We each have many types of love relationships — parents, children, spouses, friends. And they’re not always with people; you may love an animal, or a place. Is there a single idea or definition that runs through all the varieties of “love”?
Yes, I have many different types of love relationships. I have loved my parents; I love my child. I have loved my spouses. I have loved my lovers. I love my grandchildren; I love my brother and sister. I love my nieces and nephews and their families. I love my cousins and my aunts. I love my friends. And I adore my two animal companions, my beloved Ernie and Ralphy, my two Japanese Chins whom I wrote about just a few days ago. Yes, I love them all.
How do I define all these love relationships? Is there something that ties all these love relationships together? Something that links them all in a common bond? I think there is. I think the thing that defines love is “a deep affection for a person, place, or thing.” The deep affection is the key. When I think of love, I think of a deep affection, a deep longing. When you are away from the object of your affection, you experience a deep longing for the object of your affection. That is part of love. That is part of the deep affection.
You can also love a place. For example, I love my hometown of Utica, New York. It is a small city in central upstate New York State. It is nothing special. But it is my hometown. It is where my brother and sister live. My cousins live near there. My nieces live there. My parents are buried there. I went to school there. I still miss the old place. I still have roots there. I still have love for the place even though there is not much there for me. I can’t explain why I love it. It’s a very green place. It’s rather quaint. It’s a little backward. But I do love it. I also love New York City, but for very different reasons. These are two places that I love.
So I love people, places, and animals. Do I love things? I guess so. I love things not as deeply as I love people, animals, and places but I do love some things. Things can be replaced and things are not as important as people and animals, obviously. I love my Grandmother’s engagement ring, for example. I love my collection of Irish Angels. I love my Painted Ponies collection. I love my collection of Southwest and Mexican pottery. I love my Great-great-grandfather’s passport from Luxembourg and his citizenship papers. Family photographs are important to me and I love them. These are some of the things that I love. They are important to me and I think of them with deep affection. They are not as important as people and animals, however.
But all these “loves” are bound together, the past loves and the present loves, by the feeling of deep affection and deep longing. That, to me, is what true love is. Deep affection for the object of love. That’s what love is.