"If you wish to be loved, love."
              "To understand is hard. Once one understands, 
               action is easier."
                                                Sun Yat-Sen
              "You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor 
               and hate your enemy.' But I tell you:  
               Love your enemies and pray for them."
              Many people think they would enjoy the
          refreshing pleasure of sailing their own boat. What
          they often don't realize is that sailing doesn't just
          happen; it requires knowledge, awareness, thinking,
          and work. Furthermore, sailing isn't always a
          refreshing pleasure; at times it can be frustrating
          (when there's no wind) and sometimes it's frightening
          (too much wind). But when it's done with the right
          knowledge and perspective, sailing can be a wonderful
          part of living. The same is true about love.
              In our voyage through life, one of the most
          important charts that we need to be accurate is the
          one on how to navigate the course of love. Most
          people would agree that the dilemma of love is the
          most confusing aspect of our personal lives. It is a
          paradox that if we want more love, we have to create
          it in ourselves and then give it away. To add to the
          confusion, there are also several different forms of
              Some people try to find success in love and are
          repeatedly disappointed and frustrated; others give
          up altogether and become bitter and pessimistic. The
          main reason love causes such great difficulty is that
          most people don't really understand what it is and is
          not. A realistic understanding of love that promotes
          well- being isn't something we are born with or that
          develops without effort and struggle. To make love
          work successfully requires overcoming the illusions
          about it that are rampant in our culture, and then
          developing the ability to apply real love in our
          lives, especially during the difficult times.
          Although it's often confusing and seems to cause many
          dilemmas, love is still the most promising solution
          to our problems.
              In the dominant depiction of love that runs
          throughout our culture, it is portrayed as a romantic 
          and/or thrilling event that is largely accidental. 
          There may be some struggle and distress involved, but 
          these factors are usually resolved with little 
          further evidence of difficulties; when the story is 
          over, it's like riding off into the sunset with most 
          of the struggle related to love left forever behind. 
          Most people would say they know love isn't like 
          that--yet many are still overwhelmed with disappoint-
          ment when what they thought was love begins to 
          involve problems and struggle and effort.
              This portrayal further fosters the illusion that
          love will just happen if we are lucky enough,
          sufficiently financially successful, or able to mold
          ourselves into what we think makes us lovable. With
          this goes the idea that if we can just find "the
          right person," of which there is often said to be
          only one, then love will require little effort.
              This common portrayal leaves out the essential
          fact that love is an ability we need to learn and
          then actively apply in our lives, and that it
          inevitably requires continued effort.
              There are many feelings which people associate
          with love:  desire, attachment, passion, domination
          or submission, longing, security. Yet these feelings
          are not love--they are feelings often associated with
          love, but the activity of love is not a feeling; it
          is something we do, and the highest demonstration of
          it occurs when these feelings aren't present. Though
          such love is usually demonstrated in more obscure
          situations by many relatively unknown people, great
          examples of it are the lives of Albert Schweitzer,
          Mohandis Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother
          Teresa of India.
              In the Latin language, derived from ancient 
          Greek, the words "eros" and "agape" are used to 
          distinguish two types of love. Agape referred to love 
          that is spiritual, rather than sexual in nature, 
          while eros meant sexual love and the desire for 
          sex--in other words, lust. But in the progression of 
          language into today's English, such distinctions 
          have been lost. Unfortunately, instead of having two 
          distinct words to indicate lust versus love's 
          spiritual aspect, we are now more limited by a word 
          that often causes confusion.   
              Consequently how we define love is probably the 
          most important definition we have, for it enormously
          influences our entire course of life.  Therefore, for
          the purpose of developing love, let us define it here 
          as: something we do that promotes the ultimate
          well-being and development of whom we are concerned
          about.  With this definition love isn't something
          that just
          accidentally happens or is caused by luck, and it
          isn't dependent on just finding the right person or
          making ourselves appear desirable. Instead, it is an
          ability that can be learned and refined through
          awareness and practice.
              This active love is giving for the benefit of
          another person, but without an expectation of
          receiving something in return. It's an expression of
          our ability to love, rather than an attempt to gain
          something; we don't feel cheated or diminished if we
          don't get something back in return.
              If we give with the hope of getting some
          compensation, it becomes more of a business
          transaction. This can meet many of our important
          needs, especially when the conditions are clarified
          and agreed upon, but when disguised as love it easily
          leads to bad feelings due to hidden, and often
          unrealistic, expectations.
              Giving without expecting compensation is also
          more likely to promote love in those who receive
          it--in this way it helps to produce more love.
