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Two faces of love

Updated on February 13, 2015

Love is one of the most commonly spoken and heard words in our conversations. We all have a strong wish to experience love. But in order to experience love, first of all we will have to learn how to love others because it is quite misunderstood by many. When we love someone, this is our personal experience of love. However, the other person we love may experience our love differently but the differences of experiences of love may be subtle or profound. It may also be probable that the other person is not experiencing love at the present moment given by you, the reason being that the experience of love is typically filtered through mind. The less the mind is at play, the more the heart is at play. When the mind is at play while loving someone, such a love attaches conditions to itself. On the contrary, when the heart is at play while loving someone, such a love has no conditions attached to it. It is unconditional.

Unconditional love -

We will have to understand the concept of unconditional love so that we can have good insight in its true nature. Love is a union between two parties. The experience of this union is central to the experience of love. This bonding, where a person loses one’s sense of individuality for finite moments, draws us to love. Such a bonding is not motivated by ego. Love is self-sacrifice. However, some acts of love may appear to be acts of self-sacrifice but, in fact, they are primarily motivated by ego. And, therefore, such acts of love are not unconditional. Here ego wins and love loses.

Conditional love -

The moment we enter this world, we begin to have needs. The need to have unconditional love is the most basic one. If parents don’t give unconditional love to their children, they will have doubts about how lovable they are. The young minds are extremely impressionable; they can absorb lot of information but often misinterpret them. If a child is not given unconditional love while growing up by the parents, they will form an impression that love is primarily is based on conditions. For a person having such an impression, the idea that love conquers all will have no meaning because of constrictions with feeling lovable.

Conditional love includes inappropriate strings attached to a relationship. We live in a world of duality in relationships because we all have legitimate expectations from relationships. Friend to friend is a relationship that has the least amount of societal expectations. In romantic relationships, there is initially a merger of individualities of two persons but over a period of time, they again resume their distinct individualities and develop expectations from each other. Ego gradually comes into play in the form of expectations. So, the unconditional love originates from the soul, whereas the conditional love originates from the ego. Commonly, all our relationships have different shades of both to varying degrees. This is even true in our best of relationships, in which love predominates.

Psychological basis of love –

The human bonding typically refers to the process of attachment that develops between romantic partners, close friends, or parents and children. This bond is characterized by emotions such as love, affection and trust. Any two people who spend time together may form a bond that develops into a relationship.

The psychologists believe that love has three different components viz. intimacy, commitment and passion. Intimacy involves two people to share confidences and various details of their personal life. It is usually seen in friendships and romantic love affairs. Commitment is the expectation that the relationship will remain permanent. The last component of love is passion, which is expressed as infatuation and sexual urge. All forms of love have varying combinations of these three components. Infatuation only includes passion, whereas empty love only includes commitment. Romantic love includes both intimacy and passion, whereas consummate love includes all three. As a matter of fact, all our relationships too have varying combinations of these three components.

Duality of love in relationships –

It is rare to find a relationship where only unconditional love exists. The majority of the relationships have both types of love to varying degrees. So, our heart and ego are always actively playing their roles in our relationships depending on the circumstances, sometimes heart dominating over the ego and sometimes other way around. Depending on the components of relationships, they provide emotional, intellectual, financial and spiritual sustainability to the persons involved in them. Nonetheless, they offer many opportunities to the persons involved to evolve themselves in many ways. Love, especially unconditional love, is generally a great source of happiness. And for a person in distress it offers reassuring solace.

It has been found that a relationship based on wealth and pleasure for the sake of pleasure activities shows little to no long term effects on levels of happiness.

A relationship, in which unconditional love predominates, undoubtedly flourishes resulting in holistic evolution of the persons involved in such a relationship. Conversely, a relationship having dominance of conditional love is not emotionally satisfying; it has rollercoaster ride often; it doesn’t provide happiness to the persons concerned. Such a relationship sucks because of periods of loneliness.

An interesting fact about relationships has been found that companionate love without strings attached develops long term life satisfaction and positivity in the partners involved, whereas passionate love boosts happiness for short term.

So, undoubtedly, love is central to all our relationships. Despite having this knowledge, we still allow our ego to takeover our relationships by attaching conditions to our love. We withhold love from a person we love if we attach conditions to it. Unconditional love is real love.

“Love has no age, no limit and no death.”

— John Galsworthy


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