We use the term love in many different ways and have different definitions and understandings of what it means to love. I find a description of love given by Anthony de Mello to be one worth reflecting on.
In A Way to Love, de Mello writes that to love
means to see a person, a thing, a situation, as it really is and not as you imagine it to be, and to give it the response it deserves. You cannot love what you do not even see. … And what prevents you from seeing? Your concepts, your categories, your prejudices and projections, your needs and attachments, the labels you have drawn from your conditioning and from past experiences. Seeing is the most arduous thing that a human being can undertake. For it calls for a disciplined, alert mind, whereas most people would much rather lapse into mental laziness than take the trouble to see each person and thing anew in present-moment freshness.
Often what we say or think we love is our projection of someone or something, and not the person or the thing itself. But I think de Mello is right that, whatever else we can say about love, love is not possible unless we see clearly the object of our love, see the person thing as he/she/it really is.
And, as de Mello observes, seeing clearly takes effort and focus. It requires a mindfulness that allows us to be in the present moment when we encounter people and things.