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Definition Essay: Love
Love is something that means very different things to different people. For some, love can be purely romantic, or even purely sexual. For others, real love is utterly unconditional and only truly exists between family members, or between people and a deity. And for some people, love is fluid, ever changing, and everywhere, and is felt for family, friends, partners, pets, and even inanimate objects, dead artists, and fictional characters. None of these people would be right or wrong, but one thing is certain: love is the most powerful force in the entire universe.
Between partners of any description, be they married or cohabiting, boyfriend and girlfriend, straight or gay, young or old, love is a relationship of mutual understanding and respect. Marriages and partnerships are often built on common ground that people find when they first meet; this can be as deep as sharing religious, philosophical or religious beliefs, or as simple as finding that you love the same film, book, or band.
This kind of love is often reliant on some kind of ‘chemistry’: that strange feeling that they give you in the pit of your stomach, and the feeling that nothing in the world is more important to you than enjoying the moment you’re in together. Some people feel that they experience love at first sight, where they know from the minute they set eyes on each other that they want to to be with that person, but something built on common interests and understanding must be stronger.
A parent’s love for a child can also often be described as love at first sight, but this is very strong because it comes from a natural instinct to protect our offspring. This love can often start before the baby is even born: you only have to look at the pride and excitement of many parents-to-be when they have their scans and feel their baby kick for the very first time. This kind of love is also felt by a child for its mother; it is unconditional for at least the first few years of life, and can also be felt between siblings.
It is the strength of this feeling that makes love the most powerful emotion that most of us will ever experience. People can do some dreadful things out of hate and fear, but love can push us to do much, much worse. And it is often love that can cause us to hate, whether it’s out of jealousy, or anger because our loved one has been hurt. Love, ultimately, is a sacrifice, whatever the relationship, and it must be the most powerful force in the universe because as human beings, we make true sacrifices for nothing less.
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How to Know When You Love Someone
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.
Verywell / Laura Porter
- How Do You Know You're Feeling Love for Someone?
Is Love Influenced By Biology or Culture?
How to show love to another person.
- Tips for Cultivating
Negative Emotions Associated With Love
Love is a set of emotions and behaviors characterized by intimacy, passion, and commitment. It involves care, closeness, protectiveness, attraction, affection, and trust.
Love can vary in intensity and can change over time. It is associated with a range of positive emotions, including happiness, excitement, life satisfaction, and euphoria, but it can also result in negative emotions such as jealousy and stress.
When it comes to love, some people would say it is one of the most important human emotions . Yet despite being one of the most studied behaviors, it is still the least understood. For example, researchers debate whether love is a biological or cultural phenomenon.
Love is most likely influenced by both biology and culture. Although hormones and biology are important, the way we express and experience love is also influenced by our personal conceptions of love.
How Do You Know You're Feeling Love for Someone?
What are some of the signs of love? Researchers have made distinctions between feelings of liking and loving another person.
Zick Rubin's Scales of Liking and Loving
According to psychologist Zick Rubin, romantic love is made up of three elements:
- Attachment : Needing to be with another person and desiring physical contact and approval
- Caring : Valuing the other person's happiness and needs as much as your own
- Intimacy : Sharing private thoughts, feelings, and desires with the other person
Based on this view of romantic love, Rubin developed two questionnaires to measure these variables, known as Rubin's Scales of Liking and Loving . Whereas people tend to view people they like as pleasant, love is marked by being devoted, possessive, and confiding in one another.
Types of Love
Not all forms of love are the same, and psychologists have identified a number of different types of love that people may experience.
These types of love include:
- Friendship : This type of love involves liking someone and sharing a certain degree of intimacy.
- Infatuation : This is a form of love that often involves intense feelings of attraction without a sense of commitment; it often takes place early in a relationship and may deepen into a more lasting love.
- Passionate love : This type of love is marked by intense feelings of longing and attraction; it often involves an idealization of the other person and a need to maintain constant physical closeness.
- Compassionate/companionate love : This form of love is marked by trust, affection, intimacy, and commitment.
- Unrequited love : This form of love happens when one person loves another who does not return those feelings.
Robert Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love
Specifically, psychologist Robert Sternberg developed his well-regarded triangular theory of love in the early 1980s. Much research has built upon his work and demonstrated its universality across cultures.
Sternberg broke love into three components—intimacy, passion, and commitment—that interact to produce seven types of love .
Some researchers suggest that love is a basic human emotion just like happiness or anger, while others believe that it is a cultural phenomenon that arises partly due to social pressures and expectations.
Research has found that romantic love exists in all cultures, which suggests that love has a strong biological component. It is a part of human nature to seek out and find love. However, culture can significantly affect how individuals think about, experience, and display romantic love.
Is Love an Emotion?
Psychologists, sociologists, and researchers disagree somewhat on the characterization of love. Many say it's not an emotion in the way we typically understand them, but an essential physiological drive. Psychologist and biologist Enrique Burunat says, "Love is a physiological motivation such as hunger, thirst, sleep, and sex drive." Conversely, the American Psychological Association defines it as "a complex emotion." Still others draw a distinction between primary and secondary emotions and put love in the latter category, maintaining that it derives from a mix of primary emotions.
There is no single way to practice love. Every relationship is unique, and each person brings their own history and needs. Some things that you can do to show love to the people you care about include:
- Be willing to be vulnerable.
- Be willing to forgive.
- Do your best, and be willing to apologize when you make mistakes.
- Let them know that you care.
- Listen to what they have to say.
- Prioritize spending time with the other person.
- Reciprocate loving gestures and acts of kindness.
- Recognize and acknowledge their good qualities.
- Share things about yourself.
- Show affection.
- Make it unconditional.
How Love Impacts Your Mental Health
Love, attachment, and affection have an important impact on well-being and quality of life. Loving relationships have been linked to:
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Decreased risk of dying after a heart attack
- Better health habits
- Increased longevity
- Lower stress levels
- Less depression
- Lower risk of diabetes
Tips for Cultivating Love
Lasting relationships are marked by deep levels of trust, commitment, and intimacy. Some things that you can do to help cultivate loving relationships include:
- Try loving-kindness meditation. Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) is a technique often used to promote self-acceptance and reduce stress, but it has also been shown to promote a variety of positive emotions and improve interpersonal relationships. LKM involves meditating while thinking about a person you love or care about, concentrating on warm feelings and your desire for their well-being and happiness.
- Communicate. Everyone's needs are different. The best way to ensure that your needs and your loved one's needs are met is to talk about them. Helping another person feel loved involves communicating that love to them through words and deeds. Some ways to do this include showing that you care, making them feel special, telling them they are loved , and doing things for them.
