Exploring the Concept of Love

Love is such an abstract and varied value, that it is difficult to summarize all that love is in a single lesson. There is the love that one feels for a romantic partner, the love that one experiences when a part of a family. The love that is associated with God. The love that is developed in relation to yourself. The love of a pet. The love of a friend…and on and on and on. Rather than discussing all that love can be, we will instead talk about what love isn't.

What love isn't…

Love is not attraction. One does not fall in love with a person based on their physical appearance. In other words, love at first sight does not exist in a healthy reality. It may be a euphorically awesome experience, but it is not love. And that is not to say that you should avoid such a feeling. Quite the contrary. What else is life for if not to enjoy in such a magical way. Unfortunately, many people's lives are seriously damaged when they label the overwhelmingly pleasurable feelings that they are experiencing as a result of such a strong attraction as love. When this happens, goals are changed, priorities are changed, values are changed…all based on a feeling. An emotion. Most often, this emotion fades rather quickly, or is not reciprocated…and the person feels the other end of the emotional spectrum. If you equate a physical attraction to someone, it will be important for you to realize that this is not love. Until you have come to know the person within that body; until that person comes to know you…what you are experiencing is not love. It may be admiration, affection, attraction, desire…heck, it may even be desperation…but attraction is certainly not love.

Love is not stability. Though stability can and should play a big part in a long-term, committed relationship…remaining in that relationship for the sole sake of stability does not equate to love. For love to occur, there must be something more than merely maintaining the status quo of the relationship. There must be some interest in seeing the relationship and/or the individuals grow.

Love is not a distraction, nor a shortcut. To often, rather than looking at one's own chaotic life, a person seeks out "love" from others in an effort to distract them from having to deal with that life. Or to artificially produce the esteem that would otherwise require years to develop.

Love is not selfish. For love to occur, it must be by choice. It must be through the desire to care for, nurture, share and experience certain parts of your life with that person…and for those feelings to be reciprocated. This isn't to suggest that love cannot include selfish acts…it can and should. Individual boundaries that include clear expectations of the other's behavior within the relationship are examples of this. Without these boundaries and "selfish expectations", it would be too easy to be taken advantage of by a selfish partner.

Love is not a guess. In love, it is the responsibility of each partner to share his or her true self with the other. Let's repeat that. In love, it is the responsibility of EACH PARTNER to share his or her true self with the other. Without this, the experience of love can achieve nothing more than an illusion. Without honesty and the sharing of one's inner self…any emotions experienced are based on projections and images. Additionally, love is never having to guess how your partner really feels. To trust that they are sharing their true selves with you.

Love is not desperate. When feelings of love are not reciprocated, or when the target of your love does not treat you in a way that reflects the way that you want to be treated…then the relationship is not based in love. Most likely, when someone continues to pursue such a relationship, there are unresolved issues from one's past, or emotional deficiencies (e.g. low self-esteem)…but the feelings that are being experienced are not love. Love does not have to be won. It does not have to be proven.

Love is not a savior. Love should never be sought in an attempt to "rescue" your otherwise unsatisfying and/or chaotic life. Additionally, love should never be used as a bargaining tool after "rescuing" another person. Love is best experienced when you have first learned to love yourself. That is more than a cliché…it is absolutely true in terms of the fulfillment that love can bring.

Love is not dangerous. In love, there should never be a worry that your vulnerabilities will ever be used against you. Or that something you share in complete sincerity is later taken out of context or used to judge you. Communication is open and instant. Even if that means to communicate that you are not in an emotional state to effectively communicate at a particular moment.

How do you value love?

Because love is a universal value that is sought by all healthy individuals, take some time now to explore your own feelings about love. Post your own understanding of what love is. The role that love plays in your life (or the role that you would like love to play in your life). Focus only on the positive aspects of love, and don't forget to include the following areas: self-love; romantic love; familial love; unconditional love; spiritual love and any other "love topics" that you believe are important to you. If you would like, post your thoughts in the Support Forum for others.

slide up button