The holiday of love, Valentine's Day, brings a range of emotions to many as it is marketed as a time where couples bask in their love for one another through romantic gestures and elaborate gifts. God is good all the time, and as I am fully embracing my season of singleness as a gift instead of some forsaken curse, my perception of love has shifted. More often than not, I am exposed to how much I need the love that, in the past, I'd so desperately been trying to give to everyone else. I often find myself wondering what the exact meaning of love is, reflecting on the times that the words "I love you" were like a magical spell that enabled me to accept less than what I deserved and to also act in unloving ways towards others.


As a person who believes very deeply in the law of attraction, I have seen such a dramatic impact in my life since I have made the decision to spend less time chasing love, and more time loving what I have and recognizing the abundance of love that currently surrounds me despite presently not having a romantic partner. This shift in perspective has required me to open my eyes to the fact that there are different definitions of love, and how the more I learn how to love myself, the more my definition of what loving and to be loved improves.

If you would have asked a much younger me for the meaning of love, it would have been one of possession and tolerating the intolerable in the name of my commitment to another person, thus expecting the same in return. Now that I have had the time to start loving myself I realize that my meaning of love has transformed into acceptance, patience, freedom, wanting the absolute best, and actively seeking ways to achieve the best version of myself and others. I had the pleasure of sitting down and asking my fellow writers whom I adore, what love means to them individually and here is what they shared:

“I've learned to love the God in me. When you truly love and respect yourself, you fortify your boundaries and you pour out compassion, grace, and love in ways and amounts you didn't think were ever possible.”

What does love mean to you?

"Love is a choice, a decision - not just a feeling. If the feeling doesn't incite action, it's not love. Love is sure and intentional in its movement. Love is when even just a person's thoughts toward you, heal you and lift you higher. Love says, like Ossie Davis once told Ruby Dee, 'I love you means I want you to be the best you can be whether it benefits me or not.'"

How has learning how to love yourself more impacted the way you love others and/or changed your definition of what love means?

"Loving myself has been the best adventure. It's grown a deeper capacity for loving others and it's shown me another side of God I couldn't see clearly when I didn't love myself. His compassion, his love, his grace are visible in HD for me now because I've learned to love the God in me. When you truly love and respect yourself, you fortify your boundaries and you pour out compassion, grace, and love in ways and amounts you didn't think were ever possible. You're not easily offended and you meet life with an expectancy of the miraculous." - xo, Ashley J. Hobbs

“It’s a necessary guideline for people to understand how you want to be treated. It becomes an ultimatum at the point where you know you’re pushing someone to commit to actions they’re not ready for or have expressed zero interest in. And love can’t happen where ultimatums live.”

Kiarra Sylvester/Instagram

What does love mean to you?

"I feel that love is being able to unconditionally love someone. Not in the traditional sense that we always say it in which, when left open to interpretation, allows partners to cross boundaries — but instead, in a way that creates a space safe enough for you and your partner to share boundaries and expectations for oneself without being met with unproductive feedback. This is not to say every partner will be able to accommodate those boundaries, but then again isn't that unconditional love? Learning to release people when you can't commit to their boundaries and the most meaningful ways they wish to be loved? Which is why it's so important to be able to express them."

How has learning how to love yourself more impacted the way you love others and/or changed your definition of what love means?

"In learning to love myself more, I've learned that setting boundaries are not synonymous with delivering ultimatums. It's a necessary guideline for people to understand how you want to be treated. It becomes an ultimatum at the point where you know you're pushing someone to commit to actions they're not ready for or have expressed zero interest in. And love can't happen where ultimatums live." xo, Kiarra Sylvester

"As we continue to grow it's important to build the level of affection and discover more qualities to love. Love to me is understanding, openness, and selflessness."

What does love mean to you?

"Love to me is being able to love unconditionally and fully. Not allowing imperfections to interfere with your overall view and feelings for someone, constantly evolving with them to build a greater love. As we continue to grow, it's important to build the level of affection and discover more qualities to love. Love to me is understanding, openness, and selflessness."

How has learning how to love yourself more impacted the way you love others and/or changed your definition of what love means?

"Most of that is what I learned by loving myself, I have to love all parts of myself because it makes me, me. I need patience and understanding while learning how I can strengthen the love I have for myself." - xo Krissy Lewis

"If I find that loving someone in close proximity hinders me more than it heals me, that's not a connection I'll keep. I've learned that my love is power and I have the responsibility to use that power wisely.”

What does love mean to you?

"Love is everything. Love is unconditional, but it is also an active decision to do so, no matter the highs, the lows, the ebbs, or the flows. It's enduring but it's not tolerating. In its purest, healthiest form, it's freedom. Love for me acts similarly to the blood pumping through my veins and the air that I take in with every breath. It's the heartbeat of life. I think without it, things can feel hollow and lack meaning. All kinds of love – be it from self, be it familial, be it friendly, be it romantic – adds depth to our existence on this planet."

How has learning how to love yourself more impacted the way you love others and/or changed your definition of what love means?

"I'm going to be real as hell and say that my relationship with myself has been a complicated one but it's one that I've invested the most energy and effort into since I will be my longest relationship I ever have. Learning to love myself more has taught me the importance of self-respect and the hard decisions that even if everyone is deserving of love, everyone isn't deserving of my love. That's where choice comes in. If I find that loving someone in close proximity hinders me more than it heals me, that's not a connection I'll keep. I've learned that my love is power and I have the responsibility to use that power wisely. It hasn't changed the definition of love as much as it's changed my choices in what to do with it. My choices have been harder, but the struggle has been worth it." - xo, Sheriden Chanel

Featured image of Krissy Lewis by Drea Speaks/Instagram.

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