As we get ready to celebrate romantic love, to ponder on our desires for love, or reflect on the love that we have been blessed to have with another, let us examine our view on love and take a fresh approach. We do after all seem to not have it together when it comes to love, when we consider the divorce rates, marital dissatisfaction, or take a deep look within our selves. We tend to view love as something mystical that we can’t understand or analyze, something that is out of our control, something that happens to us, something that we fall into. This type of perspective makes love seem too grand for us to attain, contain, and renders us powerless in the game of love. Psychologist, psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm (1900 – 1980) describes love as an art form that requires practice and skill. “Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise”. Fromm states that to love in the purest sense requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith and the overcoming of narcissism. He explains that modern humans cope with their alienation and disconnectedness from others and nature through marriage and love, and in doing so perceive love as a powerless state.
He poignantly prescribes that to be successful with love one ought to be consciously loving, rather than loved. And only when we are loving towards our neighbors and ourselves with true humility, courage, faith and discipline, can we truly attain the capacity to experience real love. The loving character includes four elements: care, responsibility, respect and knowledge. And these elements apply to Fromm’s concept of self-love, which is distinguished from egocentrism or arrogance. Self-love entails caring for oneself, taking responsibility for oneself, respecting oneself, and being honest about knowing oneself in all it’s chambers. Fromm states this rather perfectly, “Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love”. Yes love is hard work, but it comes with the highest rewards. Loving and the ability to love becomes one of the most important things in life. Thank you Fromm for this brilliant insight into one of the strongest forces in our lives…an art form that we can become artists in and create beautiful moments in ourselves, our relationships and our world. Alright, I choose not to resist, here is one more quote from the love artist, “Immature love says ‘I love you because I need you’ while mature love says ‘I need you because I love you”.