22 Bostonians on love

Joy, loss, and finding the one. Twenty-two of the city’s residents – all at different stages of life, all with unique outlooks – try to explain something that can’t be explained.

Jon, 62, Cambridge

“The love of my life died eight years ago from cancer, and I had two girlfriends in the last three years. They’re ex-girlfriends now. We’re friendly, but overall I would say it was rather disappointing. It was a lot of effort on both our parts. Things don’t necessarily always work out.’’

What was the most loving thing you’ve ever done for somebody, or somebody’s done for you?

“Well, my deceased girlfriend got all or most of my money. I felt that was fairly sacrificial.’’

Derek, 25, Allston

What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?

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“The girl told me to pay, which was okay, but then she left. She said, ‘Oh, I’m going to the bathroom,’ and then next thing you know she was gone. We were supposed to get drinks after dinner and she abandoned me.’’

Kyle, 24, Boston

What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for somebody?

“Changed my life. I got a little caught up in some things you shouldn’t get caught up in, and you lose the ones you love, and when you change your life from what you were to what they want you to be, it’s just proving that there’s nothing more that they could ask for… You have to change because you want to change not because someone asked you to. You have to want to do it to get them back.’’

Luis, 48, Jamaica Plain

What’s the most loving thing somebody’s ever done for you?

“For me, I have two wonderful women that have birthed two incredible humans by me, and I’m with one right now and our 8-year-old, and I’m not with the other. She was the primary care provider for my 23-year-old now, who’s in London with her boyfriend until May. Incredible women who have helped raise two incredible children. It’s not necessarily for me, but I definitely benefit. I can point to this beautiful girl and I’m proud of the woman she’s become, and little man’s a pain in the ass, but you know, he rocks.’’

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Jack, 22, Medford

Do you believe in love?

“Uhh.. I don’t really know. People change. I think you can find people that you like to spend time with a lot.’’

Sharon, 45, Dorchester

Who do you love?

“My children. My husband. My mom, who just passed away.’’

Can you tell me about your mom?

“She was my greatest partner, as they say ‘BFF.’ Yeah, I miss my mom… The hardest part is not hearing her voice and [not] being able to talk to her.’’

Sarah (L), 28, and Sky (R), Cambridge

What’s a particularly loving thing that somebody’s done for you?

Sarah: “I’m going on a school trip to Japan soon, and even though we’ve lived together for four years, and I’ve always wanted to learn Japanese, we’ve never really practiced at all together. He put the Kanji on my phone, and got me a really fun calligraphy brush and stuff to play with, and I appreciate that he’s been taking a lot of initiative to teach me things so my world feels bigger and I feel cared for.’’

Kristen, 26, Southie

Do you believe in love?

“I am in love!’’

Tell me a little about them.

“We met in college, and we’re now engaged and getting married in four months.’’

Congratulations! Who asked?

“He asked. We have a dog together, so we went out for a hike, and while we were hiking he got down on one knee and asked to marry me.’’

Willem, 34, Downtown Crossing

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Do you believe in love?

“It’s a complex subject to be honest with you. I would say there are many forms of love, and to quote the poet, ‘I believe the only truly unconditional love is between a man and his dog.’’’

Natalie, 23, Roxbury

What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for someone in your family?

“[My brother] really wanted a game for his Playstation, and when I gave it to him the smile on his face brightened up my day. It was a very special moment, and that’s basically what he likes to do, so I always look for ways to impress them that they like. He loved the game, he appreciated it, and he hasn’t stopped playing it since.’’

Nina, 20, Cambridge

What’s a bad date you’ve been on?

“I went on a really weird date with a girl in New York City at one point. We met online, and we went to a show together, and it was fun. But the whole time she just wanted to show me pictures of her at a fetish event, so that was a little… I was like, ‘I’m confused, and I’m young, and I’m not sure what to do in this situation… I’m actually waiting for a Tinder date right now.’’

Ray, 30, Roxbury

What do you think about love?

“Love is a wonderful thing. It’s the only thing that could maintain peace in this world. Love and unity does good together, and stretches all over the world.’’

Marsha, “over 60,’’ Northern Mass.

How did you and your husband meet?

“I met him in my kitchen. He was in a band with one of my brothers, and I was home on break from college. His hair was as long as mine, and he had a guitar case, and I was like, ‘Well, that’s really interesting!’’ The first date we had, I picked him up at the airport, and he’d brought back fireworks from West Virginia to set them off as a gesture. He set the thing off in the middle of the street, but something wasn’t right so he went over and the firework went off in his long hair.’’

Jenny (L) and Stephanie (R), 18, Lesley University

How did you two meet?

Jenny: “She was on the same hall as me, and we started becoming friends, and then we liked each other.’’

Stephanie: “It took me, like, a month and a half to convince her to even kiss me.’’

Gregory, 60, Dorchester

How do you know when you’re in love?

“I don’t know, how does anybody know when they’re in love? I guess it’s a feeling, isn’t it? Just something you feel about a person, and you just get that one feeling for a certain person, and you know that that’s the one and all that stuff and everything.’’

Phil (L) and Ann (R), Wellesley

What’s the most romantic thing one of you has done for the other?

Ann: “The most romantic thing I can remember is last year I went to Hong Kong, and it was a big trip for me, and he knew I was apprehensive. So he went to the extent of trying to find the Mandarin letters to say, ‘I love you,’ and put that in a note in my luggage so I found it when I got to Hong Kong.’’

Steven, 31, Franklin

When did you realize you were in love?

“There was a realization that whenever I was dating someone there was always something that stuck out to me, some kind of problem, and finally when I met the one, there was just nothing. Totally at peace with the thought that I could do this the rest of my life and be totally fine with that.’’

Irene, Cambridge

What’s a loving thing somebody’s done for you?

“My daughter recently, I gave her my father’s ring. She went to have it sized and redone for her, and put a new stone in. But the stone that came from the ring, she had made into another ring for me and it was a complete surprise.’’

Ellen, 20, Downtown

What does love mean to you?

“I always say that love is wanting to do all the mundane things together because it’s much more fun that way.’’

Mitchell, 22, Allston

Tell me about your first date with your girlfriend?

“Our first date we went out to dinner in Jamaica Plain, and then we went back and we played SSX Tricky on Playstation for like two hours… That was a big thing we bonded over. I’ve been a longtime gamer all my life, and I was like, ‘Oh, s—, you play video games as much as I do! This’ll work out.’’’

Teddy (L) and Maureen (R), Downtown Crossing

What’s the most loving moment you’ve had with Teddy?

“Teddy just told me I was his best friend.’’

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