Love has been described as the most exquisite emotion, an overpowering feeling, an altered state of being and an expression of the most honorable of human qualities. Love has also been described as a business exchange, a source of getting what one wants, a way to compensate for personal inadequacy, and sometimes intentional manipulation of another person for one’s own pleasure.
How is it possible that the same quality, “love,” can take on such different meanings. Abraham Maslow, Psychologist, best known for his hierarchy of human needs (shown in the image above), explains this dichotomy of love. He divided love into 2 distinct types based upon the thought processes involved and the capacity for emotional self-regulation.
One type of loving, according to Maslow, is pure, altruistic, unselfish, non-possessive, admiring and supportive of the wants and needs and best interests of another. Maslow defines this type of love as “Being” love. It takes a self-actualized person to be capable of expressing and sustaining this type of love. When we are “being” love, we love and give easily, freely, without expecting and demanding reciprocation or immediate gratification. We love the “being” of another person no matter what that person says or does and regardless of what the other person gives to us or does for us. One example of “being” love is the unconditional state of love normal parents feel for their newborn infant. The parents do not hold back their affection because the baby is crying or needing a diaper change or causing them to get less sleep. The baby is loved and appreciated just for existing and the parents are eager to connect with the baby, satisfy the baby’s needs, and do their best to insure that the baby is smiling and happy.
The other type of love that Maslow describes is “deficiency” love. Based upon an internal sense of something lacking, a person’s deficiency love is selfish, self-absorbed, self-concerned, expecting, demanding, jealous and needy. A person operating from a sense of lack feels “love” for someone who appears to be able to compensate for that lack in some way. A simple example is someone who lacks money and seeks a partner who appears to be able to provide financial security or a person who feels unattractive seeking a very attractive partner to boost their own sense of worthiness. This type of love may appear to be the same as “being’ love because as long as the needy person’s needs are being satisfied, that person is able to show and feel love. However, if the partner who provided financial security loses the money, the needy partner may begin to withold love, express anger and hostility, and even cheat in order to find another person who has money.
Which type of love do YOU express?
- Have You ever been with a partner operating from “deficiency” love
- Have You been needy and unfairly demanding in love or overly giving to a needy partner without regard for your own needs?
- Have You ever experienced a partner who is “being” love, loving you unconditionally with high regard, and concern for your well-being as much or more than his or her own?
- Are You “being” love with your most intimate partner and with your friends and relatives, business associates and acquaintances? If not, what would it take for you to transcend the need to get something and to be gratified? What would it take for you to enter all your personal and business relationships with the motto and goal: “How can I serve you?”
The only way to develop the capacity for “being” love is to know yourself, to look beneath your own defenses, and to tell the truth to yourself about what you want and need and desire. Then, instead of seeking another person to provide that for you, focus instead upon developing your own strength of character. When you no longer “need” another person to make up for your own insecurity or sense of lack, you are finally ready to love openly and freely. When you no longer have a strong need to “get” something from others, you can love them just for being who they are. And then, they might surprise you and give you more than you could ever had received if you had expected and demanded it.
Love IS an exquisite state of being when we learn how to “become” and “be” love.
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Here’s to living your life in love and enjoying every moment.