Friday, April 22, 2011

Love.

     I've always been bothered when people think that love shouldn't be explained.  That it's some random emotion for which we can't find a definition or reason.  I feel like considering love unknowable tends to lead to all sorts of things which aren't healthy and don't make people happy.  How many of us have known someone who stays with someone who treats them badly in the name of love they can't explain? I would wager that all of us have.    

     And so, I have a definition of the word "love" that I use; to love someone is to want them to be happy and healthy.  Also, if it is beneficial for both parties, I want for them to be near.  According to my own definition, I love every person, and I'm okay with that.  There are a couple of additional parts to the definition when it comes to romantic love... like I want to consider that person when I make plans for my future... but those are really just specific additions to the terms in the original definition.  And so I stand by the concise phrasing I like to use.

     Unfortunately, it seems that most people have a much different definition of love; to them, the nearness is the primary value, their own happiness secondary, and the happiness of the person they love only allowable if  said person's happiness does not trigger their insecurities or discomfort.  This is not a happy or healthy way to go about love, and since I love everyone according to my definition, I would like to see people move away from such a negative and possessive view of it.  Either we love people, or we want to possess them and dictate their actions; the two philosophies are incompatible in my mind.

   One of the common things people do which exemplifies this desire to change and control and stifle someone else's personality is the "I love you, but..." and then the naming of a defining personality trait which the person possesses and did when you met.  Such as "I love you, but I really hate it when you act like that."  I, of course, am guilty of this myself.  So, in the interest of trying to be more positive, I'm going to try to turn some of the "I love you, but..." into "I love you because..."  One I might say about myself would be "I love you, but you can be demanding at times."  So let us turn that into "I love you because you value competence in action."

     A value I might give for my husband would be "I love you, but I don't like it when you focus on other people and pretty much ignore me."  A more positive thing to think and say might be "I love you because you tend to focus on whoever needs your attention the most in a group, and you trust me to be able to take care of myself."  It's the same action in the same circumstance, but once I recognize that the action which triggers my own insecurity is actually a positive thing, I am able to fully feel the benefit of what it is.  Of course this can be taken to unhealthy extremes... no one should ever try to turn an "I love you but I don't like it when you abuse me" into an "I love you because you have a strong will," for example. 

     I think that in the future, when I feel stress in a relationship of any sort, be it familial, friendly, or romantic, something I might find useful would be to make a list with the "I love you buts" on one side, and the "I love you becauses" on the other.  If our "but" side is heavier than our "because" side, it would probably do us good to examine why we continue the relationship.  By heavier, I don't necessarily mean more populated... it's nearly always easier to come up with a bunch of little things that bug us than a few really big things which make us happy.  But if the negative side of the equation is loaded with major unresolvable issues and the positive side is full of rarely applicable traits, we definitely have some considering to do. 

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