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Old 02-07-2023, 11:02 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LilyMae521 View Post
Sonic, you're killing me here (in a good way) with your words. Holding the beauty experienced (when knowing love) close and not letting an outside source reduce it seems to me reasonable. Perhaps even more so now, with our increasingly fragmented society. It doesn't seem to hurt anyone and it can certainly help. What's not to like?

I'm thinking part of the differences of opinion here stem from how love is being defined, i.e. more broadly or more narrowly. DH and I talked about this and he said "that's not love, that's kindness.. or that's respect". But a broad definition of love -imho- includes kindness and respect. Also gratitude and compassion among others.

I've also want to say that holding the beauty of love close, regardless, does something to protect us. I'm struggling right now with a somewhat hostile adult child. I love that adult child. That adult child is angry and is holding me in contempt. I can't change that. Attempts toward resolution have made it worse and alter my frame of mind away from fondness and best wishes to a defensive mode. And that is somewhere I do not want to be.

So, definitely at an impasse. I can't change the behaviors of others, so I hold my maternal love close and lay low... very low. Psychologically healthy? Maybe not. But the best choice for me (us) given the options. And good enough for now. And, if I don't think too deeply, I'm left with the good feelings of my love.

I hope the above kind of explains two things - definitions of love vary profoundly person to person and holding a one sided love in your heart can sometimes be a mostly a positive thing.
Yeah, I have a young adult child who has pushed me pretty far, too. It long since reached a point where I had to face hard decisions about "enabling" with him. I would give and give out of motherly love (and motherly money) to a point where it harmed me, and then sit in grief because he demanded so much and did not seem to care about whether I could afford to give it.

But I had to get real about my own agency in this situation. I told him, there will be times that I have to say no to you. Because I don't want to resent you, I will always love you and I need to be able to love you in a way that doesn't harm me. There will be times where I will have to express boundaries and I hope you understand. It will never mean that I no longer love you, it will never mean that. Only that sometimes I do have to protect myself and my own interests and needs, here.

And because...well...frankly, this kid has got a lot from me in terms of understanding my style of emotional communication (and he texts the way I write here in this forum, too! lol...walls of text...that apple did not fall far from the tree...) he has been understanding of this.

And, too, I have wanted to absolve him of feelings of excess guilt. Like I do want him to feel responsible for himself, yes. But I don't need or want him to torture himself feeling guilty or like a burden, not when I also have a responsibility to simply be able to say NO sometimes. Now when he asks me for something, he will often remind me, that it's OK if I need to say no. We are finding ways to be kind to one another even when navigating difficult terrain.

But the love I described of a mother for a newborn, I no longer feel that ferocious animal passion that is like wrapping yourself around this fragile little life to protect it from the world. What I feel for my sons has shifted into something different as they have matured into PEOPLE and our relationships have evolved. But that love I had 20 years ago is still alive in me, because I will never forget it. The memory of love brings back the feeling of that love as clear as the moments I lived it.

Remembered love is still love, and it is one of those forms of subjective love, contained within oneself.

And I feel similarly about unrequited or inappropriate love... So perhaps, to use Corporate Cowboy's example, say, a crush of a student on a teacher. Now one can reach for other words to describe and dismiss such a thing, but in my view they still fall under the umbrella of love. And kindness and respect and compassion and empathy and all of the good mojo we can experience in relating to the world around us falls under the great big heading of a form of love-feelings. It does not evolve into obsession or stalking, because first of all one need not think obsessively in order to feel love, and one can always choose not to stalk anybody no matter what they feel. That's another "if you can't control your feelings, you can't control your actions" thing that I don't agree with. I don't think that it's unhealthy to refrain from expressing an emotion. Especially not if you can effectively process it, make sound decisions about whether to speak or act on it or not, and then file it away. And one day I might sit and recall that crush I had on a teacher or a celebrity or something and smile, remembering an innocent form of feeling that did not need to grasp at an outcome. I may remember myself at that time, how it felt, how that person looked in my eyes. I will remember and feel love. And sit and say and do nothing about it. And yet not be "obsessed" let alone seek to stalk anyone. It may lead, at most, for me to send up a wish into the ether that this person is happy and well in their life now.

