What love is not

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Love is not what the movies and hit songs tell us it is.

Love doesn’t hurt. If it hurts it’s something else. Fear. Attachment. Idolatry. Addiction. Possessiveness.

Nobody’s heart aches out of love. In pop culture, love gets conflated with desire all the time. From childhood we learn you can like something, or you can love it, as if it’s only different degrees of the same thing.

Love is all selflessness. It’s the opposite of need and attachment. To an individual it’s a sensation of allowing, rather than seeking. Letting go, rather than grasping.

Love is subtle and silent and delicate, and in its beginnings it can be drowned out easily by attachment, lust and fear. Love must have space, and force is what crowds it out. Love is powerful but it isn’t forceful.

Desire is simple and often reckless. We need to manage it carefully to avoid causing harm. Desire is the intention to change something, to reject what it is in favor of what it could be — something better, more secure, more pleasing. Love is the intention to let that thing be for its own sake.

A lot of us grow up thinking that to love is simply to want very badly. It’s hard to be sensitive to love when you’re overrun by desire. Love isn’t something that can be done badly, if it’s love at all. Desire can happen at the same time as love, but it’s not the same thing.

Jealousy isn’t love, nor is it evidence of love. Jealousy is fear. Love doesn’t drive people mad, it drives them sane. Desire, in its different forms, can drive people to do anything. Love never drives people to kill or steal or cheat or worry. 

Love reveals itself when you release your need to have the object of your affection, and see that there’s no reason to make it yours. That it exists at all is enough. To love something is to disappear in its favor — to die to your own interests so that it can be what it is.

In evolutionary time, love is new, and we’re still learning to used to it. It’s a much more sophisticated human capability than desire.

Desire’s been around forever. It’s a high-horsepower engine. It’s loud. It handles poorly. It only goes the way it’s pointing. It needs a sober driver, but it makes you drunk.

Desires are personal. They’re attached to you and they end where you end. They can be no bigger than you.

Love is bigger than you. To love someone is for their happiness to be the same as your own.

And so love is the dissolution of the borders between you and me and them. Those lines are conceptual and imaginary anyway, and love gives you vision clear enough to see the world without them.

Your love can’t be reserved for one person. If you only love one person you probably don’t love anyone. Love isn’t something you can aim. The truer your love is — in other words, the less you have it confused with something else — the more generalized it becomes. To love fully is to love all.

It takes practice to give up “good for me” in the name of “good.” In the grand scale of evolutionary time, human beings are only at the beginning of experimenting with this — working with something bigger and more important than personal desire.

But love is already everywhere, at least in the background. It’s too conspicuous to be marginalized, even among a population largely driven insane by mismanaged desire. We need to learn to navigate our desires better in order to love fully. We’re working on it.

It’s an interesting time to be alive. We’re graduating from a culture of desire-driven lives to one of love-driven lives. The solution to the world’s problems will look more and more obvious as more people begin to understand that and make that transformation. The first step is knowing the difference.

Defining it is impossible. You can throw words at it but never pin it down. Nothing is misidentified more often than love. But for now, we can know what it’s not. If it hurts, it’s not love.

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{ 90 Comments }

It Calls Me Onanon November 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Love is to risk being wounded to actually be there with someone–and not through any agreements or structures. Not through some social politics or psychological acting out– but that one genuinely cares if another is feeling well, or how things are going for them, or love to hear their opinions, whims, laughter, etc…
That’s ironically more unconditional love than the insecure sickness thing that most people simulate. That is more fear and desperation that results in a cocktail of intense emotions than any love is in that at all.

Great article.

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Marelo November 19, 2012 at 1:52 am

I agree with this, but think it should be added that relationships are not the same as love, and not solely composed of love. Desire and fear and lust are all totally fine components of a healthy relationship, if managed well. And sometimes even well managed and healthy desire, fear, and lust can lead to pain.

I think this should be added because often people conflate love and relationships, so if they read that love shouldn’t hurt, they’ll think relationships shouldn’t hurt, which I think is misleading.

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Donna November 19, 2012 at 3:43 am

Completely agree with this, Marelo.
Whilst I approve of the central tenet of the article, the attempt to isolate the ‘love’ component from other feelings and emotions is more an intellectual exercise than a practical application or modus vivendi.
Love can be clouded by jealousy – often is. Life is one huge balancing act, as we attempt to downplay the destructive tendencies and allow the more positive ones room to flourish and dominate. It can be a very, very tough process.
And I would add that loving someone and seeing them suffer in any way is probably the worst pain of all, but it’s the possibility you take on when you love deeply, be it partner, relative, child, friend or even pet.
Still, a very interesting article, David, which made me think hard on a windy Monday morning. Thank you.

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Dar December 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Donna…it may be hard to follow, the thinking’s unconventional but if you suffer because those you love suffer it’s not because of love. The suffering comes again from desire. Your desire for them to be healthy and happy because it makes you happy. It may be ‘natural’ to feel that way but pain begets pain and that doesn’t help them, nor will it help you. Feel love. Not fear. Accept the reality you find yourself in, make peace with it first then take whatever action’s necessary.

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It Calls Me Onanon November 19, 2012 at 4:04 am

A “relationship” is not a real thing. It’s a concept; it’s a human behavior that “makes up” something to encapsulate and simulate the idea of maintaining something significant with another person. It institutes terms and boundaries in a sort of “agreement” with another individual human being in order to control their behavior. It’s a social structure.

Just by the co-dependent nature of it it’s bound to objectify (make into a “thing” that maintains certain qualities) the other person and therefore cause desire, fear and lust out of insecurity. It’s not healthy and those can’t be healthy “components”. It’s created out of an immature understanding of what it means to share an existence with another separate individual. Similarly, due to its nature, it’s bound to fall apart because people aren’t “someone who is inside or a part of a relationship”—they’re just unique individuals who come together to validate/enable one another’s idealistic pursuits—and pushing anything ideological unto another person who isn’t an object and is constantly changing is most likely going to result in rebellion and control.

If it were up to me to name what a healthy interaction between two people is, I wouldn’t. I’d look at what they relate to in each other’s qualities and if they relate more than less then I would say they have compatible and therefore relatable habits they practice. They are working towards connecting to each other more intimately, and that doesn’t ask for desire, fear or lust. It asks for understanding/acceptance and therefore love and so there’s no logical reason for desire, fear or lust unless the individual is fundamentally unhealthy. Those things result from unhealthy psychological acting-out that one does in response to something, and if you become selfless there is no self-logic to act on.

Love is basically just the “wrapped up” notion of complete and utter acceptance and understanding and all things that result in selflessness. Being selfless is a way of conducting yourself in accordance to those things. All these things are a consequence of acting on an objective perspective and everything you practice because of that perspective is something you can work on, make better and grow.