          Accordingly, if we give with hidden expectations,
          these will usually surface later and interfere with
          the promotion of love. If we love in a way that
          doesn't produce more, this is an indicator that we
          may be giving with some hidden expectation of meeting
          our own needs, rather than giving out of real love.
          To what extent our actions increase the overall
          amount of love is an excellent standard for
          evaluating and guiding our loving.
              Furthermore, in many instances the most
          significant giving is not of material things, but of
          our essence, our inner self.  There are some people
          who are materially wealthy and share their wealth,
          and yet they suffer an inner poverty due to the
          inability to share their inner selves. When we share
          our deepest feelings of joy and wonder, sadness and
          fear, when we share our deepest thoughts and emotions
          about living, we are giving the most fundamental part
          of ourselves.
              Through the ages an underlying message of the
          major religions is that in each of us is the
          potential to develop the dynamic ability to love, and
          that this love is ultimately the best solution for
          most of our problems. Real love enriches living
          through sharing our appreciation for the wonders of
          life:  developing such appreciation and sharing it is
          one of our most valuable opportunities.
              There are several forms of love, but each one
          shares three key ingredients. Although the extent of
          each ingredient varies according to the form of love,
          they are always present to at least some degree.
              The first ingredient could be called several
          different names: awareness, knowledge, consciousness,
          or empathy. Actually, it's a combination of all
          these, but "understanding" is perhaps the most
          inclusive. In addition, such understanding doesn't
          mean just a rational knowledge, but also a
          comprehension that transcends our rational thoughts
          and goes into our feelings to make our existence more
              The rational aspect of understanding is
          necessary for us to survive and deal with the many
          aspects of life, and it's invaluable for establishing
          updated and productive beliefs and ways of acting.
          But when rational thinking becomes excessive, it
          blocks us from having a more complete understanding
          of the world.
              Just as sunglasses that are too dark can
          interfere with the experience of viewing a flower
          garden, rational thinking can hinder our overall
          experience of the world by causing us to view the
          world based more on labels instead of what the labels
          represent. Both can act like filters that cause us to
          miss part of the whole experience, which also
          includes being in touch with the feelings of others
          and ourselves.
              In addition, when reasoning is based on
          inaccurate, incomplete, or distorted
          information--which can easily happen--it fools us
          into producing faulty conclusions that cause more
          problems. To act as though our thinking is nearly
          flawless can provide us with a comforting sense of
          virtue, but an important challenge for each of us is
          to enhance our understanding by becoming aware of the
          flaws in our thinking. Like any valuable tool,
          rational thinking needs to be used carefully, so it
          doesn't upset the balance of a more complete
              The eastern mystic G. I. Gurdjieff spoke of this
          first ingredient to loving when he stated, "Knowledge
          by itself does not give understanding. Understanding
          is the resultant of knowledge and being . . . it
          appears only when a man feels and senses what is
          connected with the knowledge" (Ouspensky, 1965). I
          would also add that this process of understanding
          needs to be repeatedly examined for deficiencies and
          updated, so we can continue to grow instead of
          getting stuck in erroneous beliefs and ways of
              We can love only to the extent that we
          understand who we direct it towards. Understanding is
          where real love starts, and the way to increase love
          begins with seeking greater understanding. Whenever
          we have a problem in loving, we also have an
          excellent opportunity to increase our understanding!
              The next essential ingredient for love is
          respect, which means to know a person and then value
          him or her for being a unique individual. It also
          means valuing people as they are, even though they
          may not meet our standards.
              If we supposedly respect people and yet try to
          change them, what we are really showing is that, in
          some way, we don't respect them as they are.
          Furthermore, people who think they are inadequate
          will interpret efforts to change them as proof of
          their inadequacy. For these reasons, even if we're
          attempting to help someone change for his or her own
          good, it needs to be done cautiously, while conveying
          a respect for the person as an inherently worthy
              Author Kurt Vonnegut (1987) proposed that "love"
          is too strong a word, and because of all the
          confusion and problems associated with this word, it
          should be replaced by the word "respect." As an
          example he altered the commandant of Jesus, "Ye shall
          love one another," to read as "Ye shall respect one
          another." He clarified the difference by saying that
          though we may not be able to love our neighbors (or
          always be able to love one's spouse), we can still
          respect them; but if respect is missing, then hatred
          easily takes its place.
              Vonnegut further suggested that the word
          "respect" is usually less threatening and
          confusing--it doesn't have the hidden implications
          that "love" sometimes does; "I respect you" implies
          more unconditional acceptance with fewer strings
          attached. Often when people are supposedly "loving"
          in an intimate relationship, rather than practicing
          real love they are mostly hoping to have the other
          person fulfill their own needs.  The possibility of
          such underlying expectations causes some people,
          especially those who have a healthy self-reliance, to
          react with skepticism when told "I love you."
              Respect is essential for loving. If we lack true
          respect for others as they are, then regardless of
          how much we think we love them, it's only an illusion
          of love. However, this doesn't mean that we should
          refrain from expressing disagreement with those we
          love; doing so would be hiding our inner selves and
          denying both parties a valuable resource for
          increased understanding. But when we disagree,
          especially with those we supposedly love, we need to
          do it in a manner that shows we still value and care
          for them as they are. In this way greater love is
              Although Vonnegut's proposal for replacing the
          word "love" with the word "respect" is unlikely to
          happen on a large scale, we can still promote respect
          as a vital ingredient for loving.
              The third essential ingredient for love is
          active caring, which is directing our energy in a way
          that fosters the well-being and inner growth of the
          person being loved. The need for such caring might at
          first seem to be too obvious, but what is sometimes
          portrayed as caring often becomes restrictive and
          oppressive--and at times even destructive.
              Supposedly because they care, people sometimes
          will try to change another person into what they
          think is best. But often their concerns are based on
          hidden, self-centered motives, rather than the
          ultimate welfare of the other person. Then when the
          attempt to change the person doesn't work,
          manipulation and punishment may be used. Sometimes
          this behavior will escalate into hostility and
              Examples of such coercion based on a
          self-centered concern cover a broad range. A mate
          whose attempts at changing his or her partner fail,
          and then he or she resorts to harsher efforts in a
          further attempt to alter the other person. Often
          these efforts cause injury to the partner's spirit,
          and sometimes bodily injury as well. The tragic
          result of such self-centered, manipulative behavior
          is shown by the alarming statistics of widespread
          domestic violence.
              Another example is the overzealous religious or
          political believers who try to change others to their
          way of thinking. If the change doesn't happen, they
          sometimes resort to suppressing those who refuse to
          conform, often leading to appalling violence. 
          Stalin's Russian purges, the United States' war
          against the American Indian, the "Shining Path"
          communist movement in Peru, the Vietnam War, the
          terrorist activity of Islamic fanatics, and the
          violent segment of the anti-abortion movement are
          some extreme manifestations of this suppression due
          to a self-centered concern.
              Whenever caring inhibits another person's (or
          people's) well-being and growth, then it isn't really
          love, but manipulation in which a deep understanding
          and respect for the other person is missing. The
          caring of real love enhances the person being loved,
          and is not done primarily to fulfill the needs of the
              Such caring requires frequent examination of our
          true motives and the influence of our caring on the
          other person. This multifaceted examination is part
          of what makes loving so complex and challenging.
          Becoming aware of our hidden motives, and evaluating
          if our actions are really better for someone, is a
          difficult and ongoing process that requires conscious
          effort and commitment.
          FORMS OF LOVE
              As there is confusion about the ingredients of
          love, there is also confusion about its different
          forms. There are five basic forms of love: fraternal,
          nurturing, sexual, friendship, and of oneself.
              Despite how familiar this may seem, it still
          remains true: if we do not love ourselves, we will
          be unable to genuinely love others--self-love is the
          foundation we need to build upon.  Thus, the ancient
          Greek maxim, "Know Thyself," speaks of an essential
          undertaking necessary for developing love. In knowing
          ourselves better, we are more able to understand
          others, which consequently increases our ability to
              The differences of people and cultures can seem
          enormous when we view them on a superficial level.
          However, if we closely examine the basic, significant
          needs and problems of all people, we will find that
          we are much more alike than we previously thought.
          Besides the basic necessities for living, each of us
          needs to share with others and feel like we belong,
          and we need to feel we are respected and valued.
          Because the basic qualities that make us human also
          make us fundamentally similar, through understanding
          ourselves we learn about the essence of all people. 
          In doing so we begin to build the unifying
          connections of respect and caring for other people.
              Knowing ourselves is vital, and it requires that
          we be aware of the different aspects of ourselves
          that can add to our sense of "wholeness," as well as
          those aspects that can cause us problems. We need to
          be in touch with our abilities to think and feel, to
          appreciate and share; if we're not, then we're
          missing out on things that can add to our humanity
          and make us more complete. To develop these abilities
          is to fulfill our inner potential for living, or what
          psychologist Abraham Maslow (1968) termed
              All of us have aspects of our personalities of
          which we aren't aware. One tool we can use to know
          ourselves better is a concept called "The Johari
          Window" (Luft, 1969). This is an imaginary window
          composed of four sections, each representing a view
          of ourselves in which our qualities are either seen
          or not seen, by others and ourselves.
                  |                |                |
                  |                |                |
                  |   Section # 1  |   Section # 2  |
                  |                |                |
                  |      Open      |     Secret     |  
                  |                |                |
                  |                |                |
                  |                |                |    
                  |   Section # 3  |   Section # 4  |
                  |                |                |
                  |      Blind     |     Buried     |
                  |                |                |
          What the sections of the Johari Window represent:
          #1 - Open: the aspect of ourselves that we are aware
          of, and which is open for others to see. We are
          willing and able to share this information with
          others. Personal interests and accomplishments are
          big parts of this aspect.
