What is Love?

What is love?  Such a simple, yet complex question to think about.  Love can look differently depending on the situation or who it is we are talking about.  For example, saying “I love you” to a romantic partner might mean something different than saying “I love you” to a good friend, family member, or perhaps even a pet!  Or, perhaps there are many similarities and we mean virtually the same thing.  When someone says they love someone, what do they really mean?  Love can sound like, feel like, or look like many different things and it can be rather quite refreshing to think about.

what is love sample

Webster defines love as: “(1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (maternal love for a child) (2) attraction based on sexual desire; affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests.”  Got it?  As humans we know love sometimes cannot be put into words and it is more of a feeling or understanding between two people.

In class we do an activity called “What is Love?” where we get students to think about what it means to be in a loving romantic relationship.  Of course you should probably get students in the proper mindset first by starting class with a little Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got to do with It? or Haddaway’s What is Love?

love definition 2

Here’s how it works…

Have students:

  1. Indicate if you identify as a boy or girl.
  2. Describe what it would mean if you said, “I Love You” in a romantic relationship.  (Students typically write for 5-7 minutes and come up with a paragraph or two).
  3. Fold the paper once when you are done and hand it in.  One girl and one boy will take turns reading the definitions in class and the students will attempt to guess whether a boy or girl wrote the definition.

To make this more engaging for students, we turn it into a competition and the students have to keep score as to how many they guess correctly.  The winner at the end of the class is crowned “Dr. Love” (you can make this as dramatic as you want).

As the students read the definitions, as the teacher, I start to write down buzz words and common themes I hear on the board (trust, respect, emotional, commitment, loyalty, etc.).

love definition 1

Some Reflection Questions:

  1. What made you think the writer was a boy or girl?
  2. Do you think we (males and females) are more alike than different in our views of what love means?
  3. What common themes did you hear mentioned when someone says “I Love You?”
  4. What effect might differing views of love have on a relationship?
  5. Where or how do we learn about love?  Is it something that is innate?
  6. What is the difference between love and lust? (You can use this Love vs. Infatuation chart to show examples.)

The student reflections and definitions always impress me with their depth. I teach alongside Andy Milne (@carmelhealth) and he had a student say that she would happily read all of the definitions if they were printed in a book. So he typed out the love reflections and had lulu.com print them out. A copy was given to the student that made the original suggestion, and a second copy given to the student that wrote an awesome reflection.

Here is the book that was created.

love book

A health teacher in Wisconsin named Brad Troeger (@healthteacher101) created this really cool TedEd lesson on Love .

Have you taught any lessons about love?  Do you have some good ideas on this topic?

Let us know!


5 thoughts on “What is Love?

  1. Hello Esteemed Colleague,

    I “love” this topic!! :~) How easily do your learners distinguish if responses were written by males or females? Those are great reflection questions! I imagine this stimulates discussions about gender, gender norms, and gender construction.

    Part of my responsibilities at UWL include teaching a Sexual Health Promotion course. To begin my lesson about love, I give students 5-7 minutes to draw their response to this question: “What is Love?” They must draw a picture or symbol, no words! While they draw their picture, I play Haddaway’a song. Typically, students draw a variety of types of love and this then begins our discussion about theories of love. Maybe your students would enjoy drawing their vision of love. I find people of all ages enjoy drawing! And as you mentioned sometimes words can not adequately express our feelings about this topic.

    Thank you so much for sharing your approach! You’ve helped me to think about teaching idea in another way!!

    One of your ASHA conference bus riding companions! : )



    1. Thanks for your comments Tracy. I really like the idea of graphically picturing ‘love’. I might have to add that idea.
      I think students guess the gender of the writers about 60% of the time. Would you have guessed that the two quotes in the blue boxes above were both from the same boy?
      I’m actually repeating this activity today – I’ll tweet out any responses that stood out from the rest!


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