What is love?

“ What is love ?” was the most searched for phrase on Google in 2012.  I know this because I typed this phrase into google early this year.  My ” what is love ?” search returned about 1,100,000,000 results and the number one hit informed me that millions of people around the world want to know what love is.

what is love

This ” what is love ?” google search of mine preceded a conversation with my now ex partner about love and how we felt for each other.  We sat at the kitchen table and we spoke very calmly.  We talked about the last eighteen months or so, our recent arguments and how we felt.  I asked him whether he loved me. He said no.  He asked me whether I loved him.  I said no.  It was unemotional and cold.  The truth was crushing, but at the same time liberating.  Truth was what we needed. 

I wonder whether all the other people who enter the search term “ what is love ?” into Google know deep down that they do not love someone, or that someone does not love them.  All those relationships unravelling.  All those partnerships breaking down.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom.  I read some fantastic stories on the internet that day.  They made me smile.  They were gushingly romantic.   

What is love ? :  I read a story about a woman in her 70s who had been married to her husband for 51 years.  She knew within a week of meeting him that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.  Their lust subsided, they learned more about each other and their love evolved into a less selfish love.  They care about the other more than they care about themselves.  They would take a bullet for each other. 

What is love ? : I read about a waitress in Austin, Texas who split up with her boyfriend of three and a half years only to meet her now husband 48 hours later.  He husband knew instantly that she was the one.  She knew instantly that he would ask and that she would say yes.

What is love ? : I read a story of two friends living together in a shared house with three others.  Once all of their housemates had gone to sleep he would creep up the stairs to be with her at night.  Their housemates finally found out after four months when a red rose was left outside her bedroom door on Valentine’s Day.  They are now married with a son. 

These stories didn’t tell me that love has to involve a romantic story, or a coup de foudre, but I did realise that previous heartbreaks and dark days are crucially important.  We need to know what something feels like when it is wrong before we can every really know when something is right. 

I know that:

I want to be with someone who puts me and my son first. I will always put my son first, and I fear that this will always be a challenge for a future partner to come to terms with.  But I want to put the right partner before me.

I want to be with someone who respects me for who I am. My sense of integrity is uncompromising and defines who I am.  I cannot compromise it for wealth or ease.  The easy path is rarely the right one.  I want to be with someone who appreciates my sense of integrity, has a strong sense of integrity themselves and shares my vision of what is important in life.

I want to give, but I need to be with someone who will do more than just take. I have a lot to give and I derive more pleasure from giving than receiving, but I need to be with someone who will appreciate my generosity. 

I want to be with someone who treats me as their equal. I can compromise, but I cannot be compliant.  I want to be in a relationship where we define our futures together. 

I want to be with someone who will make me laugh because laughter is a great antidote for hard times. 

Until then, I just want to be me.

The Uncheshire Wife
The Twinkle Diaries
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


  1. May 13, 2015 / 11:22 pm

    Ah, you write such heartfelt words. I am sure real love is waiting to meet you & your son x
    Lorraine recently posted…Talk about it Tuesday.My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 14, 2015 / 9:40 pm

      Thank you Lorraine, that is really nice of you to say. Thanks for hosting Talk about it Tuesday! xx

  2. May 13, 2015 / 11:42 pm

    Beautifully written! Boy I sure have kissed my share of frogs. I have been in the relationships where I knew it wasn’t love but didn’t know how to leave. I applaud your courage to leave when your heart is not fulfilled. Live your life to the fullest with you and your son and the love will find its way to you.
    I found you on the #wineandboobs link up. Here’s my Top 10 post about life with toddlers: http://mytalesfromthecrib.blogspot.com/2012/09/top-10-signs-you-have-officially.html?m=0. I’m not sure how old your son is but one can never really forget the toddler years!
    MyTalesFromTheCrib recently posted…This Is My Motherhood: Capturing The Moments Of Motherhood With A New BabyMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 14, 2015 / 9:38 pm


      thanks so much your comment. yes, I have kissed more than my share of frogs. In fact I wonder when I will stop kissing frogs, but never mind. It is hard to leave relationships, particularly when there is a child involved. I have to say that the hardest point for me was the realisation that I had to leave and coming to terms with the guilt that I am not giving my son the happy childhood with parents who love each other that I had. Now that I have made the leap I feel a bit refreshed. I say a bit because there are massive challenges ahead.

