About Love



August 6, 2017

“Love, What life is all about …”  Leo Buscaglia

Love seems to be one of the least understood and most over-used words in the English Language.  Most of us think we’re pretty good at it, until we realize we struggle to define it for ourselves, much less reach a concensus with someone else.  I’ve asked many, many people to define love and the most common reaction is ‘I’m not really sure’.

This post was supposed to be the third in a short series exploring words that have become so over-used as to be, in some ways, meaningless.  After researching a bit and starting to write, I shifted my thinking.  This is now the first in a separate short series exploring love.

I’m taking a stand.  I’m in favor of love, however we end up defining it, because I think it is the only thing that can save us, or at the very least enrich us.  And I am committed to doing my best to drop the cynicism, divisiveness, and self righteousness that I struggle with at times.

I’m taking a stand because I know that if I keep waiting for ‘them’ to be more loving, the world will remain as it is.  And I’m pretty tired of it ‘as is’.  My premise is that global change occurs from an idea.  Like a seedling is only an inkling of what it will be, an idea is only an inkling of the power it can have.

From one person putting an idea ‘out there’, the momentum can build when, individual by individual, people band together around a common idea.  As momentum builds, we can eventually reach a tipping point where what was an idea, becomes a shift in a worldview.  And once that happens, change can occur.

Defining love is exasperating because the love word is used outside the realm of romantic relationships.  We use it to characterize many of our other relationships, and we also use it to explain how we feel about mustard on our hotdogs, watching the Bachelor with our friends, hunkering down with football and a beer on Sundays, and the wind in our faces … we love so much!  Even in romantic relationships, where it seems like it should be the most clear-cut, it’s still puzzling.  Is that early stage, that stage that guarantees we’ll keep procreating to guarantee the survival of the planet, is that love, or lust?

Is it real love when we tell our children ‘I love you but I don’t like you, or your behaviors’.  Certainly traditional wisdom has said that’s a good one-liner – focus on their behavior not on the person.  But really, when you’re enraged with your child, and you’re ready to rip their face off (which you don’t do because you hold a value that you want to be a good parent), are you actually feeling love, like you say you are?  I wonder.  Is that a misuse of the love word?  I wonder how confusing that might be to a child who is certainly not ‘feelin’ the love’ in that moment.

I wonder what you think about that?

I wonder what you think about someone who really believes, and says, “if you loved me you would or wouldn’t do this thing I want you to do­”, or “if you loved me I wouldn’t have to tell you what would make me happy”?  Huh?!

Is that love?

I’m not going to attempt to define it.  Over the next few posts I’m going to offer some more thoughts and ideas that have occurred to me over the years.

I want to stimulate your thinking about whether or not love is a value that you want to live by, rather than something you preach about — a behavior which, in my experience, is often simply my attempt to get others to change their behaviors so I won’t have to change mine.

I bet every one of you reading this can come up with hundreds of examples of how loving you are.  And that’s wonderful.  It’s profoundly important to be aware of what you’re doing that is contributing to your own and others’ well being.

At the same time, I think there is value in exploring some of the ways you may not be as loving as you supposed.  Not to make you feel small, or guilty or uncomfortable.  To challenge you and me to question traditional wisdom and come up with some newer, fresher ideas about how to increase love in our lives and in the world.

A parting thought … If I hold the belief that I’m never unkind, I’ll never notice when I am.  And I can guarantee every one of you is occasionally unkind, and sometimes wildly oblivious to it when it’s happening.  That’s what we need to start seeing and treating.  We’d be way less depressed and anxious if we actually got out of our own way and acted with love as our primary intention, rather than acting from a desire to avoid coming in contact with our limitations.

Let me know if the topic of love is of interest.

Are there questions you’d like to explore?  Comment below so that we can all be considering your thoughts, or send me an email so that I can include your question in a future post.

Next time we’ll talk about Acceptance and Love.

Much love,

10 comments

  1. vR Sarti says:

    Some Eskimo cultures have 50 words for snow because there are so many kinds of snow. Each type of snow has a significant impact on the culture. Snow is an enormous part of their world.

    The Greeks cataloged six kinds of love. Could that be said of the romantic love word? Is there more than one kind of romantic love?

    • Robyn says:

      I love your question. I don’t have an answer. At the same time I think love for us is like snow for the eskimos — love has a significant impact on our culture and is an enormous part of each of our individual worlds.

    • Robyn says:

      How love expresses seems to look different depending on the person, the relationship, the context and the situation. Certainly this definition can be something to strive toward. I recently read that love can only be described and defined at the moment of the experience and that it can be a different experience for each individual. That’s also an interesting perspective that keeps the doors open for more questioning and conversation and possibilities.

  2. Lara says:

    Robyn
    What a great blog about love. One thing you’ve taught me is that before I can love someone, I need to love myself…and find at times, that ‘I love you but I don’t like you, or your behaviors’. even about myself.
    For me, learning to love myself is a daily challenge.
    Thank you for the blog.

    • Robyn says:

      Lara, I think you nailed it! It’s a daily challenge. As disappointing as it may feel to consider that we probably won’t arrive at totally nailing it, there can be something relaxing in knowing that. The whole perfection thing seems exhausting. The idea of bringing kindness into the mix, toward them and toward myself, allows me to keep trying, keep practicing. And even though I’m not doing it perfectly, I notice that I like my life more and more, with even just a little progress.

  3. Diane says:

    Robyn,
    This is a great topic. I am going to use the example of my relationship with my mother.
    I have struggled my entire life with my mother. I am 68. I only very recently realized that my mother has a hard time accepting love. That, I found, makes it more difficult for me to give my love to her for it does not find an open door. It finds resistance. What I now do is give her the love she can accept, not the love I want to experience from her. She doesn’t want to discuss my feelings. She wants to talk about the Cubs, how bad the governments are, everything but her and I. So, that’s what I do. She rarely acknowledges me with phone calls or acts of kindness such as for my birthday so I do that for her. I know I won’t change her but I can feel good that I’m loving her in a way that is healthy for me.
    Then, I looked at myself and my life and realized I have had a very difficult time accepting love. When I do give love, I found that I put qualifiers on it. I am now “mindful” of when people are expressing love to me as it comes in all different forms. I am more open to accepting their love. I am also less “guarded” when giving love but this is still evolving. I still have my gremlins that want me to keep to myself, to not trust, to not be vulnerable, to not love. They are slowly becoming less influential.
    Thank you for these postings.

    • Robyn says:

      Thanks so much for your heartfelt comments Diane. I had the thought that although you’ve recognized that your mom has a hard time accepting love she has been a mirror for stuff you’ve probably benefitted tremendously from working on. Not the least of which is learning to offer and give what someone else truly needs or wants. And allowing yourself to open more and more to the love that may be all around you, just waiting for the crack in the armor to come pouring in. Like you, boy do I still have my gremlins. And I think I can sincerely say I’m grateful for them. They certainly make me one unique cookie! xo

      • Diane says:

        Hi Robyn,
        I never thought about my gremlins making me unique. I’ve always felt they made me weird and unlovable.
        I appreciate you adding that as it will give me another way to look at myself in a healthier light.
        I’m so glad to have this resource.
        Thank you,
        Diane

      • Robyn says:

        I read something by Alain DeBotton – something like “On first dates, instead of asking favorite colors or hobbies, we should say ‘these are my crazies, what are yours’?” I love that!

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