- Tackle conflict in a healthy way . Never arguing is not necessarily a sign of a healthy relationship—more often than not, it means that people are avoiding an issue rather than discussing it. Rather than avoid conflict, focus on hashing out issues in ways that are healthy in order to move a relationship forward in a positive way.
As Shakespeare said, the course of love never did run smooth. No relationship is perfect, so there will always be problems, conflicts, misunderstandings, and disappointments that can lead to distress or heartbreak.
So while love is associated with a host of positive emotions, it can also be accompanied by a number of negative feelings as well.
Some of the potential pitfalls of experiencing love include:
- Increased stress
While people are bound to experience some negative emotions associated with love, it can become problematic if those negative feelings outweigh the positive or if they start to interfere with either person's ability to function normally. Relationship counseling can be helpful in situations where couples need help coping with miscommunication, stress, or emotional issues.
History of Love
Only fairly recently has love become the subject of science. In the past, the study of love was left to "the creative writer to depict for us the necessary conditions for loving," according to Sigmund Freud . "In consequence, it becomes inevitable that science should concern herself with the same materials whose treatment by artists has given enjoyment to mankind for thousands of years," he added.
Research on love has grown tremendously since Freud's remarks. But early explorations into the nature and reasons for love drew considerable criticism. During the 1970s, U.S. Senator William Proxmire railed against researchers who were studying love and derided the work as a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Despite early resistance, research has revealed the importance of love in both child development and adult health.
Langeslag SJ, van Strien JW. Regulation of Romantic Love Feelings: Preconceptions, Strategies, and Feasibility . PLoS One . 2016;11(8):e0161087. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161087
Karandashev V. A Cultural Perspective on Romantic Love . ORPC. 2015;5(4):1-21. doi:10.9707/2307-0919.1135
Rubin Z. Lovers and Other Strangers: The Development of Intimacy in Encounters and Relationships: Experimental studies of self-disclosure between strangers at bus stops and in airport departure lounges can provide clues about the development of intimate relationships . American Scientist. 1974;62(2):182-190.
- Sorokowski P, Sorokowska A, Karwowski M, et al. Universality of the triangular theory of love: adaptation and psychometric properties of the triangular love scale in 25 countries . J Sex Res . 2021;58(1):106-115. doi:10.1080/00224499.2020.1787318
Burunat E. Love is not an emotion . Psychology . 2016;07(14):1883. doi:10.4236/psych.2016.714173
American Psychological Association. APA Dictionary of Psychology .
Wong CW, Kwok CS, Narain A, et al. Marital status and risk of cardiovascular diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis . Heart . 2018;104(23):1937‐1948. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2018-313005
Robards J, Evandrou M, Falkingham J, Vlachantoni A. Marital status, health and mortality . Maturitas . 2012;73(4):295‐299. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2012.08.007
Teo AR, Choi H, Valenstein M. Social Relationships and Depression: Ten-Year Follow-Up from a Nationally Representative Study . PLoS One . 2013;8(4):e62396. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062396
Roberson PNE, Fincham F. Is relationship quality linked to diabetes risk and management?: It depends on what you look at . Fam Syst Health. 2018;36(3):315-326. doi:10.1037/fsh0000336
He X, Shi W, Han X, Wang N, Zhang N, Wang X. The interventional effects of loving-kindness meditation on positive emotions and interpersonal interactions . Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat . 2015;11:1273‐1277. doi:10.2147/NDT.S79607
Freud S. The Freud Reader . New York: W. W. Norton & Company; 1995.
Winston R, Chicot R. The importance of early bonding on the long-term mental health and resilience of children . London J Prim Care (Abingdon). 2016;8(1):12-14. doi:10.1080/17571472.2015.1133012
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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What is love? Stanford researchers and scholars examine matters of the heart
From the fields of science to sociology, politics and philosophy, here is what Stanford research says about love and romance, in the past and present day.
For centuries, people have tried to understand the behaviors and beliefs associated with falling in love. What explains the wide range of emotions people experience? How have notions of romance evolved over time? As digital media becomes a permanent fixture in people’s lives, how have these technologies changed how people meet?
Examining some of these questions are Stanford scholars.
From the historians who traced today’s ideas of romance to ancient Greek philosophy and Arab lyric poetry, to the social scientists who have examined the consequences of finding love through an algorithm, to the scientists who study the love hormone oxytocin, here is what their research reveals about matters of the heart.
The evolution of romance
How romantic love is understood today has several historical origins, says Robert Pogue Harrison , the Rosina Pierotti Professor in Italian Literature and a scholar of romance studies.
For example, the idea of finding one’s other half dates back to ancient Greek mythology, Harrison said. According to Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium , humans were once complete, “sphere-like creatures” until the Greek gods cut them in half. Ever since, individuals have sought after their other half.
Here are some of those origin stories, as well as other historical perspectives on love and romance, including what courtship looked like in medieval Germany and in Victorian England, where humor and innuendo broke through the politics of the times.
Stanford scholar examines origins of romance
Professor of Italian literature Robert Pogue Harrison talks about the foundations of romantic love and chivalry in Western civilization.
Medieval songs reflect humor in amorous courtships
Through a new translation of medieval songs, Stanford German studies Professor Kathryn Starkey reveals an unconventional take on romance.
The aesthetics of sexuality in Victorian novels
In Queen Victoria’s England, novelists lodged erotic innuendo in descriptive passages for characters to express sexual desire.
Getting to the ‘heart’ of the matter
Stanford Professor Haiyan Lee chronicles the Chinese “love revolution” through a study of cultural changes influenced by Western ideals.
Love in the digital age
Where do people find love today? According to recent research by sociologist Michael Rosenfeld , meeting online is now the most popular way to meet a partner.
“The rise of the smartphone took internet dating off the desktop and put it in everyone’s pocket, all the time,” said Rosenfeld. He found that 39 percent of heterosexual couples met their significant other online, compared to 22 percent in 2009.
As people increasingly find connections online, their digital interactions can provide insight into people’s preferences in a partner.
For example, Neil Malhotra , the Edith M. Cornell Professor of Political Economy, analyzed thousands of interactions from an online dating website and found that people seek partners from their own political party and with similar political interests and ideologies. Here is some of that research.
Online dating is the most popular way couples meet
Matchmaking is now done primarily by algorithms, according to new research from Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld. His new study shows that most heterosexual couples today meet online.
Cupid’s code: Tweaking an algorithm can alter the course of finding love online
A few strategic changes to dating apps could lead to more and better matches, finds Stanford GSB’s Daniela Saban.
Political polarization even extends to romance
New research reveals that political affiliation rivals education level as one of the most important factors in identifying a potential mate.
