For me, part of loving a person is love as a noun. Loving all of them; for their potential, personality, their flaws and quirks. Loving them whether they fail or succeed. My love doesn’t come with strings, my love is just about how much someone matters to me. About how much I hope for their joy. There is no expectation of love in return. I can love people even when they have become horrible people, even when I wouldn’t choose to spend time around them. They can change as they need to change, because my love is about adapting, about seeing what people are at any given moment.

Circumstances may force our separation, but we may in time find a way to be together again and a few past relationships have been welcomed back into my life that way. Our relationships now may function differently than the past but, when the circumstances were that one of us needed to go make some mistakes or learn something elsewhere, or just pull our lives together for a stable base, my love is still there.

And for me, part of loving someone is love as a verb. Love as something we ‘do’ for one another that is necessary to sustain an active relationship. Making time together, being present in the relationship, respecting boundaries, communicating and compromising… are all things I try to ‘do’ to express my love whether that’s love for a friend, relative, or partner.

On another hand, my love just is. Once I love someone, whether our relationship continues or not, I love them. I think of them, miss them, and hope they are well. I am happy when they are joyful and a sounding board for sorrows if they turn to me as a friend.  Love as an emotional state, not a series of actions.

I don’t love a person for ‘just’ what they are now or ‘just’ what relationship they hold in my life, but as all the possible people they can be. I love them for their struggles, mistakes, and changes, not in spite of them; so a change, in itself, can’t undermine my love for them. How much I love them is how much I love them. Other emotions or rational reasons may become stronger than that love; like the risks involved in loving a heavy drug user, loving someone who’s abusive, or simply them growing out of their love for me.

I don’t think that love has to be returned to be real. For me, love is a part of me, not a reflection on the person. It’s my emotion, and it doesn’t have to be reciprocated. When I care about someone, I love them. And it would hurt to lose them, though I would be happy for them to find what they need, elsewhere or other than me. I’ve had people walk out of my life completely, hurt me terribly, and still I love them. I may not have a functional relationship with them, I may not foresee ever letting them in my life again, and I may even take actions to keep them separate from my life. That doesn’t change that I love them. Our lives simply grew apart or personal choices that we each made meant our relationship(as it began) was no longer sustainable.

Once I love someone, that feeling never ever leaves, even though I may never be able to live with or date that person.. It just changes logistics, realities, availability in time or other reasons to end our relationship or opportunities to grow together. Love is the fact that I have to work to isolate them from my life and my heart, if things go horribly wrong, because a part of me will always want to let them inside.

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