Monday, March 21, 2011

"In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make."

Love is a feeling. A more specific delineation of that feeling cannot be given so simply & easily.
People may say that they love food, love traveling, love toys or love dancing. I do believe that our strongest positive feelings about objects & activities contain many of the same elements found in all forms of love. Love of country or community adds elements of loyalty, pride of membership or common cause. Love for animals, co-workers, children, friends and non-spousal family members add elements of personal relationship and reciprocity of feeling. I am choosing to focus my attention on what is usually called romantic love — the main subject of a significant portion of popular music.
Romantic love (which I will usually abbreviate to "love") drives exclusive relationships. Because love is a feeling there is no guarantee of reciprocity. Unrequited love is commonplace. Moreover, simply because love drives and is most frequently expressed in exclusive relationships does not necessarily mean that it is always expressed in exclusive relationships. One can be in the formative and/or terminal stages of romantic love with more than one person. And some people seem to be able to have more than one "significant other", although qualitative & quantitative equality of feeling is not possible. I believe that with social & economic progress such manifestations of romantic love will increase.

Love is not desire — love is a feeling that can be expressed and can include the experience of fulfillment. (Desire is lack of fulfillment.) In love, the thoughts, feelings, actions and opinions of the beloved matter. There is a focus of interest, attention & caring on another person and their words & actions impact our emotions. Loving is a deeply involving process which can entail profound emotional interactions with the beloved.

Love is not necessarily closeness in the sense of familiarity because it is possible to love a total stranger — "love at first sight". Love can cause desire for the greatest possible closeness — or it can stir such anxiety as to make someone fear closeness and run away. Love can be a barrier to closeness when being honest with the beloved entails too much danger of revealing faults, inadequacies or shameful deeds.
Love is a feeling, not a command. Love cannot be willed into existence. One cannot sincerely make a vow to love. One can, however, commit oneself to be loyal to another person despite momentary feelings. When one feels love for another person repeatedly & strongly over a long period of time there is good reason to believe that those feelings will continue. Vowing to love under such circumstances is not misleading in the sense that the person who vows believes that love has a high probability of continuing. Lovers have a desire to reassure each other and to be reassured. Few people would agree to buy a house or have children with a beloved without a strong expectation that the love is an enduring one.
 Love is not a habit or a duty. But when commitments have been made and/or expectations are high, the consequences of not expressing love, whether heartfelt or not, can be fearsome. When one is aware that it would be painful for the beloved to not hear words of love, habits seem a safe recourse.

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