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Karen M. Black
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A daughter's tale of truth, love and letting go

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An addictive spin on awakening, soulmates and past lives

The definition of true love is one of the great mysteries of life

Below is my definition of true love. Clear. Concise. Mystery solved. You can all go home now.

“Everyone admits that love is wonderful and necessary, yet no one agrees on just what it is.”
– Diane Ackerman

The definition of true love is a mystery. A four-letter word which sparks wonder and debate. A condition of the mind, the heart, the soul.

“Love is a verb.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When we refer to ‘soulmate’ it's always a noun. Not so with love.

If you want to get sticky about it, love can be both a noun and a verb. Phonics aside, my personal definition of true love is the ever expanding experience we manifest on earth in relationship to All — yes, including our beloved.

Is this love?

When our heart opens, it's an indescribable feeling, like we've connected with this sweet, hidden veil of reality. Music has the power to connect us with this otherworldly energy. And of course, certain people carry the vibrational key to our hearts.

Yet when our heart bursts open in ways we've never felt before, is this heady emotion the definition of true love? I'm not so sure.

Love, inside out

“Love is letting go of fear.”
– Gerald Jampolsky

This euphoric stage of loving another can make us feel that we're alive like never before.

But problems arise, when we credit our beloved for That Feeling, in a game of cause and effect. That's when the definition of true love gets blurred, and where many of us walk a fine line.

Some sticky examples...when does:

  • Supportive turn to martyrdom?
  • Protective turn to possessive?
  • Kind become doorman?
  • Forgiving become weak?
  • Sensitivity turn to gullibility?
  • Passion become obsession?
  • Empathy become codependence?

And! If by definition, true love is unselfish, where do our own needs fit?

What then, is true love?

I certainly don't have all the answers. However, I will share some ideas that have resonated for me as I've pondered the definition (and experience) of love.

Romantic love

As they say, love's like a drug! If we're not careful, we can get addicted.

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says: ‘I need you because I love you.’”
– Erich Fromm

Romance is like an addictive substance. Not bad once or twice — but dangerous if we go through life expecting the feeling to last.

“Real love is a permanently self-enlarging experience. Falling in love is not.’
– Scott Peck

Romantic love, according to psychiatrist Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled, is a ‘myth’, a ‘dreadful lie’ and is often what lead people to heartache and despair later on in life. This romantic definition true love is better known as dependency, or: ‘I can't live without you’, or ‘because true love lasts forever’ love.

Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God — Book 1, agrees:

“Now it is very romantic to say that now that your special other has entered your life, you feel complete. Yet the purpose of relationship is not to have another who might complete you; but to have another with whom you might share your completeness.”

Self love

This definition of true love, is in my view, the precursor to a spiritual soulmate relationship. Self love is different than self absorption, or narcissism.

We each vibrate at a certain energy level, which attracts certain experiences and repels others. Counter to what society teaches us, Neale Donald Walsch says that the most loving person is the person who is self-centered:

“For centuries you have been taught that love-sponsored action arises our of the choice to be, do, and have whatever produces the highest good for another. Yet I tell you this: the highest choice is that which produces the highest good for you.”

Here's more on the definition of true love by relationship experts Gay and Kathleen Hendricks,.

"The major barrier to a loving relationship with another person is an unloved part of yourself. Most of us have aspects of ourselves that we have never loved and accepted, and this failure to love ourselves keeps us from forming and keeping genuine love in close relationships."

Tough love

“Love is friendship, set on fire.”
– Jeremy Taylor

Tough love to me is any act which may be ‘tough’ on the surface, but which has our own - and our beloved's long-term health or happiness in mind.

Here's a great example. In his book, Lucky Man, Michael J. Fox describes a powerful scene in his marriage shortly after he was diagnosed with Parkinsons. His drinking had escalated over a few months, and one night, he passed out drunk on the family couch. His wife Tracy's response was by my definition true love.

“When I finally summoned the courage to look her in the face, I found no expression of rage... She was meeting my sorry state with a calmness approaching boredom. No, it was worse than boredom: it was indifference.

‘I don't want to hear it,’ Tracy said, eerily calm. ‘Is this what you want?’ she said. ‘This is what you want to be?’”

This is the definition of true love in action — a tough, loving act by Tracy Pollan for herself, her husband — and her family. This, Michael says, was a turning point for him.

Want to have a lively dinner-party discussion about the definition of true love? Read Sharon Osbourne's Extreme which gets into the relationship between she and Ozzy, which can be wincingly raw and abusive. Yet her honesty is breathtaking and at the end of the day, I can't help but respect her. Though she does kinda scare me a little.

Speaking of abuse, Neale Donald Walsch says that the acceptance or quick forgiveness of abuse, does not fit the definition true love. Not for the victim... and not for the perpetrator.

For even an abuser is abused when his abuse is allowed to continue. This is not healing to the abuser, but damaging... Therefore treating others with love does not necessarily mean allowing others to do as they wish.”
CWG Book 1

I like this one. It's like the caterpillar and the butterfly. Sometimes we need the struggle in order to grow. Sometimes ‘helping’ someone — isn't really helping. So by definition, true love is a paradox.

Finally! Speaking of paradox — just in case you think you've figured it all out, American Clairvoyant Edgar Cayce had a client with an alcoholic husband who was verbally abusive to she and her son. Cayce advised that in all circumstances, she should treat her husband as she would want to be treated herself and didn't recommend leaving. My take on this? Evidently, there was still karma to work out.

Committed love

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
– Lao-Tzu

Self-love shows a commitment to oneself. A spiritual soulmate relationship is a dynamic which expresses a commitment to the two of you together, as the two of you grow.

Author of Jonathan Livingston's Seagull Richard Bach's definition of true love, talks about the importance of this shared sense of direction:

“When we're two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we've found the right person.”

In Further Along the Road Less Travelled, psychiatrist and author Scott Peck says many things about love:

  • Love is not a feeling. Love is an action, an activity
  • Genuine love implies commitment and the exercise of wisdom
  • Love extends oneself for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth
  • True love is an act of will that often transcends ephemeral feelings of love or cathexis
  • It is correct to say, ‘Love is as love does’

Finally, in Neale Donald Walsch's definition of true love, he writes:

“Yes, love — real love, true love, lasting love — may be ‘work’, but it should be a work of art.”

Soulmates Dana and Christopher Reeve

I often wonder about the soul contract between Dana and Christopher Reeve. They were an inspiring example of the definition of true love. Certainly, soulmates, partners and equals. Perhaps even twin flames. If like me, you believe in soulmates and reincarnation.

That they died so close together is very sad. On another level, I wonder if they'll be together again in another lifetime sooner than later. If so, they'll enter in with the love and wisdom they gained from this life without the same level of struggle. I'll never be able to prove it. But it feels right to me.

What is true love? Read what Dana said about Christopher in Parade Magazine:

“I took care of him in many ways, but he took care of me in so many ways. I demanded almost as much of our relationship after his disability as before, basically telling him: ‘You need to be my husband. I am there to support you and you need to support me.’

I think it kept our relationship alive. Because if I had given up and said, ‘Oh, you're sick. I'm not going to ever ask anything of you,’ it would've belittled him. He was a willing and loving participant in our relationship, and he was an incredible husband because of that.”

Universal love

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
– Jimi Hendrix

In the quest for the definition of true love, universal love cannot be ignored.

In astrology, Pisces and the 12th house represents universal connectedness, what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious. The Piscean age is also associated with Christianity, and in fact the ‘fish’ symbol representing Christ is also the symbol for Pisces.

The feeling in our bodies that's associated with universal love isn't the rush of romantic love. It's broad and I believe the source of All. Sometimes, we get a hit of this energy... filtered through our own experience.

So in our bodies, what does the universal definition of true love feel like? I'd describe it as loving detachment. Connected to everything and everyone — and equally detached from the fears, dependencies, expectations, judgements, disappointments.

Now and then, I find myself in that place. As I grow, I know I'll be able to hang out there longer.

In the meantime, I send you a wave of love, as you seek to understand the definition of true love.

Take me to:

What is a soulmate? – Heart-opening insights and soulmate defined in an empowering, grounded way (plus links to more soulmate articles).

Book a private karmic astrology session now.

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