Love has become the most versatile word in today’s day-to-day lexicon. People ‘love’ to use the word love in the context of absolutely anything one can think of: shopping, food, celebrities, travel, toys, writers, sleep, recreation and the list can go on and on. Love has been commoditised to such an extent that it is hard for most of us to explain what love means and why we use it the way we do.
It was Ayn Rand who I first read saying, ‘To love is to value.’ Does it not simplify how we can best understand the meaning of love? She said, “Love is the expression of one’s values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.”
‘Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment is given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character.’
Romantic love is no different although it takes this appreciation to another level. ‘Love is a response to values. It is with a person’s sense of life that one falls in love—with that essential sum, that fundamental stand or way of facing existence, which is the essence of a personality.’. This sense of life should have consistency in quality and persistence. ‘One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that formed a person’s character, which is reflected in his widest goals or smallest gestures, which create the style of his soul—the individual style of a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable consciousness.’
So now, if we are convinced that to love is to value, then any affirmation of love calls for an evaluation, choice, decision and prioritisation when it comes to who to love and who to accept love from. If we are clear about what we value, we can be clear about whom to love and with whom to stay in love.