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How do you know when it's love?

Being accountable to the one we love involves activities that many of us have trouble with: trusting one another, being honest with each other, communicating (as opposed to just talking) with each other.  

To be accountable for the one we love is also difficult.  There will be times when we must answer for and even defend the one we love.

Since we know our loved one so well, sometimes we ourobligated to make use of that knowledge.  

The occasion maybe asdramatic as a life or death medical situation, or as simple as aconversation withfriends who ask how our loved one is doing.  

Being accountable to andfor the one we love flies in the face of the self-indulgent individualismof our day.  

Yet, without responsibility love can endure over time.  

So now we have our definition of love.  

Our task is only half completed, however.  

We could argue endlessly over definitions and words.  

To avoid this we must arrive at some criteria or principles that will verify that we have an instance of love as we have defined it.  

The three principles I suggest come out of the experience of other writers who are well acquainted with the human condition.


My first principle comes from Eric Fromm.  It is in the form of a question.  How do you love the one you love?  

"Do you love them because you need them, or do you need them because you love them?"  

Let us look at both sides of this question.

"Do you love them because you need them?"  Most of the things we do arise from mixed motives.  

The majority of our actions are the result of good and bad reasons blended together.  (Only saints can claim to act from pure motives, and I have yet to meet one.)  

Love is no exception to the reality of mixed motives.  When we are in love we bring with us our best and worst qualities.  

The question "Do you love them because you need them?" is meant to scrutinize how predominant are our worst qualities in a love relationship.  

We all have some subconscious programming that affects how we choose the ones we love. 

For people with addictive personalities or seriously low self-esteem, unhealthy and subconscious programming can be the predominant factor in how they choose the ones they love.  

If you love someone more because you need them, then beware.

You should carefully examine the dynamics of your relationship and why you are attracted to your loved one.  

You might have some personal issues to work through before you can achieve the kind of love relationship you seek but cannot seem to find.

"Do you need them because you love them?"  

A slight rewording of the question describes a very different situation.  

In a relationship where two people deliberately choose to become interdependent, the need for each other can become overwhelming.

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