“Love is a flower, you’ve gotto let it grow.”

Being selfless = loving and that’s real and it doesn’t include pain. If you’re thinking in terms of relationships you’re already not capable of loving. It’s a common thing that’s enmeshed in society’s social structures unfortunately.

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Brent November 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I love your response, It’s like a mini article related to the main thing.

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arhcamt November 20, 2012 at 6:42 am

i love your response too. it definitely gives me a whole new perspective in seeing what love is. thank you.

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arhcamt November 20, 2012 at 6:47 am

eloquently written. thank you for this, david. i was afraid that i’m incapable of ‘love’ because i neither have been nor planned to be in a relationship. that’s why i’m so glad to discover that apparently that’s not what love is all about. it gives me hope so thank you for that.

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Erin November 24, 2012 at 8:10 am

Your response to David’s post is dead-on. I strain to understand why people think that “some jealousy and possessiveness” is healthy in a relationship. (?!) These behaviours/feelings are about the person with the insecurities and control and have nothing to do with love. And they always inevitably lead to (and include) hurt.

I have experienced an intimate relationship without jealousy, without possessiveness, without fear. It was true, unconditional love. And when we grew into different directions, there was no drama, no insanity. Yes, there was some adjusting to do, but we are still close and always will be. And for that reason, I see that as a “successful” relationship – not a failure because it ended.

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Martin August 12, 2013 at 3:52 am

Great article and your reaction just as, it calls me onanon.
Do you have a Facebook page?

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David November 19, 2012 at 6:44 am

I agree. By saying if it hurts it’s not love, I thought that should be easy to figure out.

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Juan November 19, 2012 at 2:52 am

Love is an emotion which only human experiences, not animals neither mammals nor things.
Love seems like a pure sense of emotion as described about..not the factors which it brings or tags along with it.
I would say love is a spectrum of living and feeling, not just a single entity.

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Jane November 19, 2012 at 3:54 am

Love doesn’t need to be defined in words, if you feel it you feel and no words need to convince you it’s love.

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Derza Fanistori November 19, 2012 at 4:22 am

In a perfect world, with perfect inhabitants, love does not hurt because they let things be as they are and let themselves be who they are. No, wait – let me think for a bit – that could not be it! Life is a dynamic process and people are its dynamic components, active and passive alike. Pain is only natural to occur in those circumstances. We change, we gather experience, we are not equally equipped nor inclined to adjust. (Non)Pain cannot be the defining element of love.
Other than that, I loved your train of thoughts.

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David November 19, 2012 at 6:47 am

Life has pain, relationships have pain, but I maintain the painful part isn’t love and isn’t caused by love. Absence of pain is not the defining element, but it is a litmus test. Suffering comes from attachment, and to love something is to release your attachments to it.

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Derza Fanistori November 21, 2012 at 3:29 am

Attachment – you make it sound dirty but it is just the psychological reality of connecting with people. Without attachment there are no relationships, not just romantic ones, no relationships at all as central principle of human interaction is script construction (just as Onanon above points out). I see where you’re coming from; the need to regard people as unique, good, capable of transcending wishes/needs to own, to control, to mold their surroundings and people they interact with – and I applaud your efforts to share that aspect of humanity. I, on the other hand, see people as more versatile group, not always YAVIS and frequently not capable of level of abstract thought needed to understand that “Love reveals itself when you release your need to have the object of your affection, and see that there’s no reason to make it yours.” For many, many people, “being mine” does not mean ownership, it means security, fondness, effort trigger. Should we shun all those people who are, realistically speaking, vast majority?
We’ll just have to aggree to dissagree on this one :-)

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Ion Doaga November 19, 2012 at 4:29 am

Love is what people want, but few understand how to love.

Sometimes love transforms in a selfish desire to be always with the person you love, to call him/her every 30 minutes avoiding to understand that he/she is busy at work.

Love is learning somebody. Understanding when that person needs your support and when it needs it own time.

Love is a complex thing.

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vijay Gururani November 19, 2012 at 4:33 am

love needs ………………..TOTAL FREEDOM

( NATURE…HUMAN…EARTH …….SKY….WATER etc……….love freedom )

you people talking about only human romance….. go ahead go ahead

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Shiv November 19, 2012 at 5:30 am

I am struggling so much with this right now. Outside of romantic relationships, it’s easy for me to live in a state of universal selfless love. This is a state that has come to feel natural to me. Within an intimate relationship, however, this capacity shrinks and dies and I don’t know how to stop that. Is the answer shunning romantic relationships?

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David November 19, 2012 at 6:49 am

Same.

I don’t think shunning relationships is necessary, but I think we all have to learn loving ways to conduct our relationships. Normal relationship dynamics include possessiveness, worry and jealousy. I think challenging all of these things, on purpose, is necessary.

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It Calls Me Onanon November 19, 2012 at 7:53 am

“Normal relationship dynamics include possessiveness, worry and jealousy.”

The way I want to be is vulnerable. So I do it.

I don’t practice any of those things because I see the person as a stranger, almost, except I know very intimate details about the way he sees life, etc. I see it as, he lives his life, I live mine. I leave myself vulnerable to anything he might do, but I don’t have reason to question him because I’m a good person. Even if I get hurt. I’m resolved to be there for him.

Love ain’t about protecting yourself and relationships aren’t about making something out of knowing another person.

Loves about losing yourself, like David said. And the process of knowing someone is a big part of being able to tell if they’re a person who might hurt you or not. You ask all the difficult questions beforehand to see what they think about that stuff and then you take their word.

(Good example: http://youtu.be/KsdY8QOBDTc )

I guess I just don’t “make up” a relationship. That to me says “We behave a certain exclusive way with each other and I’m solidifying this repertoire.”

That doesn’t make sense to me. No person ever has to act a certain way because of any agreement. They just exist as separately from me as I do from them. And I love them for it.

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Dar December 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm

David’s right…it’s important to face jealousy, fear, desire and insecurity head on. It’s true…it’s easy to feel selfless and loving outside of ‘romantic relationships’ but whenever something challenges your self control or makes you uneasy there’s potential for growth. You don’t need to define your relationship. You can exist separetly. Instead of acting out. Instead of speaking from jealousy or fear, you say instead. “I feel fear and jealousy”. Acknowledge it yourself and let the other person know. It may not be easy but that’s what it takes. The hard feelings melt away with awareness. You fear the impact those negative emotions might have on you and your relationship but once you face the fear and accept it, you’re reminded time and again that it cannot hurt you.

This is what I’m doing now. In my undefined ‘relationship’. He is completely free to pursue what will make him happy. There are no rules. I want him to be happy and to be who he is. I cannot miss what isn’t real and trying to control it is poontless. It is, or it is not. I accept responsibility of my own feelings and will never blame him for hard feelings. I won’t act or speak in manipulative ways. He too is strong and I can simply say “I feel”. Speak OF your feelings, not FROM them.

