The concept of love has been discussed and measured as far back as Plato. In his dialogue, The Symposium, Plato dissects the nature of love. He claims that love is the cosmological principle of life. Love isn't something that is present. It's a yearning, a longing for something absent. Love can't achieve happiness or fulfillment. Overall, Plato defines love as the desire to possess the good forever. Love is about risk, exposure, and vulnerability. And as Melanie suggested in Compass, Love is about truth, goodness, and trust.
So often people confuse love with sex. Romance writers are some the worst offenders of this misunderstanding. Let's face it, sex sells. We love reading about two hot bodies pressed in every direction while fulfilling their hearts' desires. That's good reading, but as Plato noted, love is about becoming who you are, not what someone else attempts to turn you into being. Love digs deep into the soul. It brings forth the truth of human nature. True love, philia, concerns itself with the soul, not the body. The body is simply a symbol of love, thus making sex a symbol of love, not the actual act of love.
There's the old adage that you can't love someone else until you learn to love yourself. This is the good that Plato referenced. Love is a practice. It's a recollection of something deep inside you. The point of love is an exercise of the soul. You practice it daily on yourself. Love is cultivated through coming to know oneself, and then sharing that goodness with those around you. It's not measured with how sexy you might be or how great you are in bed. Love is a measurement of the soul inside you.
Love is truth, and love between two people requires honesty. In a story, it's fun to watch the characters undergo drama and angst as a means to finally obtaining love, but the reality is love is mutual respect and trust. Love expects you to be open with yourself and the person you're in a relationship with. The words you share, the emotions you feel, and even the physical act of love expose you to the good of love.
"Being in love" is purely lust. For "being in love" is the act of physical love not the growth of genuine love. Think about it. During sex, the act of "being" is the sexual act itself. Intercourse allows you to be with the person you deem worthy of your affection. But affection isn't necessarily love and hormones have a funny way of messing with your minds. True love is genuine and goes deeper than a good romp in the sack. Not that there's anything wrong with good sex, reading or having it. Believe me, I love them both.
Now, please don't take this as derisive. I'm not bashing romance novels in the least. Heck, I write them. I enjoy reading them. My point in all this is simple, love is more than romance. It goes beyond the physical into the mental and spiritual. Love is food for the soul.
So often in real live we have a misconception that love should feel like what we read in the books or see in the movies. It’s supposed to sweep us away, to consume us. This, however, isn’t the case. Love isn’t all encompassing. Love doesn’t make you happy or sad. Love feeds you. It’s the driving force of all things good. Love is the heart and soul of nature. It claims all goodness in the world. Love is beyond romance or desire. It’s deeper than your wants or lusts. Love is strength and courage. It’s genuine.
So, the next time you read one of my books, or any other romance novel for that fact, just remember that true love is more complex and yet simpler than the intense connection we authors strive to give you for entertainment value. Love is beautiful and deeper than the physical. Love goes beyond sexual desire. But most of all, true love begins with you.