Photo: Izabella Balcerzak

What is love?

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

 By Karoun Chahinian

The first time I said “I love you” to a boy was via email. I was in Grade 7 and we were in a very serious month-long relationship that existed strictly over MSN.

Every night, after finishing my homework, I’d log onto my instant messaging account, making sure to sign in and out a few times to get his attention.

Our conversations would consist of classmate drama and what we did during recess that day. He would send me rose emoticons and I would send him back smileys. But one night, I wanted to take it to a whole other level. I crafted the perfect one-sentence email professing my love for him. It read, and I quote, “Hey, I love you.”

I was so sure about it. But, in retrospect, I don’t even remember if he said it back. I don’t even remember what happened with “us” after that email. All I remember is that I loved him, but didn’t know exactly why.

At 12 years old, I thought I had a pretty clear idea of what love was. It was in every movie, book, sappy song and TV ad. But it was always the same kind of love—one that was based on romantic attraction.

Their eyes would meet across the crowded room, or they’d bump into each other on the street. And when picking up dropped belongings, their hands would touch. Or, if you really wanted to be cliché (which happened often), two people that started off hating each other ended up falling in love (cue Etta James’ “At Last”).

Looking at my parents’ relationship, I always associated love with being in love, not yet realizing that it could manifest in other forms. Now, I know that it comes with so many different definitions: from friendship to charity, love transcends beyond romance or intimacy.

Ancient Greeks—always ahead of the game—had multiple definitions of love: from Eros, which represented erotic love or sexual passion, to Philautia, which dealt with self-love. All terms are very different from each other, but at their core, they convey subjective forms of affection.  Even more importantly, they represent the fact that every individual experiences and expresses love in their own unique way. That is what we wanted to capture in this year’s Love & Sex issue.

Growing up with two sappily romantic parents shaped my personal definition of love—specifically associated with the Greek term Praga, which is defined by longstanding love, often through the form of marriage. But experiences shape individuals—others have their own definitions they live by.

By touching on topics like asexuality, sex and mental health, and unbalanced relationships, we wanted to showcase what love looks and feels like for different people. No clichés. Not a Valentine’s ad. Just a human look at what love really is or means to others.

And on that note, please enjoy this year’s Love & Sex issue.

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