The below excerpt is from the self help psychology book, Be Your Own Therapist.|
Love (which lasts): this is the stuff of actively caring for
another and accepting the other as they are. This type of love
is a decision. One decides to accept the other totally,
without reservation, and with eyes open. The other's faults are
both seen and accepted. The true practitioner of this type of
love can honestly give their loved ones the Love Story message,
"Love means not ever having to say you're sorry" (Segal 1970,
131). For whatever so-called harm was done, the loved one is
accepted and known to be OK.
Many of us achieve this type of
love only with pets or small children. Active involvement, while
not essential to feeling love, is essential to an ongoing
relationship; and its absence will typically be felt as a lack
of love. In this culture many of us experienced the physically
and/or emotionally absent father, who may have felt love for us,
but from whom we often did not receive the feeling of love.
Love (the bastardized version most of us give and receive):
this is conditional love. I'll love you if you do this, or act
that way, or perform in some way that meets my expectations.
Most of us received conditional love as children. Most of us
needed then to hide our hating, our sexuality, our tears and/or
our vulnerabilities because those human qualities were not
accepted by parents or society. So we put on a performance by
denying those unapproved aspects of ourselves to get the maximum
number of strokes. It was not real acceptance of ourselves we
received as children, just an absence of condemnation of the
aspects we hid. Conditional love is widespread today among
adults in most relationships. We couldn't possibly love them if
they do this, or they dislike us, or they have the wrong views,
etc. If you don't act the way I think you should act, then I'll
reject you. You are totally unacceptable to me if you lie,
cheat, two-time me, hate me, treat my family wrong, don't agree
with me on issues, etc. But if you do jump through my required
hoops, then I'll love you (conditionally, obviously).
Conditional love created many trauma knots in us as children
which we then later as adults need to untie.
Love (the feeling): there are some of us who cannot feel the
feeling of love for others. It was trained out of us by the
traumas of childhood. For those of us so suffering, (often
unknowingly), more men than women, there will be avoidances of
(1)close relationships and (2)the words "I love you". If this is
your difficulty, then the most important step you can take is to
decide you want to feel love. To actually feel loving toward
others will probably take some time and perhaps therapy. There
are even more of us who do not "get" the feeling of love when it
is directed toward us. We slough it off without actually
receiving it. A decision is also required here as a first step,
the decision to want to be able to receive love.
Love (its verbal expression): the words I love you. Many of us
have difficulties with those three little words. Those who have
been "toughened" in their childhoods or by life will often be
unable to say, "I love you." Some of us will place a huge
barrier between ourselves and those words, a barrier such as: "I
can't say them until I know the other person is my life-mate."
Thus we fail to acknowledge that we have a problem. The
difficulty with saying the words I love you without any feeling
attached (i.e., caring seems to be missing) is also prevalent,
and is particularly confusing to children. For example, children
know their silent or angry alcoholic dads don't care much. But
their effusive moms, with their thousands of supposedly caring
words, can cause a lifetime of confusion. The ability to say the
words I love you with feeling is essential. The ability to
appropriately express those words in a nonsexual context to men,
women and children is a good indicator of emotional health.
Love (its physical expression): hugs. To be able to lovingly
hug men, women and children is a part of the repertoire of
healthy adults. Unfortunately, many have learned to equate hugs
with sex. This leads to homophobic avoidance of same-sex hugs,
particularly among men. Often one healthy first step for men is
to allow the thought into their minds that such hugs are no more
sexual than those given children. (Chapter 5 has more on
Love (its sexual expression): lust. Sexual behavior is usually
accompanied by a feeling of significant lust, which may or may
not occur within the context of a significant relationship with
that sexual partner. The feeling of love (described in an
earlier paragraph) may or may not accompany the lust/ sexual
behavior. Many of us, because of training and/or trauma, have
lost either our lust or our ability to have sexual relations
with others. Either loss is much to our detriment (more on such
sexual difficulties in Chapter 15).
Emotionally Healthy Adults (with respect to love)
1. are comfortable saying the words I love you to men, women
and children in a feeling way.
2. are comfortable hugging men, women and children in a feeling
3. "get" (actually physically receive) the feeling of love when
it is directed their way.
4. express their total lovingness (emotionally, physically,
verbally and lustily) with a particular partner.
5. decide to love another and then do so.
Few of us achieve all the above. Nevertheless, you will be much
happier the closer you duplicate the above responses concerning
love. Therefore, do you want to make it your personal long term
goal to make some changes in how you feel, express and think
about love? (I hope you do.)
More Excerpts This Chapter
EMOTIONAL HEALTH = MENTAL HEALTH
ANGER AND OUTRAGE
HOLDING ON TO THE RAGE
ANGER KEEPS COMING BACK
LOVE 1 2
SKEWED EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION IS RAMPANT
LOVE © 1995-99