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What Is Love?

Besides being a catchy techno song by Haddaway, that is.

I’ve recently been going through my old diary entries from high school and the first couple of years post-graduation, and boy, what an eye-opener.

It’s been long enough since these experiences that I can read them with objectivity and all I can say is wow.

I could’ve saved myself a fortune in therapy by reading this treasure trove of hopes, fears, mistakes, realizations and, most importantly, patterns.

I was settling for crumbs instead of a three-course meal.

My first boyfriend told me, after just a few weeks, that in order to marry me I would have to convert to Christianity. I was too busy studying for 12th grade final exams to adopt a new religion, so when I told him it was over, he told me I was going to burn in hell.

My second boyfriend said the L-word to me on our first date. Though I had the wherewithal to question whether he loved me or simply loved kissing me (he insisted it was the latter as he removed my shirt), I soon repeated those three words back to him, subconsciously learning to interchange ‘love’ with ‘lust’.

Boyfriend number three introduced the word ‘love’ by saying this to me: “You’re fat, you’re ugly and you’re stupid. And I love you.” The very next line in my diary entry was, “He loves me!” I was now learning to take the crumb that was thrown to me and ignore the emotional kick to the solar plexus.

The fourth in my string of boyfriends told me that he didn’t love me and could never love me because I wasn’t special enough. Apparently, however, I was special enough to dry-hump in the backseat of his car as he claimed to be an incurable romantic. I was a sucker for promises and potential. I broke up with him after he asked me—on a date—whether I thought he should go out with a female friend whom he had the hots for.

Boyfriend number five was the first guy I felt I really fell in love with. After six months I mustered up the courage to tell him I loved him. His response? He got angry, told me I was wrong, and accused me of betraying him with those words. I wound up apologizing to him.

Now you understand why I write a blog called ‘Romantically Challenged’.

I’m afraid to say that these negative experiences fueled by low self-esteem have continued into my adult years and, like any good junkie, I searched for my next ‘hit’ from wherever I could get it. I mistook physical intimacy for emotional intimacy and potential for reality. First I wondered what was wrong with me, and then I wondered what was wrong with them.

But now I think it’s safe to say that it’s not a matter of blame or fault, but rather a matter of going to the hardware store for milk. To quote Johnny Lee, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. When the guy would say, in one way or another, that he was unavailable, incapable or uninterested nine times, I would latch on to the one time he happened to say ‘I love you’, ‘you’re beautiful’, or ‘whatcha doin’ tonight?’ and that would be my reality.

So what is love? Hell if I know. Didn’t you read a word I wrote? But I’ll tell you one thing: I know what love is not. It’s not sexual intercourse, words without compatible actions, insults, broken promises, I love you before the three-month mark, fantasy thinking, desperation, disrespect, holding hands, flattery, indecision, settling or material gifts.

So maybe Haddaway is not just a Eurodance group, maybe they had it right when they sang:

I don’t know
Why you’re not fair
I give you my love
But you don’t care
So what is right
And what is wrong
Gimme a sign

What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more

Read more posts by Selena Templeton, love and relationship expert. Selena blogs for JenningsWire.