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icu2 November 19, 2012 at 9:52 am

“Love” is beyond human understanding as is the concept of “God”. What is referred to as “love” is merely an indication of what is. As the wise man said:”The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon”.

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David November 20, 2012 at 7:01 am

There you go

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George Dudley November 19, 2012 at 9:54 am

This definition by M. Scott Peck should of been mentioned in the love article…. “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth” (Peck, 1978/1992,[6] p85) which is from his book the Roadless Traveled.

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David November 20, 2012 at 7:02 am

I like that one.

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Terri Lynn November 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

Thank you David. I could feel my heart expand reading your words.

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Andrea November 19, 2012 at 10:10 am

Love has been defined: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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David November 20, 2012 at 7:02 am

I don’t disagree with that but it isn’t a definition. It is a list of qualities.

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Bando February 8, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Love defies description because it is an irreducible composite–breaking it down into qualities just gets you further away from from the essence of it which can be approached only by experience of it. It’s the oneness of it that makes it powerful and connects us to the divine.

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Alex November 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

While I agree that love can be difficult to define, I find this article does the best job I’ve ever seen of examining possible ways to define it:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/love/

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Akshay November 19, 2012 at 11:47 am

Hey David!
So is love something that arises naturally in us or is it somrthing that should be cultivated.

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Joy November 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Wow. This is so beautiful. Thank you! I think this is my new favorite article of yours (my previous favorite was “Die On Purpose”–which you linked to here). Love does not hurt (in any way)…love is resonance, ease, joy, gratitude.

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Lauren November 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Have you ever read Works of Love, by Kierkegaard? Your post really reminds me of it. Especially the part about how love isn’t something you can aim; how the more you understand what love is (and the more love you have), the more generalized it is, the more you love ALL people.

It’s a good read if you can get a good translation. I’d definitely recommend it.

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vivality November 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

What a beautiful post. I’ve been trying to work out what love is…what people mean when they say ‘I love’. I think it could be different for different for different people – I have no way of knowing. But I love the way you describe it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this what everyone meant when they said ‘I Love’.

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Max Coleman November 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm

But are we really “graduating from a culture of desire-driven lives to one of love-driven lives”? Western individualism seems as alive as ever: people feel compelled to throw off all their obligations and ties in search of something called “freedom,” and social ties are weakening. Rates of loneliness are increasing, the average person has fewer friends than in the past, and people feel as anomic and confused as ever.

And to say that love cannot be painful is to say that love is easy. All we have to do, this article implies, is detach from our desires and we suddenly find ourselves in a state of bliss! But I think that love ITSELF, the act of detachment, is extremely painful and counternormative.

We may speak philosophically of love as a kind of panacea, but this rhetoric only obscures how difficult love can be.

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David November 20, 2012 at 7:09 am

I’m talking about a very long timeline here. I would guess we are more capable of love than our ancestors were a million years ago, certainly more than five million years ago.

>And to say that love cannot be painful is to say that love is easy. All we have to do, this article implies, is detach from our desires and we suddenly find ourselves in a state of bliss! But I think that love ITSELF, the act of detachment, is extremely painful and counternormative.

Learning to let go isn’t easy, no. Easy is your word, not mine. The moment of detachment itself is the end of any unease associated with attachment. It is blissful. We’ve all been there.

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Gab November 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I like the jump between the voting article and talking about love… for me, love is powerful from the tiny bits to the huge demonstrations… one move towards love, makes the difference if we ALL believe in it.
Let’s get viral!
thanks David… always a pleasure to read you :-)

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Poppy November 20, 2012 at 6:33 am

This is so beautifully written. I have always thought love should be about wanting and choosing to be with someone rather than needing that person, that it should be something that nourishes you rather than something that consumes you, but you take it further and put it so perfectly. Thank you!

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Tobi November 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Does this mean that if you miss somebody you don’t actually love them because you have a desire to be around them? And if you love someone you won’t ever miss them when they’re gone? (not talking about dead).

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Todd Waldorf November 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I think it could be interpreted either way.

Desire seems to be such a powerful thing. What is the motive of the desire? Does it come from the mind or the heart? Perhaps there is an emotional void that needs to be filled.

If the person were lonely from day to day and quite bored, they might desire another person to fill that gap. If that same person were sky-diving every day and having the time of their life and desired the other person to be there to share their happiness than it doesn’t seem to be for selfish reasons.

On the other hand it could be argued that the selfish reason of sharing the excitement of sky-diving is that you want someone to witness it the same way that many people enjoy recognition for their achievements.

I think the answer is “both”.

I think you could miss someone you love and you could miss someone that you don’t love. It depends on Who is doing the missing.

I don’t enjoy missing someone, but I enjoy the way it feels when I see them again.

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hawleigh November 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm

As a new parent, I struggle with your claim that hurt cannot arise from feelings of love. For a long time now, I have defined love as a specific desire; it is the wish for another’s happiness. When my baby is wailing because something has hurt or frightened her, I share a part of her distress simply because her pain pains me. I assume this is because I love her and not because I need something from her or wish to impose my desires on her. So my question is this: can you be simultaneously loving and comfortable when one you love is hurting?

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Sir Evidence November 22, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I think that love must be defined as a feeling derived from value. The feeling of love, any kind of love, be it for a single person or for the whole of humanity, indicates that we recognize a VALUE. We only love what we value and the higher the value, the stronger the feeling. Like all feelings, it comes in degrees. What you feel for your child denotes that your child is an immensily great value to you. It is not love for your child that hurts. It is when our values, the health of our children, are threatened that we suffer. To speculate that suffering can be eliminated by embracing an unknown kind of love which is devoid of values (or which places no distinction of degree between one value and another) is to exit the nature of being human and entering an unreal supernatural dimension, which I consider as a non-existent, un-natural immaginary state of being.

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It Calls Me Onanon November 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I completely agree with you, Sir Evidence.

One can infer from your observation, too, how people are fully capable of putting value on anything they want. Anything at all. Nothing discriminated, but they choose not to, whether by preconceived notions of bias or whatever. Subjectivity’s a real nasty thing cuzza that. Mmhmm.

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Sir Evidence November 23, 2012 at 7:27 am

Onanon, thank you for your comment. I think that to determine what love is, therefore, we should define what a value is. We should understand the profound meaning that the concept “value” has for the human being – no for some kind of out-of-nature entity, such as an “angel” or a “disembodied spirit.” Then, we might find out that not all values are arbitrarily subjective, but that there are indeed objective values, based on reality and not on fantasy? All objective values exist to serve a human being’s life; they promotes one’s physical and mental health. If a value does not do that, it’s not objective and may not be a value worth of love.

