What Does Love Mean Anyway?

A Single Red Love Heart on Pile of Plain Wooden Hearts - Sandra Harewood Counselling


I was in the queue waiting to pay for some shopping when I heard a toddler ask his mother, ‘Do you love me?’ She looked at him, smiled and said, ‘Yes.’ Seemingly unconvinced he pulled at her jacket and said, ‘But do you love me?’ At this point, his mother looked somewhat confused but again said, ‘Yes.’ He looked down at the ground, fiddled with his toy absorbing what he heard.

Sometimes romantic love is difficult to understand. You only know it when you feel it. Then you recognise it.

When you fall in love, you feel bewitched and excited. You see the world differently; it feels full of new possibilities. When you fall out of love you feel abandoned, hurt, and miserable; your heart aches.

This is often the point when you find yourself in couples or marriage counselling.

So What is This Love Thing Anyway?

In a recent edition of Psychology Today Dr John Gottman, renowned couples psychologist, reflects on the mathematical formula he and mathematician James Murray devised in the late 1990’s to work out in which relationships love lasts.  Helen Fry’s Ted Talk on The Mathematics of Love explores this further. Love is a popular topic; this post has had over 3 million views.

My first feeling on reading Dr Gottman’s formula was what a reductionist view of love! Where was Eros? What had happened to the mystery, imagination, magic and the energy of love to which it is so difficult to give words. Perhaps that’s a silly thing to say when writing a blog post about love.

And maybe not everything has to be about words. We feel the love in the butterflies fluttering in the pit of in our stomach. Don’t you want to feel love, not think about it? After all, love is one of the most powerful human emotions.

Love Is…

And Maybe There is More to Love

In The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck says love is an act of will. Love is not about feelings at all.

Genuine love, on the other hand, implies commitment and the exercise of wisdom’. He goes on to say love is, ‘The will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.

When I think of this, I imagine about two people in a relationship being devoted to one another. Two people are experiencing each other as separate legitimate individuals, not as objects to meet the other’s needs. The engagement of will also implies the action of work. We have to work on this thing called love and not just put the responsibility on our spouse, partner or lover to make us feel good.

Perhaps I haven’t done Dr Gottman’s work justice because at the crux of this paper is something about work. The couples who dare to be vulnerable, be responsible for their feelings, confront each other and not brush anything under the carpet are the ones whose love seems to last the test of time.

That all takes tremendous courage and hard work.  If you want to avoid the work, then maybe you’re not ready for love.

Love means different things to different people. But what’s for sure is that in our romantic, sexual and intimate relationships with significant others we can’t just feel, we have work on, nourish and feed our love.

Otherwise, it will wither.  And then what?

What Does Love Mean To You?

How do you nourish your love?  Are you still trying to figure it out or just happy to be with the experience.

If you want to explore what love means to you and your relationship get in touch and book your first counselling appointment.

Or call me today on 07535 864836.

Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.


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© Sandra Harewood

 About Sandra

Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and single women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create great relationships.