I’ve been mulling over love a lot lately. For my own personal reasons. Maybe slowly some of those will come out. In the form of vague blog posts.

Today I want to talk about how many different ways there are to love. Yet, we only have one word.

Love for your parents, brothers, sisters, family of origin. Love for your chosen family, the ones you choose to share your life with, your spouse or partner or partners, children, stepchildren, fostered and adopted children. Love for your friends, near and far, still present in your life and gone from your life. Love for your pets, who you take the sole responsibility of keeping alive. Love for the community to which you belong, love for ideas, love for shared values. Romantic love. Familial love. Platonic love.

We use the same word to describe our feelings for all of these things – love. But are they the same feeling? Even within each grouping, there is so much variation.

To use one word indicates that what I mean by love is the same as what you mean by love. And that each time I use the word love, it means the same thing. But it doesn’t. But have we simplified love by using the same word? And left no room for variation, personalization, for finding a way to love that works for each of us? Because when I talk about my love, do you already assume to know what I’m talking about, to understand my experience? We can relate to each other, sure, but our experiences are so widely different, even when we don’t realize.

Yet we use the same single word. It’s so powerful, but does it always communicate what we’re saying?