Turns out that opposites don’t attract after all
A study of “digital footprints” suggests that you’re probably drawn to personalities a lot like yours.
Stanford scholars examine the lies people tell on mobile dating apps
Lies to appear more interesting and dateable are the most common deception among mobile dating app users, a new Stanford study finds.
The science of love
It turns out there might be some scientific proof to the claim that love is blind. According to one Stanford study , love can mask feelings of pain in a similar way to painkillers. Research by scientist Sean Mackey found intense love stimulates the same area of the brain that drugs target to reduce pain.
“When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain,” said Mackey , chief of the Division of Pain Medicine. “We’re beginning to tease apart some of these reward systems in the brain and how they influence pain. These are very deep, old systems in our brain that involve dopamine – a primary neurotransmitter that influences mood, reward and motivation.”
While love can dull some experiences, it can also heighten other feelings such as sociability. Another Stanford study found that oxytocin, also known as the love hormone because of its association with nurturing behavior, can also make people more sociable. Here is some of that research.
Looking for love in all the wrong hormones
A study involving prairie vole families challenges previous assumptions about the role of oxytocin in prosocial behavior.
Give your sweetheart mushrooms this Valentine’s Day, says Stanford scientist
A romantic evening of chocolate and wine would not be possible without an assist from fungi, says Stanford biology professor Kabir Peay. In fact, truffles might be the ultimate romantic gift, as they exude pheromones that can attract female mammals.
Love takes up where pain leaves off, brain study shows
Love-induced pain relief was associated with the activation of primitive brain structures that control rewarding experiences.
Come together: How social support aids physical health
A growing body of research suggests that healthy relationships with spouses, peers and friends are vital for not just mental but also physical health.
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Definition of love
(Entry 1 of 2)
Definition of love (Entry 2 of 2)
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'love.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Noun and Verb
Middle English, from Old English lufu ; akin to Old High German luba love, Old English lēof dear, Latin lubēre, libēre to please
before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)
before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1
Phrases Containing love
- for love nor money
- fall in love
- all's fair in love and war
- fall out of love
- for love or money
- light - of - love
- love affair
- I must love you and leave you
- light - o' - love
- love is blind
- no love lost
- self - love
- the love of someone's life
- to know someone is to love him / her
- love - hate relationship
- for the love of Mike / Pete
- unlucky in love
- love - hate
- platonic love
- very little love lost
- for the love of God
- calf - love
- love language
- lucky in love
- courtly love
- love handles
- love - in - a - mist
- tug - of - love
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Cite this Entry
“Love.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/love. Accessed 5 Sep. 2023.
Kids definition of love.
Kids Definition of love (Entry 2 of 2)
More from Merriam-Webster on love
Nglish: Translation of love for Spanish Speakers
Britannica English: Translation of love for Arabic Speakers
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about love
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Emotions: Definition of Love
This “definition of love” essay is focused on different types of romantic love and the possibility of creating a love definition. Essay samples like this one will help you write a great paper of your own.
Definition of Love Essay Introduction
Love definition essay conclusion.
Defining love can be one of the most challenging yet enjoyable tasks that any person can ever undertake. There are so many factors to consider and so many different methods of love and love related thought.
Some say that love is an expression, but not everyone agrees that expression is love. But really, is not art really all in the eye of the beholder? Who is to say that one train of thought it more important or correct than another when regarding what love is.
One person may think that a particular person, personal trait, or expression may be lovable, whilst another thinks that it is simply garbage. Then we must ask ourselves, can love truly be defined? Or is it all just a mere passing thought.
Before we can determine whether or not love can truly be defined, we must stop and ask ourselves, what is love? Is love simply using various emotions and placing them on mediums for liking? Or does it hold a truly deeper meaning? Although we can never truly define what love really is, we can give some basic guidelines about what is and is not love.
Generally, the human race considers love as a feeling that is pleasing to the eye or invokes certain emotions when experienced. And what many an individual considers to be love is something which one can do and enjoy and in the end, produce something that gives a feeling of success. There are many different ways to express one using the concept called love.
The most common form of love which most people think of when they think of love is the man-woman relationship. The man-woman relationship is usually just some form of human biological experience, whether direct or physical or indirect or platonic, whichever form, the emotion is then placed on some form of the other gender.
There are, however, literally hundreds of forms of love within the world. They range from the conventional man-woman relationship, which, although never simple, is not necessarily the most complex way to express one, to the same gender love and everything in between. Love can even be considered in simple writing, usually in the form of poetry.
The spoken word can have a more profound effect than physical love. A simple poem can invoke a range of emotions rather quickly. If a poem refers to someone who is close to the author, the author may feel overwhelmed when viewing their own romantic expression.
But a romantic relationship can just as easily invoke the same feelings as a written piece of love. And a simple sketch of romantic activities such as presenting a simple gift has the chance of being just as profound.
Love could even be considered something as simple as an action that someone has done for a cause or for somebody. If someone holds the door for somebody else, it could be their love to be generous and gentlemanly. Even acts of crime can be considered forms of love if it is subjected to the benefit of someone the criminal cares for. So one can never really limit love to one thing.
Rather, it is a wide arrangement of things. And one can never truly crackdown and say that something is only loved related if it is of some particular kind of medium because somebody else will disagree. But, the fact of the matter is, in the eye of the beholder, love could be anything.
So is it really possible for us to define what love is, or can we really set any realistic guidelines as to what is love and what is not love? It is always possible to create guidelines, but it is often considered a love affair in itself to break said guidelines.
But, to truly create a relation that gives off a strong affection presence, one usually must feel some sort of emotional attachment to whatever it is one working on. Only then will one truly pour out everything from the heart and mind. When one can accomplish this, then it is possible to create something with true romantic value.
If one can describe the emotions in relation, it becomes easier for others to understand what one was trying to do, and more often, give them a stronger emotional sense. In a way, this creates a bond between the beholder and the observer, allowing true romantic value to be created within a work of relation.
But this still does not fully aid us in our quest to find out whether we can define what love is. There are some things that do not stimulate our emotions as much but may still hold a different affectionate value. But with so many different modes of relations in the field of love like husband-wife, mother-child, friendship, compassion, etc., have we become closer to being able to define love in one true sense?
Or, rather, have we learned to adapt and respect all forms of love and their inherent values. What might be considered a loving relationship in the past by everyone may only be considered a simple affair to a small number of people in this modern day.
Rather than classifying love in one major group, we should respect all love for its value and its effect on society as a whole. It is not logical to believe that we will ever be able to identify love in the analytical sense truly, but we will learn new ways to improve our talents, and we will constantly gain more resources to spread our love across all reaches of the universe.
