What Does Love Really Mean?
Perhaps the notoriously misogynistic poet Philip Larkin said it best: “What will survive of us is love.” The last line of “An Arundel Tomb” is among the most celebrated yet controversial in all of Larkin’s anthology. It is strikingly un-Larkinesque, who was reputable for the dry eloquence of his pessimism and cynicism that seeps insidiously through his every word. The tenderness (or not) of this line, with all its seemingly uncomplicated affirmation, is a “sharp tender shock” for readers. Whether Larkin’s unexpected Hallmark moment was an alcohol-induced blunder (who knows), it is nice to believe that even a querulous misanthrope like Larkin had a sentimental side, too.
No one is a stranger to love. It comes in many forms, hits at any age, and has the transcendental power to change how we act. Love is a ubiquitous experience, felt in distinct measures. From the sacrificial love of a mother to the pulsating, heady excitement of young love, five individuals from diverse backgrounds and industries share their unique perspectives on love and what it means to them.
Co-Founder & Managing Partner, SoGal
Love is how we find significance and meaning in life. It is the inner drive that pushes us to do extraordinary things. It feels safe and comfortable at the same time, where I am allowed to be vulnerable. I took a big leap of faith to propose to my girlfriend, but it felt so good. The journey of love is a difficult one though. It’s a circle of connecting, disconnecting, and reconnecting. The most reassuring thing is that we always find a way back to each other.
Being with my fiancée has really changed how I see the world. She’s my other set of eyes, helping me discover the world differently and exposes me to different views on politics, philosophy, sociology and feminism. She makes ordinary things and daily moments so lovely that I want to cry. She makes me want to be present, to enjoy our time together, and to get my priorities straight. Love has also inspired me to care more about issues like LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and inequality.
RRILEY aka Sandra Riley Tang
Love feels warm and fuzzy, it’s the best drug one can find. At times, love is comforting and challenging, and at others, love is gentle. But ultimately, it makes you a better person by forcing you to step out of your comfort zone to focus on something that is bigger than yourself.
After dating for two months, I flew to the United Kingdom on a last-minute flight to meet my boyfriend’s family for the first time. Although the flight cost me $3,000, and I was only there for six days because I had to rush back for a show, it was worth it. Nothing touches my heart more than seeing an old couple hold hands and be loving to each other, despite being together for so long. Moments like these make me want to melt into a puddle. My latest single ‘Love Me Like A’ represents most accurately the ideal kind of love I hope to achieve in this life. How even as I become more independent, I still love to be romanced, the good old-fashioned way!
Pastry Chef & Owner, 2am:dessert bar
Love is everything. Without it, we wouldn’t be alive. There’s love all around us—with our family, friends, colleagues. My parents’ love was the first kind of love that I experienced. And their sacrificial love has inspired me the most. This was especially evident when I decided to go into the pastry business full-time after graduating with an economics degree. Their unwavering support and belief in me have truly made me into who I am today.
I feel like the word “special” isn’t enough to describe what love is, because it’s so difficult to encapsulate the full meaning, but every encounter with love has made me who I am today. As a pastry chef, my special Valentine’s Day collection of chocolates is an ode to all my loved ones out there.
Executive Director, Singapore Space & Technology
Love can make humans do great things; it gives us the passion, energy and creativity to go to extreme lengths. Growing up, I wasn’t good at expressing, handling and pursuing love. But now that I am older, I am less afraid to show it.
When my daughter was very young, I remember staying up the whole night to sew her a sensory bag. I used an old cloth bag and sewed on many different items to enhance her senses: some were soft, some were rough, some were hard like small buttons, and some were smooth like acrylic. Sewing was and still isn’t my strength. I was very sleep deprived at the time, and I still wonder why I did that. She hardly played with the toy for more than 30 minutes. Looking back, it was crazy, but if I were to go back in time, I’m pretty sure I’d still do it again.
I have seen marriages that have broken down, but yet the partners continue to look out for each other, or spend family time together for the continued well-being of their children. That is where I see love in action and it inspires me to be better. Putting others before yourself, even in the most difficult of times.
Love requires mindfulness and a concerted effort to nurture, as it is easily taken for granted. This also includes self-love. Since different people express love in different ways, I find it useful and important to recognise the love languages of those around me, even if they are not mine. My mom slaving in the kitchen all day to cook for my family a scrumptious dinner, is her way of saying ‘I love you’.