Thursday, July 1, 2010

real love

I've been thinking about love lately. It seems one of the main reasons people are not happy (beyond not keeping the commandments) is because they do not TRULY love -- either because they don't know how or because they simply choose to remain selfish.

For that reason I have been looking for good definitions of love -- and what a person who loves actually DOES (because love is, of course, not just an emotion -- it is a principle of ACTION). Clark Swain (a professor of marriage and family life) backs me up on this one: "Real love is basically the same in all human relationships, whether between a grandfather and a grandmother, a newly married couple, or a mother and her child. It involves caring, respecting, responding, empathizing, having concern, giving, receiving, sharing, forgiving. Notice that these words we are using are verbs, and verbs denote action. Loving requires action." (Swain) This is a GREAT article. I want to spend some time with some of Swain's verbs...

Dr. Erich Frohm, in his book "The Art of Loving" defines and explains what a loving person does. A loving person cares about the loved one. Parents who really love their children take good care of them. A person who says, “I love flowers,” but who doesn’t water and cultivate his flowers, really is not loving his own flowers. A person who says, “I love dogs,” but who doesn’t feed his own dog, is not giving love to that dog. Loving is caring. 

I think this is a good one when it comes to personal introspection. I think it's too easy to say "I love this or that" and "I love you" and think that you mean it. I mean, c'mon -- you SAID it. But it's all about what you do from that point. It's simple to figure out what you love... just look for what you care for the most... Who or what do you spend the most time with? Where are your priorities? Are they in earthly things? Careers, school, hobbies, etc? Elder Russell M. Nelson has said: "I doubt that the Lord cares much which honorable vocation you pursue. But He does care if you love one another and serve one another (see Mosiah 4:15)." Nothing should take a higher priority to who you love. 
ALSO - There is a scripture that teaches how to be filled with love: Alma 38:12 "...see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love..." In reference to romantic love, I think this is clear. (If you love someone you will respect him/her and if your love is returned he/she will respect you.) However, I think it fits into all kinds of love as well. Again, if your priorities are out of order then your "passions" will fill your life and take up all of your time and energy...there will be nothing left for those you love.

A loving person responds to others. Loving is empathizing, trying to understand how the other person feels and letting him know that we understand.

This goes along with caring -- because it takes time and effort to empathize. It's not an easy thing for most people to understand how another human being feels; we're often too absorbed in our own feelings to even be aware of others. Living so that you can sense the emotions of others and respond to them in a loving empathetic way has to be practiced and refined. (I think it is one of the most rewarding aspects of love that you can work on in yourself -- it feels wonderful to know that you are trusted and that others can come to you.)

A loving person has concern for the welfare, progress, and happiness of the loved one. He not only has concern; he does something about it by making his resources available to the loved one. Loving is giving. A true gift of love is one that is given with no strings attached; it is given with no concern about what will be received in return.

Along with empathizing we have to also give. It's hard sometimes when you don't even receive appreciation in return. even worse when the other person doesn't even acknowledge what you've done... but to be true lovers we have to learn to give without worry or care beyond the act itself.

Loving is sharing. Have you ever seen a rainbow or a beautiful sunset when you were alone and thought, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to share this with someone?” Or have you ever been alone during a time of illness or trouble and thought, “Wouldn’t it be consoling to have someone here to share this experience”?

This is the easiest one. It's so immediately rewarding. Sharing something wonderful and beautiful makes it so much MORE wonderful and beautiful. Sharing pain and sorrow makes it much more bearable. What a glorious thing it is to love someone you can share with; ideas, hopes, goals, insights, values, experiences, memories....

BUT, what about being IN LOVE? It includes ALL of this with a very important difference:

It is possible that a couple may have great capacity to give love as individuals, but they are not in love. Perhaps they have different backgrounds and interests. He’s from the country and she’s from the city; he’s interested in ranching and the out-of-doors and she’s interested in travel and music. He is Catholic and she is Protestant. He desires to have children and she is not interested in having a family. Thus, even though each may have great ability to give love, it would not be wise for them to marry.

Maybe you are wondering if you are really in love with your partner, if the two of you have a genuine love that will stand the test of time. If there is admiration between you, if you agree on most things, if you cooperate instead of compete, you are probably in love. If you feel comfortable together and can relax and be natural, you are probably in love.

If you feel proud to be seen together in public, if you have similar interests,
(and may I add values!) and if you really trust each other’s loyalty, you are probably in love. If you enjoy one another’s company so much that when you are apart you have a longing to be together, and if you have feelings of deep affection for each other, you are probably in love.

The more of these dimensions that exist in your relationship, the more resilient and lasting your love is likely to be.

Love does not consist of gazing into one another’s eyes, but of looking outward in the same direction. When a man and a woman have learned to do this, though they are two separate persons, a state of inter-person fusion exists between them so that in a real sense they have become one. Each feels toward the other, “I am all for you and you are all for me.” Thus, love is truly “a many-splendored thing.”


  1. you really hit the spot on that one. timing and everything

  2. i think the timing for love is always perfect <3