Partha November 21, 2012 at 12:11 am

Beautiful article! The simple yet thought-provoking write-ups one finds here makes this site compulsive reading, even for a blog-o-phobe like me.
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This article’s beautiful, but, I think, potentially confusing. Wasn’t it Aristotle who insisted on defining terms before discussing them? We’re using one term, love, to talk of two separate things. That is what generates the confusion one sees in the comments.
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One meaning of love is the sense generally familiar, and covers the whole range from lust to selfless love, directed at one’s beloved, parent, child, friend and ideas.
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The love that you talk of here is a different animal altogether. It is actually the Buddha’s concept of love or, as he put it, “compassion”. The spiritual aspirant, at one stage, realizes the unity of spirit. At that point, love or compassion for all beings springs spontaneously (as one SEES that they are the same as one).
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This second love, or compassion, is only for the spiritual aspirant. For all else it is a beautiful but fundamentally unintelligible concept, with a strong risk of degenerating to blind (and pointless) parody and humbug.
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This concept can apply to everyone only in the sense that the spiritual endeavour is open to all. Indeed, in one part of the world, this ideal has very much been the mainstream ideal for perhaps the majority. And no, this is not a new trend at all, except perhaps to the Occident. In at least one part of the world, this trend is at least 2500 years old (and possibly much older), not just as theory but actual mainstream (but not, naturally, universal) practice.

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Hope Simpson November 21, 2012 at 10:07 am

The only thing the world needs now is that kind of love you’re speaking of. If we loved one another, the whole world would be selfless. Laziness would be gone. Of course being lazy is just an effect of being selfish. Not only laziness would be gone, but sickness and pain, war and famine. World hunger isn’t a case of inability to feed as we know (or if you’re reading this and didn’t know, now you do), it’s a case of inconsistent distribution. Nobody would wish harm on the next. Everyone would only hope for the best. War would be no more. Pain would only be a physical matter. Which, physical pain is nothing compared to mental and emotional pain right? Sickness…All the world’s doctors would come together, and biochemists, making a unanimous effort. I’m willing to bet they would find cures for diseases like aids and cancer. All the engineers and scientists of the world would no longer be tied down to cultural or societal boundaries. They would come together and create these amazing buildings. Space travel would be so possible, so quickly. And Money and greed would be thrown out like trash. Anyways, this is my utopian dream. I’d like to believe that everyone can fight for this dream. I remind myself that I must make that conscious effort to put forth my positive energy, and hope for the best because I’ve seen and felt hoping for the worse and there is no progress in that. Cheers to love, and a better understanding of ourselves and those around us:) Thank you for this article David.

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Sara Guilford November 21, 2012 at 11:58 pm

As far as love not being painful, I would not disagree completely, but I tend agree with the way C. S. Lewis puts it

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

We are vulnerable to pain when we love. And I also agree with his quote that to love someone is to want the ultimate good for the beloved.

One problem I see in your logic is the topic of discipline. I don’t agree with the parents dead set on making their children “happy” and they go on neglecting to discipline them out of “love”. I would say discipline is painful; it is a forced means of correction. But I wouldn’t say parents who discipline their children don’t love them, in fact I think they show their love more this way (and I do not mean physical or mental abuse).

For the most part I found your article to be truthful, and I do believe that perfect love between perfect people would cease to be painful in any way. But I don’t think humanity is there yet, and I suppose I do not view all pain as something horrible. C.S. Lewis is a fountain of good reading on this topic in “The Problem of Pain” and “The Four Loves”

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It Calls Me Onanon November 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm

C.S. Lewis always put things perfectly, that jerk! …my inspiration. *swoon*

Someone once asked me what the key to happiness was. Said vulnerability. He was taken aback and proceeded to explain how he’d chased a man down the street in his car for cutting him off, how doing that proclaimed that he was finally sticking up for himself and how he was happier.

..By George, I think we have a live one!

Wanting someone to develop and grow is part of loving the actual existence of them. With a child, it’s a confrontation that the parent has chosen to confront when the decision was made to take on the responsibility of raising a human being. No discipline = No confrontation. Confronting someone for their errors or slip ups is an act of love so long as the person doing it is there for progress. Most parents have a preconceived notion of “Making my child who he/she is”, which is partially true, but not through the average perception of what that means. We aren’t meant to instill ourselves into our children.

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”-Margaret Mead

Your comment was lovely. I couldn’t agree more with it.

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Sir Evidence November 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I agree. Love doesn’t hurt. If it hurts it’s something else. Fear. Attachment. Idolatry. Addiction. Possessiveness.
But I disagree that love is selflessness. Without the self, there is no consciousness. Without consciousness, nothing can be identified, not even love, whatever love may be. Perhaps, we could say that love comes in degrees of awareness. There is no difference between liking and loving ice cream. Liking it and having it once in a while may actually be more sanely than loving it passionately, as a need, like an addiction. What is said for ice scream goes for everything in life, from food to houses, from lovers to cars or clothes or sunsets.
And so love cannot be the dissolution of the borders between you and me and them. Those lines are not conceptual and imaginary. It is the dissolution of those borders that is conceptual and imaginary, because such dissolution can only be a wish in fantasy. The self cannot be dissolved, except through physical death, because the individual is indivisible. It consists of body and consciousness – not one without the other.
Even grammatical knowledge of verbs will help us better understand what love actually is. Verbs can be transitive or intransitive. To make sense, a transitive verb requires an object, while an intransitive verb does not. So, I am able to sleep or be awake without the need for an exterior object (intransitive) – in doing the sleeping or being awake the subject and the object are fused together into one. But if I want to eat, I cannot just eat without having an object. Something, not me, must be a separate object in my mouth (transitive). To love is a transitive verb like to eat, not like to sleep. Love requires an object – a child, a husband, a wife, a mother, a father, a brother, a country, the world, humanity, or even a made up concept, such as God. No one can simply love without directing that sentiment towards something or somebody. Therefore, love cannot be selfless. It is in fact a supremely selfish act, an action born within the self for the enrichment of the self. Love cannot be separated from value. We can only love what we consciously recognize to be a value. We cannot love something that we do not first recognize as a value. And that is why we can love health, but cannot love sickness; we can love peace, but we cannot love war, conflict, violence.

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It Calls Me Onanon November 23, 2012 at 1:17 am

Here’s a good observation I found that is similar to what I found on my intellectual pursuit for truth and understanding. I’ll share it because he says it much better than I can.

“Well, ultimately, the ‘self’ doesn’t exist, anyway. We are machines that react to what is around us, and experiences we store. The person you are today will die before you wake up tomorrow, and the only thing that makes you think you are the same person is the illusion of persistence provided by memory. Consciousness is a difficult thing to define because it does not exist, and neither does free-will – our ‘choices’ are logical outcomes of pattern-matching systems and our ‘reasoning’ is often rationalisation for the course of action dictated by the pattern matching or, but rarely, further pattern-matching analysis prompted by higher-level experiential patterns.

