The 5 Ways We Define Love (And Why They're Wrong)
There have been many terrible songs, poems, and movies made about love, but a surprisingly small number of Cracked articles. Today, I intend to fill that void. Come with me as I seek the most accurate definition for this thing that makes the world go 'round. Spoiler alert: "A thing that makes the world go 'round" is a bad definition for love.
It is, however, a great definition for the law of conservation of angular momentum.
Love Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry
When we were very small or when our parents were a little bigger than very small, there was a very famous book and movie called Love Story. Think of it as the Titanic of the early '70s.
And much like Titanic, it sucked and only losers liked it. Like millions and millions of sucky losers.
Anyway, the most famous line from Love Story is the phrase "Love means never having to say you're sorry," which is actually said twice in the film. The first time by Jennifer (the poor but feisty girl) to Oliver (the rich but kind boy) after he tries to apologize for losing his temper. Later in the film, after she dies (because that's what lovers in shitty love story movies do), Oliver says it to his father (the rich ogre), who apologizes for not approving of his son's relationship.
I get it. Jenny taught Oliver something. Point made. But what did she teach him? I don't know. We could argue and debate what exactly that means, but I'm not going to. Maybe it means if you're in love the person you're with knows your heart and doesn't sweat the small stuff. Maybe it means love is having no regrets, as in never being sorry for being in love, but that's stupid, because the phrase is said in the context of apologies that have nothing to do with that. I'm not sure. Neither are you. Neither is my boss, Jack O'Brien. I asked him, too. No one knows. (Although Jack did send me a note that read, "Love is not having to answer your stupid questions, loser," which I think was a bit harsh.) But I tell you what: If you have strong opinions on the phrase, write your best guess in the comments and then delete that comment. This is the Internet. There's no capacity for that level of comprehension. We only understand things with graphical rating systems.
So how good is "Love means never having to say you're sorry" as a definition of love?
I'm giving that a 1 out of a possible 5 hearts, 5 being an excellent definition and 1 being pretty crappy, although probably not as crappy as Love Story and Titanic are in terms of movies.
Why only 1? Because love may be confusing and hard to understand, but definitions of love shouldn't be equally obscure.
Love Is Lots of Mind-Blowing Orgasms
Some people go looking for love with their genitalia. Literally!
Wait. No. Not at all literally. What's the opposite of that again? Right, figuratively. Let's try that again.
Some people go looking for love with their genitalia. Figuratively! (Or metaphorically; that works, too.) And if you ask those people to explain their thinking, it's always the same: First they remove their genitalia from the genitalia of the person they're having sex with before they give you their full attention. Then they flash you the "one second" finger because their naughty bits are dripping with the affection of their partner's unmentionables, so they take a "wet wipe" that they carry with them at all times and give their workings a quick once over so you won't be distracted as they answer your serious question about love. Then the act of rubbing themselves clean while an inquiring stranger watches gets them hot again and unless you begin to service them immediately, they go back to the boning that you so rudely interrupted. And who can blame them? Seriously, what is wrong with you? Why would you take a love survey in the middle of that?
Oh, jokes! What do people see in them? Anyway, for many, love and sex are inextricably tied. Look on the cover of any Cosmo magazine. It's all how to give your boyfriend a mind-blowing orgasm -- not how to make him care about you more. (Spoiler alert: butt stuff.) Guys are told over and over that marriage means sleeping with the same chick for the rest of your life. The obvious analysis then becomes "Oh shit, then I better make sure the sex is awesome. The most awesomest sex, if that's the only kind I'm gonna get!" Nevertheless, while high-quality sex is an important part of anyone's existence and a balanced breakfast, it's a shitty definition of love. There is no orgasm good enough to sustain 50 years of marriage. Therefore ...
Ideally, you will have wonderful, satisfying sex with the person of your dreams, but you can't gauge how much someone will fill your heart by how much they spill your ejaculant.
