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So today, I was searching for something on Google and I came across this site. Since I’m a hopeless romantic, the title intrigued me and I went ahead to read the contents of What Is Love? What’s love?.

So what is love ― real, lasting love?

Love is the attachment that results from deeply appreciating another’s goodness.

If you think about it, like the writer talks about on the page, a generalized perception of ‘love’ is that it happens when you meet someone and it feels right. At the time, it’s all rosy and charming and since feelings are so highly charged, you think, it’s love.

However, there comes a point in these relationships where the ‘spark’ (which I call it) dies out. It’s not the same, feelings aren’t as strong as they were before. I may go as far as to call it boredom – to be blunt.

Doesn’t anybody ever get scared then that if this is what ‘love’ is like, it can never last? It is fickle. The way we, as people, are fickle at times.

I am sorry, but I can never accept that. If ‘love’ is fickle, then how can one ever love anyone other than parents, siblings and children? I refuse to believe that there isn’t something out there called ‘real love’.

As this writer so wonderfully explains this thing called ‘love’,

God created us to see ourselves as good (hence our need to either rationalize or regret our wrongdoings). So, too, we seek goodness in others.

Although the writer talks with reference to Judaism, I find myself being able to relate to it as well. And I’m sure an individual of any faith would be able to understand this. The basis in any religion is to be good and forsake evil, even within oneself, right?

So then, when it comes to love,

Love is the result of appreciating another’s goodness.

After reading this, if I look back and try to reassess my own feelings in my past relationships. I can easily separate the ones where I only thought I was in ‘love’ from the one where I was actually in ‘love’.

In looking back, when you start out in a relationship, you get to know the other person; of course you are attracted to the looks, the charm, the engaging personality, the intelligence, and whatever you consider (as an individual) as talent in others.

Then, slowly with time, you see traits that make you smile. He holds the door open for you when you know so many guys who walk in first and leave you holding the door (yes, here begins my own girl perspective). Caring, consideration, respect, loyalty, protection: These are traits you see and appreciate as being good. And when you start to notice these traits in your partner, you also form an emotional bond. Now that I won’t delve into because I honestly wouldn’t know where to begin. Nevertheless, that emotional bond is also combined with an attachment you feel with the person. Spending time and sharing yourself with a person, it leads to attachment – it’s only natural.

Now here comes the best part:

Actions affect feelings …the best way to feel loving is to be loving.

Giving leads to love.

So then what is giving? It doesn’t mean buying your partner lots of gifts. It doesn’t mean letting him or her drive your beloved old car.

True giving, as Erich Fromm points out, is other-oriented, and requires four elements.

The first is care, demonstrating active concern for the recipient’s life and growth.

The second is responsibility, responding to his or her expressed and unexpressed needs (particularly, in an adult relationship, emotional needs).

The third is respect, “the ability to see a person as he [or she] is, to be aware of his [or her] unique individuality,” and, consequently, wanting that person to “grow and unfold as he [or she] is.”

These three components all depend upon the fourth, knowledge. You can care for, respond to, and respect another only as deeply as you know him or her.

So here are the key words again: other-oriented, care, responsibility (this is exactly what I referred to before as ‘consideration’), respect, and finally, knowledge.

That’s the basic point then isn’t it? That love isn’t about ‘give and take’. You know how in adult healthy relationships, people say there has to be ‘give and take’; not just give from one partner and take from the other. But what experience has taught me is that you can’t start your expectations from this ‘give and take’ concept. It starts from giving which is how you love. And when you are loved in return, your partner gives and that is how they are loving. It becomes ‘give and take’ anyway.

The effect of genuine, other-oriented giving is profound. It allows you into another person’s world and opens you up to perceiving his or her goodness. At the same time, it means investing part of yourself in the other, enabling you to love this person as you love yourself.

So remember how I wrote earlier about love for parents, siblings and children? Well the writer gets to that point too. The point:

The more you give, the more you love.

So then when you talk about parents’ love for their children, it makes sense why that love is so strong and unwavering. Parents give their children more than the children can ever give back and that is something that passes on with their children.

Because deep, intimate love emanates from knowledge and giving, it comes not overnight but over time…

To end this sentence, the writer states that this kind of love comes ‘nearly always after marriage’. I guess one could argue with that but then again, ‘nearly always’ is what is written. It doesn’t say ‘every damn time (so don’t bother till you’re married)’. The writer elaborates though with,

The intensity many couples feel before marrying is usually great affection boosted by commonality, chemistry, and anticipation.

These may be the seeds of love, but they have yet to sprout.

On the wedding day, emotions run high, but true love should be at its lowest, because it will hopefully always be growing, as husband and wife give more and more to each other.

I guess the part which makes the most sense to me is that before marriage, the intensity is like the seeds for love, yet until the relationship is given the title of marriage, there are many factors which don’t solidify the relationship in the eyes of others nor the couple. When I say solidify, I mean that for the couple and for society, the union is not ‘whole’ in a sense. It is not unbreakable in the way that a marriage is because a marriage is also sacred. I guess the sacred part is my own belief even though marriage is a contract in Islam. But for example with Christianity, it is a promise before God; therefore sacred.

As for the seeds of love that have ‘yet to sprout’, even after marriage, true love flourishes over time as the partners continue to give to each other – which strengthens the love.

So in conclusion,

If someone mistreats you while professing to love you, remember: “Love is a behavior.”

A relationship thrives when partners are committed to behaving lovingly through continual, unconditional giving ― not only saying, “I love you,” but showing it.