The individual exists only in the interactions between itself and the environment it is in.”
–thememo

“Without the self, there is no consciousness.”

You’re belief is preemptively dismissing the logic, the science, behind the notion of the self. It is assuming and asserting its validity. We can be logical and not maintain any subjectivity (what you consider the ‘self’), but most people derive some sort of abstract importance and authority to their subjectivity and ego. There is none.

“…liking and loving ice cream.”

I agree that liking and loving are one in the same. If you see value in something, you see value in it. No difference. I see a problem with where your logic comes from, however.

Your arbitrary standard setting, like, “Liking it and having it once in a while may actually be more sanely…” suggests that you haven’t addressed your subjectivity—WHERE your preferences come from. It also suggests that you don’t understand WHAT the act of choosing preferences is doing and WHY they do what they are doing.

Preferences come from your ego (your subjectivity) and because of this initial perception of the world your psychology allows you to admire something only if it provides reciprocation of yourself. Basically, you are starting FROM yourself with what you believe/prefer and projecting out into the otherwise “meaningless” world. Objectively I can see that for you, Liking/Loving is a way to receive reciprocation from ‘other’ things, such as a “good taste” from the “ice cream”.

The way you understand the world is far too convoluted by your subjectivity and that’s why you see something else as love. That thing that you mistakenly call love is unable to be selfless… you already want “something” out of another thing. It implies that there have to be desirable qualities that fulfill you and your subjectivity. That type of logic makes it so that you discriminate against the things and people that don’t possess your desired qualities. What you understand to be love is actually desire. You desire something—you want reciprocation from it, you want validation, you want redemption from it. You want to be made to feel good. There’s always something.

It’s also why you most probably won’t love someone who’s totally and utterly different than you are—somebody who hates your guts, even. It’s also why you probably do things like “love something so much that it becomes addiction.” You selectively idealize things and as a result find a ridiculous amount of reciprocation of yourself from what you choose to get from it. Similarly, when people don’t have a value that you can get that reciprocation out of anymore you resent it. You may even hate it.

Objectively, to love something is to not do it for reciprocation of your subjectivity. It is to live totally fulfilled by the quality just performing one’s own actions, like caring. Heck, the ice cream can say to “screw off you piece of dirt.” And one would still possess love. One would ask questions and try to resolve the problem, even if it meant literally or figuratively ripping oneself apart. Love doesn’t need to have pain if both parties are capable of loving, though.

Love is selfless because it’s a WAY of doing things like caring. It is to be selfless. Period. You see (admiration) “love” as a REASON to do things. You’re right about something though, that what you do is selfish and not for the sake of another thing.

We attribute value to anything (and everything) we wish in this world, within subjectivity. We just happen to choose random things through our silly, subjective rationalizations. Value is not inherent. It is subjective and without subjectivity humans would be a loving race. There’d be less discrimination if we didn’t practice preferring health yet not preferring sickness. Doing those things is not inherent, either, as there are people that do prefer sickness. It’s a standard that is learned and passed on through generation to generation.

There’d be no hate if all the individual knew about love was that it was an action one could do in recognition of the interaction between itself and the environment.

There is no intrinsic need for love, either, for that matter. It’s just wonderful to do when faced with the reality that we co-exist on this planet with other life. Imagine if everyone were willing to die for another if it meant enabling them to live the way they want. Imagine a world full of people trying to help others reach their goals. Instead we have systems where we have to fear for our family’s safety because there is no help and the only people willing to help have to require some sort of gain in order to give. We have standards set that preach the importance of our subjectivity and the protection of our ideals, to the discrimination of other ideals. One system, the monetary system, really just affords isolation and therefore it breeds ego and self-justification.

Unfortunately people are far too sick in reality to ever try to institute healthy systems, but if we started correcting these things now we’d be a step closer to one day achieving something greater than what we have now.

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It Calls Me Onanon November 23, 2012 at 1:18 am

My response above is a reply to Sir Evidence.

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Sir Evidence November 23, 2012 at 7:49 am

Sickness means being unable to love, unable to find love in oneself, unable to distinguish love from hate, value from disvalue, good from evil, life from death. Most of us are born with a wonderful instrument – the brain – that helps us not only to survive, but enjoy life to its greatest fulfillment.

Most of us suffer an intellectual damage in childhood and become sick. The culture in which we live is not exactly sane and its diseases are infectious. We know that we are sick, because sickness is painful and we wish to heal ourselves. Sometimes, unable to heal ourselves, we go as far as denying that we actually HAVE a self, convinced that if the self did not exist, we could continue to exist without it and without suffering!

The first step to healing is to recognize that we do have a self and that the self is our sick consciousness. We are conscious beings. A rock does not have a self. It can’t know either joy or pain. It cannot have values or disvalues. It cannot love nor hate. But we know we can, because we have life and life is that phenomenon that always comes with a degree of consciousness.

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It Calls Me Onanon December 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

You’ve made several claims in the couple replies you had to me. I’m going to paraphrase what you said as statements and address the contradictions/fallacious reasoning.

“To determine what love is we should define what a value is.”

This implies that love is necessarily derived from a human’s values.

“The profound meaning that the concept “value” has for the human being is not for some kind of out-of-nature entity, such as an “angel” or a “disembodied spirit.””

..Still observing subjectivity and passively asserting its significance while making the claim that it’s foundationally based-on-humans.

“Not all values are arbitrarily subjective–there are indeed objective values, based on reality and not on fantasy.”

It’s up to the individual to recognize value. Period. Therefore there is no intrinsic value to anything.

“All objective values exist to serve a human being’s life; they promotes one’s physical and mental health. If a value does not do that, it’s not objective and may not be a value worth of love.”

A value is a rationalization of beneficial/advantageous traits that a human places importance on.

There are things that are intrinsically better for one’s health and such based on facts, but that does not mean that one should conclude that values derived from an observance of fact are any less subjective.

If you’re looking to be “healthy,” here’s the recipe:

Humans need to simply observe reality and come to a resolve about existence or else they are deluding themselves. They need to practice logical decision making—for example, if a substance is poisonous and will cause death, do not eat unless the wanting of death is preferred. Be aware, that the preference is entirely made up of subjective rationalization/reasoning but that ultimately, in this universe/existence, none of that matters! It is arbitrary!

I practice observing the simple reality and the logical consequence of doing that is an internal compass for what is right and wrong, ethical and non ethical.