And the argument that terms about health and maturity are relevant to psychology, that isn't the point. The point is more that if you understand their MEANING relevant to psychology that you understand that in order for someone to be in a mentally unhealthy state, they have to be experiencing some kind of distress or dysfunction. Sitting there with a little smile because you remember a feeling of love you never expressed for a beautiful human being who graced your presence in the past, doesn't have to be distress (though for some entitled souls it can certainly be)...nor a matter of dysfunction. One can remember with fondness, rather than pining.

For those unaware, the field of psychology has made big shifts in recent decades away from pathologizing anything that is not common/"normal" or that does not fit with this or that philosophy of the world, and more to a focus on distress, dysfunction, as in the inability to live life and provide for one's needs, or the harm of oneself or others.

Now what I would buy, is for someone to say that they don't see how they could personally experience unrequited or unexpressed love in a healthy way. I have certainly witnessed it being experienced in unhealthy ways before, for sure. But just because you have perhaps the misfortune to develop feelings for someone who does not love you back, even if it does cause you some temporary discomfort or distress that you get over... I don't feel like you've got to look back and say, "well that was never love that I felt" nor pathologize yourself about it. It's happened to me. I felt love. They did not. We each had our agency, and neither of us an entitlement, so our association ended and we went separate ways. But I'll still say that what I felt was a kind of love, the feeling may have faded and gone, but I remember it and I won't say it wasn't real. It was real. As real as a meal I remember eating last week was real. I can state that and still respect their agency...if anything, really, it's love that allows me to do that rather than resenting that I didn't get what perhaps I thought I wanted with them at the time. I think it helps me to shrug it off and move on. After all...the last thing I'd want from anyone I felt a love for, would be for them to try and be with me when they did not feel it or did not want to, to deny them their own agency.

I really grok the meaning of that old, "if you love something set it free" thing.
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Old 02-07-2023, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Vancouver
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Originally Posted by Sonic_Spork View Post
I really grok the meaning of that old, "if you love something set it free" thing.
Yes, and gag me with the "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
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Old 02-07-2023, 02:43 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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Originally Posted by allthatglitters View Post
Yes, and gag me with the "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
LOL there's another one I'm a bit philosophical about. Any time I have an impulse to apologize I take a second to ask myself if there is something there to say, "thank you" for. And when I apologize and I am forgiven, I thank the person for that, it's a gift of grace.

Like if I am late I won't just apologize, I'll thank the person who waited, for their patience.

I also see expressions of gratitude and appreciation, as a form of "love" under the broadest possible definition.

I am feeling amused at how hippie-ish I think I sound in this thread. But I think that I embrace a philosophy of love as a kind of defiance, or rebellion. There are so many who seek to profit from hate, conflict, anger, fear, antagonism and antisocial sentiment. And life will certainly give us plenty of opportunities to dwell in our traumas and hurts and ruminations on those who may have wronged us. I won't be so Pollyanna-ish as to deny things that have happened and a right to feel negatively when another person's actions have justified it, and yet...I will defiantly love them anyways. Even if I never engage with them or if I have to protect myself from them with some distance, with some boundaries. They're my fellow people, coming from wherever they have come from. I love them anyways.

Maybe part of that is that I've had certain others in my life who sought to provoke a display of hostility from me, so that they could feel justified in escalation of conflict. Responding with calm and love makes me feel like the martial arts master in the movies who, when faced with a foe aggressively attacking them, simply steps to one side and watches them go flailing past into a wall or something. It's at least...I dunno...zen-adjacent.
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Old 02-08-2023, 07:31 AM
 
Location: SF/Mill Valley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic_Spork View Post
For those unaware, the field of psychology has made big shifts in recent decades away from pathologizing anything that is not common/"normal" or that does not fit with this or that philosophy of the world, and more to a focus on distress, dysfunction, as in the inability to live life and provide for one's needs, or the harm of oneself or others.
There’s a huge distinction between identifying thoughts, needs and behavior to promote personal happiness or wellness, as a whole (psychology) vs. pathology/diagnosis/treatment of emotional or behavioral disorders (psychiatry) - particularly relative to love/the thread.

