They Do Exist.

What’s Your Definition Of Love?

Editor’s Note: About two years ago, I started a photo project where I took portraits of strangers in the street and asked for their definition of love. Not a single one of them knew right off the bat, and only after 5 or 10 minutes of hard thinking could they come up with a strained definition. So today, after you read Natalie‘s post, won’t you leave your definition of love in the comments? Everyone needs a definition of love. Let’s share ours with one another. – Lauren

Love? Are you sure?

I love being in love. It’s probably the one feeling I love the most. I’m addicted to it. If you ask any of my friends or family, they’ll tell you – that girl loves being in love more than anyone we know.

The butterflies in the stomach, the warm embraces, the crazy passion, my heart always racing.

And I’m good at it, too. I put my boyfriend on a pedestal, I’m a huge romantic – affectionate, supportive, faithful, I get along with all his friends, like his taste in music, do all the things he loves to do, basically treat him like he’s the last man on earth.

My last boyfriend said I treated him like a prince, and whenever he was with me he felt surrounded by love and safe. Yet if that was the case – why didn’t it work out? Where did it go wrong?

I know this is going to sound really funny – but I’m an awesome girlfriend. Not because I think I’m some kind of great person – I just LOVE being in love, and it shows. I live for it!

And it’s all real, in my mind. When I hear “I love you” and say “I love you!”, I never give it a second thought. I never think that it might not be love. In my mind, I’ve decided I’m going to love them with all my heart, always be there for them, to encourage them and do life with them… and I believe that they’ll do the same.

Naive? Maybe. But I’ve loved it too much to check myself.

The problem is, I never stop to see if our definitions of love are even the same.

My idea of love, like many women who grew up on Disney fairy tales, is that my prince charming, my knight in shining armor will slay a dragon just to be with me. You know, that he would rather die first before ever dishonoring me.

I can’t help but think, if I had just taken the time to find out what the word love meant to my past boyfriends – maybe I could have spared myself and them a lot of tears and frustration.

God’s love is unyielding and ours is so fleeting. Yet we use the same word to describe two very different kinds of love.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately, reflecting on God’s love for me. What it’s looked like over the past 10 years.  What it’s looked like over my entire life. And I think, “I’m going to have a hard time accepting the word ‘love’ so easily from now on, from someone I’m dating.”

In the past, I never used to question it. I was just glad to hear it. Relieved, and excited by it. But thinking it means the same thing to them as it does to me has resulted in a lot of heartbreak.

The next time a man says “I love you”, I will ask him:  “Are you sure? Because God’s shown me what love means to Him and I have a hunch his version is a little different than yours.”

Next time, I’m going to make sure we both understand which definition we’re referring to.

We need men who try to love us the way God does. Because we’ve walked away from, ignored, abandoned, betrayed, lied to, and hurt God in incredible ways. Yet God never left us or loved us any less.

I need to know that a man will stay and love me through all of my mistakes and offenses. That he will be willing to work with me. That he will wait for me.

Because God is willing to wait for me no matter how long it takes. His love never ceases, changes or grows weaker.

That’s love.

Anyway, I’m just thinking that a lot of hurt and suffering might be prevented if couples start take a good hard look at what their definition of love is.

My prayer is that we all find our true love. But in the meantime, we don’t have to look very far to find it – it comes from our heavenly Father above us.

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22 Responses

  1. This is interesting to me since I feel pretty much the opposite about "I love you". I've said "I love you" freely to my friends and family over the years, and truly meant it, but I always thought that whenever I entered a relationship with a man, it would be something I thought long and hard about before I ever said it. Well, here I am, 27 and in my first serious relationship with an incredible guy who is a whole lot more open about his feelings than I am. In fact, he told me he loved me before we were even officially dating. I was shocked, and questioned him on it immediately, asking if he meant he loved me as friend, or if he was in love with me. He thought about it for a second, and replied, "Both". I was kinda scared by what that could mean, but also really impressed, because I knew it took guts for him to say it. However, I explained to him that I wasn't sure I felt the same way yet, and I couldn't say something about which I wasn't sincere. He understood and just told me to take my time… we've been dating for about 4 months since then, and I still haven't said those three words, even though I'm pretty sure I do feel that for him now.
    It's just that to me, with those words comes a promise, a promise that I'm in this for the long haul, there's no one else, and my love for you is unconditional and not simply about feelings. And I don't want to say it until I'm sure of all the above, and I know that it's more than a feeling, and that it's God-inspired. I think I've heard those words thrown around far too often, and I don't want to take them lightly. I think the challenge now is how to know if I'm "in love", since I've never really been there before…

    February 9, 2012 at 7:46 am

  2. meganleiann

    So good! I've been married for awhile now and have started to see love sooo differently. It's almost more of a promise to me than an statement of feelings.

    By saying, "I love you," I'm really saying "I'm going to be patient, kind, lay down my wants and desires to serve you, encourage you through everything, clean your shower when I'd rather be on the couch reading and put on some wicked-hot lingerie just because it's Tuesday."

    The amazing part is when he says "I love you" back to me and it means, "I'm going to be patient, kind, lay down my wants and desires to serve you. I'm going to listen to you ramble about your day, clean the garage so you can put your car there on icy nights, make a chocolate run at 10PM when I'd rather be sleeping, bring you flowers on a bad day and go furniture shopping with you just so I can watch you jump up and down and giggle when you finally find the perfect chair."
    Love like that is TOTALLY worth waiting for!

