What is love? Three couples. One question. And the answers you’ve always wanted to know. Let’s go!

For the next three weeks, we’re going on a journey to understand what love is. We’re talking to three couples of different ages and backgrounds to learn what romantic love means to them and how they know when they’ve found it.

I care about this, of course, because I don’t know the answer. I mean, I thought I knew and then that whole marriage thing went down in a big mess of fiery flames that’s still smoking and giving me first-degree burns.


I need to know this now, because, there’s this guy that’s pretty great (no, he’s really great) and I don’t want to mess it up before it really gets going. And I could absolutely mess it up.

So, we’ll start with the smartest married couple I know: my parents. They’ve been married for 43 years. I know. Forty-three years. I can’t even imagine it. And what’s even more amazing is that they’re still in love. Like, this very second they’re probably watching television together on the couch and holding hands. Just the thought of it makes my heart happy.

I asked them separately to tell me their definition of romantic love. My mom said it starts with being physically attracted to somebody, common interest, and “always thinking of the other person first. What can I do to make him happy?”

This isn’t rocket science, but it kind of is. Distilling a complex concept like love into something as simple as wanting to make the other person happy is an incredible, beautiful feat.

Then I asked my mom how she knew (or how anyone knows for that matter) when they’re in love? And this is when the conversation gets really good:

“When you wake up each day and see your spouse and think about how you still love him as much as the day you were married, but in a more growing way — a deeper love. And knowing that you still want to spend the rest of your life with that person.”

Wow. Is this actually possible? The thought is fictional to me only because I’ve never experienced it. But I want to believe it. Desperately.

My dad, 66, agrees a lot with my mom. He says loves starts with physical attraction but also an attraction to a person’s character traits like honesty and compassion.

“No matter how beautiful a woman is, if she doesn’t have the character traits you appreciate you’re not going to fall in love with her,” he said.

Translation: Even supermodels don’t win the hearts of all men. Because perhaps it’s just as important to win the heart as it is to win the mind. You can’t have one without the other. Even if the heart is the one that says: “She’s hot.” The mind is the one that wonders: “But is she kind?”

Finally, I asked my dad, how do you know when you’re in love? He sat for a minute, stretched out on the brown leather couch inside his den, and then said with calm confidence and fatherly wisdom: “When you’d rather be with that person that anyone else.”

Well said, Dad. Well said.

Catch the next interview in our What is Love? series this Friday. And please, write to me with your questions on love, relationships, and life at: