Have you ever asked yourself what love truly is?
In his book “Loveability,” Robert Holden answers this question quite eloquently. First, he reminds us of everything love is not:
Love is not an act. Love is being able to be our real selves.
Love is not idolatry. Love can only exist between equals.
Love is not special. You can have an exclusive agreement in a particular relationship, for example to be monogamous, but you can only love somebody as much as you are willing to be a loving person and love everyone.
Love is not selfish. “To love is… to will the good of another.” (Thomas Aquinas). True love is unconditional. It is not about what we want from somebody else but about what we want for them.
And last but not least, love is not a bargain.
This seems to be the one principle we most need reminding of. It is so common in our day and age to talk about giving and receiving in relationships and how there needs to be an equal balance as if we are talking about deposits and withdraws from a bank account. Instead of giving freely and without expectations, we tend to ask, “How much love am I getting out of this relationship”?
I am not saying we should not be honest with ourselves regarding whether a relationship works for us and if our needs and wants are met. If they are not met, we need to find a way to express them clearly and lovingly and make sure we are meeting our needs.
However, if we approach a love relationship with the question, “Am I getting as much love out of it as I am investing into it,” we have already signed the death sentence for that relationship. Ultimately, both partners will end up dissatisfied about giving too much love or not getting enough love. Giving conditionally is not love. Love is not a thing to give away. It is a way of being.
At one point in my life, I dated a gentleman who kept a careful tally. One of his favourite expressions was “I did this or that for you, and I am disappointed/hurt/unhappy that you haven’t done this or that for me in return.” As you can imagine, I didn’t stay in that relationship very long. His inability to give freely sadly killed any joy of giving on my part as well. I felt myself turning into a tally-keeper myself. I started giving grudgingly instead of giving out of love and joy and then letting it go, trusting that from somewhere in the Universe, the energy of giving would return at some point.
Love is not for sale or exchange. It does not cost us anything to give love because giving love is really just being loving. From that place of being loving, we feel like giving a favour, a service, a compliment, a gift, physical touch or our time without expecting anything in return. The joy lies in the loving and giving itself.
Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth:
“You owe me!”
Look what happens with
A love like that!
It lights the whole sky!