What is love? Baby don’t hurt me.

Dear Haddaway,

What is love? Beyond just being a fun mnemonic device for Nat King Cole, what is this emotion that makes even Beyoncé crazy? As someone who has experienced love firsthand before, I still don’t quite understand everything about it. Obviously I could just hit up good old Merriam to find out the technical definition, but this straightforward meaning would probably fail to explain the hoopla behind the whole thing. So what is love really, and why are people always freaking out about it?

Let’s start with what I do know. I know that I love my mom. I also know that I love Pop-Tarts. According to the laws of mathematics, the transitive property would dictate that I feel the same way about Pop-Tarts as I do for my mother. While this isn’t the furthest cry from the truth, I can’t maintain in good conscience that breakfast pastries and the woman who incubated me inside of herself for 10 months are on a level playing field.

Similarly, I know for a fact that I love both my dog and the cute boy in my discussion Thursday nights. Despite this common denominator, the things that I want to do with them are radically different.

In this way, love must be constantly conditional.

Everyone can love other people and other things differently, and the way that they express this varying feeling differs as well. I’m not saying love is Bill Clinton, but all of these inconsistencies seem awfully suspect to me.

Now that we’ve clearly defined love as an amorphous and ambiguous emotion, we can attempt to unravel the mystery of what makes it such a big deal.

I’ve never understood why verbalizing love is such a major issue. Based on the big deal surrounding the whole fiasco, these three syllables have the power to bind you to your beloved until the rest of time. Couples these days seem to think that saying “I love you” means that your souls will be forever intertwined as they travel through the afterlife together as a single being.

What in holy hell is the big fuss about telling someone that you love them? Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew’s love child couldn’t solve this mystery if their life depended on it. For some reason unbeknownst to me, saying “I love you” is a bigger deal than an annual Costco membership. People today put more thought into telling someone how they feel than they put into their last three prelabs combined. It’s not like telling someone you love them results in being instantly betrothed.

It’s a verbal expression, not a life sentence.

The big deal that everyone makes about saying “I love you” for the first time really steams my broccoli. More thought goes into the delivery of these three words than the entire Johnson administration put into Operation Rolling Thunder. They care about who says it first and when it’s said and what it means as a milestone in a relationship. People pour ungodly amounts of thought behind the whole thing, all to simply state a fact of feeling.

It’s a bit narcissistic to think that anyone should care that deeply about how you feel. You love someone, big whoop. We all have feelings, you’re not special. I like Fridays. I despise tomatoes. I love brunch.

So long as we’re spitting out statements on feelings, I might as well drop the truth bomb that I hate writing research papers. That’s right, you heard me. I don’t enjoy spending 15 weeks working on a single assignment that I will never look at for the rest of my life. While the assignment itself may be difficult, sharing my feelings on it is not. I don’t need to consult my best friend and everyone else I know about how to share my feelings about writing 14-page essays.

“But I love them differently,” people whine when they are forced to face the hypocrisy of how easy it is to say that they love burritos but how difficult it is to tell someone they love them. They’ll allege that different kinds of love make it more challenging to share how you feel. Too bad that this is all a bunch of bull crap. It shouldn’t be easier to share how you feel about a staple of Mexican cuisine than someone who has probably seen you vomit before. You mean that beans wrapped in a tortilla makes you feel more alive than the person that you swap spit with on a regular basis? I think not.

It’s all wildly overwrought. If you love someone and they love you, there’s no reason to fear sharing that emotion. I’m not giving the green light to tattoo your feelings across your forehead or anything, but there’s no point in oppressing yourself if that’s how you really feel. It’s not that difficult, so take a page from Nike’s handbook and Just Do It.

Contact Amanda Chung at [email protected].