Where do I even begin? First of all, I’d like to thank those of you who submitted questions – unfortunately, I won’t be able to address them all. I am a goddess, after all, and there’s only so much time on my hands to please the public with. If you’ve lived under a rock your whole life and haven’t heard of me, you’ve been blessed with the absolute luxury of falling in love-at-first-read with yours truly: Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty and all things pretty. Now, shall we start?

Disclaimer: the author of this article is a mere, mortal messenger and will not bear any responsibility for the consequences of any answers given. Kindly direct all complaints to Aphrodite herself. Please do not leave garbage at her altar. Thank you. 

Q1: What is Love? 

Love – a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, according to Google, ever-so-trustworthy. I can’t say I disagree much with that definition- love itself is such a wonderfully vague thing, but it’s in the most specific moments in which love reveals itself. There are multitudinous ways to love someone, be it your family, friend, lover or the person staring back at you in your mirror. 

You see, love can come in shapeless blobs of warmth; sought in the soft scent of roses and strawberries and hot chocolate all at once. It can be found wrapped in a purple duvet or hidden within green grapes presented on a plate, waiting to be eaten. Sometimes, love rams into you at full speed and sweeps you off of your feet. Other times, it seethes in silence, with no words necessary for love to speak for itself. Everyone feels love differently, yet its meaning transcends language – one more universal than most.

Q2: Is love at first sight real?

From fairytale stories to rom-com movies, we’ve all seen the same scene rewritten over and over: two strangers, falling in love from a single shared look, holding in a bated breath; an accidental run-in, fingertips barely brushing. But is that love? Attraction, perhaps. I believe that love illustrates a sense of intimacy, and there’s a certain feeling of fondness for someone unlikely to be attained the first time you meet. 

It sounds like a dream to be instantly adored by another person, but if all they knew of you was from a snapshot first impression and if they thought of you as a nameless Adonis, would you feel truly accepted for who you are? There’s so much more to every person than what they initially come across as, and it can be dangerous to build someone up in our minds; painting them prettily into a picture frame they may not wish to be trapped within. No mortal should be placed on a pedestal – that spot is saved for me!

Q3: Are soulmates truly real? Is waiting for them worth it?

This is a question I’ve heard many times before, and I often wish to ask in return, what do you want your soulmate to be? Some believe that soulmates are people who were made for you, or even made with you – matched and paired from the moment the seeds of your existence were first sprouted. Almost as though everything will fall perfectly into place eventually, without you needing to raise a single finger. 

Here’s the thing – it’s unrealistic to believe that you can have a relationship so easy that you don’t need to put any work into it whatsoever. And isn’t that what love’s about? Trying? To me, it involves communication, compromise, and working together for each other, not just about finding your perfect match and claiming a happy ending. Unfortunate as it may be, life isn’t an animated Disney movie.

Of course, there may be people who you’ll connect to more easily than others, whom upon first meeting them, leaves you gasping in awe, eager to talk to them again – but that doesn’t mean they’ll be perfect for you in every single way. Living life through rose-coloured lenses can make coincidence look a lot like fate. 

If we wait too long and expect too much, disappointment is a dreadful yet expected consequence. Don’t close yourself off to everyone you meet because you’re waiting for perfection, sometimes there are surprises stored at the corner of your eyes or right beneath your nose. There are chances in every room you enter, and in everyone you’ve crossed paths with – blink, and you might just miss it all.

Q4: How valid is Sternberg’s triangular theory?

How valid is what? I won’t lie to you, I had to conduct some quick research (Google coming to my rescue, yet again. Ah, the beauty of the 21st century!) before answering this question. For anyone who hasn’t heard of this theory, it breaks love down into three main components: commitment, passion and intimacy. This theory then categorises love into 7 different types, some of which are romantic and others which are centred around friendship. 

Truth be told, as time turns away and when the seconds slip into centuries, more and more theories will rephrase themselves in history. If you like how the theory sounds and it fits with your current ideas of love, it’s completely valid! If you believe in different theories, or if you prefer to think of love as a comforting mix of colours, that’s valid too. Everyone has their own thoughts on love, and no one (Goddess of Love included) can truly tell you what love means to you, except for yourself. If you think it’s love, it is.

Q5: Do you believe in unconditional love?

In Ancient Greece, there were 8 different words for love, all describing varying kinds of love. The one that was commonly regarded as the highest form of love was Agape; selfless love. One that isn’t dependent on conditions – boundless love without limits. Oftentimes, there’s something so immensely fulfilling about loving, almost as though being able to do that is a gift in itself. 

Unfortunately, it’s so easy to think of the world in terms of transactions and exchanges, and our actions involuntarily come with consequences and societal expectations. When we do something nice for someone, like serving them tea every morning or buying an expensive birthday present for them, we tend to expect the same energy back. Is it wrong to do so? No, not at all – we all deserve someone who loves us as much as we, them. So, does that make love conditional?

I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to that question – but I do believe in it, even though I don’t necessarily have any hard-hitting evidence or entertaining anecdotes to serve as proof of its existence. I simply believe in unconditional love because I want to.

Q6: What is the greatest quality in love that allows it to be unconditional?

Respect. 

A one-word answer would’ve been deliciously dramatic, but I suppose it would be unfair not to elaborate at least a little. To love without any expectations whatsoever (a feat so rare it might as well be impossible), I believe you need to have an understanding that everyone is their own person and that they don’t owe you anything other than, well… respect. 

You could offer someone the world, but that doesn’t mean they have to take it, does it? Accept the concept of choice, and how to let go. As people, entitlement is a sin we’re all somewhat susceptible to; we like to think that if we put in the effort, we’ll get something in return. That isn’t always the case. 

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the cliché, ‘If you love someone, let them go’ – and there’s some truth in even the most over-quoted phrases. Respect the choices that another person makes. Loving without conditions is loving without choosing for somebody else, to love without wishing to exchange it for anything else.

Q7: How do you love right?    

Last but not least, we have a very weighted question; valid nonetheless. I’ve said this approximately 50 times throughout this article – everyone gives, feels and receives love at different frequencies from one another. 

Even though there’s no singular right way to love, consideration is of utmost importance. When you love someone, you want them to feel loved, wouldn’t you? By treating people through their definitions of love – their love language (a theory that I personally believe in) – whether it be doing something nice for them or verbally reassuring them, it’s more likely that your message of love will get through their skulls. Sometimes, there are messages that even Hermes can’t deliver.

Love may walk hand-in-hand with compromise, but don’t forget that you shouldn’t be the only one making them. Sure, although the concept of unconditional love sounds awfully sweet, a healthy relationship should have both parties willing to grow together, not stagnant nor unwilling to change. It takes time and patience to learn about someone else, their likes and dislikes and preferences and whatnot, but without all that, what’s the fun in love?

As upsetting as it may be, all great things must come to an end – my immortal existence may be the only exception to that. I’m extremely grateful for everyone who submitted questions, and I’d like to thank you for hearing me out, it’s been a lovely time. So, what are your thoughts on love? Feel free to share your answers to these questions or ponder out loud whilst looking at the sky, I’ll be listening!

Love, Aphrodite

By Lillian Lai

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