Gina Vaynshteyn
February 14, 2015 6:00 am

Awhile back (1981 to be exact), Raymond Carver published his infamous collection of short stories titled What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and in that collection we experienced gorgeously harrowing, slice-of-this-is-your-average-life moments in time that questioned WHAT exactly we talk about when we actually talk about love.

Daniel Jones kind of answers that eternal question in his now widely circulated article, “How We Write About Love,” published in The New York Times. He suggests that we talk (rather, write) about love in varying degrees. And we do it often. “I have spent much of the last decade reading stories of people’s turbulent emotional experiences. They all involved love in one way or another,” Jones writes. Depending on our age and where we are in life, we write about the kind of love we’re familiar with. When we’re young, we have no idea what’s in store for us; love is this confusing “s/he loves me, s/he loves me not” mess of flower petals. When we grow older, we supposedly become more grateful and appreciative to the love we’ve had.

In his years of experience, Jones says that gender is also a factor in how we pen love. Men and women write different kinds of love stories —women illustrate love more “restlessly,” whereas men tend to write about the past. I mean, think of Jenny Offill’s Dept of Speculation. Think Ernest Hemingway. It totally makes sense.

Ultimately, we ALL look at love with varying lenses—it’s inevitable. We’re all unique humans with unique hearts and expectations. And this theory is totally backed up by our favorite authors, musicians, and movies even. Because love is insanely difficult to describe and grapple with, we’ve gone to the experts to do it FOR us. Here are some of our fave quotes for Valentine’s Day and everyday.

 Neil Gaiman, from The Sandman:

 John Steinbeck on falling in love, a letter he wrote in 1958:

 Jenny Offill, from Dept of Speculation:

 James Baldwin:

Catch and Release:

David Byrne:

 Rainer Maria Rilke, in a letter from 1904:

Joanna Newsom, in her song “Good Intentions Paving Company”:

 

Haruki Murakami: 

 Jonathan Safran Foer:

 Kaui Hart Hemmings, from The Descendants 

(All images via HelloGiggles)

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