It does not really matter whether or not we can define love because love is just an expression. It is a method for human beings to get out their emotions and share them with the rest of the world. It helps to describe what cannot be spoken.
A loving act is worth a thousand words, but even those thousand words can yet again produce a thousand additional loving acts. And in this method of thought, love has an infinite number of possibilities and an infinite number of ways to influence the lives of others. There are no strict guidelines for defining love, nor will there ever be. Everything is in the eye of the beholder, but it does not matter.
Love is basically anything that anyone does, which has a profound effect on somebody or something else. From a simple act of kindness to a great sacrifice which took years out of somebody’s life. Some love can be considered more complex, and some love can be considered simpler in contrast.
As long as society keeps using love and passionate values to gain a newfound sense of identity, it is logical to believe that the world will live without being able to define strictly what love is. It is definitely an act of goodness and an act of understanding, but it is more than that.
It is the sense of belonging, and the essence of worship and the relationship can be observed in various manners. Love is, therefore, a feeling that makes a person a better human being in the long run. Love is the elixir of life and the completion of fullness at the same time.
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StudyCorgi. (2022, June 8). Emotions: Definition of Love. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/emotions-definition-of-love/
StudyCorgi. (2022, June 8). Emotions: Definition of Love. https://studycorgi.com/emotions-definition-of-love/
"Emotions: Definition of Love." StudyCorgi , 8 June 2022, studycorgi.com/emotions-definition-of-love/.
1. StudyCorgi . "Emotions: Definition of Love." June 8, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/emotions-definition-of-love/.
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What is love essay sample, example.
The word “love” has gone through various dictionary definitions throughout the eons. According to the Harvard Crimson, “The roots of the word “love” can be traced back to the Indo-European root leubh, meaning “to care” or “to desire,” approximated from words including the Latin lubet, “it pleases” and the Sanskrit lubhyati, “he desires.” Along with “love,” related English words like “libido” and “belief” also descend from *lebuh. According to The Bloomsbury Dictionary of Words, while the word “love” initially meant “find pleasing,” it later took on associations with “praise,” “trust” and “belief”’ (Cocola, Jim). This follows a common pattern in romantic relationships that begins with pleasure, progresses to admiration, and finally becomes about trust. We can look at history to see that humanity has considered love to be, in essence, a variety of virtues and feelings. To say one sentence about love is seemingly impossible. That is why is important to differentiate between the types of love we humans experience.
What constitutes “pure love” is highly debatable. Religious or spiritual people will say “pure love” is that love which is divinely inspired or related to the divine. Other people will say friendship is the truest love of all. While others will say unconditional love is the only pure form of love. There is no consensus on what constitutes “pure love,” however there are similarities between the definitions. Most ideas about what “pure love” is circles around the concept of something transcendent. This variety of love is commonly above attachment, hate, codependency, and other forms of limitations.
Perhaps the most famous depictions of love in the western world are discussed by Plato, Aristotle, and other historical sources. We can say there are seven flavors of love: romantic love, friendship, familial love, universal love, uncommitted love, practical love, and self-love. Romantic love is marked by passion and sometimes lust between people to create a bond. Love based on friendship, on the other hand, can be said to be shared goodwill, companionship, trust, and more. In a similar vein, familial love is carved out of dependency and familiarity, and is almost automatic. Another type of love that is commonly inbuilt is universal love. This slice of love is based on feeling care for God, strangers, nature, and other encompassing factors. It can also relate to altruism, where we want to help others in need, even if we do not know them well, or do not expect something in return. A more baser type of love is uncommitted love, which involves teasing, flirting, seducing, and sex without attachments. The opposite comes in the form of shared interests and duties with practical love. Often, people are drawn towards each other based on activities, hobbies, professions, and other factors. This can form a strong bond between two or more people at a time. Lastly, self-love is controversial. It can be said to be healthy with self-affirmation and self-confidence, but unhealthy with narcissism and vanity (“These Are the 7 Types of Love”).
All of these types of loves intermix in our lives. It is difficult to find someone who does not have all these flavors of love present in his or her experience of reality. However, it is up to us to determine the most significant type of love and to search for it. Commonly, figuring out what this most important flavor of love is will indicate what we need to do with our lives, how we need to act, and how we want to construct our family and work lives. Therefore, knowing what love is to you is not only a philosophical pursuit but also a practical one.
A definition essay sometimes can get confused with a description writing. That’s why it’s essential to check out some samples before starting your work. Some best assignment writer sites can provide you with a whole collection of similar examples.
Cocola, Jim. “Redefining Love.” The Harvard Crimson, www.thecrimson.com/article/1998/2/9/redefining-love-pi-adore-you-i/.
“These Are the 7 Types of Love.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201606/these-are-the-7-types-love.
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Health disparities in women and children essay sample, example, commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in healthcare statement essay sample, example, how law enforcement uses kinesics to anticipate, react, and interview essay sample, example, related writing guides, writing a definition essay.
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What is love?
Associate professor in Social Psychology / Relationship Science, Deakin University
Gery Karantzas receives funding from the Australian Research Council. He is the founder of relationshipscienceonline.com
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From songs and poems to novels and movies, romantic love is one of the most enduring subjects for artworks through the ages. But what about the science?
Historical, cultural and even evolutionary evidence suggests love existed during ancient times and across many parts of the world. Romantic love has been found to exist in 147 of 166 cultures looked at in one study.
The complexity of love has much to do with how people experience it differently and how it can change over time.
Read more: Friday essay: finding spaces for love
Like, love, or ‘in love’?
Psychological research over the past 50 years has investigated the differences between liking someone, loving someone and being “in love”.
Liking is described as having positive thoughts and feelings towards someone and finding that person’s company rewarding. We often also experience warmth and closeness towards the people we like. In some instances we choose to be emotionally intimate with these people.
When we love someone we experience the same positive thoughts and experiences as when we like a person. But we also experience a deep sense of care and commitment towards that person.
Being “ in love ” includes all the above but also involves feelings of sexual arousal and attraction. However, research into people’s own views of love suggests that not all love is the same.
Passionate vs companionate love
Romantic love consists of two types: passionate and companionate love. Most romantic relationships, whether they be heterosexual or same sex , involve both these parts.
Passionate love is what people typically consider being “in love”. It includes feelings of passion and an intense longing for someone, to the point they might obsessively think about wanting to be in their arms.
The second part is known as companionate love . It’s not felt as intensely, but it’s complex and connects feelings of emotional intimacy and commitment with a deep attachment toward the romantic partner.
How does love change over time?
Research looking at changes in romantic love over time typically finds that although passionate love starts high, it declines over the course of a relationship.