Hence my point, no one needs/wants to feel (ongoing) unrequited love i.e. it’s not beneficial nor is it conducive to happiness or esteem, as a whole, whereas a shared love with a romantic partner, friends and family (as well as a general love/compassion for community) is healthy; it helps us to maintain/nurture our (psychological) hierarchy of needs re: physiological as well as belonging, esteem and self-actualization.

That said, obviously, unrequited love is ‘normal’ in the same way anger is; however, if either one is not resolved/processed (which often involves communication), it will hinder one’s psychological health.
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Old 02-08-2023, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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Originally Posted by CorporateCowboy View Post
There’s a huge distinction between identifying thoughts, needs and behavior to promote personal happiness or wellness, as a whole (psychology) vs. pathology/diagnosis/treatment of emotional or behavioral disorders (psychiatry) - particularly relative to love/the thread.

Hence my point, no one needs/wants to feel (ongoing) unrequited love i.e. it’s not beneficial nor is it conducive to happiness or esteem, as a whole, whereas a shared love with a romantic partner, friends and family (as well as a general love/compassion for community) is healthy; it helps us to maintain/nurture our (psychological) hierarchy of needs re: physiological as well as belonging, esteem and self-actualization.

That said, obviously, unrequited love is ‘normal’ in the same way anger is; however, if either one is not resolved/processed (which often involves communication), it will hinder one’s psychological health.
I have carried unrequited love for people that was never communicated, never had to be resolved in any other way than simply accepting that this other free person was unlikely to return it and I had no need to press it upon them at all. And I have yet to see where any harm to my psychological health has occurred.

But I process a lot of my emotions internally or without seeking to affect an outcome, especially one that I don't feel entitled to.

To be honest from what I have seen and heard, I think that a lot of people and especially a lot of men would have a hard time understanding where I'm coming from here.

I've had a whole life of, "well that's tough, we don't always get what we want." I'm not accustomed to assuming that my every wish and desire could possibly be indulged, that it is even a possibility worth hoping for in a great many cases. And there are plenty of cases where it wouldn't really benefit me if I could. So the way in which this is kind of philosophical, almost zen-like, is that concept where one meditates and observes the thoughts that arise with a kind of detachment, and lets them go... I can observe feelings and desires in that way. I can experience great appreciation and affection for another person, and also see that I don't need or even want them to love me back nor to have any sort of an ongoing bond with them.

But again, that ties to my very broad definition of love which is an over-arching humanism. Not a specific targeted desire to pursue and grasp and hold and have and keep.

When I say that there could be a cultural/gendered component to this, I'm not even specifically pointing to you not understanding what I mean, though I don't think that you do. It's more looking around at a world where certain cultures cast the blame on the temptation rather than the man who is tempted. Where women have to go around hidden under concealing clothing and "modesty laws" are enforced, for the specific cultural rationale that men can't be expected to see something desirable and not be overcome with desire. It's to protect the women from assault and dishonor and the men from temptation to sin. At a vastly lighter degree here in America, we have girls in schools being sent home because the sight of their unsleeved shoulder could be a "distraction" to the boys, supposedly, as well as boys being let to behave in often louder, rowdier ways and given, traditionally, much more "boys will be boys" space...and encouraged to take pride in their accomplishments and reach for what they want. Whereas I was raised being told that no one likes a know it all, no one likes you if you toot our own horn, to be quiet and make myself small and that I had no right to anything and was owed nothing.

I am aware of areas of my thinking where this can lead to some psychological states that are less than quite "well"... But this, matters of unrequited love or romantic desire? Isn't really one of them. I mean...come on. I've got real problems. This doesn't even qualify. lol

What letting myself love someone who may not return the feeling looks like to me is not pining after someone or getting mad that you can't have them or stalking them or being obsessed with them. It's more like making peace with their existence as an autonomous person and wishing them well as they fly free to whatever the future may hold for them. It's not a stressful experience. It's the opposite.
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Old 02-08-2023, 02:55 PM
 
9,229 posts, read 8,560,715 times
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Originally Posted by Jill_Schramm View Post
I have a question for you all:

How do you define “love?” More particularly, I am interested in seeing if “love” for you necessarily implies a relationship with another being. Or do you think it can be used in a broader, more “political” sense?

