On amour and love; and the difference between the two.

By Rishi Bryan, IInd English


“What is Love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more.” goes the astoundingly catchy Haddaway song. But Haddaway is unable to answer the question that haunts him and this drives him mad. There used to be a time when I used to meditate about the true nature of love, being equally confounded. Now that I have acquired understanding, I have attained serenity and peace.  Amour is a French word which captures with great aesthetic beauty the sexual passion which one human being feels for another. This word is, however, often mistranslated into English as ‘love’. That is not what it means. Before I get into differentiating the two, it is essential that some basic ideas be established.

Ever felt the compulsive need to be with a woman or a man with such passion that you have glorified the object of your desire into something unearthly, something celestial and something that is faultless and flawless? I have; and I will attempt a causative explanation for this phenomenon.


What is every human being hardwired with, even before they are born? The collective burden of mankind to procreate and survive, as a species. Not only this, but to procreate in a manner which would produce the fittest offspring. People are most attracted to the person who has a gene pool that combines with theirs to form the best possible combination. And this is, evidently, subjective as all people can never agree on deciding who is the most attractive. A man from Morocco may find an Australian woman the most attractive because his subconscious instinct knows that as the diversity of the gene pool increases, so does the chances of the would be offspring to survive, imbibing the ideal elements of both races and genotypes. Ever heard the theory that the most attractive people on the planet are those who have an ethnically and racially diverse lineage? (Think Lebanese women. See what I’m talking about? No? Keanue Reeves. There.) When you find someone who is perfectly configured to give you the best offspring possible, your mind forces you to believe that this person is flawless and convinces you of the need to have them and fall in love with them. This phenomenon is many a time referred to sheepishly as ‘love at first sight’. Trust me, if you find someone attractive and good-looking at first sight, they always have genes that can dance well with yours.

Besides this, there is the quintessential desire of the human being to attain pleasure and this is the same with food and sex and everything else that pleases the senses. Fornication is not essentially always tied to the utilitarian function of reproducing. It is also about attaining pleasure and having fun. (Contraception, anyone?)

But then if this is not love, and is lust (which is a cruder word to denote this innate craving of the human individual), then what does the word love mean, as it is suppossed to be used? Well, to see what love means, look at the old couple, both in their 60s, holding their hands as they cross the road.


There is an earnest sense of the need to care for and be affectionate to another person, that is built with time. This feeling, love, is what remains after raw passion has burned out in time. This does not mean that two people who once lusted after each other, cannot love each other later. Sure they can, but this happens when the courtship period is over, both have seen all of each other’s flaws and faults and still feel the sense of one’s own and belonging, with the other. Only then do two people ‘love’ each other. This is the same feeling that one has for one’s true friends, parents and relatives. The feeling of ‘however imperfect they maybe, they are mine’. And as such, the ideal romantic relationship is love thrown into heaps of amour. There, that should make it clearer. Some people say that lust and love are the one and the same thing, but I beg to differ. That is all.


Warning: In the Indian context, whenever two persons feel amourous about each other, they scream out ‘I love you’ and run towards each other in slow-mo, crossing a field full of blooming yellow lilies in the process, to extremely cheesy and amateur bollywood music; like this. Ignore.