with euphoria or jealousy, but this shouldn’t be the overriding theme. [Read: The 9 stages of love all couples have to go through]

11. Despite all of this, you fear losing them

Despite feeling calm and comfortable, you still have a slight worry in the pit of your stomach that one day this will all end, and they’ll be taken away from you.

Again, this is normal when your emotions are so strongly invested in another person. Push that worry aside and focus on the life you’re building together.

[Read: How to overcome the fear of losing someone you love]

Now that you know the meaning of love, do you think you’re in true love? How does it feel for you? The true definition of love differs for every single person. But for those who experience love in any guise, it’s a special thing indeed. 

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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