Asking yourself the hard questions about ‘True Love’

What exactly is true love? Is it open to interpretation by each individual, or is there only a specific definition?

There are, of course, many different types of love such as friendship love, romantic love, agape love, Eros and the love you have for your family. 

Love is something I seek out, fall into, and fall out of. 

I love you. 

Is love something we feel, say, or both? Do we feel it every time we say it, or are they just routine words that roll off the tongue because we’ve been saying them to someone for a while now?

From my perspective, there’s a basic essential ideology for true love.


For me, true love is defined in part as full acceptance of another person without trying to change anythingabout them.Unconditional love sets no expectations or limitations.

No Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

Don’t “should” on me, and I won’t “should” on you. A little play on words but you get the point.

Nobody’s the Boss

It’s never our place to tell another what they can and cannot do. I am your lover, friend, companion or whatever the relationship is. I am not your parent, and you are not mine. 

Acceptance & Allowance

True love is allowing the people in my life to be who they are. It is not important for me to understand them or give them my permission. 

We are each responsible for our own happiness and wellbeing. That will look different for each person. 

Love and allow, even though a person might be totally different from you in many ways. 


Good fun, meaningful, stimulating, intellectual conversation is vital. When the good sex is over, what’s left? The number one thing I am attracted to in another is intelligence. I find it not only sexy but an absolute necessity. 

Being able to look in one another’s eyes and have a great conversation over dinner is priceless and trumps everything else for me. I have often said, “The contents are much more important than the package.”

I refer back to the ideological concepts above when I’m dating someone, or just in my relationships in general. 

Am I trying to change them? That is not true love. 

Am I allowing them to be exactly who they are and does who they are work for me? 

Do I feel the need to tell them what they can and cannot do? 

Am I enjoying the conversation? 

I’ve learned that it is possible to have strong intense feelings for someone but not necessarily be in love with them. Examining your feelings and thoughts are essential for optimal happiness and for finding Mr. or Ms. Right. 

Having the courage to ask ourselves the important questions, then listen to the answers, can be challenging. As I have grown older, I’m realizing the importance of thinking about my basic essential ideology for true love and my personal definition of true love. 

What is going to work for me? What is it that I want out of a relationship, and am I getting it? If not, I must listen to those answers and move on. 

What is your definition of true love? LGBTQ Atlantan Vince Shifflett would love to know. Reach him and read more of his musings at

A version of this feature originally ran in Q magazine. Read the full issue below.



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