What Does LOVE Mean to You?

English: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Resized,...

English: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Resized, renamed, and cropped version of File:Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs.svg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Get the Kindle book Be Who You Are – The Greatest Gift of All – $0.99 PROMO for a few more days.

Schedule an appointment  for counseling or love mentoring.

Here’s to living your life in love and enjoying every moment.


Dr. Erica

Enhanced by Zemanta
The following two tabs change content below.
Dr. Erica Goodstone is a Spiritual Relationship Healing Expert helping men and women heal their bodies and their relationships through love. Having presented her comprehensive relationship healing programs throughout the U.S. and Canada over several decades, she has helped literally 1000's of men and women to heal through learning how to love. Dr. Erica believes "Where There is Love There IS a Way". When you love, accept, listen and pay attention to your body, trust your own sense of what you truly desire, and strive to understand, appreciate and really know the other people in your life, anything and everything is possible.

Latest posts by Dr. Erica Goodstone (see all)

18 thoughts on “What Does LOVE Mean to You?

  1. Hi Dr. Erica. This article took me right back to my educational psychology class. I kind of blew off a lot of it, but I really did resonate with Maslow’s Hierarchy after I was finally able to wrap my brain around it.

    I think that we tend to use the words ‘love’, ‘romance’, and ‘sex’ interchangeably. They really are not. Our church teaches that charity is the pure love of Christ, and that is my favorite definition of love. It’s not selfish, full of pride, or have ulterior motives.

    That being said, there are different ways to show love. I don’t love my daughter the same way I love my husband. I don’t love my husband the same way I love my friends.

    And of course, one sometimes has to say, “I’ll always love you, but I sure don’t like you very much right now!”

    Thanks for an insightful article.

    All the best,

    • Hi Leslie,

      I love your statement “I’ll always love you, but I sure don’t like you very much right now.” That is the message to get across. Even if you are behaving badly, I believe this is not who you are and I believe you can be better than that, so I will always love you. But it is also important to express your disapproval, hurt or other response to negative behavior.


      Dr. Erica

  2. Dr. Erica, This is the ultimate article on love! Wow. Of course, the Being Love is the best way to love, but I know myself and don’t walk in this kind of love all the time. There is always growing to do when it comes to total acceptance and unconditional love for others. Something I just said to one of my grandsons….do unto others as we would like them to do to you. So, if we want unconditional love, then it should be our endeavor to dish it out to others.
    God bless you dear,

    • Lynn,

      What a lovely and heartfelt response to my article about love. You are a loving person and it is not always easy to feel that way when we are living our day to day lives.


      Dr. Erica

  3. Hi Dr. Erica,
    thank you for your very insightful post.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if we would learn about the depth of love which you are describing so well in detail as a child.
    It took me around fifty years to learn that I had to love myself, including the part of me that was ‘acting out/and or acting in’, first so I would be able to love others on a deeper level. And that is with all the books I read and all the courses I did since I was thirty.
    I ‘envy’ people who grew up in a stable and loving family, since now I am learning to give myself what my little girl did not get when she was little.

    Love and Light

    • Yorinda,

      Your wisdom gained from your personal life experience can be your gift to the world. So many of us do not grow up in stable, loving homes – and we suffer, thinking there is something wrong with us. Just look at any baby or young child. Each is such a beautiful being. How can a parent not treat that child with attention and tender love?


      Dr. Erica

      • Thank you for your reply, Dr. Erica.
        Yes, I agree, challenges can turn into a gift.
        Understanding the limited programming in ourselves and therefore also in others can be very helpful in human relationships, as long as we are aware of them.
        Understanding why my parents fostered me out to 4 sets of foster parents until the age of 7 and then they were not able to be there for me emotionally has taken a lot of work.

        Love and Light

        • Yorinda,

          It is not easy to understand why parents do not provide the best parenting possible but they must have been dealing with their own emotional issues – fears, insecurities, irrational thinking, maybe depression. It is sad that so many of us don’t realize what a huge effect we have on others, especially parents who totally control their children’s lives in the early years and set the tone for their children’s future lives.

          The good news is that our brains are malleable and as you fill your consciousness with more uplifting and positive beliefs, you can create the life and the relationships you want.


          Dr. Erica

  4. Hi Erica, what a lovely article and so much food for thought…it’s funny isn’t it – because in the interpersonal relationship = it seems we practice and go through phases and the test of the relationship will be the ultimate of love in balance..it is an expression of self after all… !

