What is love?

Published: February 14, 2013

Love doesn’t always make you happy. But it makes you better. Happy too, but also unhappy. Because love knows that its central function in your life is to help you grow. Growth hurts.

Love is want. Love is need.

Love is impossibly imperfect.

Love always pays the bills on time but forgets your anniversary. It gets you frozen yogurt on the way home but leaves it in the car. It refuses to change the baby’s diaper but spends hours rocking the baby to sleep. It doesn’t write you poems or give romantic speeches but when you’re sad, it suddenly says that one right thing. It rarely thinks to buy you flowers but always thinks to plug your phone into the charger at night.

Love tries.

Love is forgiving. Love lets you get away with a lot. It grants forgiveness before you ask, but oftentimes makes you say sorry anyways, because it’s good for you to be humble. Love knows it will hurt you too. Love fails, time and again, but believes every next minute is a new chance to get it right.

Love is forgetful. It forgets old words and old wounds. And even when it remembers, it also remembers to stay kind. Love has the worst fight of your life with you and then, right after, shares a cold coffee and splits a plate of chaat. It will leave the last gol guppa for you.

Love understands your weaknesses. It doesn’t mock that you are scared of driving on highways or you get cranky if you’re hungry. It knows you have to drink your tea really, really hot. It will expect you will complain about your burnt tongue later. Love will be patient as you cut the tags off every shirt you wear because they scratch your neck unbearably. It will be quiet when you don’t feel like talking. It will laugh uproariously at your lame jokes during a party to save you from embarrassment. Love is loyal.

Love is your cheerleader. It believes in you. It goes along with your crazy ideas of writing a book, becoming a chef, launching an art business and tries its best to help you achieve your visions. It will edit poorly written first chapters, eat inedible crème brûlée and gasp amazedly at your blobs of paint on canvas. It doesn’t hold it against you when you fail. It encourages you. But because, you need it sometimes, it will tell you to stop when you are being insufferable and cut short your pity party.

Love changes perceptions of beauty. Love is fond of love handles and stretch marks. Love strokes your grey hair and remarks how distinguished it makes you look. Love sings, “I like big butts and I cannot lie” to your widening derriere. It knows that random chin hair become familiar friends, wrinkles and crow feet testaments to a life lived together. Love teaches you to find the ordinary, extraordinary.

Love is not a substitute for reality nor does it ask you to live in a more fantastic version of it because love lives real life. And in real life, love knows, there are good days and bad days. And a whole slew of so-so ones. Love gets through all of them, sometimes with style and pizzazz, other times with angst and bitterness. But it gets through.

Love flips your idea of humanity upside down. You think you know people and then you see what they will do for love’s sake, how far they will stretch the limits of themselves to care for the one they love and it makes you swallow, hard. Love will make you witness divinity.

Love is fluid. It changes with time in its expression and manifestation. It will be a spark, a raging fire, of flutters in your gut one day. Years later, it will be a steady burning ember, a sense of stability as solid as a rock and all flutters can usually be attributed to indigestion. Love will bring you Hajmola before you ask.

Love doesn’t always make you happy. But it makes you better. Happy too, but also unhappy. Because love knows that its central function in your life is to help you grow. Growth hurts.  Every day, love changes you to become a version of yourself you didn’t know existed. Expanded. Stretched somehow.

Love doesn’t ‘break’ your heart. It splits it open, so that more of what you need can enter.

Love is a choice. You make that choice every single day, every single minute.

Love is sacrifice, compromise, tolerance and a whole bunch of other scary words. It wants to leave you sometimes but it always remains. It wants to kill you sometimes but then imagines the subsequent loneliness. It turns away from you only to turn back again. It buries itself into the very core of you, so you don’t know where it begins or ends.

Love is a paradox. It is awkward and graceful. It is forced and natural, kind of terrible and absolutely hilarious. It is restful. It is wild. It is hurtful and healing. It is gentle and tough. It is confusion and clarity. It strengthens you and makes you vulnerable. It ties you down and helps you fly. It is as rare as a pearl and as common as breath.

