The kind of love that characterizes what we feel when we fall in love is not empowering love; it’s not unconditional; indeed, it is based failingly on need and powerlessness. Just think of the familiar colloquial phrases to describe this feeling of falling in love: “Falling head over heals”; “Being swept away”; “I’m crazy about you.” All of them indicate a state of ungroundedness, as if a force has taken us away from our sanity.
Immature love says, “I love you because I need you,” while mature love says: “I need you because I love you.” Mature love is a state of productiveness, which implies care, respect, responsibility, and knowledge. It is an active striving for the growth and happiness of the loved person, rooted in one’s own capacity to love.”
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When need is dominant, we are ultimately weakened- we ourselves as dependent on other people as the source of love we need, and anytime others do not meet our needs in time, place or manner we desire, we are set up for disappointment and suffering. At this point we often try to seduce, cajole, manipulate, control, and attack.
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When Love Isn’t Empowering Love
Appointing someone as special: As soon as we appoint someone as special, we set the stage for our own disappointment. For by deeming that person special, we are asking him or her to live up to our expectations of what we want him or her to be. We immediately are asking that person to be someone for us, instead of being that he or she is naturally. We confuse love with specialness. Then do we not live by the belief that if we find someone special we will be happy? We often believe that there is just one true love that will bring a marriage made in heaven. Are these not all myths, quite prevalent in our culture, but ones that do not hold true in our experiences? Problems come with appointing anyone as special. We may think of our children as special, but when we do, we impose more of our expectations upon them as pressure. Or we live in fear of something happening to them. We also attribute specialness to parents or friends. But specialness, as we commonly live it, so often destroys love instead of increasing it; it means that we believe love lies outside us rather than within us. As a result, we feel we have no control, protect, criticize, and try to change the special person- instead of accepting and loving them without conditions attached.
Needing to control those we love: We often think our attempts to control another’s behaviors, attitudes, feelings, values, morals, interests, activities, and bodies comes out of our love for that person. Hence we may want to know exactly where they are all the time, who they are with, what they are doing, and for how long. We may even try to control what they eat, how much they sleep, and how often they exercise! This is the result and cause of our fears and insecurities, and makes Love impossible.