    • Sarupa,

      The more we study interpersonal relationships, the more we begin to understand that it all begins with me – knowing my own self first.


      Dr. Erica

  5. Namaste,
    How are you Erica? I hope you are fine..
    If somebody ask me what is love to you? My answer would be love is a feeling made of two important element: Trust and Respect.

    When you wanna say something to your sweetheart, don’t think twice, speak your heart.

    I am waiting for your next blog post.
    -Amrik Virdi.

    • Amrik,

      Yes, trust and respect are essential in a long term loving relationship. But we can have those two qualities between 2 friends. A romantic love relationship requires something additional, passion, a sense of deep connection, the feeling that one is loved and accepted and appreciated for being oneself. And a touch of something else that causes a twinge of emotion not triggered by others.


      Dr. Erica

  6. Hey Dr Erica,
    This is an awesome post ! To be honest, I read it then pause then think and continue to read on. I repeat doing the same thing till the end of this post 🙂

    As mentioned above about unconditional love, I know it so well that both my partner and I have that BUT sometimes when I am over stressed with work, I tend to forget what I have been receiving and may not return the same love I should be giving. So, what I am saying here is not the feeling of not loving him but more on lack of responsibilities at home. I admit that sometimes I put priority on my work above my home chores such as cooking the right food everyday. When I am too busy and running short of time, I will just prepare dinner for the sake of cooking without taking into consideration which dish suit my family. Obviously, when my partner is back home from work, all he needs is a nice home cooked food being served to him BUT when I am not preparing a good meal, Sometimes, I feel guilty over the lack of interest and attention on my preparation for family’s meal and in my opinion over a prolong period of time, this little thing can mistakenly lead to misunderstanding of not havng the heart for the family. What is your opinion on my thought, Erica ? Am I right to explain such situation and consider it as it should be unconditional love for family ?

    Thanks so much for sharing this post and just want you to know that the 3rd question above is thought provoking !

    I look forward to hear from you.


    • Pearly,

      I think you are equating your sense of responsibility as a wife and homemaker with unconditional love. The piece you are leaving out is “unconditional love for you, for Pearly.” We cannot love anybody else if we do not honor, respect, love and appreciate our self. It seems that you are working (I assume online but you may also work offline). And it seems that maybe your passion is for this work, not just for your family.

      So it seems that you need to evaluate what you are doing, what you love to do, and how you balance both. Maybe there are some nights when you should not be cooking at all and then other nights when you can cook a wonderfully healthy and delicious meal.

      Just the fact that you are concerned about this indicates the love that you feel for your family.


      Dr. Erica

  7. Hello Dr. Erica……..This is a very interesting post!…..I think you are absolutely correct …..To be love you not only have to know yourself, but you need to be comfortable with yourself too, ……When my wife and I first got together we were both at the deficiency love state………both of us insecure with ourselves and each other….we were joined at the hip and we were able to recieve from each other what we felt was lacking in ourselves ………..Over the last ten years of our twenty years (so far) We have grown to being love by knowing ourselves and being comfortable with ourselves……Now we are at a point that we don’t have to be involved in every little thing the other is involved in…….sure, we have common friends and activity together, but we also pursue our own interests alone, while being supportive to the other in their interests……and really enjoy each others company when we are together…..Thanks for your post Doc……Smokey

    • Gregory,

      Seems that you and your wife have grown nicely together. I think many people give up too soon because it is a growing process. It’s wonderful to feel free to be yourself and explore your own interests within a relationship – and also enjoy each others’ company.


      Dr. Erica

  8. What an awesome article Erica,

    You have taken something so complex and put it in a simple way to understand. I am a fan of Maslow and from that perspective have grown to self actualization. It is so true that in order to be in love, we need to know ourselves.

    I have been on the receiving end of deficiency love in the past. I learned the hard way that it was not me, but in fact “him” who was demanding, self-absorbed, etc. That was my wake up call to seek someone who had the same capacity as me to love.

    Ergo…David walked into my life 23 years ago and as Maslow would put it, “Being In Love” is what we have. Unconditional acceptance for one another and respect. I could write a book how wonderful it is to finally find what I needed. But I needed to have the knowledge that I could have this kind of relationship.

    Thanks for this wonderful article,

    • Donna,

      You have pointed out 2 important things.

      First, you needed to know you could have this type of unconditionally loving relationship, knowing it IS possible for you.

      Second, you needed to have the other types of relationship experiences that did not feel so good to discover that it is not you and that you can have something better and freer than they were offering.



Comments are closed.