There are various reasons for this.
As partners learn more about each other and become more confident in the long-term future of the relationship, routines develop. The opportunities to experience novelty and excitement can also decline, as can the frequency of sexual activity . This can cause passionate love to subside.
Although a reduction in passionate love is not experienced by all couples, various studies report approximately 20-40% of couples experience this downturn. Of couples who have been married in excess of ten years, the steepest downturn is most likely to occur over the second decade .
Life events and transitions can also make it challenging to experience passion. People have competing responsibilities which affect their energy and limit the opportunities to foster passion. Parenthood is an example of this.
Read more: Love by design: when science meets sex, lust, attraction and attachment
In contrast, companionate love is typically found to increase over time.
Although research finds most romantic relationships consist of both passionate and companionate love, it’s the absence or reductions in companionate love, moreso than passionate love, that can negatively affect the longevity of a romantic relationship.
But what’s the point of love?
Love is an emotion that keeps people bonded and committed to one another. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, love evolved to keep the parents of children together long enough for them to survive and reach sexual maturity .
Read more: What is this thing called love?
The period of childhood is much longer for humans than other species. As offspring rely on adults for many years to survive and to develop the skills and abilities needed for successful living, love is especially important for humans.
Without love, it’s difficult to see how the human species could have evolved .
A biological foundation too
Not only is there an evolutionary foundation to love, love is rooted in biology. Neurophysiological studies into romantic love show that people who are in the throes of passionate love experience increased activation in brain regions associated with reward and pleasure.
Read more: Love lockdown: the pandemic has put pressure on many relationships, but here's how to tell if yours will survive
In fact, the brain regions activated are the same as those activated by cocaine.
These regions release chemicals such as oxytocin, vasopressin and dopamine, which produce feelings of happiness and euphoria that are also linked to sexual arousal and excitement.
Interestingly, these brain regions are not activated when thinking about non-romantic relationships such as friends. These findings tell us that liking someone is not the same as being in love with someone.
What’s your love style?
Research has found three primary styles of love. First coined by psychologist John Lee , the love styles are eros, ludus and storge. These styles include people’s beliefs and attitudes about love and act as a guide for how to approach romantic relationships.
This style of love refers to erotic love and is focused on physical attraction and engaging in sex, the quick development of strong and passionate feelings for another and intense intimacy.
This style involves being emotionally distant and often involves “game-playing”. It’s not surprising people who endorse this love style are unlikely to commit, feel comfortable ending relationships and often start a new relationship before ending the current one.
Storge is often regarded as a more mature form of love. Priority is given to having a relationship with a person who has similar interests, affection is openly expressed and there is less emphasis on physical attractiveness. People high on storge love are trusting of others and are not needy or dependent on others.
Or is a mixture more your style?
You may see yourself in more than one of these styles.
Evidence suggests some people possess a mixture of the three main love styles; these mixtures were labelled by Lee as mania, pragma and agape.
Read more: Darling, I love you ... from the bottom of my brain
Manic love includes intense feelings for a partner as well as worry about committing to the relationship. Pragmatic love involves making sensible relationship choices in finding a partner who will make a good companion and friend. Agape is a self-sacrificing love that is driven by a sense of duty and selflessness.
Why do you love the way you do?
A person’s love style has little to do with their genetics . Rather, it’s associated with the development of personality and a person’s past relationship experiences.
Some studies have found people who are high on dark traits, such as narcissism, psychopathy and machiavellianism, endorse more of a ludus or pragma love style.
Read more: There are six styles of love. Which one best describes you?
People who have an insecure attachment style , involving a high need for validation and preoccupation with relationship partners, endorse more mania love, while those who are uncomfortable with intimacy and closeness do not endorse eros love.
No matter the differences in the way love is experienced, one thing remains common for all: we as humans are social animals who have a deep fascination for it.
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What Is The Meaning Of Love? Essay
Love for some people is an endless dream and hope; for others is a temporary feeling that will disappear in time. For some people, it is a fairy-tale, and for others, it is a dream come true. Some might say that love happens only once in a lifetime, and others believe that after one loves comes another. Love is a simple word with a universal definition. The more you tend to know it, the more you get confused with another meaning from different people around you.
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The more you think about what love is, the more you ask yourselves about love, and the more you get closer to the true meaning of this feeling, the more you realize that the definition of love comes from only your own feeling. Many films and movies are including with love dramas from the authors. A lot of producers also understand the meaning of love in their way. However, they also suggest the audience understand the same way.
In my opinion, love is to forgive, to take care, and to help in every necessary way. Love is also a tepid feeling that one has with another. Love is an eternal feeling that you desire and want to give to your lover. It is a strong emotion that occurs when you like something or someone, and it is also a deep feeling of Lustful desire and attraction. Love might come in a much different way. It depends on our relationship and what we adore the most.
Lust is the next thing that follows love. Lust for humans is nature. Many love stories and dramas also indicated love and Lust in the same category. However, Lust is not always possibly happening because of love. Love dramas are one of the examples that will definitely influence love in this modern world. It could change the definition of love and also change people who are beloved. Love scenes in the films also indicated a mix of emotions. One of the films that I have watched is one of the examples. The film was called “The Unlovable” that was unofficially published in Thailand. The film consists of one female character and another three male characters.
Basically, the film denotes about how the leading actress has devotionally seeking for Lust more than love. The leading actress play as the unfaithful girl who simply does not know what love is. Nonetheless, the leading actress performance coincidentally reflected the world of love, especially for teenagers. However, the actress role needs to assert the audience in her own way that her Lustful intercourse is exactly what love is. In fact, the plot of the film summarize that love is Lust.
Although Lust will naturally happen with humans, but it does not mean that Lust is love. Even though everything that happens in the story line has already been set up, it is still an incorrect way to identify love. In the matter of fact, all of the love scenes in the film could possibly influence people to change their love definition. Love does not need to end up with Lust. However, I think that Lust is one part of love. In my opinion, Lust will exist in the long term relationship. When people learn what love is, then Lust would come after.
Ultimately, love might be everything for some people. However, not every people have success in their love life. Once when love has fulfilled a person, everything is unstoppable. On the other hand, love can also destroy or even kill someone. Again, it is naturally happen with human and it is impossible to stop it. In fact, people should be able to define the exact meaning of love. Definition of love would be slightly different, so people should understand what the aspect of love is before expressing it.
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IvyPanda. (2021, November 11). What Is The Meaning Of Love? https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-the-meaning-of-love/
IvyPanda. (2021, November 11). What Is The Meaning Of Love? Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-the-meaning-of-love/
"What Is The Meaning Of Love?" IvyPanda , 11 Nov. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-the-meaning-of-love/.
