Different Interpretations of Romantic Love

Dear P,

Your pictures of Nemo were so cool! I think you’re completely insane for going into the blizzards in your skivvies, but very brave nonetheless. I would do the same, but it’s seventy-five degrees here in Austin. Sometimes my life is hard.

It’s close to Valentine’s Day once again, but everyone has seemed very down on love lately. Here are the first three things that come up on the “Love” tag on tumblr:







This is so depressing, even if my fellow tumblees are being a little melo-dramatic. Maybe we’re going about thinking about “love” the wrong way. Here are some different ways to think about the the most intoxicating of all all emotions:

Love as a Contained Emotion



Usually, this is how we in the Western world think of the word “love”: like a bowl strawberry ice cream that we carry around inside of us. It’s characterized by our favorite phrase, “I love you.” My love for you is my property. This idea of love induces a lot of anxiety because there is no way of knowing if the object of your affections loves you back.  It is very possible to feel love for a person that does not return your love. Which, as everyone knows (except for you, P, because everybody loves you), is one of the worst feelings.

Love as a Story


(Photo from http://www.brainpickings.com)

Love stories are the greatest. They’re set up in such a neat, predictable format – beginning, middle, and end – and they give structure to the otherwise terrifying leap that is love. This is why chick flicks are so popular. We all know what’s going to happen.

Love as an Interaction


(Picture from http://www.etsy.com)

This interpretation is inspired by the recent Brain Pickings article:


This is an interpretation of love that I only learned about recently. In this version of love, the key is the the positive feeling that comes from a single interaction, even if the person you’re loving is a stranger. Love is an experience, rather than something you make yourself. Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson calls this “Positive Resonance”. Eventually, you come to associate that positive experience with a particular person and you call it “love”.

So, basically, everyone can be in love on Valentine’s Day. Just spend a little time positively resonating with someone.

Happy Valentine’s Day!



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