Monday, 25 February 2013

Love is a choice

I have just completed reading Dr. Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages. I realised I should’ve bought the one for singles, but I guess I can just get to that another time. For now, I would just like to share what I have learned from the book.

One of the key ideas that I have learned is:

“Love is a choice. We can request love, but we cannot demand love.”

For most people, it is very instinctive to demand love. Even for me. I have demanded love for a very long time. Probably because I had strict and demanding parents, demanding teachers, and in general… society simply demands that we do certain things, and behave in certain ways. I’ll get into the ideas of society and family after I finish Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, but meanwhile, let’s talk about how we demand for love in our lives.

We are taught to request for favours, request for service and request for assistance. But no one in our lives has taught us that even love had to be requested. We grew up thinking that love is a natural progression. That love was a given when you were in a family, friendship or relationship. We always think, “Isn’t it natural that he/she would love me?” In a more negative state of mind, we think, “Why does he/she not love me?” or "If he/she loved me, he/she would/would not do this." If this is the state of mind we are in, we are more or less already taking love for granted.

A lot of people tell me, if a person loves you, he would know what to do to please you. That would be true, if he knew what my love language was. Because if he was speaking to me in his love language, and we happened to not share the same love language, I would not perceive whatever he was doing as an act of love. I would probably acknowledge, “Well, yes, he does these things for me.” But I may fail to appreciate that it is an expression of love from him. I’m not about to start writing about the 5 love languages for fear I would misinterpret or misrepresent the concept. So I hope those who read this will pick up the book and read it. I do believe it helps us learn how to love better.

Let’s go back to the point, ‘Love is a choice.’ I have learned that whether a person chooses to express love to you in the way that you need him/her to, it is solely his/her choice. We can give the person pointers, by requesting how we would like to be loved, but at the end of the day, it is the person’s choice to comply, or to continue going about it using their own method. But if we were to continuously demand them to change their methods for us; they may possibly begin to be resistant to our ideas because they feel we are imposing our methods on them.

This brings me to the next idea:

"Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself."

Of course this is not to say that you are selfish when you perform acts of love because you want them to love you back. Perhaps most of the time we are simply misguided by the simple ideas of cause and effect that we are so accustomed to. Of course we will still get upset and angry when we feel our efforts have been for nought because the ones we loved did not show love and appreciation or react the way we hoped they would. It is human for us to feel this way, but we can learn to better deal with our disappointments.

We need to learn what is usually deemed as ‘unconditional love’. This doesn’t mean we should allow someone to abuse, disrespect, disregard, or even belittle us just because they have the ‘upper hand’ of having us love them unconditionally. If you are in love with a person who constantly does these negative things to you, then you may need to really examine why this is happening and possibly seek help. Otherwise, what ‘unconditional love’ requires is that we seek to first love them in the way we know that they may want to be loved. Our goal is to fulfil them, and make them feel truly loved by us, simply because we want what’s best for them, and we want them to be happy. We will soon see that if they truly feel loved by us, acts of appreciation from them will soon follow. If they feel loved, they will eventually be inclined to love us back, and even make the effort to comply with our requests for love and start learning how we would like to be loved.

But we should not be disheartened if our actions did not result in swift, positive results, or even when it’s not working at all. We may be simply speaking the wrong love language to them, or perhaps they need a bit more time to come around. True love and commitment requires us to keep going, to keep trying until we succeed in making the person we love feel loved. So in the spirit of love, we should not rush things, and patiently continue to love them till the day they become willing to love us in the way we hope they would.

Lastly, it’s a lot about faith in love that keeps us going. We need to have faith that the one we love does love us in return, and perhaps they just don’t know how, or cannot be accustomed to the way we need to be loved. So have faith in their love, and have faith that they will come to love you back in the way you need to be loved, in the way that makes you happiest.

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