21 Quotes About Love That You Probably Haven't Heard A Million Times Already

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If you've been to a wedding or been on Instagram before, you probably have heard or seen one or two quotes about love that made you roll your eyes. You've probably heard the trite, overused quotes that are almost always attributed to "anonymous" ("Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it.") and the slightly more literary, also overused quotes that are usually attributed to someone like Goethe ("We are shaped and fashioned by those we love.") I'm a hopeless romantic, and I'm not above dropping a good quote about love into everyday conversation, but I think we could all do a little better when it comes to which quotes we choose to use in that love letter, Instagram caption, or wedding vow.

Below are 21 of my personal favorite quotes about love — some are happy, some are sad, some are about love lost, some are about true love found at long last. Some are about self-love, which is just as important as love for others. Some are about emotional bravery. Some are about insecurity. Some are about mistakes. Because love isn't just one emotion — it's a mosaic of feelings, good and bad, and these quotes certainly reflect that:

"Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard. It can be light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children. It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by humor and “loaded with promises and commitments” that we may or may not want or keep. The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherf*cking sh*t out of it."

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— Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things

"To return to love, to get the love we always wanted but never had, to have the love we want but are not prepared to give, we seek romantic relationships. We believe these relationships, more than any other, will rescue and redeem us. True love does have the power to redeem but only if we are ready for redemption. Love saves us only if we want to be saved."

— bell hooks, All About Love

"Actually, when it came to love I had somewhat contradictory desires. I wanted to be loved unconditionally; simply because I was but I also wanted to be loved for my qualities: because I was x, because I was y. I wanted to be loved because I deserved it. Except I was scared to be loved like this, because what if I stopped deserving it? Unconditional love was insulting, but conditional love was terrifying. This was something Dave and I had talked about — being loved for qualities or without conditions. He taught me the notion of love bestowed stam, as they said in Hebrew, for no earthly reason: because because."

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— Leslie Jamison, The Recovering

"Love is the enemy of sound judgment, and occasionally this is in service of the good."

— Tayari Jones, An American Marriage

"You know my desire. I have only one. It has your face and your form and the term of my life."

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— Colette, to Henry de Jouvenel (1912)

"I could connect all those dots and make this easier for you, but all I really want to say is that you will find your way. You’ll meet people that you love who f*ck up constantly. You’ll learn how to weed out the assholes from the warriors. You’ll know what groups of people to stay away from because they’re not safe spaces for your heart. You’ll learn when to forgive human error and when to eradicate the unworthy from your spirit."

— Gabby Rivera, Juliet Takes A Breath

"& isn’t the heart/ an ampersand,/ magnet between the seconds of days/ & dusks, the peonies/ & the fig tree & the squirrels?"

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— Aracelis Girmay, "&"

"Of course it's a love story, thought Brit, though she thought everything was. This note here, and this one, this joyful countermelody, her second violin harmony, the collective intangible, the audible agreement. Her relationship with Daniel, which he'd rather coldly cut off a few days ago. Even the absence of love was a love story for her. Even this pain, this suffering. It was useful. Though she imagined one day no longer needing to know that, or she fantasized about rewinding life and starting over so she was a person who did not have to know that, or she entertained the idea of a parallel Brit, living in a world in which there was no need to make sense of a man who up and left on the brink of love, of people who up and left, of a life strung together with all these little leavings, but she felt sad for this parallel Brit, an emptier sadness than she felt for herself now. They were all love stories."

— Aja Gabel, The Ensemble

"I’d train my breath and learn to read sonar until/ I retrieved every lost blood vessel of you. I swear/ this love is ungodly, not an ounce of suffering in it./ Like salmon and its upstream itch, I’ll dodge grizzlies/ for you. Like hawks and skyscraper rooftops,/ I’ll keep coming back. Maddened. A little hopeless./ Embarrassingly in love."

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“I want you to know, if you ever read this, there was a time when I would rather have had you by my side than any one of these words; I would rather have had you by my side than all the blue in the world."

— Maggie Nelson, Bluets

"I know you and adore you in all your ways, your quirks, your imperious demands, your extraordinary gift of yourself."

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— Henry Miller to Brenda Venus, Dear, Dear Brenda: The Love Letters of Henry Miller to Brenda Venus

"Yes, I need you, my fairy-tale. Because you are the only person I can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought — and about how, when I went out to work today and looked a tall sunflower in the face, it smiled at me with all of its seeds."

— Vladimir Nabokov to Vera Nabokov, Letters To Vera

“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”

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— Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

"I knew, before I was close to you, that your cotton-blue hoodie smelled like smoke, and I could put my entire body beneath it. I knew that your skin wasn't rough. I knew that I was not going to be the same person for loving you."

— Terese Marie Mailhot, Heart Berries

"'But love is... ' She paused. 'Well, love might be something beyond words. It's funny, in all my years of doing this job, I still don't really have the words for it.' 'Right,' I said. 'I think the place for you to start, the question that you might want to ask yourself, isn't so much what is love,' she said. 'But is it really love I'm looking for?'"

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— Melissa Broder, The Pisces

"I'd never felt more myself. Or more in tune to what I was and what I was capable of. A moment of authenticity when fate and blueprint collide and everything is not only possible, but within arm's reach. And I fell in love. Madly, intoxicatingly so. I think he may have, too. Just for a moment. But I never really knew."

— Sarah Winman, Tin Man

“Aren’t all great/ love stories, at their core,/ great mistakes?"

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— Chen Chen, "To the Guancos at the Syracuse Zoo" from When I Grow Up I Want To Be a List of Further Possibilities

"You do not have to be good./ You do not have to walk on your knees/ For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.' You only have to let the soft animal of your body/ love what it loves."

— Mary Oliver, "Wild Geese"

"I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it's just too much. The current's too strong. They've got to let go, drift apart. That's how it is with us. It's a shame, Kath, because we've loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can't stay together forever.”

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— Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

"When you fall in love, the natural thing to do is give yourself to it. That's what I think. It's just a form of sincerity."

— Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

"If thou must love me, let it be for nought/ Except for love’s sake only."

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— Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "XIV" from Sonnets for the Portuguese