February 11

What is Love?


What is Love?

By Deborah Johnson

February 11, 2023

Back to the Future, Celine Dion, huey lewis and the news, Jennifer Rush, Kendra Cherry, love, Love Song, podcast, power of love, valentines day, what is love, Zick Rubin

What is love? Does anyone really know? Valentine’s Day is a day mostly focused on expressing love. Love is many things. It is an emotion that motivates us, love is an expression of affection, and most importantly, love is a mindset that we should choose often. Our spouses, our kids, and our friends usually become people we could choose not to love. But we love then anyway. Do we know why? Many times, loving others comes down to a mindset we choose.

One of the words that describe love is affectionate. Affectionate means “showing, indicating, or characterized by fondness or love; caring, or fondly tender.” Some people are more affectionate than others, so if someone’s outward displays of affection means a lot to you, you can use this word to let them know it as it is usually easily understood.

After almost 44 years of marriage, Greg and I have a few things to say about relationship love! Relationships are far from perfect and ours is definitely in that camp. However, we have learned and grown through the years and find ourselves appreciating each other more now than ever. These are five principles we apply regularly for our relationship that also apply to most every professional relationship:

Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson Relationship Love with Greg and Deb 2-6-2024
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RESPECT: We started noticing couples that seem happy treat each other well and ones that are struggling disrespected each other. The tone of voice used in private and public situations is a decision that each one of us makes. It’s a decision to not degrade or downgrade the other person’s feelings or opinion.

LISTENING: One of the best phrases we have learned is “What I hear you say is…” This opens the door of communication that lets the other person know they are being listened to and heard. The temptation is to ‘hurl’ comments back and forth that can be hurtful and cause your partner to shut down emotionally. We’ve all made that mistake!

TRUST: Trust is critical for deep conversations to happen. Without it, resentment, bitterness and loss of respect is the result. Trust is crucial in the area of finances and is usually one of the largest areas of conflict in a relationship.

FORGIVENESS: It’s easy to hold a grudge for a long period of time if there is no forgiveness  in a relationship. The ability to laugh at ourselves as well as with each other is healthy. The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey has a good chapter on ‘Relationship Trust’ that is worth reading.

TIME (LOVE LANGUAGE: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a classic book on communication and contains intrinsic truth and wisdom for communication styles. The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, time and physical touch. We have taken the time to discover what is of value for each of us and this has deepened our appreciation and love for each other through the years.

Many people’s definition of love hasn’t grown since the teen years and we are here to say it’s worth hanging on and growing together because when applying basic principles of respect, trust and forgiveness, it just gets better!

The love for a baby makes most humans pretty affectionate, with a sudden need to cuddle and squeeze. This can also be true of a puppy or a kitten. One of the songs I originally wrote for my musical Tsarina is What is Love?  Nicholas and Alexandra, of Imperialistic Russia, were two young lovers and future leaders totally unprepared for the task of leading a country rife with strife and dissent. There was intense division, fear and threat to the life they imagined they would live as a couple. As seen from love letters they wrote to each other almost daily, they married for love, not just position, which was unusual for the time period. As their story unfolds, their love took on different forms. Here we will talk about the presence, power and purpose of love.

Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson What is Love? 2-14-2023
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The Presence of Love

After marrying and having four daughters, the only son and future heir of Nicholas and Alexandra was disabled with hemophilia. What is love now had a whole new meaning for their family. Alexandra’s intense love, devotion and fear attributed to the growth of her vulnerability. It was her acceding to adverse influence that would eventually destroy their whole family.

Psychologist Kendra Cherry says that, Love is a set of emotions and behaviors characterized by intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy is a feeling of closeness and is most often used for the physical closeness of spouses. But it is also very emotional. The most common forms of intimacy include physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects. All of this leads to passion, a strong emotion, which for secure relationships includes dedication or commitment.