1. IvyPanda . "What Is The Meaning Of Love?" November 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-the-meaning-of-love/.
IvyPanda . "What Is The Meaning Of Love?" November 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-the-meaning-of-love/.
IvyPanda . 2021. "What Is The Meaning Of Love?" November 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-the-meaning-of-love/.
IvyPanda . (2021) 'What Is The Meaning Of Love'. 11 November.
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Table of Contents
The Definition of Love – Summary
The poem ‘The Definition of Love’ is a metaphysical poem written by Andrew Marvell. The poem explores the nature of the poet’s love for his beloved. The poet sees this love as perfect and thus unattainable. The poet begins the poem by introducing his readers to the parents of this love. According to the poet, this love is of rare birth. It is the offspring of the union of Despair and Impossibility. Only resolute Despair could have produced such divine love. Hope would be completely futile in the case of such love because it can never be realised.
In the next lines, the poet claims that the poet’s and his beloved’s separation is due to Fate’s animosity. Perfect lovers are always scorned by fate, and they are never reunited. The power and authority of Fate will be severely weakened by a marriage between two ideal lovers. Fate has separated these two lovers as far apart as the North and South Poles are from each other. Even though they are the pivot in which the entire world of love revolves, these lovers will never be able to come together.
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The poet claims that love can only be realised if the revolving spheres collide and the world is ripped apart by some violent convulsion. The whole world must be projected or compressed into a plane in order to get these lovers together. Only oblique lines can cross in all geometrical angles, and only guilty or adulterous lovers can find their passion fulfilled. The poet’s love and his beloved’s love, on the other hand, are like parallel lines that can never touch, even though they are stretched to infinity. Thus, the poet’s and his beloved’s love is merely a meeting of minds, never taking the form of a physical union. This love may be defined as “the conjunction of the mind”, and opposition of the stars.”
Analysis of The Definition of Love
Marvell’s “The Definition of Love” is a great masterpiece in which he employs a variety of puns, double meanings, conceit , and paradoxes with the greatness and versatility befitting a metaphysical poet. This poem exemplifies Marvell’s ability to unleash the power of thinking, demonstrating his brilliance in conceiving unimaginable concepts. The poem is about a pair of lovers who will never be united because the lovers are kept apart by the “iron wedges” of Fate. There is no hope that they could be together because hope is personified as a “feeble” creature that “vainly flapped its tinsel wing”. Such is the impossibility of the unification of the lovers that even Fate herself will be destroyed if they are united. Their souls are facing one another and are “fixed”, they are like poles being placed apart but yet they are considered whole. Even as “Love’s whole world” does circulate, they can never embrace, this is done so that their love will be perfect according to the wills of the heavens. Marvell ingeniously describes that in order to unite them both, the earth itself will have to be flattened by an iron bar, and they will still be separated. Their love is similar like “oblique” lines, though parallel and “infinite”, they can never be connected. It is with this great ability that Marvell merges puns, paradoxes, ambiguities and the imagination with his indwelling quality of wit to produce a great poem transcending the senses. Similarly, his ability to conceive images like the oblique and parallel lines that symbolically represent the lovers are the powers of his observation that merge the objects of the external world with the internal world of Marvell’s metaphysical world.
Theme, Imagery and Metaphysical Conceits in the Poem
The poem, The Definition of Love by Andrew Marvell describes the character of the poet’s love for his beloved. This love, says the poet, is perfect and therefore unattainable. This love is divine, but for that very reason hopeless. Perfect love of this kind is most unwelcome to Fate who therefore never permits the union of perfect lovers. This kind of perfect love can mean only a spiritual union but never a physical one. This love is “the conjunction of the mind and opposition of the stars.” The poem contains a number of metaphysical conceits, which can be best defined by the lines like “begotten by Despair upon Impossibility”. The idea here is that the poet’s love is unattainable, but in order to express this idea, the poet personifies Despair and Impossibility and imagines that his love was produced by their union. There is another use of conceit in the poem. And this is more fantastic conceit than that of the previously discussed. The poet says: “His love can be achieved only if three conditions are fulfilled: first, the spinning planets must collapse; second, the earth should be torn asunder by some fresh convulsion; and third, the whole world should be projected or flattened into a planet. As these three conditions are impossible to fulfil, the lovers cannot be united. Yet another conceit occurs in the stanza in which the poet compares the loves between him and his beloved to the parallel lines which can never meet. Only oblique lines meet in all geometrical angles, and in the same way, only the passion of guilt or adulterous lovers can be satisfied. The two closing lines of the poem also contain a metaphysical conceit .
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Andrew Marvell: Poems
By andrew marvell, andrew marvell: poems summary and analysis of "the definition of love".
The poem’s speaker is an anonymous lover who contemplates the nature and definition of love. He begins by saying that his love is both “rare” and “strange” because it was “begotten by Despair / Upon Impossibility.” He goes on to claim that only despair could reveal to him “so divine a thing” as this love, because “Hope” could never come near it. He imagines that he “quickly might arrive” where this love is leading him, but finds that his soul’s inclinations are thwarted by Fate, who “drives iron wedges” between the speaker and the object of his affection.
According to the speaker, the problem is that Fate cannot allow “Two perfect loves” to come together. Doing so would overthrow Fate’s power, so Fate has placed the two lovers into physically separate spaces, like “distant poles” that can never come together. They must remain separate, the speaker laments, unless “giddy Heaven” falls or the entire world is suddenly “cramped into a planisphere.” The speaker then compares the lovers’ connection to two infinite lines, each of which forms a perfect circle. Because these lines are parallel, though, they shall never intersect. Therefore, the speaker concludes, Fate has enviously thwarted the love that binds him to his beloved, and the only way they can be together is in a union of their minds.
Scholars often connect Marvell’s “The Definition of Love” to John Donne’s metaphysical lyrics, due to the elaborate imagery and the neo-platonic implications of love between souls or minds that is distinct from the physical body. The poem constitutes an exploration of love by depicting two perfect yet irreconcilable loves – the love of the speaker, and the love of his lover. These two loves are perfect in themselves and they face each other in an opposition of perfection, but, according to the speaker’s formulation, that same condition prevents them from meeting in the physical sphere. The poem is composed of eight stanzas, each of which features four lines of iambic tetrameter that rhyme alternately, in a pattern of ABAB, CDCD, and so forth.