          #2 - Secret: the private aspect of ourselves that we
          are aware of, but others don't see. We either cannot
          or will not show people this aspect, so it stays
          secret to us. Usually this aspect contains many
          negative thoughts and feelings. Revealing more of
          this concealed aspect--opening up--is important to
          reaching our potential.
          #3 - Blind: the aspect of ourselves that we can't
          see, but which others readily see. Our body language
          messages and flawed rationality, and how we affect
          other people, are frequently much more obvious to
          others than to ourselves. When others take the risk
          to tell us about this aspect of ourselves, they are
          giving us valuable information to use in our struggle
          for personal growth. We depend on others to risk
          telling us this information, but we can use it only
          if we are open enough to use it constructively.
          #4 - Buried: the aspect of ourselves that lies deep
          within, unknown to both ourselves and others. Being
          open will help us learn about this aspect, and
          consequently help to develop our hidden assets and
          overcome the strife that is buried inside. Yet this
          aspect can never be fully known, nor does it need to
          be for us to live well.
              All of us have aspects of which we aren't aware,
          including those that could benefit us more if we
          shared them. Building loving relationships involves
          becoming more aware of these different aspects, and
          using the "Johari Window" can help us distinguish
          them. To promote effective personal change, we need
          to recognize what is true about ourselves--otherwise
          we will suffer the consequences of living in a
          private darkness.
              Understanding ourselves is the essential
          foundation for love, upon which we can build a
          healthy layer of self-respect that leads us to care
          for ourselves. Asking relevant questions about our
          thoughts, feelings, and actions plays an important
          role in increasing self-knowledge. However, because
          we have limitations in the ability to see ourselves,
          we can accelerate this process by having a capable
          person or group bring to our attention those aspects
          that we can't adequately see by ourselves.
              One problem people often experience when they
          examine themselves is the tendency to focus on their
          negative traits.  Although we need to be open to the
          truth about ourselves and our problems, focusing too
          much on the negative can quickly decrease our
          confidence and hinder our ability to use our positive
              The key to balancing our self-examination is to
          be aware of the aspects we need to change, while not
          condemning ourselves as inadequate or less worthy
          because we're not perfect. We use self-examination to
          discover our flaws, but then we need to focus on
          developing our positive abilities to put in place of
          those flaws.
              Unfortunately, due to misconceptions about those
          who are seen as excessively selfish or as having a
          "superiority complex," loving oneself is sometimes
          viewed unfavorably.
              Most psychologists would probably agree that
          people who are too selfish or who act as if they are
          superior are usually compensating for a lack of real
          love for themselves. The behavior of such people is
          usually motivated by a hidden inner conviction of
          personal inadequacy and unworthiness. They are
          concerned mainly with trying to escape this
          underlying negative conviction, but they don't
          understand how to fulfill their deepest inner needs
          or how to respond to the needs of others.
              Rather than loving themselves too much, selfish
          people are actually suffering from the inability to
          love themselves and others well enough. They have
          difficulty in giving because their lives are covertly
          dominated by fears of being inadequate and unworthy.
          Since they give little of themselves, they
          consequently have little in their lives that is truly
              The longshoreman and philosopher Eric Hoffer
          (1968) wrote that a basic problem is people do follow
          the command of Jesus to "Love thy neighbor as
          thyself," but most people have a lack of love for
          themselves. Correlating to this command, Jesus also
          said "The Kingdom of God is within"; reason tells us
          that God is in this kingdom, and therefore inside
          each of us. We are fulfilling what Jesus really asked
          of us when we love the supreme being that is inside
          us, and then extend that same kind of respectful love
          to our neighbors.
              A fundamental task for all people is to develop
          the understanding that will enable them to respect
          and care for themselves unconditionally. Then they
          can develop the ability to care for others in ways
          that create lasting love and fulfillment.