For example, there is a common belief that some people maintain that claims that humans have “no control” and that suggests that everyone should let one another be as they will be by exercising no control. That’s an idea that contradicts with reality. There is in fact control in society and it’s exercised by various means. It’s therefore wrong to say that humans have “no control.” When arguing the validity of the belief, however, people employ rationalizations and fallacies. The common pattern in psychologies that adopt this type of belief is the displacement of detrimental responsibility during confrontation and the resulting self-justification for the actions they move forward with. These people most commonly don’t want blame for their actions and have probably faced a lot of scrutiny in the past. They will continue to exercise ways of avoiding blame, even to extreme degrees depending on the perceived offense.

You see, the important observation is not that I place value on observing reality, because it certainly doesn’t matter, but that not observing reality is a symptom of an unhealthy relationship with life. If I care for the person I’m going to confront them on their error in reasoning in hopes that they will see reality with me. Humans intrinsically want to have reality validated and that’s where our struggles come from. The devil is in people building up defenses and narratives on life that effectively avoid answering to the objective reality.

“We know that we are sick, because sickness is painful and we wish to heal ourselves.”

There is no truth in this statement. You’re talking from your own perspective and you’re addressing your own disposition. If you were actually addressing the observation of humanity, you’d be explaining the science of the dynamic of human behavior in specific or at least of an observed pattern that was diagnosed instead of using a blanket generalization.

“The first step to healing is to recognize that we do have a self and that the self is our sick consciousness.”

The first step should be to observe that the self is a set of practiced habits and interests derived from very specific and tangible circumstances that can be observed. The next step is to recognize that all of these things can be changed and don’t matter at all, as they don’t have any real meaning outside of one’s own subjectivity. The next-next step is to realize that anything that doesn’t answer to the observed reality (i.e. the ‘thing’ you call your “self”, which is actually just a set of accrued preferences based on a singular perspective) doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter and it doesn’t have to be recognized as something real or having to be healthy or observed or whatever.

From there you keep observing reality and you won’t have any illusions about it and your relationship to it. What you “value” (connect with) at that point are the logical behaviors that come from observing reality and the degree of seriousness you exercise while doing them.

Jon November 23, 2012 at 2:00 am

I think all the confusion and argument on this point is all based on words. “Love” is such a loaded word. I think maybe a better word for what David describes in this article is Compassion. Love just means too many different things to people. Shit, we live in a society that uses language so flippantly, saying “I love chicken” is totally normal. No one loves chicken, but that’s the thing with language. I think the word “compassion” describes the Unconditional Love that David is talking about.

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Sir Evidence November 23, 2012 at 7:56 am

Love cannot mean more than one thing. In essence, it’s not really a “loaded” word at all. It always means “to value something or somebody.” We cannot love without VALUEING. It can be a single person or the universe, but as I said above, to love is a transitive action verb, like to eat. It requires an object. To love without an object means to love nothing, just like to eat without something in one’s mouth means pretending to eat.

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Todd Waldorf November 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I talk about love with my partner quite often. We have been together for two years. We are crazy about one another. I’m intrigued by couples who have stayed together for 10s of years.

I strike up a conversation from time to time about their enduring love. The most recent was a Greek women at the cafe down the road from here in Pukerua Bay. She told me that her and her husband lasted because it was more than love. She then went on to tell me in her own way that love isn’t always at the surface of the day. When you have been together long enough that you become one with the person. I had a little bit of a hard time distinguishing the two, but I think I understood what she meant. She enjoyed this person as an extension of herself. Perhaps she separated her being in love and her love for her partner.

I went back that day and struck up a conversation about love. I told my partner, “If times ever get tough and we argue or we don’t seem to talk the same language let’s never give up”. She smiled and said I was silly and of course. I don’t know exactly what love is sometimes but I think I might be onto something.

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Ness November 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm

A state of love itself is NOT painful. BUT to arrive at that state is a road through the abyss of breaking every illusion of attachment, jealousy, desire, want… if one didn’t walk down that road – one does not love and does not know how to, truly. Manipulation to love so evident in us – is what we have been conditioned to experience, through the ‘norm’ out there. Any songs with the content of ‘Can’t live without you’ come to mind?
Yet, true love is a state of inner freedom – for both. When we place another person UNSELFISHLY AND UNCONDITIONALLY in our heart – we have arrived.

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Luey November 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Really great article David…adding to my favorites over the last two years i have been following you! :-)

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Kurt ODell November 26, 2012 at 9:56 am

David, I can’t begin to describe how badly I needed to read this today. I have been struggling with this concept a lot lately in my marriage and this article provides a useful and timely new perspective for me. I have followed your writing for a while now and always enjoy your articles, but this one in particular came at the best time I could imagine. Thank you.

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Diane November 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Thank you, thank you. Interestingly, this was drawn to my attention by a friend of one of my ex’s exes. I think she must have had a similar experience as I. This is brilliant and beautiful. Clearly you love us all. :)

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Freegnome November 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Having had some personal trouble lately, this article hit the spot, Thanks. The comments got me thinking about my experience and from a longer timeline, I think love serves as a amplifier. If you engage the feeling of love with the feelings that are attached to something, or someone, then all the feelings are stronger, for good or bad. If you can let go of many natural but destructive feelings like desire or want. This is, I think, is the letting go part that has been talked about. When you let love be an amplifier for all your emotions and can love freely it removes the worry, and allows you to focus on happy things and productive things. Which will be even better because you love. From a natural point I think we do love more now than a hundreds of years ago, but love its self doesn’t make the world a better place by its self. Love needs space but it can’t live alone, it needs all the other emotions and dynamics that make us human to exist. I just hope that (I) we let love be free and not worry about “do i love” or “Is this love”. Love will grow when we don’t worry about it, and when we are happy love will be fertilizer that will be poured on our other emotions and make them flourish. I just hope that the positive emotions out weight the negative, (which in the long run, often do).

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Karin December 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Love is an attempt to honor our divinity while embracing our humanity. We honor the Divine in the other, the object of our desire, while also honoring the Divine within ourselves. When we fall short of this ideal, we may suffer, but that suffering offers an opportunity for further expansion and illumination. When people start getting nit-picky or pushing their selfish agendas onto another person, it is because they are critical of themselves and have forgotten the Internal Divine. If you don’t recall you’re own divinity you will have a hard time recognizing it in your paramour, and enjoying the type of communion love offers.

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mimi December 7, 2012 at 8:14 am

Came across your site today after a friend had shared one of your articles on fb and I’ve now looked through pretty much everything – really enjoy it and find it extremely helpful! It’s refreshing to find people like you on the web, you actually got something important and meaningful to share. Please keep it coming xx mimi

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Inspirational Sayings About Life December 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm

This is a very nicely written piece. I wholeheartedly agree with the very beginning- love sure ain’t what the movies portray.