Personally, I feel that we can only pretend to love either another being or a group of other beings if we know them personally or have some level of emotional intimacy with them. We cannot truly pretend to love strangers … as long as they are still strangers to us.
I don't anyone can "truly pretend" anything. That would be an oxymoron.

Love is a lot of levels.
Level one would be teen love, quicksilver, lots of passion, quick burn out.
Level two is the love that spells commitment, deeply caring for that one person, wanting to make it forever.
Level three is the love that has outlasted level two, after the passion, after the realization that it may not, probably won't be, forever, but the deep caring is still there.
Level four is the deep abiding caring for all individuals, not for who they are, or what they do, but because they are a fellow traveler though this winding road that leads us all to hell and back, and yet keep walking, keep moving forward, carrying their weight well or poorly, but keep going.
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Old 02-08-2023, 09:51 PM
 
Location: SF/Mill Valley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic_Spork View Post
I am aware of areas of my thinking where this can lead to some psychological states that are less than quite "well"... But this, matters of unrequited love or romantic desire? Isn't really one of them. I mean...come on. I've got real problems. This doesn't even qualify. lol
Too funny re: this doesn’t qualify. To be clear, I wasn’t suggesting it is a problem of yours; however, unrequited love or romantic interest/affection/desire (which is not reciprocated) can easily devolve into such for some i.e. feelings of unworthiness, obsession, stalking - even anger/rage. Hence my point re: psychological health, per the thread.

In other words, our hierarchy of needs must be met re: love, belonging and self-actualization in order to feel compassion for humanity, as a whole (all else being equal). From my perspective, it’s certainly not about unrequited love or religion/‘sin’, antiquated views, dishonor, or distraction (as you state, below).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic_Spork View Post
When I say that there could be a cultural/gendered component to this, I'm not even specifically pointing to you not understanding what I mean, though I don't think that you do. It's more looking around at a world where certain cultures cast the blame on the temptation rather than the man who is tempted. Where women have to go around hidden under concealing clothing and "modesty laws" are enforced, for the specific cultural rationale that men can't be expected to see something desirable and not be overcome with desire. It's to protect the women from assault and dishonor and the men from temptation to sin. At a vastly lighter degree here in America, we have girls in schools being sent home because the sight of their unsleeved shoulder could be a "distraction" to the boys, supposedly, as well as boys being let to behave in often louder, rowdier ways and given, traditionally, much more "boys will be boys" space...and encouraged to take pride in their accomplishments and reach for what they want.
A bizarre jump, to be sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic_Spork View Post
What letting myself love someone who may not return the feeling looks like to me is not pining after someone or getting mad that you can't have them or stalking them or being obsessed with them. It's more like making peace with their existence as an autonomous person and wishing them well as they fly free to whatever the future may hold for them. It's not a stressful experience. It's the opposite.
Fair enough; that said, whether there is (unrequited) love or not, why would you need to ‘make peace with their existence as an autonomous person’? That should already be the case relative to anyone.
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Old 02-09-2023, 06:10 AM
 
Location: Southern New England
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Originally Posted by CorporateCowboy View Post
...unrequited love is ‘normal’ in the same way anger is; however, if either one is not resolved/processed (which often involves communication), it will hinder one’s psychological health.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CorporateCowboy View Post
...why would you need to ‘make peace with their existence as an autonomous person’?
I'm thinking that SS's 'making peace' is actually her way of saying 'resolving/processing' which is what was suggested, in order to not hinder her psychological health.

And rightly so. Perhaps some of this is just semantics.

Also, I can see the connection re: the bizarre leap. And as despicable as the situations SS describes are, perhaps there is some comfort for women in chadors knowing that they are safe bc the potentially unresolved and unprocessed folks are being denied.. But that's another thread.