              When people have not developed the ability to
          love, it's a sign that there is some aspect of
          self-love missing. However, people can appear to be
          very giving, but still be lacking in self-love. At
          first such people may seem to be filled with much
          love, demonstrated by generous giving for the benefit
          of others.  Often though, they eventually end up
          giving so much that they feel drained and depressed,
          unable to continue this giving. From a quick or
          casual observation they may seem to be genuinely
          unselfish in giving of themselves. But if we go
          deeper, we may also find they are compensating for
          hidden feelings of unworthiness by trying to gain the
          approval or love of others with their generous
          giving. Moreover, they frequently fear that if they
          reduce their giving, they will lose the love,
          approval, and sense of self-worth they have gained
          through their sacrifices.
              The basis for such giving is actually a lack of
          understanding and respect for themselves, which leads
          to not being able to appropriately care for
          themselves. Then like anything not properly cared
          for, they eventually break down due to insufficient
          care in maintaining themselves.
              An example of this unhealthy giving is the mate
          or parent who gives so much, and shows such
          inadequate respect for his or her self, that the
          partner or child ends up not treating the person with
          respect. Instead, the recipient often builds up a
          mixture of resentment and guilt which surfaces in
          disrespectful and uncaring actions that increase the
          feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness in the giver.
          This pattern usually continues in a vicious, downward
          cycle until the giving person breaks the cycle by
          taking effective action to help themselves.
              Another example is the political or social
          activists who give a great deal of time to their
          causes, but disregard their personal lives which
          could have provided an important source of
          rejuvenation. Then they eventually become too worn
          down and frustrated, partly because they have
          neglected this important part of their lives.
              Real love is not manifested by excessive
          selfishness or selflessness, but by a healthy balance
          of giving and receiving that enhances those affected
          by it. This balance is difficult to sustain, and it
          requires an ongoing effort.
              The fraternal or "brotherly" form of love
          originates from understanding others on a group
          basis. When we go beyond the superficial differences
          in people, we can come to identify with their basic
          qualities of being human; then as we learn to love
          ourselves, we will also be more able to love all
          people because of our ability to identify with them.
              If we are really loving we will include
          everyone, as "brothers and sisters," in our love. A
          person whose love is based on a deep understanding
          will be unable to exclude people because of their
          class, race, religion, or nationality. By examining
          which people we exclude from our respect and concern,
          we have another way to evaluate our love, and also a
          way to find valuable opportunities for expanding our
              Like other forms of love, though, the fraternal
          form can prove to be difficult and complex. One
          problem related to this form has become increasingly
          controversial: sometimes in fraternal love the effort
          to help our "brothers and sisters" fosters an
          unhealthy dependence. Instead of helping people to
          grow and develop their abilities, such dependency
          reduces their confidence and self-esteem. One example
          occurs when a government welfare program gives
          assistance to people without helping them learn to
          become more self-sufficient. Another example is when
          a private charity provides free food and shelter
          without asking the recipients to in some way make a
          contribution to improving their lives or community.
          In both examples the potential for expanded
          dependency and diminished self-respect is increased.
              Although this dilemma does seem to be recognized
          more often now, the resources to help people gain
          self-sufficiency appear to have declined in
          comparison to the increasing need. Many people would
          like to decrease public assistance for those in need,
          supposedly to reduce the negative side effects of
          dependency. Yet rather than being an honest attempt
          to help reduce dependence, often the wish to cut this
          public assistance is a rationalization for decreasing
          their contribution to building a better and more
          balanced society. Instead of simply reducing
          assistance to people in need, respect and caring can
          be better demonstrated by promoting the resources
          that help people learn the skills for improving their
              Unfortunately there is no simple answer to this
          complex social and economic problem. Any solution
          needs to be evaluated for its overall effect on both
          the individuals being helped and the society as a
          whole. Nevertheless, helping people so they can help
          themselves is both economically and socially more
          beneficial in the long run than neglecting the
          problem or just offering short term relief.
              This form of love differs from the fraternal
          form in that it's more personal. Instead of an
          understanding on a group basis, the nurturing person
          understands, due to a much more intimate
          relationship, that the receiver's basic nature is the
          same as his or her own nature.
              Nurturing love from parents is the basis from
          which children learn to love themselves, other
          people, and life. Children learn to imitate the way
          their parent figures care for them and others, and
          from these models they also learn whether or not
          people and life are to be valued. Good parental
          models instill a sense of self-worth, compassion, and
          appreciation for life into children.
              Ultimately parental nurturing is expanded to its
          utmost when parents foster their children's
          self-reliance and independence.  In doing so children
          gain greater self-confidence and strength in dealing
          with the problems of life. But the process of
          children becoming independent can be very difficult
          for parents, because it in essence means that the
          children are leaving the parents.
