“Is love a feeling, or an action?” a client recently asked me.
Here’s my hot take:
Love is a verb.
When we talk about love, like in the movies, we are talking about the feeling of falling in love which is a series of cascading neurotransmitters – and we are usually held hostage to that experience for about six months. The falling experience feels amazing, whether we’re falling in love with a partner, a new baby, a car, or a house. Sometimes these feelings burn hot, sometimes they smolder for a while, and sometimes they just fizzle out.
So what happens after that initial infatuation? What happens when you have that first fight with your new romantic partner? What happens when you are furious at your child, and you still need to get dinner on the table? What happens when you have to live day-in and day-out with someone and the to-do list interferes with your bliss?
What happens when life interferes with infatuation?
That’s when love gets real. Love is dynamic, in the day-to-day acts of appreciation, and in the care-taking we do even when we don’t want to. Love requires continuous effort and commitment. Love is manifested in the tiny daily actions that we take to show people we care about them. It’s as simple – and as complicated – as that.
Love requires active participation: tying a shoe, remembering how someone likes their coffee, changing the toilet paper roll, locking the back door. Love IRL is not romantic or sexy – it’s not even that appealing at times. Rather, love can be dull, repetitive, and reliable. Love is consistency. Love is responsible.
I’m talking about the love you feel for your best friend who is a hot mess on your couch after a loss. I’m talking about the love you feel for your teenager who has done something stupid but emerged unscathed. You love them fiercely, even when it’s not easy or pretty. In its essence, love is an action. Active communication, showing appreciation, and engaging in acts of service are vital in building and reinforcing these bonds. When we do that, love grows and flourishes.
By recognizing that love is a verb, we can empower ourselves to actively engage in these acts of love. And through these acts foster deep connections and nurture those attachments that enrich our lives and allow us to see the world through those rose-colored glasses once again.