Guest Column: What is love?


by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Contributing Editor

The word “love” can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts. Many other languages use multiple words to express some of the different concepts that in English are denoted as “love”; one example is the plurality of Greek words for “love” which includes agape and erosCultural differences in conceptualizing love thus doubly impede the establishment of a universal definition.

Although the nature or essence of love is a subject of frequent debate, different aspects of the word can be clarified by determining what isn’t love (antonyms of “love”). Love as a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like) is commonly contrasted with hate (or neutral apathy). As a less-sexual and more-emotionally intimate form of romantic attachment, love is commonly contrasted with lust. As an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is sometimes contrasted with friendship, although the word love is often applied to close friendships or platonic love. (Further possible ambiguities come with usages “girlfriend”, “boyfriend”, “just good friends”). 

So then, what is love, true love?  We all have felt, at one time or another, that instant surge of oxytocin we get when we meet someone we are instantly attracted to.  The attraction that grows in time.  That feeling that keeps moving forward and feels better than it did yesterday. The yearning we experience in wanting to see that person, the anticipation of continuing this beautiful feeling.  

We ponder about these unexplainable feelings and ask ourselves if we have met our forever soulmate.  We think we know the true meaning of love when we make a decision to give ourselves fully, to reveal ourselves totally, and to share ourselves with another, I have thought, more than once, that I have met my true love when that special someone opens up to me. When that special someone is still there even when things get difficult. Even when we are on opposite ends of a situation with no time to question why, and we find ourselves angry and hurt, yet we are still capable of that trust in each other. 

I remember the first time I fell in love.  It was that kind of love, the love that is beyond just a sexual attraction, a love that was more than just the right chemistry. 

He was different, gorgeous, but not my usual type.  I watched him for a while.  I watched his behavior, how he handled himself in social situations, and I found I wanted to know him. I wanted to know his position on life, I wanted to know about him, and I really wanted to talk to him.  He wanted the same, so it was easy.  I made the first move. We were at a house party with some mutual friends, and of course, I had already done my due diligence. I had asked around about him.  He seemed interesting.  

When I dressed for the evening, I had taken extra care.  My hair was long, loose, and freely past my shoulders, my makeup was subdued, accenting my dark eyes, and I wore a sexy chic wrap dress.  It was red, mid-length, revealing just enough of my breasts to entice, my summer tan still glowing.  I slipped into some black open toe heels and off I went. I looked awesome!

We locked eyes almost immediately when I entered the party and after mingling, made our way to each other.

Hi Sue

Hi, your Jack, right?

Yes, nice to meet you, I have been wanting to meet you but kept missing you.

Same here, it’s nice to finally meet you!

And so, we exchanged pleasantries, asking each other questions about our lives.  We were both in healthcare, I, a registered professional trauma nurse, and Jack worked in the OR, so we had that in common which was a plus! Easy to start on common ground, we ventured into more details about each other. I found him to be self-assured, yet unassuming.   We talked for a while, he told me where he grew up, about his family, what he liked to do in his free time.  I shared my same history with him. We were both unattached, and he was so nice to talk with, I felt comfortable.  As the evening progressed, Jack asked me if I would like to take a walk, and get some air, and maybe some ice cream.  We did just that, I got a chocolate cherry cone and when the evening ended, we exchanged numbers and said good night.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Me, too!

And I did!  I couldn’t wait to hear from him, I felt so giddy.  

Jack called that night and invited me to have dinner at his place, he loved to cook, something he had shared with me on our first meeting, and I was happy to accept.  He lived within walking distance, and although I could have driven, I walked. It was a beautiful night.  I dressed casually, taking care not to look over the top, but maintaining my sense of subtle sexy.  I wore a sweet boho summer dress, in light blue colors, and donned a pair of heeled sandals to finish my look.

When I arrived at his place I was impressed with how cozy and warm his house made me feel.  He was eager to show his eclectic talents in the kitchen, and again, I was impressed.  We shared more about our lives with each other.  He was so easy to be with, I felt safe in his company.

Our relationship progressed nicely. Nothing was rushed, and when the sex happened, it was amazing. 