I take pleasure in holding dear -in my mind- all the love in all the different forms that I've known in my life. There is no reason for me not to do this. I think a lot of people do this. Maybe more women than men, idk. Holding it dear implies that it's been resolved and processed.

I hope my thinking here makes sense.
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Old 02-09-2023, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
20,413 posts, read 14,701,959 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CorporateCowboy View Post
Too funny re: this doesn’t qualify. To be clear, I wasn’t suggesting it is a problem of yours; however, unrequited love or romantic interest/affection/desire (which is not reciprocated) can easily devolve into such for some i.e. feelings of unworthiness, obsession, stalking - even anger/rage. Hence my point re: psychological health, per the thread.

In other words, our hierarchy of needs must be met re: love, belonging and self-actualization in order to feel compassion for humanity, as a whole (all else being equal). From my perspective, it’s certainly not about unrequited love or religion/‘sin’, antiquated views, dishonor, or distraction (as you state, below).



A bizarre jump, to be sure.



Fair enough; that said, whether there is (unrequited) love or not, why would you need to ‘make peace with their existence as an autonomous person’? That should already be the case relative to anyone.
You know, I am often torn between a feeling that I'm being deliberately and annoyingly baited by overly semantic exchanges with you, and a sense of gratitude that you push me to refine my thoughts and the language that I use to express them.



One point, though, it would be more accurate to say, "be at peace with" than "make peace with" regarding another person's autonomy.

I'm proposing that one may exert some internal control over their own reaction to feelings of love that are not expressed or reciprocated. One can nurture and indulge the impulse to obsess. I've experienced that briefly, when someone ended an interaction we were having before I really wanted it to end...tormenting my mind with puzzling over it like it was a mystery to solve, seeking out youtube videos of him singing with his local band to hear his voice, things of that sort. Until I gained clarity (didn't take long) on how ~unhealthy~ it was feeling, to do that.

And then I stopped.

And I took that learning forward in my speaking to others, that it's not productive to torment yourself like that. You (rhetorical "you," of course) have to accept that this other fully autonomous person has decided that they don't want what you want. And that's OK. You don't have to denigrate yourself for having caught feels for them, you don't have to invalidate your own emotions. I'm comfortable saying that I felt loving feelings for that person, and he didn't feel the same way, and he had that right. I did not have to stop feeling whatever I felt, but I did have to accept that I was not going to be permitted to continue expressing it in any way, because he was not interested in receiving those expressions. I remember enjoying the feeling, and enjoying his company when I had it, and I get to keep those memories. I don't have to injure myself mentally over the fact that our interaction stopped. And certainly the intensity and present-ness of the feelings will fade, until it's only the memory of an emotion rather than one experienced with urgency and potency in the now.

But I won't say that it wasn't love, or was never love. Even if, no, it was not the same experience as one will have when one's love is confirmed, affirmed, and reciprocated by another person.

But you got me thinking about this from another angle, too... Talking about healthy or unhealthy, I don't think that love is always healthy, and I don't think that unhealthy love isn't love but rather something else. I think that there are many forms of healthy love, and forms of unhealthy love. Unhealthy love, even if it's still love, will usually lead to harm unless the active engagement with it is halted.

What existed in my first marriage was an unhealthy kind of love, but I still think that it was love. That both of us were experiencing love, both of us strongly believed and felt that we were loved when we were together. The problem was, the love he had to offer was not the way in which I wanted to be loved, and the love that I had to offer was not the way in which he wanted to be loved. Meaning that the set of beliefs and expressions and mental architecture surrounding his idea of love, and my idea of love...were not a good fit, not very compatible. Both of us felt that our marriage was lacking and our emotional needs weren't being met, despite the fact that love of some kind existed on both sides of the equation.