              As can happen in any type of helping
          relationship, parents can be too helpful or
          dominating. Then instead of building self-confidence
          and independence, they unwittingly encourage the
          children to remain overly dependent and not develop
          their full capabilities. Such inappropriate
          dependence is promoted when parents do something for
          a child that the child could benefit from doing or
          from learning to do. Although the child's development
          could be enhanced by performing the activity, the
          parents do it for the child to make themselves feel
          good.  Furthermore, parents usually aren't even
          conscious of this personal inner motivation for being
          overly helpful.
              Children need to learn to deal with the small
          decisions and responsibilities that are part of
          everyday life. When parents too often find solutions
          for a child's difficulties, they are preventing the
          child from learning to deal with problems. A frequent
          challenge in nurturing love, as with all love, is
          determining what is excessive and if it is
          interfering with growth; doing so requires a
          commitment to frequent evaluations of our actions and
          their effects.
              Sometimes problems increase when parents
          inordinately demand that their expectations be
          fulfilled by their children. A manifestation of this
          situation happens when parents insist that a child
          must meet their expectations, or else the parents
          will no longer love the child. Examples of such
          conditional love occur when children go against the
          wishes of their parents relating to clothes,
          companions, school, marriage, religion, or
          career--and then the parents withdraw their love.
          This withdrawal is more than just denying the child
          an allowance, use of a car, watching T.V., or some
          other privilege. While the withdrawal may include
          denying the child these things, the really damaging
          withdrawal is treating the child with a lack of
          respect and caring.
              Though nurturing love is essential to good
          parenting, it isn't limited to parents; a person just
          needs to be nurturing to someone who is personally
          known. Then it must be done in such a way that leads
          the other person to grow. Thus, this love is also a
          part of a well-rounded, healthy person's loving.
              Real love helps people become both more
          self-reliant and caring, with increased confidence in
          their ability to live well.  The potential problems
          in active caring--which can result in increased
          dependence or oppression--make loving complex and
          challenging. To reduce these problems requires that
          we be open and examine both the real reasons we are
          giving or trying to help, and the ultimate effect our
          actions have on the recipient.
              The most misunderstood and confusing form of
          love is the sexual form. Besides the involvement of
          sexuality, it differs from the other forms in that it
          eliminates from our loving everyone except the sexual
              Though this love is very intimate, it's an
          intimacy that can easily be superficial and
          self-serving. In a sexual relationship we can quickly
          feel we know the other person, and we may even feel a
          spiritual connection. Usually called "falling in
          love," this experience should be more realisticly
          referred to as falling into infatuation--a strong and
          unreasoning, transitory attachment that is just an
          illusion of love.
              The anticipation and fulfillment of a sexual
          relationship can be very exciting and pleasurable,
          and the desire to be close to a person can be easily
          misinterpreted as love. But instead of love, it is
          really a bond we feel as a result of receiving
          pleasure and anticipating further pleasure. There is
          nothing actually wrong with this bond itself, and in
          many situations it's very beneficial for both
          partners. The benefits of this bond are the
          underlying premise for Masters and Johnson's book,
          "The Pleasure Bond." However, we need to be aware
          that instead of being a love based on caring for
          others, this bond is more of an informal business
          agreement involving pleasure.
              The confusion about sexual love has caused some
          people to think that a relationship which is
          primarily sexual can't be really loving. In most
          relationships that are primarily based on sex, this
          is usually true. But if a person has a healthy
          self-love and is capable of fraternal and nurturing
          love, then he or she may be able to truly respect and
          care for a relatively unknown sexual partner. While
          this is possible, it is also difficult; relationships
          that are mainly sexual are very susceptible to the
          deceptions and hidden motives which create a high
          risk for causing grief. In addition, pursuing sexual
          relationships reduces the number of more well-rounded
          relationships a person can maintain. A relationship
          that is based mainly on sex can be loving, but it
          requires exceptional honesty and maturity on the part
          of both partners.
              There is also a crucial distinction about a
          primarily sexual relationship in which the partners
          also love in the fraternal and nurturing forms. In
          such a relationship, if one person no longer wants to
          continue the sexual relationship, then because they
          are loving, both partners will still demonstrate
          respect for each other by trying not to damage the
          other person's overall well-being. The person who
          loses the sexual relationship will often go through a
          grieving process, but the way in which the grief is
          dealt with nevertheless reflects respect for the
          other person.
              A person who really loves another will still
          love him or her even when the sexual relationship no
          longer exists. The deeper understanding from the
          person's fraternal and nurturing love continues to
          sustain the respect and caring, even though the
          sexual aspect changes.
