What is love? Is love always tumultuous or can loving someone bring peace and joy, too? The post below unravels the true meaning of love and lays down the four elements of love to make it work for you.
Continuing from my last post, I share with you the four pillars, four constituents of love. If you see what I mean, I promise, by the time you finish reading this post, you’ll have a new perspective on love. What is love? Just having feelings for the other person, or wanting someone real bad is not always love; it may be, but generally, it isn’t.
Think of love as an object for a moment, an entity that is made up of four elements. You bring them together and love appears miraculously. In the absence of the primary constituents, what you experience may be strong attraction, it may be a crush, infatuation, something, anything but love. Let me start with an anecdote:
A man comes home in the evening to see his children, still in school uniform, playing barefoot in the street. He enters his home and finds that their school bags, their socks, and shoes are lying in the living room. A further he goes and sees the dining table littered with open bottles of peanut butter and jam, dirty plates, bread crumbs. On his right side is the sink with a stack of dishes. The dinner’s not ready, and the whole kitchen is one big mess.
Shocked and intrigued, he goes to his bedroom and finds the bed undone, his wet towel from the morning still lying there, and his wife, still in her night suit, reading a book.
“What happened?” he exclaimed, “the house looks as if a ghost did the rounds today.”
“Oh, that,” she said casually. “You know how you always say what do I do sitting at home all day? Well, whatever it is that I do, today, I didn’t do it.”
In our sense of self-importance, it is easy to underestimate, even overlook, the contribution of the other person. Your work may be different, it may even be harder but it doesn’t mean it’s more important. Love is about seeing the world through the eyes of the other person. This leads me to spell out the four factors of love. As follows:
When two people are living together, there’re going to be trying times, difference of opinions, disagreements, and all. But, at that time, if you choose to be respectful to the other person and not be sarcastic or contemptuous, your relationship will remain intact. Even if you don’t agree, still, be respectful. It’s worth it.
Each time you shoot words of anger, every time you belittle the other person or their contribution, if you mock them, a great blow is delivered on the delicate flower of love. It’s okay to disagree, it’s even okay to have arguments sometimes, but it’s not okay to shout and it’s not okay to talk down. For your own good, respect each other.
When someone’s self-esteem is attacked, they’ll quickly, even if temporarily, forget what all good you’ve done for them. Why? Because self-esteem, self-respect, or even ego, is linked to the most innate, fundamental human aspect of self-preservation. Respect is not limited to just respecting the other person but their values too. They may have different beliefs than yours, a different way of thinking, of operating. You don’t necessarily have to agree, but if you wish to retain love, you’ve to, at the least, respect.
The second piece of the love-puzzle is care. It is love in action. You may tell someone twice a day that you love them but the first moment they need you and you are not there for them, what good is that love? If he or she’s sick and you don’t even give them medication, if they are scared or nervous and you make no attempt to soothe them if you can’t make them feel good about themselves, if you can’t comfort or brace the other person, what good is that love?
Care in words is important but care in actions is far more important. It doesn’t just stop at paying the bills, it’s about repaying the other person. Every word, every gesture of care fosters love. What do you do with the things you love, be it cars, gadgets or accessories? You take care, right? Therefore, what would you do if you really loved someone? You do the math.
I once read, “Nobody is perfect. And, I’m Nobody!” This is how many people live. They know they are not perfect but they believe and behave as if their word is the gospel. Compassion is about being kind towards the other person and their mistakes and not holding them hostage to your own self-perceived sense of superiority or perfection.
Sometimes, when you don’t agree with them, or when you can’t understand their perspective, can you, at least, adopt a compassionate view and let it go? Forever justifying our thoughts, acts, and emotions, we are often compassionate towards our own mistakes. But, it is having compassion for the other person that heals love. I’m hurt but I’ll let it go says forgiveness. I’m sorry you had to do this, says compassion. Forgiveness sympathizes, compassion empathizes. And love? Love synthesizes the two.
The fourth and final ingredient of love is appreciation. From a five-year-old to a ninety-five year old, appreciation makes the other person feel valued, it makes them feel loved, important. No one wants to be unhappy.
Whenever you see good in the other person, express it, appreciate it and they’ll automatically want to do more good. You don’t have to do it artificially, you just have to look at their positive side. Everyone could do with a bit of appreciation. In a relationship, two people, day-in-day-out do numerous things that could be appreciated but the lack of the first three elements makes them oblivious to the good the other person is doing.
After being married for fourteen years, a man applies for a divorce.
“On what grounds do you seek divorce?” the magistrate said.
“Your Honor, my wife has absolutely no table manners. She’s a disgrace at social dinners.”
“You’ve been together for fourteen years, and now, suddenly her table manners is an issue?”
“Yes, Your Honor, because only last month I read a book on manners and etiquette. She has none of them, I observed after finishing the book.”
As we grow and gain new perspectives, as our priorities change, often we want the other person to change as well. The other person, however, is going through his own set of lessons. Just because now you know more or know different doesn’t make the other person unworthy or unfit for your love.