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Louise December 11, 2012 at 7:55 am

If it hurts, it’s not love? I would agree with that, but the cause of the hurting is triggered by love. You are jealous, it hurts because you really love the person.

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Maxim P December 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm

David,

I know you often contribute to Thought Catalog. When I started reading that blog (sometime after yours,) I was initially impressed. However, it didn’t take long to realize how many of their articles are repetitive and obsessive, even if they are fairly well written. I hope you share this one – it should answer so many questions for the readers of TC.

Thank you for this, and please – keep writing. Not that you were going to stop.

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David December 17, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Hi Maxim,

At the moment I do not choose which articles appear on Thought Catalog. I told them they can reprint whichever they like from the archives. Once or twice a week they post one.

I’m never stopping, don’t worry!

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Eric Lindberg December 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm

David, you don’t seem to provide any background or rationale for your thoughts on love. I think that’s why this article comes across as bad poetry. It makes it easy to dismiss your ideas as idealistic trash. Do you have any reason for thinking “love” is the way you say it is, or are you simply defining the word “love” to mean whatever want it to? Why do you think love can’t hurt, or be selfish or needy?

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Ingrid Sørensen December 20, 2012 at 9:40 am

Nice to read your posts again. This one was just what I needed right now. Thank you! It’s hard at times to remember what love is. I believe that if you act in the cause of love, you cannot fail. Not really fail.

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Robin K December 29, 2012 at 11:54 pm

I enjoyed what you wrote. The friend that brought me here shared with me the a lovely depiction of The Little Prince and the Fox and how he had to tame him. It took time and patience and the love grew.You can be afraid to open your heart, especially if its one-sided.

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Ephraim February 11, 2013 at 12:54 am

Hi everyone – though I´m from germany I will try to say two or three things in a language I absolutely not good enough at -.-

First: I dont think changing the subejct of the discussion to whether or not the WORD love or the WORD compassion is meant to be critizised is effective. Changing the subject doesnt lead to any OTHER interpretations and in the end the things already said will also be alright for another more or less meaningfull/less WORD.

To understand this you have to think about what is it to a word to be more and more meaningfull: having a load of possible interpretations means that a word indeed has not ONE easy interpretation which leads me to the point, that a word doesnt mean anything if we dont provide it with a more or less simple meaning. (i hope that was explained easy enough)

Second: This is really a great article! I happen to always feel hurt if I fall in love and it lies in direct connection to my fear to be left (and there is another conection, after that another one follows and so on …^^). But also – I know, I love, because I dont restrict my love to ONE thing like in an obsessive way.

i´m happy, now that I´ve seen that at least SOME people in this world have the guts to open their borders for others. But also I am aware of the fact, that most of the people DON`T.

And that is my primary problem – because having open border includes beeing constantly hurt by people who just dont understand what they are doing or that their desire to overthrow you by any means without having any interest in you as an individual person isnt all that good in the end – even for themselves (always look for the consequences in the future!).

Part Three:
I dont think it is as easy to love as people are thinking and in the end the method behind the word LOVE is more more more meaningfull than the different interpretations belonging to far to many different situations.

i think there is something far greater behind what you said and it´s in our own hands to achive a glourious contribution to the humand MIND.

in other words, i believe that it always was the aim of people who called out for greater achievements – of the individual and the society – to become masters of their fears and desires.

The “Method” behind LOVE: It´s about creating a space in your mind that constantly feels towards others – but not loosing yourself in a selfish selflessness. We are not ONE BODY and not ONE MIND – but we are ONE SOCIETY. Simply put – it just IS NOT POSSIBLE to achive a TRUE connection between two humans to SYNC everything within them to ONE BEING – but it is possible to achieve some sort of synchronisation that has constantly be controlled by your own mind.

Controll – a word people who are trying to get a hold on their feelings often describe as the OPPOSITE of feeling.
I don´t think that ist right – beeing able to understand what happens around you includes some sort of controll and also some sort of borders. without feeling yourself it would be hard to distinguish OTHERS and being able to see, in an emotional way, them is the most important thing about love.

So it is about a ballanced usage of your love-mode ;)

Love is an abillity – not something that overthrows you.
Like David said – there are fears and desires and … in many biological reasons that are connected to the negative interpretations of love.

After this wakeupcall – I feel like being able to move on. Thanks a lot! :D

And sorry for all my failures ^^

LOVE_MODE ON!

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Dave X Robb February 14, 2013 at 5:41 pm

So interesting, David — last year I wrote a post on the same thing, including tying it in with what we’re told by pop music, called “Love Hurts?” (http://davexrobb.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/love-hurts/) A lot of people had a hard time with the concept, but a lot of people also “got it.” Glad a friend pointed me to your site — looks like you’ve got a lot of views I’ll appreciate reading about. Namaste. Dave

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th February 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm

You have a very deep understanding of love, but I think you (unintentionally?) leave the impression that love equals some kind of letting go, passive attitude… I have never had that feeling -to love and to let that person exist “outside”, while I’m in some kind of admiration atitude, not doing anything…Love is also about the need to know what happens to that person, about taking care of that person and about fighting for that person (defending him, if ever…).
And heart DOES ache out of love or should I say because of love… It is BECAUSE you love that you empathise when the loved one is hurting…
I’m sorry, I think you were too subtle for me :)

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anais February 20, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Teach your children to respect their parents, but teach them that loved ones also make mistakes. Teach them that when it snows they should watch their step for ice, but also look up at the snow. Teach them to love and accept themselves, and they will know what love is and how to love. And also, teach them to ask themselves what love is. Apparently, many of those who answered were lucky enough to have that education–and that includes you, David :)

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Maryam February 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I have been exploring this site since summer 2012 and love to read David’s position on the mundanities and profundities of life, they really make you examine your own thoughts and beliefs.
My mother always said the best love letters are written by those not in love (think Cyrano de Bergerac). Certainly the more generous, joyous and celebratory side to love will be evident in a person writing about love who has maybe never been in love or is not in love or in very close loving relationships. Yet this may also be the case for a person in love but the point is, as the late Queen Mother used to say, (and William has also repeated her words) “Grief is the price we pay for love”.
Love and its associated good feelings come from a place where sadness and pain also exist, it is the human condition. You cannot have one without the other, if you are capable of feeling deep love you are capable of feeling deep pain. Or you could make a choice to sit in the middle and have a more tempered existence when it comes to love. I listened to the Dalai Lama talk about this the other night on radio 4′s “Something Understood” programme as I dozed off. Although it was inspiring to listen to a calm and jolly attitude of gratitude towards life and others, I could not help feeling that it was an impossible task for me. He is a celibate and as such doesn’t get totally involved in the fall out of human love; but one cannot pass it off as if it is possible with the wave of a hand. One has to acknowledge the love, mess and pain that is humanity, Jesus Christ did and his love meant his death. So love cannot be simplistically defined as only good feelings or that it should not involve painful or sad feelings because love requires a sacrifice of some sort and grief is just one of them.

