Happy Valentine's Day !!! and recommend reading "The Art of Loving" by Erich Fromm
"Love," says Fromm, "is the only satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence." Poets have written that, "Love conquers all," and to "surrender to it." Urging one to surrender implies resistence to Love, but why? Fromm asks, is Love an art, or is Love a pleasant sensation or feeling which to experience is a metter of chance, i.e. something one, "falls into," if one is lucky. Fromm asserts that Love is an art, and says that to truly Love, in all its forms, one must possess: Maturity; Self-Knowledge; and Courage. "Object," or "faculty,": Many people pursue objects or affection, or objects to love, and correspondingly treat them as possessions. Fromm asserts that Love is the faculty or ability to Love in its different forms: brotherly love; romantic love, etc. Since Love is an art to be practiced, Fromm asserts that it can only be practiced in freedom with one another. In other words, people cannot treat others as objects or possessions to be controlled for ones own egotistical or selfish purposes. Such behavior to result in certain destruction and never to attain true Love. "Love," vs. "falling in Love/Infatuation,": People speak of falling in Love, with new people they meet. Falling in Love is not necessarly Love, but infatuation, e.g., strangers meet, they break down social walls between one another, they feel close/as one. This new experience, infatuation, Fromm describes as "one of the most exhilarating and most exciting experiences in life. However, Fromm argues astutely, that this initial infatuation feeling slowly and naturally loses its miraculous character more and more with time, as the two people get more acquainted and learn more and more about eachother - flaws, character defects, etc. Fromm says the problem all-to-often arises when people confuse infatuation feelings (exhilaration/excitement) for proof of the intensity of their Love. As the infatuation feelings naturally subside, it results in the wish for a new conquest, a new "Love," with a new stranger. Again the stranger is transformed into an "intimate" person, again the experience of falling in love is exhilarating and intense, and again it slowly becomes less and less, and ends in another wish for a new conquest - a new "Love," always with the illusion that the new "Love," will be different from the earlier ones. Fromm says this is not Love. These illusions are greatly helped by the deceptive character of sexual desires. Sexual desire aims at fusion, says Fromm. It can be stimulated by the anxiety of aloneness, by the wish to conquer, by vanity, by the wish to hurt or even to destroy, as much as it can be stimulated by Love. Because most people associate sexual desire with the idea of Love, says Fromm, they are easily misled to conclude that they Love each other only when they want each other physically. Fromm asserts this is not unlike a drug addiction, when people constantly seek out the exhilaration/excitement of infatuation. Fromm cautions that if the desire for physical union is not stimulated by Love, if romantic/erotic Love is not also coupled with other forms of Love, that it will never lead to union in more than an orgiastic, transitory sense. An implication of this that when this happens, i.e., when one finds new infatuation, the other one on the losing end gets scarredm then after a few times of getting burnt will begin to actively destroy or sabotage Love in the nascent stage when it occurs in the future, in an effort to avoid the past painful feelings associated with Love gone wrong or to avoid feelings of vulnerability and/or to maintain control -- in essence to not surrender to Love. Fromm describes what he calls the essential components that need to be mastered, for all forms of Love: Care (the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love); Responsibility (to be able, willing and ready to respond to the psychic nneds of the other); Respect (concern that the other person should grow and unfold as he/she is on their own, to be aware of her unique individuality - freedom); and Knowledge(a desire to discover what makes the other "tick," an active penetration of the other person). Fromm concludes that Love is not just a feeling, it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. To love means to surrender and commit without guarantees. Love is an act of utter faith says Fromm. By Richard R. Rohde, Esq.
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