What does love mean? The word love is polysemous, has many different readings and interpretations for each of us as we perceive it in a personalized experiential way.
Our perception and symbolisms for love are shaped by how we have experienced it in our childhood, how our parents expressed love, how we learned to express and communicate it to those around us, and which of these ways they were acceptable. Also, love was shaped by our general stimuli, what our friends told us, what we saw in the movies, what we read in the novels, what our parents and grandparents told us about love, their own love stories, etc.
For example, when in couple therapy, where a couple comes, and the man says to the woman, “But you don’t love me”, and she answers, “But I say to you that I love you every day”, and the husband responds “I do not want you to tell me I love you, I want you to make me breakfast every day. I know this is love. ” And the woman says, “I want you to kiss me every time you come home from work. That’s love for me. ”
We understand, then, that love is a subjective experience for each of us. But how do we learn and understand what it means to love those around us and each one separately? We only have to ask! “How do you like to show you my love?” “What does love mean to you?”
A good start is for the partners to narrate the love stories they have in mind, the stories they grew up with, and the myths they have created about love. Of course, some things cannot be easily or feasible, but we can discover love in tiny, everyday, simple things of life. You do not need flowers, perfumes, and big promises; you need a tender touch on the shoulder, an unexpected kiss, a surprise dinner for our loved one who comes home from work tired, a phrase “I believe in you, you can do it” and whatever you can think. They can be things that do not even cross our minds many times and are not at all challenging to integrate into our daily lives.
Για σένα, λοιπόν, τι είναι αγάπη; Γνωρίζουν οι αγαπημένοι σου άνθρωποι με ποιους τρόπους σου αρέσει να δέχεσαι την αγάπη; Για τους άλλους τι σημαίνει αγάπη; Πώς τους την προσφέρεις και πώς ανταποκρίνονται σε αυτήν; Επιχείρησε να μάθεις και σίγουρα θα εκπλαγείς!
What is love, then, for you? Do your loved ones know in what ways you like to accept love? What does love mean to others? How do you express it to them, and how do they respond to it? Try to find out, and you will surely be surprised!