('an essay on love' or 'a symposium for the 3rd millennium')

First, let us separate two ideas - love, and all that masquerades as it.

Love is not a sacrifice - to give all and receive nothing. There is a difference between expectation and actuality. In love, something should be given freely with no expectation of return. Yet, for one person to give and never receives mean the other does not give, but only takes. Love is mutual - giving and taking must happen on both sides.

Love is not sex. Sex is a mechanism for producing offspring. Love may transcend gender - in any of its forms (agape, philia, eros). It transcends age and form. Likewise, having sex does not mean love and love does not mean having sex. Physical pleasure shared between two people may indeed feel wonderful and unleash powerful emotions - but it does not imply love, nor does love imply it.

Love is not transitory. Love may not last forever, but it does last and weather storms of the sprit. It does not fall apart at the first ill wind.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's and compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd

Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

What is love then?

Love is a partnership between equals on some level or another. It is a sharing - both giving, both taking, neither hoarding. Love is beyond the tangible things of image and success of the person. Anything that depends on image will fail in years to come as age takes its toll, and success fluctuates with the market - today's stock market millionaire may be tomorrow's pauper. Love cannot depend on anything that may be taken away. A true love of a person, by definition, must be able to survive this. Love is a partnership in life - a commitment to take each step together, side by side - not as a leader and follower, or master and salve, or owner and pet. Love is a partnership as companions, friends, and lovers.

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