I'd like to be able to say that I'm not very bitter about the ending of that relationship...I guess I am some, in the sense that I held out hope that things would get better for so many years, that my sense of disappointment has not entirely vanished. But I don't say that the love that either of us felt was invalid or was not love. I definitely felt some "Yes, exactly!" things when reading about the concept of love languages, unfortunately after we'd broken up already. It always did feel like we were speaking different languages at one another. But my ex, he is definitely bitter although I think it's lost a lot of its edge over the years...and he does sometimes try to assert that it was never real love. I think that makes it easier for him somehow, to act as though the thing he lost had no real value all along. And he often says that the only way he can cope with pain or sadness is to transmute it into anger, so...that's his business, I guess. His emotional management to do however he needs to, and thank god it isn't my burden to bear anymore.

But I know quite well which of us is living the more healthy and functional life, no doubt in my mind about that.

But back to the general point, and here's where I would certainly hope you understand... There is a huge distinction between a person's internal landscape of thoughts and feelings, and what they express outwardly in terms of actions and words. No one has any business policing our thoughts or feelings. A person can think or feel whatever they like. But we are responsible and liable for our words and our actions. Which strongly implies that THAT is where we have the choice, and need to exercise it with care.

I class love as an internal feeling, which may or may not lead to words or actions depending on the self control and the choices of the person feeling it. I can feel love for whoever and whatever I want. Whether it is healthy or not is my own business, and if it isn't, it's my own problem unless I make it someone else's by...speaking or acting. To class it as "unhealthy" to feel love (or anything) without expressing it, I think the reason I don't care for that, is that it implies that one has a right, in order to avoid an "unhealthy" state or harming of the self mentally, to express one's emotions without regard to how that will be received, even if it is harmful to the other person...and if it's not reciprocated you have to be able to turn off or deny the emotion or you're bound to be harming someone. Yourself, or the subject of your feelings. I say that isn't true. I say you can feel something but not act on it, and not harm anyone at all.

No obsession or stalking required.

Now personally, I find this:

"In other words, our hierarchy of needs must be met re: love, belonging and self-actualization in order to feel compassion for humanity, as a whole (all else being equal)."

...to be a bit bizarre.

I don't think that anyone can justify a lack of compassion for humanity because their needs for love, belonging and self-actualization are not met. To me, a lack of compassion for humanity regardless will hamper one's efforts to get their needs met to whatever extent it requires other humans to cooperate with the meeting of said needs. A lack of compassion for humanity can tread into some pretty pathological territory, where it cannot be excused by the individual's unmet needs.

And I've certainly met some people whose needs ought to have been abundantly met, and yet who lacked compassion for humanity, too.

So I don't believe that one necessarily naturally follows the other or that feeling that one's needs are adequately met is a precondition for compassionate feeling or behavior. Though I will acknowledge that one may have more resources with which to indulge the luxury of one's principles when one is not desperate to simply survive.
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Old 02-09-2023, 12:00 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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I hope that I'll be forgiven if my posting on this thread seems a bit excessive, I just really find the subject interesting.

I was just thinking about the different ways that I've seen and heard different people talk about how they experienced their feelings of love...the fact that I prefer to think of it as something that imposes no obligation, that does not grasp at anything as though an entitlement... And how I've heard a lot of people, men and women both now that I think about it, speak more of love in its earliest stages as a desire to establish a relationship that will meet their needs, needs that can only be met perhaps with the cooperation of another person that they desire...though it begs the question in my mind, do they long for that person specifically or just the feeling of having their needs satisfied, whatever needs may be presently troubling their mind?

And I've been reading a book called, "A Beginner's Guide to America For the Immigrant and the Curious" by Roya Hakakian, an immigrant from Iran. (It's a very good book and I recommend it especially to native born American citizens.) And one thing that she talks about is how courtship with an American often goes a lot more slowly than what one might experience in certain cultures of origin, and more slowly than one might expect. Where in especially war torn nations for instance, people passionately proceed towards marriage and family with a swiftness, or express love and desire in really florid terms, often on fairly short acquaintance...that is frowned upon in American dating. She actually enjoys the business of slowly building connection, but talks about how some might struggle with it.

I really do think that the way in which we perceive love and behave with regard to it will vary tremendously with how one is raised and what cultural norms one grows up with, and I find that very interesting to read and think about.
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