Mostly when people say do you love me, what they are really saying is: “Do you want me? Like really want me, more than anything or anyone else in the world.” It is then followed by an assumption: “So, if you want me, I’m sure you’ll do everything possible to keep me happy, to take care of me. Forever.” Often, love is confused for an emotion, for madly wanting someone or being wanted badly by the other person.
It may be a form of love but it’s often not sustainable. The truth is, in real life, this type of love only happens for a short time, and then people enter into a relationship. Once living, loving and seeing each other becomes part of the routine, they start to ignore one or all of the four elements above and as that happens, love withers away before long.
Lasting love is always mutual. You can’t love someone out of pity or obligation, it won’t last. At the initial stages, love is a strong feeling and then a strong desire. Thereafter, it is an act, not the act of making love but the act of loving, it requires some effort from both sides.
Next time you tell someone you love them, ask yourself if you respect them, care about them if you are compassionate and appreciative towards them. Yes? Now ask yourself if your actions show it too. Yes? It is love. And do you want them too? Yes? Big Bonus. Companionship, joy, togetherness, a sense of peace and security automatically find place in a loving environment. Love adds up.
And what if they don’t love you back still? For another day.
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So, there you have it: respect, care, compassion and appreciation – the four elements of love that keep the flame of a relationship burning. But what is love – are there other definitions apart from what’s mentioned above? Does loving someone always mean being vulnerable? The following FAQs answer these and more.
What is an example of true love?
Love, like faith, is beyond logic or rationale. It is the very thing that propels us to grow, transform and make the impossible possible. I am not sure if faith can move mountains but I am certain that if the stream of love is gushing from your heart, you can move the entire universe. Love makes you transcend your limitations.
What is love, though? Love: a state where you equate your own well-being on par with that of the other person.
Care: the only true measure of one’s love. Whether your actions show that you care about the preferences, honor, and wellbeing of the other person (and they yours) is just about the only true indicator of love.
Read the moving, beautiful story of Lata Khare, a 65-year-old poor villager who ran a marathon barefoot to win the prize money for her husband’s medical treatment. You cannot imagine doing what Lata did for her husband without a deep love that constantly runs through your veins faster than adrenaline does in fright. That is what only love does.
What is the true meaning of love in a relationship?
To love the other person the way he or she likes to be loved is love. All else is merely an illusion of love, quasi love at the most. If you truly love the other person then you make an effort to find out what matters to them and how he or she wishes to be loved. Even though we want to love and to be loved, the truth is, each one of us wants to be loved differently, in our own way.
This is the simple principle of long-lasting relationships: to love them the way they want to be loved and not how you think they should be loved.
Still asking, “What is love?” The story of the rare seabird which was killed by the marquis of Lu because he couldn’t love it the way it needed to be loved should give you the answer. It is the art of love in a nutshell.
What is a useful trait for a long-term relationship?
Have you noticed that a wedding ring only has one solitaire? The little baguettes and metal enhance its beauty. Sometimes, you be the solitaire in your relationship and at times, let the other person be. Sometimes you are in a supporting role and other times you are in the lead role. This is the basis of long-lasting relationships.
In love, no one person is a master, for, between you, love, and her, love alone is the master. When two people are in love, they follow “love”. In that devotion to love, in that vulnerability lies the greatest security. The mind may reject this notion but the heart knows. That is why, you get hurt, and yet you don’t stop loving. You are hurt again and yet you love again.
A last word on love – life has little meaning without it.
What does love feel like?
What is love, really? An intense emotion, a deep longing, an illusion, merely a transient infatuation, an act, just an expression or a name given to show how much the other person (or a crowd) means to you?
It’s something rather obvious: love is nearness. The nearness you experience, be it emotional, physical, or spiritual, represents the various shades of love. The person we love may be physically far from us, but if we feel a certain nearness to them, we are in love. Don’t we say that two people have grown apart? Why? It’s because the erosion of love is nothing but the loss of nearness.
The nearness you feel with anyone is the only true benchmark of love. It is why we are able to love God, ideologies, or even people we have never met. Continue reading about that oft-used, even overused phrase nowadays – I love you.
How important is choice in love and relationships?
In a toxic relationship, there’s a serious lack of understanding about what the other person needs. Obsessed partners are expert controllers, not necessarily manipulators but controllers. They can extract a certain behavior from you by exhibiting their excessive reliance on you.
They are not doing so consciously or cunningly. They are only acting compulsively, often based on what has worked for them till date. Soon, however, it gets suffocating for both people because it’s tiring and taxing. There’s little room left to play as any space is overtaken by worrying and fear. So, what is the solution, you ask?
True love naturally has a degree of detachment otherwise it becomes too clingy and uncomfortable. Unhealthy relationships are prisoners of obsession and attachment. Healthy relationships on the other hand are fueled by friendship and freedom. Continue reading about how excessive care can eventually destroy love.