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What is Love?

What is love

Love: It’s the subject of every good (and bad) pop song, rom-coms, romance novels, and just about every great TV show from “This Is Us” to “Insecure” to “Sex and the City.” It’s widely regarded as the greatest feeling in the world, the sustenance of life.
And yet while we all know what it feels like, we all describe it differently. In honor of Valentine’s Day, Unbound reached out to five folks — a comedian, a polyamorous woman, an erotica author, a marriage counselor, and an ex-matchmaker — for their different perspectives on love:

Chris Calogero, comedian:

Love means never being shamed for saying you are too full of food to have sex.”  

“Ashley,” a polyamorous woman married to a man and in a relationship with another woman:

Recently I attended a screening of ‘The Sound of Music,’ and during the climactic moment when Captain Von Trapp professes his love for Maria, he tells her of his broken engagement to the Baroness by saying ‘You can't marry someone when you're in love with someone else.’
I was sitting in a row with my husband, my lover, and my lover's primary partner. We were the only people in the theater laughing at that line. Not in a mean way — it's a very sincere scene — but because that philosophy couldn't be more different from how we live our own lives.

For many, loving someone else while you're married is the ultimate sign of infidelity. It means that rather than loving the person you've sworn to love, you're loving someone outside of that union. But for us, loving someone else while you're married just means that you have multiple loves all at once, loves who fill different parts of your soul and mean different things but matter just as much. Loving multiple people at once doesn't devalue romance. It enhances it.

Louise Lagris, erotica author:

“My erotica isn't always about love, but it is about connection and chemistry. Even if a story is about strangers coming together for a quickie in a bathroom, everyone is changed one way or another by the experience, hopefully for the better! I've had tremendous sex with people I don't give a shit about, and awkward sex with people I cared deeply about. Everyone is different.

There are so many types of love. I have beloved people in my life whom I could call at any time of the day or night, no matter how long it's been since we've sat down together over a drink or a meal, and they'd be there for me, and vice versa. They are my chosen family.

There's the pure love of animals; I honestly don't know what we've done to deserve such goodness. Sometimes it makes me cry to think about it!!

As for romantic love, I'm still trying to figure it out. What I do know is through process of elimination. It's sustainable. All of the parties involved are down to work through their problems, alone or together. Each person has healthy boundaries and feels securely attached to themselves and the other person(s). There is a sense of coming home to them, to yourself, within that love.

I hope so, anyway!”

Choosing Love Independence

Sherry Amatenstein licensed clinical social worker and author of The Complete Marriage Counselor:

“Love is wonderful, and it’s best when it is between two people who choose someone to add to their life — not be their life.

You should treat each other with kindness, respect, and care but your lover is not there to feed your ego, to endlessly fulfill your every need. Your lover is not there to fill your inner void. That’s something to figure out on the therapist couch. And once you are whole, you can find a mature, great love with another whole person.

Ask not what your partner can do for you, but what you can do for your partner. (Thanks, JFK!)”

Hannah Orenstein, former matchmaker, and author of the forthcoming Playing With Matches:

“I’m deferring to Queen Bey on this one: it doesn’t matter if you’re ‘Crazy in Love’ or ‘Drunk in Love,’ falling in love is even better than winning a Grammy. I mean, probably. I don’t have any Grammys.”

Jessica Wakeman is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn who has written for Bust, Rolling Stone, Glamour and many other publications

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