What Is Love? (or How Do I Put My Ego Aside To Get What I Really Want?)

Recently a client asked me, “What is love?”  I sat there in silence for many moments, because I really wanted to give him a simple answer.  A concise sentence he could take with him and use. There is no easy answer.  I think if I could come up with a simple answer, I would be very rich.  I also know if a simple answer could be easy to attain, someone way before my time would have thought it up prior to now.

We all can agree love is complex, but we also often confuse things for love that are definitely not love, making things all the more baffling.  We think it is love, when it is really ego. In the past, I was a guest columnist on a website that provides information about dealing with affairs. Readers on the site repeatedly asked questions, “How do I make my partner talk about the affair? How do I make my partner go to counseling?  How do I make my partner realize how much he/she has hurt me?” When I responded “You can’t make anyone do anything,” the plea I often get back is “But I love him/her!” That is actually not love at all, but ego and control.

So, I’m sitting in my office chair and all of this is running through my mind. I’m pretty sure I know what love is not.  The question still remains, “What is love?  I came up with this:  I think love is the willingness to do the hard work necessary every day to affect the best possible outcome, with care and concern for all present.

Love is about what you are willing to give, not about what you think you should get. To be willing to operate under that principle is indeed hard work.  Moreover, having care and concern for the best possible outcome, doesn’t always mean happiness and roses.  Sometimes doing the best thing is not only difficult, but sometimes hard to talk about and even worse, hard to hear.

A major mistake we make in our attempt to build meaningful lasting relationships is operating from the guiding principle; “The success of this relationship depends on how well you meet all my expectations of you.”  It invariably leads to difficulty and resentment at some point, because other people are not us and they never will be.  We can’t even live up to our own expectations of ourselves, so how can we expect more from others?  It’s a waste of time. Focus your energy instead on this simple question: “Am I being the person today I would want to be in a relationship with?”  Ask it often and see what happens.

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