              However, when a relationship is based on just
          the illusion of sexual love and one person learns
          that his or her partner no longer wants the sexual
          relationship, the reaction is often harmful. The
          rejected person frequently will behave in an uncaring
          or disrespectful way towards the other person. This
          is the conditional love of "If you don't meet my
          desires, I won't respect or care about you."
          Sometimes in this type of relationship the person who
          is rejected will progress to acts of violence because
          his (usually it is the male) desires are not being
              Although at times a negative reaction may stem
          from the surprise and shock produced by the loss of a
          sexual relationship, if a person continues to react
          with harmful behavior it shows that his or her
          relationship really wasn't based on an understanding
          and concern for the other person. Instead, it
          indicates that the relationship was based on the
          satisfaction of self-centered desires. When those
          desires are no longer met there is little caring
          left, because the central care was that the sexual
          desires continued to be fulfilled.
              Sexual love is the initial motivation that leads
          most people to love deeply. However, a continued
          emphasis on it can lead to a life of disillusionment
          and emptiness. Sometimes people move on to real love
          as a result of that unhappiness, but frequently they
          become stuck, unable to grow beyond the illusions
          that often accompany sexuality.
              While sexual love is a wonderful part of living
          that can add to the wholeness of being alive, it's
          not very effective for providing us with the deeper
          benefits that well-rounded and more inclusive love
          can provide. On the other hand, if this sexual aspect
          is viewed as bad or evil, we are likely to miss one
          of the great experiences of life. Furthermore, if
          sexuality is repressed too much, it often shows up
          eventually in hidden forms which result in perplexing
          counter-productive behaviors.
              The key to understanding sexual love is in not
          confusing its illusion of deep love with the more
          mature forms of love. Again, this requires that we
          make an ongoing effort to be aware of our motivations
          and the true needs of the person we are loving.
              Another form of love is the friendship between
          people who know one another on a personal basis and
          on relatively equal terms. In such friendship is the
          unifying acceptance found in fraternal love, as well
          as some nurturing love. Because of the mutual
          understanding and respect between loving friends,
          independence and spiritual growth is readily
          promoted. Yet this friendship can seem paradoxical
          and full of difficulties, as the following quotes
          "The rule of friendship means there should be mutual
           sympathy between them, each supplying what the other
           lacks and trying to benefit the other, always using
           friendly and sincere words."
          "The more we love our friends, the less we flatter
           them; it is by excusing nothing that pure love shows
          "It is not so much our friends' help that helps as
           the confidence of their help."
          "A true friend is somebody who can make us do what 
           we can."
          "Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, 
           by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of 
           our grief."
          "The condition which high friendship demands is the
           ability to do without it."
              It has been said that if a person has one true
          friend in a lifetime, then he or she is lucky. True
          friends are indeed infrequent, but they are the
          result of much more than luck.  Friendship results
          when people combine the ingredients of love, using
          awareness and patience in a commitment to continuing
          their relationship.
              The highest opportunity to love occurs when we
          are not infatuated, and when we are giving without
          trying to get something in return. This excludes the
          times when we experience the passionate feelings of
          "being in love." It also excludes the times when we
          think we love someone because of our desire for him
          or her. Rather than being based on a deep
          understanding, respect, and concern for the other
          person, these two situations actually are attempts to
          satisfy our own needs and fill the emptiness of our
          lives. If the feelings in this "needy loving" were
          stripped away, it would resemble a business
          transaction: "I'll give to you, providing that you
          give me what I want." The transaction of real love is
          "I give because of my love for you, and if you choose
          not to give back, I'll still love you."
              The utmost love that can result from this
          opportunity is demonstrated by an understanding and
          respect that is realistic and clear of infatuation.
          Caring is then done for the benefit of the other
          without the exhilarating anticipation that our
          desires will be met.
          A CLOSE UNION
              A further opportunity for deep love occurs
          between two very intimate, yet relatively independent
          and self-sufficient people.  This opportunity is
          commonly known as marriage--not necessarily the legal
          definition of the relationship, but rather the
          definition meaning "a close union," with the added
          connotation of a mutual commitment to sustaining that
              Marriage is really a combination of the
          ingredients of loving in a complex and constantly
          evolving relationship that integrates the different
          forms of love. The healthiest marriages occur when
          the partners care for each other in a manner that
          fosters mutual growth, which also means that they
          share with each other--in a way that conveys
          respect--their problems, including those related to
          the other person. This enables each person to become
          stronger and more able to enjoy life, and the
          strength and joy in turn reinforces the marriage. The
          caring isn't due to intense, passionate feelings of
          love, but comes from a profound understanding and
          respect that is grounded in a healthy self-love. The
          greatest opportunity in marriage for the
          demonstration of deep love happens when the partners
          aren't blinded or motivated by feelings of passion,
          and when they aren't trying to compensate for a lack
          of self-love.