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Andre Rolla March 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Excellent text. I love the way you transfrom so called “mystic concept” in simple language. About what you said: I am currently in a fase where I am starting to notice this love energy better inside me. I know exacly what are you talking about. But it’s a long term hard quest. I know I have a long way to till I can express love fully in the tridimentional world it is a big intern effort of observation and learning how to separate things right so you can drive your life energy through the right channel. With just a few steps taken I have already started experiencing life a lot different than before.

Thank you for the post. It helped a lot

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David Kawika March 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm

ALOHA
GO TO > Love-NotLove.com

Covers ” What is Love \ and What is Not Love “

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deen April 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm

ya it’s true but i think love is not the meaning of getting her/his .Love is the feeling when you love someone and she is happy then you feel happy and when she sad then you also feel sad.when you love someone its not necessary that you purpose her and make a relationship love is the just a feeling .

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Werter May 22, 2013 at 8:19 pm

This article is amazing, but it continually makes references to being totally “selfless,” but to love completely and infinitely would mean to love yourself just as much as you love others.

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Vanessa May 23, 2013 at 10:43 am

Fabulous article, and just as important and valuable are all of these insightful comments!!! I awaken to new truth of LOVE all the time and this really brings light to my walk and will be applied through Action. I believe Love occurs both naturally and yet is to be cultivated over time with each individual as we serve others and enter Loving relationships. Sometimes We meet many other emotions on the road to Love and while serving Love, that society tends to label as a PART of Love…ie; jealousy, fear, attachment. Those are not a PART of Love. Letting go of THOSE emotions adds potentcy to serving UNCONDITIONAL Love. I love the comments relating to having a relationship being seperate from Love. Love to me is given through action with ALL people as selflessly as possible, and I also enjoy engaging in an intimate monogamous personal relationship. They are two seperate entities, and when having a relationship, it is essential to conduct the relationship in loving ways by recognizing and letting go of the baggage or additional emotions that taint the Love such as fear, attachment, jealousy. To me Engaging in unconditional LOVE is easier if there is no relationship with physical intimacy. And yet, I find value in the personal romantic vulnerable relationship as the leg work of having to choose to be patient, tolerant, and accepting, are more in my face and challenging while creating a beautiful dance. I Love and find both amazing! Either way people choose to live– with or without intimacy, with or without titled relationships—are beautiful ! Thanks everyone for illuminating my path of Love through this conversation. We are all connected, and our words and actions create a ripple to others awakening process. PEACE!!!!

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Iulia May 27, 2013 at 5:31 am

True thoughts on love that match the beauty of a human being that we need to discover in each of us. You have the privilege of being one of the human beings, not „a ridiculous animal”. It is the honor that God gave every person on earth.

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Reticulato July 3, 2013 at 4:46 am

Thank you David! Lately I have been searching for what love is. Until now all that I have found was love defined in terms of relationships. A few years ago I told someone that there is only one type of love. I knew that love for your wife – children – parents – sister may be love, but have other emotional components. Indeed, love in its pure sense is not an emotion at all but a sense of being. Your article is making this clearer for me. And again – Thank You.

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Michelle July 6, 2013 at 5:24 am

This is a great post. I have been looking up what love is, but then I thought I should look up what love is not. The meaning is also listed in the Bible. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous or puffed up.

To truly love someone is to love with your soul (your spirit). It is of God. A lot of people do not understand what love is. They are trying to figure it out. I have truly loved and loved selflessly. I do every day of my life. I will love him forever. And I love him enough to want him to continue with his life and be happy. Desire, attachment, fear, and other components are what the human side of us bring to the relationship. True love is able to overcome these human weaknesses, but I would like to say that we are all spirits having a human experience on this Earth. It is proving to be more challenging than we thought (especially in areas such as love and forgiveness.) Sometimes you will hear people say, “I had a spiritual experience!” but the reality is that they are a spirit having a human experience. To mix the two is very complex and difficult. There is nothing wrong with being human and the desire to feel loved physically and to feel that you belong to someone. Our spirits are the better part of us, but with the right balance of spirit and human nature, life can be better than one could every imagine. So live life, love, learn, and forgive others. Do not expect perfection from the ones you love because they are learning just as you are. We all wanted this human experience and it is precious, believe it.

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Michael July 25, 2013 at 9:18 am

Beautiful post! Although I would disagree about love being definable. Love is, by definition, concern for well being (be it property, a thing, or a person). I don’t associate this with Worship (which is different, lacking self-respect over desire), but in it’s general term you have three types of love (plural or singular, really irrelevant). You have Absolute, Conditional, and Unconditional.

Absolute love is an association that all parties have a desired concern for the well being of the other parties. An example of a relationship based off this is a friendship.

Conditional love is a love based dependently on situation. An example of this is like the phrase “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Unfortunately, I feel the Bible used Unconditional Love a little to rashly in the new testament and here is why:

Unconditional love (theoretical love, cannot exist so long as a condition is placed) is without limitation. Unconditional love in theory is how people have simple concern for the well being of those around them they have no association with, but through narcissism or self-respect is almost immediately destroyed by any burden placed on it. The reason the Bible absolutely destroy’s this concept is because those living under unconditional love who choose to do what god doesn’t want them too essentially are to be destroyed. This makes this a conditional love regardless and thus not unconditional love.

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Amit Mate July 26, 2013 at 3:51 am

This is my favourite article David. Thank you so much for this wonderful gift to humanity. I just want your advice on how to control that high horsepower engine of desire. I’m in a very bad condition David. This desire is on the verge of destroying me completely. I live in India. I need your help desperately. I’ve been following your blog for 2 years now. I’ll be waiting David. Please help me.

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plainblacktights August 16, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Made me think of this: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”.

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Nathan December 1, 2013 at 12:59 am

Jealousy is love and hate at the same time

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Thomas Andrews December 8, 2013 at 5:14 am

A most excellent post. If one cumulatively adds it all up, love does not exist at all. Letting go is too easy, you just let everything go and laugh at those who take love as being either existential or real. Neither is the case. You ignore the validity of anything called love. I believe in good friends and nothing more. Anything more is simply awful. One does not need awful in ones life. Same goes for friends and lovers, you cannot mix the two. The moment you have sex with a person, it ceases being a relationship capable of love. Having both a friend and a lover in the same person is completely impossible. If you’ve dealt with ridicule most of your life, you collect people around yourself that buffers that evil completely out of existence. People constantly hurl themselves at a person proclaiming that they love you. Likewise if no ambition has grabbed you to step out of yourself, why proclaim the existence of something intangible and fully out of reach?

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