What Is Love, and What Isn't?
Once you know what it is, you can recognize and pursue it.
Posted November 25, 2011 | Reviewed by Lybi Ma
- Love is bigger than you are. You can invite love, but you cannot dictate how, when, and where love expresses itself.
- Love cannot be turned on as a reward. Nor can it be turned off as a punishment.
- Marriages, whether arranged or not, may have little to do with love.
Love is a force of nature. However much we may want to, we can not command, demand, or take away love, any more than we can command the moon and the stars and the wind and the rain to come and go according to our whims. We may have some limited ability to change the weather, but we do so at the risk of upsetting an ecological balance we don't fully understand. Similarly, we can stage a seduction or mount a courtship, but the result is more likely to be infatuation, or two illusions dancing together, than love.
Love is bigger than you are. You can invite love, but you cannot dictate how, when, and where love expresses itself. You can choose to surrender to love or not, but in the end, love strikes like lightning: unpredictable and irrefutable. You can even find yourself loving people you don't like at all. Love does not come with conditions, stipulations, addenda, or codes. Like the sun, love radiates independently of our fears and desires.
Love is inherently free. It cannot be bought, sold, or traded. You cannot make someone love you, nor can you prevent it — not for any amount of money. Love cannot be imprisoned, nor can it be legislated. Love is not a substance, not a commodity, not even a marketable power source. Love has no territory, no borders, no quantifiable mass or energy output.
One can buy sex partners and even marriage partners. Marriage is a matter of law, for rules and courts, and property rights. In the past, the marriage price, or dowry, and in the present, alimony and the pre-nuptial agreement, make it clear that marriage is all about contracts. But as we all know, marriages, whether arranged or not, may have little to do with love.
Sexual stimulation and gratification, whether by way of fingers, mouths, objects, fantasy play, whips and chains, or just plain intercourse, can certainly be bought and sold, not to mention used to sell other things. Whether sex should be for sale is another question entirely, but love itself cannot be sold.
One can buy loyalty, companionship, attention, and perhaps even compassion, but love itself cannot be bought. An orgasm can be bought, but love cannot. It comes, or not, by grace, of its own will and in its own timing, subject to no human's planning.
Love cannot be turned on as a reward. It cannot be turned off as a punishment. Only something else pretending to be love can be used as a lure, as a hook, for bait and switch, imitated, insinuated, but the real deal can never be delivered if it doesn't spring freely from the heart.
This doesn't mean that love allows destructive and abusive behaviors to go unchecked. Love speaks out for justice and protests when harm is being done. Love points out the consequences of hurting oneself or others. Love allows room for anger, grief, or pain to be expressed and released. But love does not threaten to withhold itself if it doesn't get what it wants. Love does not say, directly or indirectly, "If you are a bad boy, Mommy won't love you anymore." Love does not say, "Daddy's little girl doesn't do that." Love does not say, "If you want to be loved, you must be nice," or "Do what I want," or "Never love anyone else," or "Promise you'll never leave me."
Love cares what becomes of you because love knows that we are all interconnected. Love is inherently compassionate and empathic. Love knows that the "other" is also oneself. This is the true nature of love, and love itself cannot be manipulated or restrained. Love honors the sovereignty of each soul. Love is its own law.
Excerpted from The Seven Natural Laws of Love, by Deborah Anapol and appears by permission of the publisher. This material is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. Please contact the author for permission to copy, distribute or reprint.