And then one day I saw them.  I lived in Boulder, CO.  Walking was part of the culture, I walked everywhere

  I was off from work that day, and I decided to bring a book and sit outside one of our local coffee shops, enjoying the freshness of the morning.  As I got my coffee and sat on my favorite spot, I saw Jack, but he did not see me.  He was with this woman, she was somewhat familiar, with waist length dark hair, dressed in a light tee shirt, shorts and flip flops.  Jack never mentioned he was off from work that day, so I was a bit confused and surprised.  I sat down with my coffee in a corner where I didn’t think they would notice, and I watched. I watched them laugh, I watched them gaze into each other’s eyes, and I watched as her tan foot with her red toenails slipped out of her sandal and rubbed her foot up his leg onto his lap.  I watched him grab her foot and kiss her toe. WTF was he doing?

I stayed put, waiting to see what was next.  She moved in closer to him, I could see her nipples hardened through her tee shirt as he slipped his hand under her shirt.  Didn’t they know that they were in public?  She licked his cheek and then they kissed, deeply.  The heat was on.  When they got up to leave, I waited and then I followed them as they walked into a park close by.  Were they both cheating? They walked to a place, hand in hand, behind a large tree where they stopped.  I stayed far enough away, yet close enough to watch.  I saw him slip off her tee shirt and fondle her breasts, kissing her body down to her shorts as he pulled them down quickly, and she kicked to the side.  She unbuckled his belt at the same time and stroked his hardness.  OMG!  She leaned over and I watched her lick his penis. she was till sucking him before he lifted her up and began that slow fuck, that I knew so well. And I heard her cry out in passion. 

I needed to leave, I thought I was going to vomit.  And so, I ran, with tears in my eyes.  I ran all the way home and buried my head into the first pillow I reached for, muffling my sobs, full of hurt and betrayal.  

Jack called that evening and asked me how my day was.  I said fine, it was interesting.  He asked me if I was coming over, I mentioned nothing, and I replied yes.  I took a long warm bath in some essential oils to relax myself, and then I dressed, like a woman scorned.  My makeup was a little heavier, my tight black dress was short, revealing my long tan legs.  I wore no under garments and made sure that there was a hint of obviousness and put on the highest heels in my wardrobe.  When I arrived at his door, he looked surprised, and asked if we were going out for dinner. He kissed my check and I walked in,     

I said that I thought he remembered we had a dinner date at a local restaurant. He changed quickly and off we went, again I said nothing.  That sound of silence echoed each time he attempted to make small talk. We reached the eatery and were seated.  As we were scanning our menus, a waitress came to take our orders.  IT WAS HER! Her long dark hair was pulled up; she was a very pretty woman. She smiled a little too long but said nothing.  Jack was uncomfortable. GOOD!  

Do you know her?

No, where would I know her from?

I don’t know, she just looks familiar.

You look especially hot tonight.  

Thanks……I replied, sarcastically. 

I got up and walked to the lady’s room.  When I returned a server brought us our dinner.  Jack seemed overly attentive, remarking on the food, the ambiance and of course, me.

When we were done with dinner, our waitress came with our check, avoiding any eye contact with either one of us.   

Are you sure you don’t know her?  I asked again.

No, he said, why? 

I don’t know, she just looks very familiar. I think maybe I saw her when I was jogging in the park today. 

Jack didn’t answer.  He paid the check, took my hand and we left.  The tension in the air was so thick you could cut it. I asked Jack to humor me and take a walk through that same park.  He complied.  When I removed my shoes, I took his hand and I led him to that same path where I had seen him that day, to that same tree and I stopped, took a deep breath, and leaned against that same tree where he had sex with that woman earlier today. Let’s see what kind of stuff he is made of.  That’s what men do, right?     

In theory, men have more sex partners than women when mode is examined. Reality? Men have more sex partners than women when the mean is examined. In both theory and reality, men as a group have a greater range and variance of number of sex partners than do women. At the most basic level, the reasons boil down to Bateman’s Principle, both in theory and in reality…. Nicole Barbara, PHD.

I ran my hands down the front of his body, and slowly undid his belt.  He was hard, of course he was!  I took his erect penis into my hand and stroked him.

Feel good?


Real good?  Watch me, I said as I slid out of my dress…and then I asked him, “Do you like what you see?” 

He was hot, and as he tried to rub my nipples, I stopped him. I pulled my dress back up over my naked body, and I walked away……….leaving him with a hardon.

I couldn’t love him anymore.   

   Bateman’s principle, in evolutionary biology, is that in most species, variability in reproductive success (or reproductive variance) is greater in males than in females. It was first proposed by Angus John Bateman (1919–1996), an English geneticist.

He called out to me, but I kept going.  He knew, we both knew he knew why.  

So, what is love?  Love is wanting to find—and actively working toward—that way forward, together.