Love is fierce. It is very often decidedly mundane, mind numbingly ordinary and easy to overlook, but still, if you know how to look at it, it’s really quite astonishing.

Love is beautiful, it is necessary, and if you allow it, instinctual, but it is never what you think it will be.

It is always much, much more.

Read more by Hiba here.


Hiba Masood

Mother of two young kids and the Drama Mama columnist for Express Tribune's Ms.T magazine. Writing about parenting affords her time away from actually doing it.To read more by Hiba, find her on facebook.com/etdramamama.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.kpk.gov.pk Ashrafuddin Chitrali

    Quite informative & thought-provoking.Recommend

  • SF

    Beautiful! I love your posts Hiba!Recommend

  • Working Woman

    Finally, something from you that I can like.Recommend

  • abdullah!

    Beautifully Written and Amazingly Expressed. :)Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    What is love
    Oh baby, don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more
    Oh, baby don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more

    What is love

    Oh, I don’t know why you’re not there
    I give you my love, but you don’t care
    So what is right and what is wrong
    Gimme a sign

    What is love
    Oh baby, don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more
    What is love
    Oh baby, don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more

    Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh
    Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh

    Oh, I don’t know, what can I do
    What else can I say, it’s up to you
    I know we’re one, just me and you
    I can’t go on

    What is love
    Oh baby, don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more
    What is love
    Oh baby, don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more

    Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh
    Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh

    What is love, oooh, oooh, oooh
    What is love, oooh, oooh, oooh

    What is love
    Oh baby, don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more

    Don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me

    I want no other, no other lover
    This is your life, our time
    When we are together, I need you forever
    Is it love

    What is love
    Oh baby, don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more
    What is love
    Oh baby, don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more (oooh, oooh)

    What is love
    Oh baby, don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more
    What is love
    Oh baby, don’t hurt me
    Don’t hurt me no more (oooh, oooh)

    What is love?Recommend

  • very happy today :)

    Thanks for the Lyrics Noman .

    Love is Life & its Beautiful
    Happy Valentine’s day Everyone Recommend

  • mokh

    On Marriage
    Kahlil Gibran

    You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
    You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
    Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
    But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
    And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

    Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
    Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
    Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
    Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
    Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
    Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

    Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
    For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
    And stand together yet not too near together:
    For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
    And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

    Love your blogs Noman but not your choice of lyrics!Recommend

  • mokh

    well written Hiba!Recommend

  • T

    Brilliant piece!!!Recommend

  • Hassaan

    Remarkable Observation! This article is full of wisdom and maturity. A commendable effort!Recommend

  • Parvez

    Wise beyond your years…………….but then I am biased because I’m a fan of your ramblings.
    Its amazing that you have understood this so early in life, because it took idiots like me quite some time to fathom all this out.Recommend

  • Zain

    Marvellous Post. What is Love, very well explained.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Noman Ansari: ……….now that’s cheating but then you have to be smart in order to cheat well……………..loved it. Recommend

  • shuja ul islam

    BABY DONT HURT M…wait someone already did it…damn..!!Recommend

  • Imaan Sheikh

    I was going to do that What Is Love song but Noman Ansari’s already done it. Drats!Recommend

  • Morning Glory


  • Nandita.

    @Noman Ansari:

    LOL. Awesome. That song transports me back to a long time ago. – School day crushes, Dates, Parties, Jam sessions. The 90s were the best!! Recommend

  • Tamoor Rindh

    kUCH Kehna tha Shaid uss neeRecommend

  • Love Shmove


    Everyone should read this too. Romantic love is a real problem.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/908/erum-naqvi/ Erum Fatima

    That is just beautiful… could relate to it soooo much!! :) Thanks for the lovely write up Hiba :)Recommend