      Take care. xx

  3. May 14, 2015 / 12:42 pm

    I love this post. It makes me feel both sad and hopeful to think of all the people searching what love is, and trying – and maybe beginning – to find their answers. Your ‘list’ is so important and I think understanding what we want is so much harder than we realise and not many people take the time out to do that, so whatever the future holds for you, I think this will put you in very good stead.
    Yvette @ Big Trouble in Little Nappies recently posted…All of This…is MotherhoodMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 14, 2015 / 9:34 pm

      Thanks again Yvette. You are right, it is quite rare that we stop to think about what we want in life and from relationships. Sometimes life just happens too quickly and zooms past and we just don’t take the time to ponder whether we are headed in the right direction. I certainly didn’t but I am now and it feels good. A new beginning. Take care and I hope to hear from you again soon. xx

  4. May 14, 2015 / 6:18 pm

    All of those things that you wish for in a future relationship are definitely things I have experienced with my true love. My boy and I have been together for 19 years in 2 weeks time and I am still totally and utterly besotted with him. We’ve been married for 14 of those years and we still laugh a LOT! Even through the tough times we saw the funny side and held each other up.
    I wish this for you. And— like it did for me — it will probably come along when you least expect it. Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk
    Caro | The Twinkles Mama recently posted…113 weeks |Two little boys | Siblings {May}My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 14, 2015 / 9:29 pm

      Thank you for your comment. That is so lovely and encouraging to hear. Thank you! It is so nice to hear that you and your husband are totally besotted with each other even after all of this time. Thanks for hosting #TwinklyTuesday. I will be linking up again. xx

  5. June 1, 2015 / 8:58 pm

    I love this post Pen. It can’t have been easy having that chat and being so honest but it does mean you can move on. I think what you are looking for is spot on, don’t ever compromise. I’ve found love the second time, a very tough road but it feels more real because we worked so hard to be together. Give yourself time and I’m sure you’ll find the love you deserve again. Xx

    • thesingleswan
      June 2, 2015 / 10:27 pm

      Thanks again!

      You say that our ‘we don’t love each other do we?’ chat must have been difficult, but actually it was one of the most business-like chats I have ever had, which I think is indicative! For me the tough bit was the months leading up to it when I came to the realisation that we were both in the wrong relationship and what this meant for our son.

      Thank you for your blog posts. Your story is an inspiration and my vision for the future. x

  6. August 23, 2015 / 3:38 pm

    Great post! And so brilliantly put. It’s sad because I feel lost at times as I don’t think I have found love in the idea of what is written but it has left me hopeful. Tomorrow can open up so many opportunities and in the meantime I, like you, will just be me.
    martyn recently posted…Every Little Helps!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 25, 2015 / 9:01 pm

      Martyn, Just be you. The rest will follow. Take care. x

  7. August 23, 2015 / 3:39 pm

    This might sound a bit odd, but after spending most of my adult life being single and terrified that I would never meet the right person, I asked myself what would be the worst thing that could happen if I didn’t. The answer was that I might not have children. Now that I have had my son, never finding “the One” holds very little fear for me. I have now accepted that I might be single forever, and that’s OK. I can honestly say I am so much more content now that I have stopped thinking about meeting someone. That’s why I find it so irritating when people refer to their partners as their “other half.” I don’t need anyone to complete me, I’m just fine on my own!
    Min recently posted…Times My Mother Was Right, and I Was WrongMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 25, 2015 / 8:59 pm

      Hi Min, I know exactly what you mean. To be honest, meeting someone is the last thing on my mind at the moment. I have my son, he is wonderful and I wouldn’t change what I have or where I am for the world. I do worry that as he gets older being the centre of my world might be a great burden of responsibility for him. He needs to be able to be his own person, to be free to make his own mistakes and to follow his own path without my gravitational pull reigning him in. That’s the long term though. For now, things are great, just the way they are. x

  8. August 23, 2015 / 4:03 pm

    As a single parent with two small children, after five years I eventually gave up on the idea falling in love with someone who would genuinely accept my children and be prepared to play the Dad role in their lives. I reconciled myself to bringing them up alone (and maybe finding someone to take me out to dinner every now and then) rather than sharing my life. Six months after I gave up, I met someone who was not only a real soul mate for me but for whom my children were a bonus to his life not just a tolerance. Love is an unpredictable thing – hold out for the best.
    Anita Cleare recently posted…Helping children cope with changeMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 25, 2015 / 8:55 pm

      HI Anita,

      THat is a wonderful story, thanks for sharing it. It gives us all hope, but also confidence to stick to the single parent path if we haven’t met the right person yet (or ever). There are somethings in life that we cannot compromise on. x

  9. August 6, 2016 / 9:59 pm

    This is a very interesting post (thought provoking). I think love evolves constantly and things can happen to make people more self involved than is healthy for a relationship. It doesn’t mean they won’t reset their priorities again once they’ve begun to heal. The fact that you could sit and calmly decide you didn’t love each other enough speaks volumes about you (in a good way). I think you’ll find a strong relationship down the track. #KCACOLS
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted…Best Birthday EverMy Profile

  10. August 7, 2016 / 6:13 am

    Such a lovely post. I hope you find the one that will complement your life completely #kcacols xx