Don't believe me? Well, let me put it in a way the Internet understands:
Love Is Never Arguing
Y'know, when I got engaged, someone asked me how I knew it was time. I replied somewhat facetiously that my girlfriend and I had gone three months without having a big fight. "Uh-oh," this person replied, because she didn't understand jokes and because she also sucked. See, in her world, love is a calm blue pond you sit and soak in with your lover while casually drinking herbal tea until both your hearts, full and content, gently stop beating. (Then, as is the case with death, the two of you void your freshly dead bowels, changing the pond into more of a blue/brownish hue.)
Some weirdo's conception of love.
Look, getting along and not arguing is important for love. Not arguing is great. It's very pleasant to date someone with whom you don't argue, but as a definition of love? Um ...
Think of all the people you don't argue with: your postman, your dentist, your co-worker who doesn't wash after flushing. It's a sign of nothing. Love should be alive, and it can be messy. If you can't argue with someone, then you probably can't talk to them, either. If there's not enough passion to make you angry, then there's probably not enough love to make you smile. Not a polite pleasant smile, but a big love smile. A smile that makes your ears hurt.
No, that's not a good definition, either.
Love Is Being Someone's Hero
Hey, here's a recipe for disaster: I used to think love was wanting to be someone's Prince Charming. A hero. A knight in shining armor. Growing up, the world kind of teaches you that. And man, it feels good to be a prince. Like really good.
Not that Prince (although I imagine that feels pretty awesome, too).
I once dated a girl who made me feel like her own personal savior. And I'd do little things for her that made her day and I thought, wow, I know what love is. It's being with someone who makes you want to do those things all the time. Don't get me wrong. It's nice to do things for loved ones. It's nice when those little things become big things and you are a hero. But that's not the definition of love.
Here's the thing. The people who are best at making you feel like you're a hero are people who really need a hero, who are desperate for salvation in the form of another human being. Basically, the people who make you feel like a hero the best are the people who need it the most. They're in trouble. And they are trouble.
And guess what? If YOU need to be someone's hero to feel loved, YOU'RE trouble, too. It's an intense feeling both ways. Having someone be your savior and one true path to happiness feels just like love. Knowing someone looks at you like Jesus Christ, but one they get to have sex with, feels like love, too. But at the end of the day, it's not.
Love Is Cleaning Shit
When I was about 5 years old, I thought I might like a dog. After all, that seemed like a normal request, and I'd seen a lot of that on TV. My 12-year-old brother then informed me that having a dog meant cleaning up its crap. Literally.
Hey, I used that word right this time!
In any event, that pretty quickly put an end to my dog-wanting desires. Fetch seemed fun and all, but not worth cleaning up shit. For that, you'd need ... love. And the more I think about it, that's the best definition of love I know. Love is cleaning shit.
Hmm, not really the right ring to it, either. Must be why my resume to SomeECards has gone unanswered.
But think about it. What better definition is there? It's not just social services that makes parents change hundreds of diapers filled with godawful stuff. Parents clean their kids' shit because love. People take care of their dogs because love. And what about cats? Well, cats are evil and they know they're evil and that's why they bury their own shit -- so they can be indebted to nothing and no one.
"Yeah, I'll clean my own shit, thanks. I owe you nothing!"
My friend told me a story once about having a horrific virus while he was sharing a bed with his girlfriend. Long story short, he woke up at three in the morning having crapped the bed, creating some horrible diarrhea-designed mess. He crawled off to the shower, and when he returned, his girlfriend was cleaning the sheets. That's the day he decided to marry her, and that's as good a reason as I can think of.
Love can be messy and complicated and painful. Lives built together can be sloppy and ugly and unpleasant. The best definition of love we have is finding a friend willing to roll up some sleeves and get to work, by your side, in the shit.
If you're in New York City, come see Gladstone do standup April 12, 2013, at The Saloon. Show starts at 7 p.m.
Or come see him film a live new episode of HATE BY NUMBERS at the Calgary Expo on April 26, 2013. Also, be sure to follow Gladstone on Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest regarding Notes from the Internet Apocalypse. And then there's his website and Tumblr, too.