In the first stanza, the speaker makes an odd and striking claim – that his love is so unique and “rare” it must have been born of “Despair” and “Impossibility,” which is a surprisingly dark and tragic formulation of love. The speaker goes on to explain that only despair could have revealed this love to him, because it shows both the utter perfection of the love he feels, and at the same time, the impossibility of its physical fulfillment. Hence, the speaker constructs an oxymoron – “Magnanimous Despair” – as an attempt to bring his reader closer to understanding the nature of his love.
Marvell further develops the speaker's frustration at being separated from his beloved in stanza three, where the speaker elaborates upon the role of Fate. The speaker claims that his perfect love would lead him to the place where his “extended soul is fixed,” or in other words, would lead his body to the location where his soul is already connected to his beloved's. However, Fate actively prevents this by erecting an “iron wedge” between the two lovers. The speaker then explains that Fate keeps the lovers from each other because it perceives their union as usurping its power. The speaker represents Fate as a tyrant with a “jealous eye” who desires to maintain control over the two perfect loves.
He goes on to say that Fate has given “decrees of steel” that place the two lovers distantly apart, which effectively prevents a perfect union of both their physical and spiritual love. The symbols of an iron wedge and a steel decree suggest Fate’s dominion over the hard, physical realities of the body, which contrasts sharply with the speaker’s claim that the lovers enjoy metaphysical perfection in their own transcendent love.
Next, the speaker attempts to imagine the only conditions in which he and his lover might be physically united. These include the Heavens falling, an earthquake collapsing the Earth, or the entire planet being compressed into a flat plane. The speaker uses the paradoxical term “Planisphere” for this imagined event. Each of these conditions is impossible, and as the speaker acknowledges this fact, he goes on to construct a new, geometrical conceit that contrasts the love of the speaker and his lady with a more typical love. Their love is like a pair of parallel lines – infinitely perfect as they extend - yet they shall never meet. Meanwhile, common love is less perfect, like a pair of oblique lines, which by nature will eventually intersect.
In the final stanza, Marvell delivers two definitions of the speaker’s love: it is both “the conjunction of the mind” and the “opposition of the stars.” This two-part definition encapsulates the divided nature of their love. On one hand, the image of conjunction suggests proximity and harmony, while the image of opposition implies that their love can never be fully realized. This idea implicitly refers to the power of Fate in the physical universe, which in this case, prevents the lovers from meeting on the plane of material embodiment.
Andrew Marvell: Poems Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Andrew Marvell: Poems is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
What are the overt and covert expressions in the poem?
Poem title, please?
What vision of man do we get in Andrew Marvell's poem? Discuss with example.
In addition to imagining the body and soul as separate entities, Marvell’s poetry depicts the soul as divided into three parts or functions. He inherited this idea of a three-part soul primarily from Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and student of...
What is the dramatic situation, the scene unfolding in the poem?
The speaker of the poem is a nymph lamenting the death of her fawn. The poem begins with the nymph crying out that a band of “wanton troopers” have shot her fawn “and it will die.” She notes that the fawn never did these men any harm, nor did the...
Study Guide for Andrew Marvell: Poems
Andrew Marvell: Poems study guide contains a biography of Andrew Marvell, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
- About Andrew Marvell: Poems
- Andrew Marvell: Poems Summary
- Character List
Essays for Andrew Marvell: Poems
Andrew Marvell: Poems essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Andrew Marvell's poetry.
- Marvell's Gardens: A Reading of The Mower Against Gardens and The Garden
- The Love Poems of Rich, Marvell and Campion: Realism vs. Idealization
- Artificial Nature and Natural Art: Spenser's "The Faerie Queene" and Marvell's "Upon Appleton House"
- Variations of Love in Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" and Shakespeare's "Sonnet 116"
- To His Coy Virgins
Lesson Plan for Andrew Marvell: Poems
- About the Author
- Study Objectives
- Common Core Standards
- Introduction to Andrew Marvell: Poems
- Relationship to Other Books
- Bringing in Technology
- Notes to the Teacher
- Related Links
- Andrew Marvell: Poems Bibliography
Wikipedia Entries for Andrew Marvell: Poems
- First poems and Marvell's time at Nun Appleton
- Anglo-Dutch War and employment as Latin secretary
- After the Restoration
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What is Labor Day and why do we celebrate it?
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Labor Day is a widely-celebrated American holiday. For many, the day marks the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. But beyond the opportunity for indulging in barbecues and poolside gatherings, Labor Day holds significant historical weight.
So what is Labor Day and why do we celebrate it? Ahmed White, a professor of labor and criminal law, answers these questions and more.
Professor Ahmed White
What is Labor Day?
Labor Day is our country's most explicit way of recognizing the contributions of workers in this country and the history of labor in the U.S.
The first celebrations were in the 1880s. They occurred locally and were organized by workers and unions. These holidays were informal and held in the picnic season at the end of the summer, which is one of the reasons we celebrate Labor Day in September. But it wasn’t made a federal holiday until 1894.
Why do we celebrate Labor Day?
Many of us work. We don't need a holiday to remind us what work is and the difficulties and rewards that come with it. But through the course of a typical year, we don't often get the opportunity to reflect on why we do our jobs the way we do, where our current workers' rights came from, and the price that many people paid to secure those rights for us today. And that’s well worth remembering.
Why does the U.S. celebrate Labor Day instead of Workers’ Day?
There's a very complex history there that has to do with the relationship between Labor Day and May Day. Only the United States and Canada observe Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday of September. This distinguishes them from the rest of the world, where Workers’ Day typically coincides with May Day, observed on May 1.
In May of 1886, the Haymarket Affair unfolded in Chicago. This involved contentious and often violent confrontations between protesting workers, who demanded shorter working hours, and their employers and the police. These clashes led to considerable deaths and even the execution of some labor leaders who were charged with somehow being behind a deadly terrorist bombing at a place in Chicago called the Haymarket.
In the years after the Haymarket Affair, labor leaders in the U.S. advocated for May Day to become Workers’ Day. That effort took off internationally but not here in the United States. This is partly because U.S. government officials were wary of establishing a national holiday that commemorates the workers who had been killed in these clashes. Holding the holiday in September also aligned with how it was already being celebrated in some parts of the country.
Illustration of the tragic Haymarket Affair published in Harper's Weekly, May 15, 1886.
What was happening during the labor movement in the late 19th century?
One of the most notable things was how violent this period was. Hundreds of people were killed in conflicts between workers on strike and various opposing forces, including employers, police, private security personnel, National Guards and militia groups.
Some of these instances are still well remembered today because of how violent they were. Take, for instance, not only the Haymarket Affair, but also the 1894 Pullman Strike , which was just as violent and closely preceded the establishment of the Labor Day holiday.
Incidentally, Colorado was no different. There were extraordinarily violent strikes, especially within the mining industry. The 1913–14 coal strike along the Front Range included the Ludlow Massacre near Trinidad, which resulted in around 20 deaths, most of them workers' family members. Another coal strike from 1927 to 1928 claimed the lives of eight workers, including six who were shot dead by state police at a mine in Boulder County. This came to be known as the Columbine Mine Massacre.
Such violence arose mainly out of a refusal on the part of employers and their allies to recognize the rights that present-day workers possess, such as the ability to establish unions, initiate collective bargaining, and engage in protest.
Why is it important to remember this past?
One reason is that we take much of it for granted, not just in the way of employment and labor rights but our entire legal system and the legacies of labor and conflict.
So many of our country's institutional structures, culture and political legacies have to do with labor and the labor movement. America is a country of workers built by workers. That includes everything we see around us and also things we don't often think about, such as our legal system and the rights we have today.
What are other ways that people can celebrate and remember the real reasoning behind Labor Day?
I think one thing that people can do is to learn something about the history of labor in this country. There are plenty of books and websites and magazines that chronicle this history. It’s not just a violent and dramatic history, but one that is compelling and essential to understanding this country, where it is today and where it's going in the future.
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I am dying at age 49. Here’s why I have no regrets.
Life is all about a series of moments, and i plan to spend as much remaining time as i can savoring each one.
Last month, I found out I have Stage 4 uterine leiomyosarcoma , a rare and aggressive cancer. Doctors say I may have just a few months to live. Treatment could buy me a little extra time, but not much. My disease is advanced and incurable. My prognosis has left me shocked, sad, angry and confused. I wake up some mornings raging at the universe, feeling betrayed by my own body, counting the years and the milestones I expected to enjoy with my family.
I am leaving behind a husband and 14-year-old daughter I adore, and a writing and teaching career I’ve worked so hard to build. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my life, and in addition to the horror, a surprising feeling has taken hold: I am dying at age 49 without any regrets about the way I’ve lived my life.
I learned that lasting love is about finding someone who will show up for you
In my teen years, I fell hard for a boy who broke my heart, not just once, but half a dozen times. It was an obsessive first crush, the kind that made me stop eating and sleeping. He broke up with me and we got back together many times in high school.
The feeling was addictive, although it made me miserable. Even after I graduated, I could not get him out of my head. His story ended tragically — he took his own life at age 21. His death was heartbreaking, but my fraught relationship with him, and the traumatic aftermath, taught me what I ultimately wanted in love — safety, support, fun and adventure.
I needed a partner who would help me feel good about myself, someone steady, reliable, and free from all that romantic drama.
A few years later, I met my future husband, who was insecure and grappling with his own worries. Dan was smart, bookish, funny and kind. His love for me was constant and never in question. He was a writer, but instead of being competitive with me, he supported my career. Dan and I have been together 25 years, never having broken up or even separated, even for a day.
I pursued my dream career with passion
“No one can make a career out of writing.” It was a statement I heard from almost everyone I knew, from teachers to parents to concerned friends. I was told I would face a life of rejection and begging for late paychecks.
To ease my depression, I volunteered to help dying people
But I knew I could not survive waking up each day to the morning commute and heading to a 9-to-5 office job under fluorescent lights. I like to be in charge of my own life and schedule.
When I wanted to write a reported history about ice cream in America, some people laughed.
“I can see it as a magazine story, not as a book,” one agent wrote me.
And yet I went on to land a contract with Penguin Random House to travel the country, eating ice cream, gathering research, interviewing Jerry from Ben & Jerry’s, and riding around on the back of an ice cream truck through the streets of Bensonhurst, N.Y. The book contract was lucrative, and the publication of “ Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Through America ” opened up opportunities I never expected, like being on NPR and teaching creative nonfiction writing.
Family adopts abandoned babies, learns years later they’re biological siblings
In the last few years, I have been able to mentor and coach dozens of promising writers. In return, these students, with their sincerity and soaring ambitions, helped revitalize my own writing, reminding me why I went into this business in the first place.
I have never had a bucket list; instead I said ‘yes’ to life
I’ve always tried to say yes to the voice that tells me I should go out and do something now, even when that decision seems wildly impractical. A few years ago, with very little planning, my family and I got in a car and drove 600 miles to a goat farm in central Oregon, where we camped out for four days to watch a solar eclipse. I once jetted off to Germany on two days’ notice, spending a week exploring Dresden and hiking through the Black Forest.
“Money always comes back, but if you miss out on an experience, the opportunity may never come back.” This has been my mantra since I met Dan. Even when our bank account was low on funds, we decided to move to New York City to pursue our writing dreams. It was ridiculously hard at first, but it worked out because we gave ourselves no other choice.
I’m a good saver but things like retirement accounts were never important to me. When given a choice between taking a family trip to Kauai or squirreling money into a 401(k), I always chose to head for the islands.
I found people in my life who can accept me as I am
I don’t try to hide who I am or apologize for it. I am a bit of a hermit. I am sure I have hurt people’s feelings with my behavior from time to time by ducking out of parties early or choosing not to go to Happy Hour. I have spent very little time worrying about it. I think it’s more important to find people who get me and accept me than want to change me. I have done my best to avoid people who come at me with unreasonable expectations. And because I don’t have to spend any time covering up my real self, my friendships are genuine. Since my diagnosis, I’ve had a chance to tell my friends how much I love them. They’ve told me that, too, and I deeply feel it.
I live where I want even though the numbers never add up
I love spending time in the redwoods and by the ocean. Just a few months ago, I was walking four miles a day along the sweeping ocean coastline at West Cliff Drive where I could see surfers and otters frolicking, and humpback whales lunge-feeding just off the shoreline. This became my everyday routine.
My favorite spots are within a 10-minute drive of my house, and most are still accessible even as my energy continues to drop off as the cancer spreads through my body.
The flip side of this dream life is the cost. My family and I live in one of the most unaffordable places in America.
Rescued baby walrus cuddled 24/7 for its final days
Dan and I have talked dozens of times about uprooting, but my friends and our writing community are in Santa Cruz, and my daughter loves her friends and her school, so my husband and I have chosen to stay. My family will never own a house — at least not in my lifetime — but at least I am dying around people who love me and are bringing me meals when I need them. These are people who are willing to show up for me no matter what. And I know they will show up for my husband and daughter, even after I am gone.
The end of my life is coming much too soon, and my diagnosis can at times feel too difficult to bear. But I’ve learned that life is all about a series of moments, and I plan to spend as much remaining time as I can savoring each one, surrounded by the beauty of nature and my family and friends. Thankfully, this is the way I’ve always tried to live my life.
Amy Ettinger is an author and creative writing instructor living in Northern California.
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