What is Love? (Baby, Don’t Hurt Me)

by The Cowl Editor on October 25, 2018


Photo of different colored hearts.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.

by Elizabeth McGinn ’21

Opinion Staff

Love: a four-letter word meaning intense affection for someone or something; often romantic and sexual; a religion, a lifestyle, a purpose.

The grandiose and romantic ideals passed down through art and literature provide a theoretical backbone to popular culture’s commentaries on love, yet frequently idealize the more realistic loves of everyday life. Is love really all you need?

In Plato’s Symposium, the figure of Aristophanes shares a romantic, albeit bizarre, theory on the origins of love. Years and years ago, humans were two bodies in one form, with three sexes that would appear to modern eyes as female-female, male-male, and female-male. Zeus felt threatened by these humans, and to punish them, sent a lightning bolt to tear them in half.

Consequently, humans spend their entire lives searching for their other half in order to become whole once again.

The idea of soulmates has enraptured the minds of humanity ever since antiquity. Two people, destined to love and complete one another, fill the pages of poems, plays, and books.

Sometimes, they are star-crossed, with fate condemning the couple to separate, like the tragic pair of Romeo and Juliet.

Real love never looks like the movies. There are no last-minute chases through an airport, or declarations of love emitted by the sounds of a boombox.

While love has inspired artists for centuries, what does it look like today? More specifically, what is love on college campuses?

College students generally fall into one of these four categories: single, hooking up, casually dating, or seriously dating.

Being single boasts its advantages, like staying out as late as one would want or spending money only on food for one. The other love categories have their pros and cons as well.

Hook-ups entail one-night stands, friends with benefits, and any connection that includes sexual activity without the emotional support of a relationship.

This form is popular among students for instant sexual gratification and minimal responsibilities, but can often lack in emotional depth. Apps like Tinder and the party life on campus enable this category to thrive.

Casual dating and serious dating blend into each other and overlap. Casual dating, if successfully connecting with someone, usually develops into a serious relationship.

Casual dating involves formal dates, but no exclusivity, whereas serious dating  resembles the typical exclusive and long-term attachments. In the latter category, love most often flourishes.

“Love is when the girl you like cuts her hair and your feelings don’t change for her,” said Sebastian D’Ambrosio ’21.

In other words, physical beauty, while perhaps providing an initial attraction, takes the passenger seat to personality, ambitions, and values. The essence of an individual supersedes material looks, and what is more romantic than being loved for who you truly are?

While cliché romantic comedy tropes cannot correlate to real life experiences, love is in the little things: bringing your Dunkin’ order after oversleeping, sending memes to each other on Instagram, and stealing each other’s clothes.

If you find yourself choosing a night in, full of cuddles and laughs, over a wild night out, you just might be falling in love.