College Students Define Love–And It’s Not What You Expect

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Love: A universal emotion that everyone wants to feel, but no one knows how to explain. We live in an age of instant gratification. College students have added terms like “Tinder” and “Netflix and Chill” to their everyday vocabulary. As a result, their views on love have shifted to complement their current lifestyle.

Here’s how college students today define love:


“I see family as love. I know people who are 22 and have a family, but I don’t feel ready for that. We’re too young to build a family. I think anyone our age is too young to be in love. We think we are, but we don’t know what it is.” – Ashley Vasquez, Freshman, Hillsborough Community College.

“I believe that there isn’t a definite definition of love. Because personally, when I think of someone I love, romantically or platonic, I couldn’t give you a reason why. It’s just a feeling.” – Erin Ulm, Senior, Ferrum College.


“I think it’s realizing that you want someone in your life and not that you need them. That they’re there to improve it. I think love is being home regardless of whether it’s romantic or platonic. It should be comfortable.

“I remember the moment I realized I might be in love. I had never been in love before but there was a moment when I thought to myself that this might be what love is. I was in his driveway, and he was walking from my car to his house, and I realized that I loved the stupid way he walked. I subconsciously thought in my head ‘I love him.’

“It’s like free falling and thinking you’re going to hit the ground, and then hitting it three seconds before you thought you were. I knew I was falling for him, but I didn’t realize it until he was walking away. It was like ‘wow, I love the way he walks. I love him.’”

– Rowan Allen, Junior, University of South Florida.

“Love is giving half of yourself to another. Realizing you don’t have to put yourself second to someone else. I realized I was in love when I held his hand and instead of feeling butterflies, I felt safe. It was a gradual transition, but there was a moment when I was like ‘wow, I really do love this person.’” – Kayla Bryant, Senior, Saint Leo University.

“I think that love is like a comfortable feeling after you get over the initial feel of falling. Being able to do anything, no matter how dull, with someone you’re in love with and it still be fun and enjoyable.

“I’m in love right now. I realized it when I woke up from a dream after we hadn’t been dating for very long. I had a dream that he was tip-toeing around trying to tell me he loved me. I woke up and realized that I wanted this to happen.

“So later on, we were going on a walk around campus and I looked over and realized that I loved this kid. I was kind of trying to get him to say it. And he was going around it with every TV reference imaginable, so eventually I just pulled him aside and was like ‘can you just tell me straight out’? And that’s when he was like ‘Kelsey, I love you.’”

– Kelsey Kurzawski, Junior, Towson University.

Head in the Clouds

“Love is finding something that you share with someone. Having things you like to do together. They are there to make you feel better. I’ve never been in love, but I want an unconditional love. I want someone who is always going to be there for me.” – Romina Raggio, Freshman, University of South Florida.

“I think love is different for everyone. It’s something you either have felt or haven’t, and you don’t know what it is until you’ve discovered it. I feel that the relationship I am currently in is going to last a long time because I have that feeling of love.” – Courtney Thompson, Senior, University of South Florida.

“Love is someone I want to be with forever. Who won’t judge me for singing my “tumsy wumsy” song, or any of the other weird things I do. They’ll know things about me like that I don’t like mayonnaise on the cheese side of my sandwiches.” – Rocio Raggio, Junior, University of South Florida.


“A mutual give and take relationship. Just being there for that person, whether it be a friend, relative or a significant other. Always being there for that person and just caring for each other.” – Alicia Perez, Junior, Saint Leo University.

“It’s being able to do something with someone instead of doing it alone. Every day, normal things that you would do alone, you can do with another person because they enjoy it too. Things like grocery shopping or taking a walk.

“I started realizing I was in love with my boyfriend when I was at work. There was a rollercoaster in my line of view, and the people who were walking by were saying how the rollercoaster had been breaking down a lot and that they didn’t want to go on it. Then one of the guys in the group said, ‘the best part is knowing that it can break down, and you do it anyway because it’s your favorite.’ And I realized that even though I’ve been hurt before, I was still going to go through with [loving him] because I wanted to enjoy the ride.” – Marissa Burns, Junior, Towson University.

“To me love is healthy and uplifting. I feel like people our age have a misconstrued idea of love and it leads to a lot of toxic relationships. It’s a general caring for someone. Caring if they got to work okay, or if they’re wearing their seatbelt.” – Sunahtah Jones, Senior, University of South Florida.

“Love is being able to trust someone not only with your secrets, but your weaknesses. And knowing and trusting that they’re going to understand you. Even if you two don’t last, there’s an understanding between you two that no one else will ever get. Love is compromise. Willing to put your wants down for the other person’s needs.” – Christjen Ferreira, Junior, Keiser University.

Morgan is a Junior at the University of Florida studying Advertising and Business Administration. She is a lover of words, politics, coffee and airplanes.

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