What is Love?

What is Love?

 (Baby Don’t Hurt Me)

This Tuesday night marked the end of Valentine’s Day and the beginning of the sale on the themed candy and chocolate at stores everywhere. But this day is not just about giving well-thought gifts or words to romantic partners.


Like many things, Valentine’s Day has also been altered by mainstream culture to be a day representing love and romance. But what are its origins? 

I did a little research and discovered that the origin of Valentine’s Day is not as straightforward as it might seem. Many scholars believe that it started as a Pagan tradition called “Lupercalia” dedicated to gods of fertility and agriculture. At the end of the fifth century, the Pope declared a new holiday in celebration of the many martyred St. Valentine’s. Later, Chaucer wrote a poem about the day being about birds finding mates which inspired people to write poems and letters to their significant other. But the holiday did not become as it is known today until the 1800s century when the first commercial valentines were sold. Today the holiday focuses around gifts of jewelry, flowers, cards or even chocolates to signify love.  

But what this fails to answer is what is love, really?


Very Haddaway of me to ask this but still, it’s a genuine question. When you look up love on Google it comes up with many dictionary definitions of the word. From an “intense” feeling to a great pleasure, I was struck by the varying degree to which the word was described. I even asked several of my friends what they thought love was to them. 

Love for me is many different things. It can be a part of human nature and a gateway to empathy. It can be a teaching opportunity and something to grow on and learn from. It can be a time to be vulnerable and really count on someone and grow together. Showing and sharing things with another person can be a part that gives another spark to life. Jumping off the cliff into something that you have never experienced before with another person can be love. Wanting to spend eternity with someone can be love. Growing old together, experiencing each other’s flaws, allowing each other to change, and loving them through each step. Feeling passion and dedication to someone, so much that it feels like it could be the beginning and end of your life at the same time. 

Love can be an individual experience too. It also doesn’t necessarily have to be with another person. Caring for yourself and appreciating your own presence can be a form of love. It can be a transformative experience that can be filled with little acts of kindness or shared experiences. In short, love is different for everyone.

Love for me- true appreciation- can be experienced with my friends in shared adventures or the relationships that I have. But love can be hard to define and it is hard to identify the feeling exactly.

But Valentine’s Day does not necessarily mean that you have to love someone in a specific way or even love someone. It is a day that you can show appreciation for anyone, friends, family, or loved ones of every type. It doesn’t even have to be chocolates, flowers, or a card. Sometimes just checking in, asking how they are, spending time with them, or a text can show that you care about them. Love is different for everyone, some people do not love, and no matter what it is okay.


February is also Healthy Relationship Awareness Month and along with resources at Health Services, other Bates institutions and clubs and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.