    • thesingleswan
      August 7, 2016 / 9:25 pm

      Thank you Sara. pen x

  11. August 7, 2016 / 9:52 am

    This is so lovely. As someone who was divorced at the age of 29, I thought I knew what love was and yet found that actually, I had no idea. When I met my now husband, on our first date I realised that love was so much more than I ever realised. Three months later he moved in, three months after that we were engaged, the following month pregnant and we married the following year with a 12 week daughter in our arms. Love can hit you when you least expect it, until then, enjoy being you. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      August 7, 2016 / 9:23 pm

      Ah Laura, that is such a lovely story of your love. Thanks for leaving it in my comments. Pen x

  12. August 7, 2016 / 2:27 pm

    Your words sound like exactly what love should be. And you are right, I think knowing what you don’t want allows you to realise what you do want. For now, its you and your Son and that is real love., unconditional!
    Amanda. #kcacols
    Amanda recently posted…My Favourite BookBloggers.My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 7, 2016 / 9:20 pm

      Hi Amanda,

      You are right, love for my son is unconditional (lucky for him because he had a mega tantrum again today), for a partner though it isn’t unconditional. I do have a list of wants, but I reckon it’s a pretty good list. Pen x

  13. August 7, 2016 / 2:44 pm

    I loved to read this. I think your list of ‘wants’ is absolutely realistic and only what would be acceptable as ‘normal’ within a loving relationship. I think love is one of those things that you really do just ‘know’. I remember googling what it was before I met my husband ( in a previous relationship), and now I know what love actually is i dont feel the need to check for a definition because i am sure. I hope you find what you are looking – and it is definitely best to wait for all of those things than have anything less. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    • thesingleswan
      August 7, 2016 / 9:19 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      I am glad that you enjoyed the post and I am also glad that you a) don’t think I am being unrealistic and b) have found someone who meets all of the criteria. Loads of love and thanks for the comment. Pen x

  14. August 7, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    I think love is so many things. I love my husband for so many reasons and it is these reasons that make up our love as a whole x
    Ali Duke recently posted…My weight and I: Update #1My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 7, 2016 / 9:18 pm

      Ah, Ali, that is lovely to read. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  15. August 7, 2016 / 7:48 pm

    It must have been a hard discussion to gage with your partner. Important that you were able to do it and move on though. It’s amazing how many people have typed that phrase into Google. I wonder too if they were all in a similar situation. Thanks for sharing! #kcacols

    • thesingleswan
      August 7, 2016 / 9:17 pm

      My pleasure. Thanks for reading and for your comment. Pen x

  16. August 7, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    Very lovely & heartfelt post, I wish you all the best! X #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      August 7, 2016 / 9:15 pm

      thank you Claire. Pen x

  17. August 8, 2016 / 8:49 pm

    Knowing how many people are searching “what is love” makes me feel a little squirmy – to think so many have no experienced it.
    That aside – I think your list of things you know is perfect! #kcacols
    OddHogg recently posted…Menu Plan Monday – 8th August 2016My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 9, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      Hi, I could never be more sure that I made the right decision…and that is a really nice feeling. thanks for your comment. Pen x

  18. August 8, 2016 / 9:13 pm

    Ahh lovely post! Love finds a way and will find a way to you. You know what love is now you have a child and though nothing will be more important, it can be so in a different way. There is no specific answer to the question, just what it means it you xx #KCACOLS
    Sonia recently posted…Outnumbered- An Honest Account of Having Three Children!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 9, 2016 / 8:30 pm

      Thanks Sonia. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      August 10, 2016 / 7:48 pm

      Thanks again Geraldine. Pen x

  19. August 10, 2016 / 9:08 am

    My husband and I have been together for 18 years and married for 7 and we still laugh at each other’s jokes. It sounds so cliche but I think you do just “know” when you have found the right partner. I think what you are looking for in a partner is spot on! x #KCACOLS
    Maria recently posted…Summer Of Fun At The Little Gym, CobhamMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 10, 2016 / 7:43 pm

      Thanks Maria, that is really encouraging. Pen x

  20. August 11, 2016 / 10:36 am

    I think your list of ‘wants’ is spot on, and I think you’re right to hold out for the right person who ticks all those boxes. x #KCACOLS
    Madeline (This Glorious Life) recently posted…8 years laterMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 11, 2016 / 9:10 pm

      thanks Madeline. Pen x

  21. August 12, 2016 / 8:41 pm

    A beautiful post. It seems to me that you have what you should get out of it sussed. You’ll know when something really worthwhile comes your way. I wish you happiness. xxx #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      August 12, 2016 / 8:45 pm

      thank you Danielle. Pen x

  22. August 14, 2016 / 7:01 am

    Your list sums up perfectly what a healthy relationship should be. It’s a shame that not all relationships are based on these principles and too many people are living a very different reality . #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      August 14, 2016 / 8:15 pm

      Thank you. Pen x

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