What we talk about when we talk about love


Clara Snoyer is a freshman English major

Due to our diverse upbringings, observations, and individual brawls with love, we have all come to form unique definitions of what the complex emotion means to us. While love can often be strenuous and turbulent, it rewards us with a dose of deep human connection, and for that, it is one of the most vital forces our hearts know. Recognizing the love in our lives can help us improve our gratitude for those around us — our friends, family members, significant others, and mentors who would do anything to support us. And when life becomes too difficult to bear, love brings us back to ourselves and our passions. 

Sitting down to discern what love really means can seem like an arbitrary task, but determining how we understand love is actually an important step in recognizing, receiving, and offering it. Though it is often difficult and complex, love expands, connects, and heals our hearts and minds, embracing and forgiving our faults. 

I asked USF students how they define love, and what it looks like for them. In the words of The Beatles, “Love is old / Love is new / Love is all / Love is you” (1969). Here’s what USF students say “love is…”:

Leslie Sosa

Sophomore English major

“When your significant other has really cold hands and you let them put their hands under your shirt to warm up, and it doesn’t bother you.”

Jessika Mccuaig

Sophomore math major

“Intense caring for people.”

Grace Peak

Freshman sociology major


Kendal May

Junior kinesiology major

“A powerful emotion, one of the six basic emotions in psychology.”

Elizabeth Moran

Sophomore communications major

“Free and unconditional.”

Duncan Birdsall

Freshman computer science major

“The feeling of a tight bond with someone or something. Physically feeling warm just by spending time with them. Caring about them and how they’re truly feeling. Being able to make reasonable sacrifices for them.”

Conrad Robinson

Senior kinesiology major

“The feeling of a fantasy football ring.”

Peter Lassalle-Klein

Junior history major

“‘Baby don’t hurt me.’ The goal. Happiness in self and others.”

Heather Bogan

Junior kinesiology major

“How you’re willing to go out of your comfort zone for someone else.”

Eduardo Reyes

Junior fine arts major

“‘Human affection is pain based.’ Love is a feeling, a feeling one feels for the satisfaction one receives.”

Jack Boccuzzi

Freshman computer science major

“This feeling you have towards someone who you truly care about and would do anything for. Love also acts as a bond or bridge that holds people together in a relationship.”

Andrew McNeil

Sophomore theology and religious studies major

“Compassion that manifests in our actions and feelings towards other people.”

Sophie Spievak

Freshman English major

“The hottest night of the year when you open the window and sleep on top of the blankets but feel a chill with a breeze and you pull on just the sheet. Love is just enough to keep you warm, but never stifling.” 

Title from Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love


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