Introspecting (2): On love

On love

Photo by Rahul Pandit on


I tell myself.  But I only *think* this, experience it as an abstract concept? 

To be honest, I’m not even sure I know what love is. 

What does it *feel* like to love?

I’ve never been in love, in the romantic sense; but even when it comes to platonic love, familial love, I question the depth – existence – of any real-love-emotion. I think to myself, I ‘love’ my family, for example. But what does that actually feel like? 

I didn’t receive much affection from my parents growing up. I don’t ever remember being hugged, or being told ‘I love you’. My family isn’t one for warm embraces and talking about feelings. And I’ve turned out the same – I don’t hug people, I don’t say I love you, and I just generally find it awkward/embarrassing to express anything resembling a squishy-squashy emotion. I definitely have a limited capacity to express warm, tender feelings for others.

But to what extent do I actually have any warm, tender feelings – that LOVE?

I am capable of feeling compassion and empathy towards others. For example, I can’t bear it when I see people being bullied, and I get upset/riled up at all the bigotry, discrimination and exclusion that plagues our world. 

I would be comfortable calling this ‘world love’ – I experience ‘world love’ in the sense that I care about ‘people’ and social justice and making the world a better, safe and accepting place for all. This ‘world love’ I do hold in my heart – this is the love I have to give.  

But when it comes to loving the actual people in my life – specifically, my family – not only do I question what that love is meant to *feel* like, I also recoil from the idea of getting too close, getting too intimate. 

Why does my heart ache at stuff going on in the world ‘out there’, but not so much for the people around me, my very own family? Why is my love ‘blocked’ / inaccessible? And why does any hint of emotion I do experience,  feel like it would be too awkward / too terrifying / TOO MUCH to express? 

Maybe I just have a problem with experiencing/expressing ‘love’ on an interpersonal level.

After all, humans can love more than just people. We also ‘love’ animals, music, food, countries, nature, art, sports, fictional characters. We are even encouraged to love ourselves – ‘self love’. 

I definitely feel way more comfortable saying I ‘love’ a particular band or book than I do a specific person. 

A question though: how similar is the ‘love’ someone has for say, their favourite movie, to the love they have for a partner or family member? 

Maybe I’m more comfortable experiencing/expressing ‘love’ for somethings rather than for someones because it feels safer? Love for another might be reciprocated; it might bring with it obligations, expectations, entanglement, engulfment. Whereas love for objects concepts passion projects – is unidirectional, less liable to destroy. 

If the latter love is the only type of love someone experiences though, is that healthy? Is it ‘allowed’?  

People talk all the time about how much they love this or how much they love that; but love between human beings is meant to be the greatest love of all. You can love books, football, music, travel, dogs all you like – but those loves are not supposed to substitute love-for-other-people. 

Which is understandable. Loving and being loved by others does do people good. But where does that leave those of us who find loving like that difficult?

Other loves count as well. 

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