Saturday, January 31, 2009

a.m.a.a.w.w.i.t.r.a.a.y.b.n. part 4

Baer, in his book, declares that when we do not feel fully loved, we seek other things from our beloved that are sort of like love.  For example, we might feel a real need for praise (compliments, recognition, appreciation) from our beloved or we might try to create a sense of control in the relationship (power) or we might hunger for touch or physical pleasure to reassure us of our being loved.   Or we might seek a sense of safety and protection or reassurance in our relationship.  All of these are not love itself.  We seek them as an indication that we are loved.  We see them as the outward manifestations of something much deeper.

But outward manifestations are not the real thing.  And experiencing the trappings of love is not the same as  experiencing love itself.  

Not only that, but often we misread our longing for love as a longing for one of those "sort of like love" things and we talk about needing certain types of love languages, or gifts or behaviors from our beloved in order to be reassured that we actually are loved.   Our relationship can easily become one where we are simply focusing on trying to learn how to fulfill our partner's "sort of like love" needs, and getting frustrated or discouraged when ours are threatened or insufficiently supplied.  Certainly, trying to supply another's "sort of like love" needs is a considerate, unselfish thing to do.  It can be very helpful and kind and I don't advocate discontinuing the practice.  But in seeking to love and feel loved, we need to distinguish between real love and "sort of like love" practices.  The latter will wax and wane due to our imperfections and the very human nature of our beloved, fluctuating with our abilities, capacities, stress levels, congniscence, presence or absence over the months and years.   And if we depend or focus only on them  we set ourselves up for disappointment or resignation during those waning times.  And sometimes our anxiety about waning even prevents us from appreciating the waxing times.

"Sort of like love" sorts of things (praise, a sense of power or control, pleasure or reassurance, etc.) though pleasant, are not the essence of warm, welcoming, unconditional love .  They are temporary.  Whether we are giving them or seeking them, they are not the real thing and should not be confused with it.  For me this sheds a little more light on the verse found in 2nd Corinthians:

Charity never faileth but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.


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