Love is cultural . . . in some sense. Some cultures think it comes before marriage, some after. Sometimes, it’s just a semantic difference where different people and groups use the same word “love” to mean different things.
I’ve learned that some actions or concepts are neutral. A good example is audibly burping in public after a meal. And then different cultural place evaluative judgments on such actions or concepts. In that example, some cultures might find such excess gas rude; others may see it as a sign of thanks. Beyond that, I’ve actually learned that some aspects of culture are negative regardless of how that culture views it; a good example is beating your wife or preventing girls from attending school. Some aspects of cultures are positive no matter how others view it. So even though the understanding of love is cultural, I’ve learned there are better understandings of what it is and how to provide. Most recently, I’ve learned in my own life that the truly best understanding of it isn’t anything emotional at all, but a decisive commitment, a gift, a choice, a decision, a commitment. Sometimes, you won’t find out that love isn’t actually there until you get to something that a person cannot handle or chooses not to handle, then that limiting occurrence uncovers the fact that it wasn’t full commitment.
Better than me talking about love, I thought I’d share 3 stories of love to show it’s cultural (mis)understandings and deeper understandings.
The first is a story of a woman who met a man in India and their relationship.
The second is a guy who admits he did not love his wife when he married her. He uses love in the same way I do.
The third is a segment of This American Life called Unconditional Love, which talks about love between parents and children.