    February 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

  3. blanchej

    sister, we are kindred spirits. I felt like you were writing my story down here. Thanks for this encouragement. :)

    February 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm

  4. Rachel

    Natalie, I had goosebumps reading this. Seriously! Thank you. It was like reading my own thoughts and history. I have found myself in the same boat with every relationship that has meant anything to me. I am quick to love and I love fervently. Like you said, I am faithful, sacrificial, and I love who I am when I am in love. And then when he doesn't feel the same about me, it's like the world has ceased to make any sense. I hope to someday find someone who loves me the way I am capable of loving him. In the meantime, I have been exploring the ways I have offered my own heart up like a sacrifice on the altar of being in love and contemplating the consequences that have come from that and am trying to be as faithful with my eyes and my heart toward the Lord as I am with a guy when I am in a relationship. I am trying to learn how to fall as in love with God as I can with men.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm


    love is like GOD [ G-Generator, O-Operator, D-Destroyer ]
    if accept it from HEART ,Then it Generate good things in life.
    & Generated things Operate your life in good way.
    & now,no need to explain Destroy things.
    love is god, god is love.
    in love there is god & in god there is love.
    & GOD don't have any ''DEFINITIONAL''.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

  6. Angela

    Love is caring for someone, sacrificing time to help them out, listening to their problems and feelings, love is not a feeling, it's an action. It's being their best friend. Being loyal, loving them unconditionally as God loves us. I want to make someone's life better by loving them. Change their lives and make an impact. I tell everyone I love them, cause I do. Some people need to hear it. i don't know if their I Love You means the same thing, and I don't really care. I am trying to love everyone as intensely as I love my very best friend.

    February 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm

  7. Heather

    First Hi! I'm brand new but I thought I'd stir things up a bit here. Not because I want to troll the comments…but because I too am interested in discussing what it means to be a good woman. So with that, here it goes:

    "We need men who try to love us the way God does. Because we’ve walked away from, ignored, abandoned, betrayed, lied to, and hurt God in incredible ways. Yet God never left us or loved us any less. I need to know that a man will stay and love me through all of my mistakes and offenses. That he will be willing to work with me. That he will wait for me. Because God is willing to wait for me no matter how long it takes. His love never ceases, changes or grows weaker."

    I'm interested in whether you think this applies to the opposite gender too? So like, do you think of yourself as striving to love in the same way you described in that quote? (I suppose this is a question to anyone, not just Natalie). Could men say: "we need women who try to love us the way God does? etc…" and be accurately defining what you expect from yourself when you love someone? Home that makes sense.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:30 pm

  8. Heather, these are great questions. I may sound passive in my posts, but as an example, in my last relationship, I stepped outside my comfort zone, which was huge for me, and summoned up the courage to tell my boyfriend all the ways that his actions hurt me. In the end, though it proved to be in vain. It didn't change him or fix our relationship. Relationships are complicated, so it's hard to paraphrase those complexities in a few brief sentences or to generalize them at all. To answer the question about toxic relationships, unfortunately, because of who I am, a messed up person who is definitely in need of a Savior on daily basis, I tend to chase unhealthy situations. People who I "know" aren't right for me. Funny enough, I've been tabling writing an article on that. I'd like to say something like, I'm not your typical, normal girl, but who is? Let's just say, I don't always make the wisest decisions about who I enter into a relationship with. I think I may write that post now about chasing "bad boys" and the consequences that follow. Keep the thoughts coming. I love to be challenged to think deeper about what I'm saying and putting out there. Bless you!

    February 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm

  9. Thank you Heather, you are so sweet! Do you want to know something funny? I have a huge passive personality :) I'm okay with it, it makes me who I am. Yes, I'm definitely learning the lesson about how you can't really change someone. Guess it took me a couple of broken hearts to finally figure that out. Thanks for thinking I'm strong. But I can't take the credit for any of that :). One of my favorite passages is 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. It is VERY near and dear to my heart. I'm off now for awhile, but I'll check back soon – have a wonderful evening! <3

    February 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm

  10. Pamela

    Wow everyone’s comments sound so wise.
    I’ve never been in a relationship, apart from my one with Jesus and what I can say about love is that love doesn’t give up.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:04 am

  11. Reese

    My problem is I know my husband loves me like that. Completely unwavering and unconditionally, I just don’t know how to love.

    September 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm

  12. eavedrop44

    I just wish that I could find time to visit the campus so that I could see the exhibition; I think that’s an exciting one! <a href="” target=”_blank”> |
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    March 11, 2014 at 11:59 am

  13. Wow..all of you have just really inspired me. Am 18 and am just from a very hurting relationship. I dont know whether what i felt for my ex was love, i doubt I’v ever been inlove with a know, a human being. I am inlove with God..and thats the most important love anyone should have..i think. Am young and i cant wait to find that one true love..who loves me unconditionally and i love him back. Thanks to all of you..i feel like i have been given advice from a dozen mothers of mine. love…

    May 18, 2014 at 5:04 am

  14. have all really inspired me. I am 18 and am just from a very hurting relationship. My friends tell me that i wasnt inlove with my ex coz am too there an age limit to falling inlove?

    Right inlove with my God, and its a wonderful feeling. In that past relaationship, i always cried about something he’s done or we’v had an argument..and i dont think love is supposed to be so hurting. I dont expect love to be a bed of roses..but i expect the roses to be more than the thorns. i think when your inlove, most of the time your suppose to love it and be happy..when your sad all the cant be love.

    May 18, 2014 at 5:11 am

  15. Mati

    My Ex-lover is back.. Thanks to Dr_ma ck ‘ ‘, for making this possible..

    October 5, 2023 at 5:52 am

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