That commitment involves care, closeness, protectiveness, attraction, affection, and trust. Love can vary in intensity and can change over time. It is associated with a range of positive emotions, including happiness, excitement, life satisfaction, and euphoria, but it can also result in very powerful negative emotions such as jealousy and stress.

The Power of Love

One of the things that seems to be true about love is that it causes humans to make someone else a priority. Love will motivate us to be willing to sacrifice our needs for the needs of someone else, which is very powerful. Love will shift our normal preoccupation with ourselves to make room for focusing on the needs of another person.

According to the Urban Dictionary, which is intended as a dictionary of slang or cultural words not typically found in English dictionaries, love is giving someone the power to destroy you, and trusting them not to. Within relationships, whether as a spouse, colleague or friend, gaining and retaining trust (see article) stands as an essential factor for keeping the power of love strong and vibrant. When trust is broken, this is when many marriages, friendships and even business relationships are broken.

The song The Power of Love, co-written and originally recorded by American singer-songwriter Jennifer Rush in 1984, expresses that even though she’s frightened, she’s ready to learn of the power of love. The song became an even bigger hit when sung by Huey Lewis and the News in the film Back to the Future, and was also recorded by Celine Dion. With the power that love seems to hold, it is hard to fully describe why it holds that power.

The Purpose of Love

Someone once said, Love is nature’s way of tricking us into reproducing. That phrase does make sense as generation after generation have propagated and produced ever-growing populations. It’s hard to describe all the aspects of the law of attraction in a romantic relationship, but according to psychologist Zick Rubin, romantic love is made up of three elements.

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First, attachment. This is the need to be with another person and the desire for approval and physical contact. Going back to Nicholas and Alexandra, they longed to be with one another. Their letters confirmed this over and over. Second, caring. This is valuing the other person’s happiness and needs as much as your own. This is not only seen in romantic love but love for a child. This is the kind of love it takes when a parent gives up an organ to keep a child alive, like a kidney. It involves sacrifice. Lastly, intimacy.

Intimacy is to share private thoughts, feelings and desires with another person. This takes honesty, vulnerability and trust for it to be fully realized. To develop a deeper love requires a mindset to implement all of these elements. An authentic and trustworthy love not only changes our thoughts but it affects our actions. One of those actions is to evaluate the individual element of self-love.


Some have a difficult time expressing a love relationship because of feeling unworthy or undeserving. With a society full of messaging that could make one feel not good enough, it is important to take a step back to journal and realize the wonder of each individual. Bitterness, hate and jealousy can easily spring from a person who hates who they are. With a self-focus on what is wrong comes an attitude of victimhood.

For those in this camp, look outward to take stock of the wonder of the the physical body with close to 213 bones, seven vital organs and a mind that can think and move faster than most any computer. To do so, it takes surrender and belief that you are worthy of love. Now go back and answer the question, what is love? Start with the mindset of loving yourself, then look all around you to see the love expressed in many ways. I know you will find it!

What is Love? by Deborah Johnson

What is Love? It's a sweet surrender. Love, it seems to set things right. Faith that the one sittin' near you soon will also see the light.
What is Love? It's the fuel of emotion. Love, it'll jump on a whim. I will risk almost all that I'm feelin' on a hope that lies within.
Deep in my heart is a love I desire. A love that grows through the years and never dies.
There is love in a heart of stone, and no one wants to be alone. If we're true to what we really need, Love will set us free.
What is love? It's never far away. Love, it's strong when passions fade. If we look all around we'll see, Love is everything we need.
Deep in my heart is a love I desire. A love that grows through the years and never dies.
Love, Love, Love, Love
What is love? It's a sweet surrender. Love, it seems to set things right. If we look all around we'll see. Love is everything we need.
If we look all around we'll see. Love is everything we need.

Gratefulness and thankfulness take away the spotlight of self-focus and puts a spotlight on others to lift them up.

deborah johnson

Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author

If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning

1,271 words

Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. She also hosts the popular podcast "Women at Halftime." Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work at mid-career or during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of multiple books, over twenty albums and musicals and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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