  • Hozaifa

    this is really good stuff..and TRUE Recommend

  • Noor Khan

    I’ve been following your posts
    They are all amazing and inshightful

    But This One……………

    Literally a Masterpiece from You!Recommend

  • Saadia

    WOW. Beautiful writing.Recommend

  • Gina

    Masha Allah, loved it!Recommend

  • holy me

    Forget love, you need money. Without money you cannot do anything. Money buys you everything even love. Recommend

  • Aijaz Haider

    Was a pleasure to read. Love explained as never before. Feelings and words gracefully in-step with each other.Recommend

  • Sidra

    very well written n different from your other pieces. Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    It nests in the twilight zone and is somewhat similar to the milky way which fogs the black hole which one does not understand and is a fact which one cannot explain.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • reader

    Simply AMAZING!Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/thehassanali Hassan Ali

    Keep it up, Hiba! …. This is a brilliant write-up….Recommend

  • Sahar

    So beautifully expressed. Brought tears to my eyes :) Recommend

  • Ranveer

    Men already knew it….and if women could understand that love is not what is projected by movies and TV serials…and rather it is what is summed up by you, then there will be more loving moments in their lives. :) Recommend

  • Saadia

    Would like to ask both The Express Tribune and Hiba Masood to reprint this on our blog?Recommend

  • Mubeen Abbas

    Beautifully written! Just loved the piece. It has all the needed ingredients that describe love.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/DiscoMaulvi Aly Balagamwala (@DiscoMaulvi)

    Great post! YOu hit the nail on the head :)Recommend

  • Sundas

    This is such a beautiful piece of writing, went straight to heart. Recommend

  • hafsa

    stunningly written, just right, no cliches. Recommend

  • Annum

    I admire your writing style, every word written from the heart. Had to read this over and over again, because i loved it that much. Cutest thing anyone has ever written. Great job! :)Recommend

  • Sakina

    Loved it! :)Recommend

  • hina

    It was my OMG moment of the day : * yes i am in love :)))Recommend

  • uzma

    LOVE is sharing……..
    whether it’s a towel, spoon, washroom, your favorite piece of chocolate cake or a hot cup of coffee……
    you can watch a boring cricket match to spend time with love who won’t get up until the last ball……
    you can allow love to sleep in your perfectly clean bed even though it had a dirty trouser on….
    or snatch the last bite of your aloo paratha because yours is crispier……..
    It praises your first try of …. well any thing from a boiled egg to Nihari…….
    or a burnt roti….
    Love doesn’t complain about your imperfection but is worried if it’s because of a bad day…..

    Love changes you to a being you won’t recognise after years and yes for the better, a more tolerant & humble person then you were before……
    Great piece Hibba!!!Recommend

  • Oscar

    So extremely beautifully written.Recommend

  • mariam

    beautifully written, i ended up reading some parts over and over :) Recommend

  • Shaista

    simply beautiful, the flow is your words is fantastic!Recommend

  • Sonia

    Simply a beautiful read..!!!! Recommend

  • http://thejaffair.blogspot.ae/ Hina Jafri

    This is just an OMGingly amazing article, wondering how I missed the read!

    I wished it went on and on!

    Simply Beautiful, it is!

    Every word smelled the love you hold for your love. Your husband is so lucky! <3Recommend

  • Umaimah

    wow.. that made me smile.. ITS BEAUTIFUL :)Recommend

  • Anwar

    ITs Marvelous post ,,,,,,,,, very informative info shared,,,,,, Love is love as i believe and just nothing more…..Recommend

  • Z

    Brilliant. Best article I’ve read for as long as I can remember. Good job!Recommend

  • The Grinch

    I do not think the author has ever been in love. Or married. Such things are always more beautifully described from afar.
    Go fall in love, little girl. Then write us another, more bitter piece on how it really is.Recommend

  • Ms. Ras


    Beautifully written but if only we could find even love of this kind in real life. More often than not imperfections are slapped on your face even by your love but then that `s not love then. Recommend

  • Ameera

    sweet, well written piece!Recommend