People will probably choose not to love if they understand what it really entails. I know, I know. We are all familiar with the old cliché about love giving us more pain than pleasure. That’s not what I’m trying to say here. Instead, what I’m trying to say is this: True love is not necessarily reciprocated.
This is a horribly true quote I heard from a Catholic priest: Love is not a feeling or sentiment. It is an act. To love is to will the good of the other.
We are fond of distinguishing romantic love from other kinds of love, e.g. friendly love, parental love, God’s love, and so on; but why is this? What most people describe as romantic love is usually full of ego. People say, “I need you” or “You complete me.” Maybe they would also say “The sex isn’t so great anymore” or “He has started to bore me” or “We have to work hard to maintain the sparkle.”
Well now, is your romantic partner supposed to entertain you?
Let’s look at it differently. Is a parent supposed to make you enjoy your childhood, say, by allowing you to do whatever you want? Is a friend supposed to always make you feel good about yourself even if that means lying about your flaws? Is God supposed to never allow us to experience difficult times? On the contrary, good parents will set reasonable limitations which are not always enjoyable, and good friends will tell you to your face that those doughnuts have finally landed on your thighs, and God who is good will give us difficult times because we have to learn something which will make us better persons.
So it seems like romantic love is different. We want to enjoy life with our romantic partner and when the going gets tough we get the hell out and whine about not being able to find the one.
A politician’s love for the people can also be criticized this way. There has been talk lately in my circle about the Filipino poor hating the educated elites. It’s easy for the anti-communists to think of this attitude as another reason why the poor can’t improve their lot. They say, “If only they’d listen to us educated ones, they’ll soon have a better life.”
I’m sorry to say that I’m siding with the communists on this matter. (Shocking for a blatant anti-communist, but I don’t agree simply because I am supposed to belong to a certain group.) The communists say that the poor have been abused by the educated elite for so many years that they have lost faith. I still believe that it is wrong for a frustrated farmer to join the communist rebels, but I don’t blame him. The fault lies in the government’s inability to help those who need help the most.
I won’t go into that difficult matter. What I am trying to say is most politicians do not love the people they are supposed to serve. There is a lot of idealism flashed in the media, BUT how much of it is based on genuine love instead of the desire for status? I have already said that if the government removes all shallow incentives for becoming a politician, only the truly concerned ones will choose to serve.
The reason why I deny the viability of communism on a larger scale is precisely because people are naturally selfish. It is not easy to love. It is not easy to work for something and get only the pleasure of seeing the people you care for improve their lives.
In the same way, it is not easy to become a parent and love your child who might not always be lovable and might completely forget about you when he becomes an adult. It is not easy to love a friend who might hurt you or move away and choose to severe the friendship. And it is not easy to love someone romantically because this person might not love you in the way you want to be loved.
Love becomes difficult to understand when we expect it to always be pleasurable especially the shallow pleasure of our mundane needs being met, e.g. a romantic partner not being fun anymore, a child not visiting so much anymore, a friend not wanting to hang out anymore.
There is so much need in this world. We are all needy in a lot of ways, but I think the most difficult need is how to fill up a lonely heart.
I think this need exists because we are not supposed to live alone; BUT like all good things it can be corrupted. The need for food is good because food is good, but too much food is harmful. In the same way, the need for other people is good because helping each other is good, but too much dependence is harmful.
Thus, love ain’t easy because we expect too much from it. The only necessary pleasure we derive from true love comes from the knowledge that what we are doing will help the other have a better life. And if the loved one reciprocates your love, celebrate because that is a blessing. You the lover becomes the beloved and your beloved becomes the lover; and together you seek what is best for each other.
This is exactly what you must seek in any partnership based on love especially in those which you can choose like friendships and romantic relationships. To be happy in love, ask these questions: Am I willing to be his lover and seek what is best for him? Is he willing to be my lover and seek what is best for me?
If you can answer “Yes” to the first, you must be congratulated because you now know how to truly love. If you cannot answer the same to the second, move on. You should not feel bad or hurt. Remember that you love the other, and you seek what is best for him. He must be allowed to seek whomever he feels able to love. If you feel bad, you probably never loved him in the first place.