What is love?

Karen Yang, Managing Editor

     “What is love?”

     One of the most iconic song openings of all time, “What is Love?” by German singer Haddaway, asks the eternal question of what love is. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, this question remains particularly relevant.

     It’s no secret that love is all around us. From the books we read in LA — “Romeo and Juliet,” “Othello,” “The Namesake” — to the academic “soulmate” Mr. Daniel Sierzega gives us in AT Physics, we revel in the love we have for our friends, our families and yes, romantic partners.

     Yet love remains nebulous, indefinable. According to Wikipedia “love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue…to the simplest pleasure” –thanks, Wikipedia, that was totally not vague at all.

     Across cultures and ,time periods, showing love has always been nuanced. In early 19th century England, poetry was the “food of love”– though Elizabeth Bennet of “Pride and Prejudice” would heartily disagree. In Japan, one might make a bento box for their partner to take to work as a symbol of their love and devotion.

     To South students, love also looks different for each individual. “For me, love is something simple, not necessarily a grand gesture but rather small things like remembering something someone said,” said Maria Maiorova (‘23).

     This might look like reaching out to someone, buying gifts or spending quality time. “I have a Notes list with all my friends’ birthdays, which is how I show love,” said Maiorova.

     For others, love means connecting. “Love is a deep and inexplicable connection you have to another person,” said Zain Zaidi (‘24). “A hug, even a fist bump, can convey love.”

     Love also has to do with being considerate and respectful. “Love means that even if [my partner] might have a different perspective on something, he doesn’t disregard my perspective just because it’s different,” Naomi Lyu (‘23) said.

     “It might be telling people things like ‘it’s cold outside, wear a jacket!’” Zaidi said.

     “Liking” and loving also look different. “When you like someone, it’s the shining points of that person but when you love someone, you’ll love everything about them,” Lyu said. “It could be an embarrassing moment or something awkward but you’d find it funny or cute. You’d accept every version of them.”

     Every version of your partner… what about online one? As more people connect online in the age of social media, Instagram posts and Snapchat conversations have often changed our perceptions of partners.

     According to Stanford University, 39 percent of heterosexual couples met online in 2017 and that number has steadily risen over the years, especially post pandemic.

     Online love looks different. “Mutual communication on both sides is so important,” Maiorova said. “You sometimes need an online presence to maintain relationships. Watching movies online together and seeing if you can hang out in person really shows love.”

     But are online relationships as valuable as in-person ones? “A lot of people emphasize in person connection, but online conversation can reflect a lot of the details of a healthy relationship,” Lyu said. “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

     Maybe that’s what love is at the end of the day: showing your partner that you care. Regardless of whether online or in-person, new or old, love has confounded, mesmerized and changed the world.