Love: The Love We've All Been Looking For
(True Love, Real Love)
In this section:
There are few subjects to which more books, movies, and conversations
have been devoted than that of love. We all want to feel loved. We think
about it, hope for it, fantasize about it, go to great lengths to achieve
it, and feel that our lives are incomplete without it.
It is not unreasonable to state, in fact, that the single most important
requirement for our emotional health and happiness is to feel loved.
Our souls require feeling loved in just as real a way as our bodies require
air and food.
It is sorely regrettable, therefore, that on the whole we really don’t
understand what love is. Ask a hundred people what love means, and you’ll
get a hundred different answers. As a result, we also don’t know
how to find it. That is a considerable source of frustration, considering
how badly we all want this elusive essence.
A New Definition
of Love: Real Love
Imagine that I tell you I love you. I smile at you, speak kind words
to you, and perhaps even present you with a gift of some kind. Understandably,
you enjoy this, as we all would. Five minutes later, however, I storm
into the room describing a mistake that has been made, and while shaking
my finger in your face and scowling with rage I say, “Are you the
one who did this?!”
How loved do you feel now? That feeling disappeared the moment I entered
the room, didn’t it? We’ve all experienced moments like this.
For most of us, in fact, this has been a lifelong pattern. This kind
of “love” is very disappointing and unfulfilling, because
it vanishes when we make mistakes and when we fail to meet the expectations
of those who “love” us. This kind of “love” is
There’s only one kind of love that can fill us up, make us whole,
and give us the happiness we all want: unconditional love or true love.
It is unconditional love or true love that we all seek, and somehow we
recognize that anything other than that kind of love isn’t really
love at all—it’s an imitation of the real thing. Unconditional
love—true love—is so different from the kind of love most
of us have known all our lives that it deserves both a name and definition
of its own.
Real Love is caring about the happiness of another person without any
thought for what we might get for ourselves.
It’s also Real Love when other people care about our happiness
unconditionally. With Real Love, people are not disappointed or angry
when we make our foolish mistakes, when we don’t do what they want,
or even when we inconvenience them personally. Real Love is unconditional.
When I use the word happiness, I do not mean the brief and superficial
pleasure that comes from money, sex, power, and the conditional approval
we earn from others when we behave as they want. Nor do I mean the temporary
feeling of satisfaction we experience in the absence of immediate conflict
or disaster. Real happiness is not the feeling we get from being entertained
or making people do what we want. It’s a profound and lasting sense
of peace and fulfillment that deeply satisfies and enlarges the soul.
It doesn’t go away when circumstances are difficult. It survives
and even grows during hardship and struggle. True happiness is our entire
reason to live, and it can only be obtained as we find Real Love and
share it with others. With Real Love, nothing else matters; without it,
nothing else is enough.
Sadly, few of us have sufficiently received or given Real Love. From
the time we were small children, we observed that when we didn’t
fight with our sisters, didn’t make too much noise in the car,
got good grades, and were otherwise obedient and cooperative, our parents
and others smiled at us, patted our heads, and spoke kindly. With their
words and behavior, they told us what good boys and girls we were, and
we felt loved.
But what happened when we did fight with our sisters, made too much
noise, got bad grades, and dragged mud across the clean living room carpet?
Did people smile at us then or speak gentle, loving words? No—they
frowned, sighed with disappointment, and often spoke in harsh tones.
Just as the positive behaviors of other people communicated to us that
we were loved, we could interpret the withdrawal of those behaviors only
as an indication that we were not being loved. Although it was unintentional,
our parents and others taught us this terrible message: “When you’re
good, I love you, but when you’re not, I don’t—or certainly
I love you a great deal less.”
This conditional love can give us brief moments of satisfaction, but
we’re still left with a huge hole in our souls, because only Real
Love can make us genuinely happy. When someone is genuinely concerned
about our happiness, we feel connected to that person. We feel included
in his or her life, and in that instant we are no longer alone. Each
moment of unconditional acceptance creates a living thread to the person
who accepts us, and these threads weave a powerful bond that fills us
with a genuine and lasting happiness. Nothing but Real Love can do that.
In addition, when we know that even one person loves us unconditionally,
we feel a connection to everyone else. We feel included in the family
of all mankind, of which that one person is a part.
Continue reading about Unconditional
Love: The Result of Not Having Enough Real Love
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