              Although marriage is a good opportunity to love,
          it does create practical limitations on how many
          others we can love directly. As with everything,
          there are always trade-offs. We need to realize that
          we can extend ourselves only so far; it isn't
          realistic to say that with real love there are no
          limitations to how many people we can actively care
          for. We only have so much time and energy, and that
          which we spend to make a marriage successful can't be
          spent on other relationships. But rather than
          reducing the power of love, this realistic view makes
          it more feasible and within our reach, and thus can
          encourage us to develop our loving.
              Yet marriage doesn't really increase or decrease
          the total amount that we love--it alters the
          direction of it. Though some may not have or wish the
          opportunity of marriage, the power that comes from
          love causes the lack of a marriage partner to be of
          little consequence to how much people actually love.
          Not having a mate doesn't reduce the amount of loving
          people are capable of; it only changes who receives
          their love. Those who are truly loving will continue
          to actively care for others and themselves even if
          they don't have a mate. The opportunities for the
          fraternal, nurturing, and friendship forms of love
          are still extensive without marriage. More important
          than having a mate is striving to develop the ability
          to love.
              If loving is actively doing something that
          promotes the well-being and development of others,
          then how do we love those with whom we have no direct
          connection? The saying, "If you're not part of the
          solution, you're part of the problem," is relevant to
          this question. People who are loving realize that
          everyone has connections with each other, though
          these connections are often not readily visible. The
          science of physics is even confirming these
          connections through the new theories that have
          emerged in the study of quantum mechanics.
              Each minor action of ours has a minuscule,
          ripple-like effect on others far removed from us. A
          small expression of our love can add a small positive
          fraction to another person's accumulated experiences
          of love received from others. The accumulation of
          such loving experiences can then stimulate that
          person to make a small positive contribution to yet
          another person, creating the same accumulative,
          positive influence that he or she experienced and
          then passed on to another person. It's similar to the
          accumulative effect of waves washing against a jagged
          shore, eventually creating a beautiful bay with an
          inviting beach; seeing the bay can then enhance our
          appreciation of nature and cause us to care for the
          environment far from the waves and shore that helped
          to shape our concern. Our caring can then subtly
          influence someone else, far from the original waves,
          to also care for the environment.
              Small, seemingly insignificant actions of love
          can have a wide range, from giving some brief
          assistance to someone in need, to simply giving a
          friendly smile or kind word to a stranger. But when
          our small actions are multiplied over a lifetime,
          their influence is likewise multiplied.
              We affect many others in ways that are beyond
          our ability to see. We may not directly affect those
          with whom we have no direct connections, and we may
          not be able to see how we affect the world as a
          whole--yet through the interwoven connections of
          life, our actions either make the world a little
          better or a little worse. Each of us can indirectly
          promote the growth and well-being of all people by
          radiating awareness, respect, and caring through our
          conduct, and by doing so we will send ripples of love
          through the world. We are either part of the solution
          or part of the problem, and it's up to us to choose
          which part we play.
          Questions we can ask ourselves about love:
          1.  Do I value myself for being the complex person
              that I am? Do I acknowledge my various negative
              aspects without rejecting myself? How do I 
              express respect and caring for myself, and 
              build upon my inner potential? What could I do 
              to improve on each of these?
          2.  How well do I really know the people I love? How
              much do I respect them, and how do I show this
              respect? Do I care for them because I need them 
              or want them to fulfill my desires?
          3.  What is my response if those I love no longer
              meet my desires? Do I still respect and care 
              for them, or do I react with disrespect or 
          4.  How does my love for others enrich their lives
              and encourage their growth? Does it produce 
              more love or does it predominantly cause 
              negative effects to myself and others?
          Suggestions for further reading:
               "Why Marriages Fail or Succeed--And How You 
                                  Can Make Yours Last
                      by John Gottman
                Note: If you are looking for a book to use in 
                improving a committed, intimate relationship,
                in my opinion this is the best.
               "A Conscious Person's Guide to Relationships"
                      by Ken Keyes
               "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?"  
                      by Jordan and Margaret Paul
               "Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment"
                      by Gay & Kathlyn Hendricks
               "Making Love Work"
                      by Zev Wanderer & Erika Fabian
               "Love and Addiction"
                      by Stanton Peele 

Copyright 2001 by Keith L. Kendrick
E-mail: awaken@teleport.com
Url: :http://www.inner-growth.com