Daily Prompt: I Want to Know What Love Is

Today’s Daily prompt is very vague.  It asks, “Is there a single idea or definition that runs through all the varieties of “love””

I think there must be.  The Wikipedia article on love discusses four forms of love.

  • Kinship
  • Friendship
  • Romantic
  • Self-Emptying (Divine)

I did not see anything that addresses a love of ‘Objects or Concepts’ aside from a very broad interpretation of ‘Self-Emptying’.  Because I believe this type of love exists, I am going to add it to the list of 4.  Ironically, because this new form is the least emotional type of love, I will use it for most of the discussion below.  So we now have:

  • Kinship
  • Friendship
  • Romantic
  • Self-Emptying (Divine)
  • Concepto-entity

From these 5 categories of love, many English words are derived.  From the top of my head I can think of Romance, Infatuation, Maternal/Paternal, Patriotism, Brotherly/Sisterly and Religious.  This makes these English words hierarchical, each word is a member of a set that describes love.  This can only be true if there also exists a set that describes all love.  Meaning that there must be a unifying theme.  I am going to explore what those unifying themes may be.

From this point forward I am going to ‘wing it’ using no external resources; only my own brain.

I accept that love is not an absolute, it is a continuum.  This is what I see in my head as that continuum.



The most obvious commonality that jumps out is ‘relationship’.  For us to love, we must have a connection to the thing or person being loved.  This appears to be a truism as I cannot imagine loving something I am unfamiliar with.  So the first requirement for our set is ‘relationship’ requiring ‘familiarity’.


Can we love things that we are indifferent to?  I am a technologist.  I have a slight interest in Marketing.  Could it be said that I love Marketing.  I think the answer is an obvious ‘No’.  While I may love some people who are accountants, I can say I certainly do not love accounting.  In fact, I may hate it.  As a Technologist, there certainly are components I love.  I am going to add the requirement of ‘Strong to Very strong Positive Interest regarding the object or person’ as a requirement to love.


There still seems to be something missing.  I have a relationship with my television.  When I need to just veg out and dull my mind, it is there.  When I hear about an interesting new show that may challenge the tired and old ‘Hero’s quest’ story line, it never denies me.  I am familiar with it, I have a relationship with it and I have an interest in the content it presents.  Do I love it?  Absolutely not.

There is an attachment component that must exist for love.  It is not as simple as, “My life would be worse off without you/it”.  My life would be worse off without my TV, the suit I just bought, my coffee table, or my guitar.  Yet I don’t love these things.  Simple attachment can fade.  I am attached to my new messenger bag.  In time however, I will likely replace it.  This is a special attachment of some kind.  Perhaps it is a super set of other properties.

My baseball cards, I might say I love.  They, as a set, are unique to me.  I invested a good deal of time in my youth cataloging and arranging them.  I traded them and played games of chance with them.  When I lost, I was hurt.  When I won, I was ecstatic.  Are these the sub-components of this special form of ‘Attachment’?  ‘Uniqueness’ (as a set and specific to me) and ‘Investiture’ of ‘Time’, ’Treasure’ or ‘Talent’?

I think I have something here.  But what do I call attachment that is made up of ‘personal uniqueness’ and ‘Investiture of some personal limited resource’?  I cannot think of a word at the moment.  I’m going to call it, ‘Uniqueness Infused Attachment’.

How do we add this component to the requirements of the ‘Love Continuum’?  Uniqueness and Attachment are not words to be qualified as negative or positive.  Can we qualify Investment?  If I gamble and loose, I think that would be a negative investment.  If I gamble and win, that would be a positive investment. What is the absolute value though?  If I have my set of 1000 baseball cards and gambled 100 and lost, there was still the absolute investment into the set of cards.  Would I value 900 baseball cards collected over the course of my youth as less valuable than 1100 baseball cards?  Monetarily, of course this is a true statement, but in terms of my recently invented ‘Uniqueness Infused Attachment’ is it a true statement?  I say not.  So I am placing this as an unqualified requirement on the set of all things I love along with familiarity.


The way my continuum looks right now, there is no sense of where love begins and ends.  Up to this point, I have been running under the assumption that there is some point near the right side of the chart where we say love begins.


Somewhere, around the beginning of the yellow portion of continuum is where love begins.  This may be a variable area which depends on our moods, emotional state, current levels of dopamine, etc.  All we can know for sure is that the exact point is indefinable.  Like the ancient Greek concept of Suartes (sp?) (I said I would use no external resources and I do not remember the spelling) which claims that when creating a ‘pile’ of pebbles, there is not a point at which the group of rocks goes from not being a pile to being a pile*.  It is a soft boundary.

There is one more question I want to ask and potentially answer.  Do we only love those things on the right side of the continuum?  Do we love things of the left side?  It seems that love requires an extreme emotional response.  Does this have to be a positive emotion?  Does the day love the night?  Does good love evil?  Do any of these things have meaning without their counterpart?  I don’t think so.  What is day without the night?  If there were no night, would we even countenance the day?  If there were no evil, who would cheer for good.  I think this continuum is less linear than I had initially envisioned.  Perhaps the top and bottom half are different kinds of love, or love for different reasons.  It however, must exist**.



*I believe I am using the term correctly.  This is based off my memory which is not always 100%.  Let me know if I got this wrong.

** I am exhausted and fading fast.  Sorry for the quality of the last graphic.  I took some shortcuts to save some time and instead of wrapping the continuum, I just created another circle and added it.


Micah Norman

%d bloggers like this: