Most people think they know what love is. After all, have not we all been in love before? However, I am here to argue that most people do not truly know what love is, even though they frequently use the word “love” in their conversations. In fact, most people use this word much too frequently and too freely without truly knowing what it is.
If you say that you love someone, and you feel sad, miserable, empty or lonely without him or her, then you are not truly loving the person. What you love is the fact that he or she can fulfil your needs for safety or significance.
Perhaps having this person in your life makes you feel safe or protected. Or perhaps having this person makes you feel safer than facing up to the fearful unknown. Many of those in abusive relationships stay stuck in their relationships because of this feeling of relative safety of the known abuses over the perceived fear of the unknown.
Another reason we say we love someone is because that person fulfil our need to be significant, to be useful, to be needed, or to be of relevance in this life. This gives our life a certain purpose, as if our life is not wasted otherwise. Having someone who love us boosts our self esteem, self worth and give us a sense of belonging and acceptance.
This kind of love leads to an additional need. We need that the person we love behave and respond to us in a certain way that fulfil our own needs. If not, then conflicts arise in the relationship. So our love is conditional.
This is what most people called “love” but it is truly only a selfish need for love. This kind of love fulfils Abraham Maslow’s first four levels of human needs, that is physiological need, need for safety, need for belonging, and need for self esteem. True love is only possible when we have worked through our own inner issues and understand the true cause of our deeper fears and needs for safety and significance.
True love, in the spiritual sense, is unconditional. By this, we mean that true love does not have any personal needs to be fulfilled. True love is simply giving and totally accepting of who or what that person is, without expecting anything in return from him or her. True love is happy and contented with what is, right here and now.
Every relationship we are in offers us an opportunity to face up to our deepest fears. When we examine our own relationships, and analyse the real motivations for our behaviour, it might lead us to the realisation that the choices we make in our relationships are often intimately related to our own fears.
When the decisions we made are motivated by fears, the consequences are almost always less than desired. On the other hand, when we make choices based on true unconditional love, the outcomes are certainly going to be much more to what we want or need.
Lastly, when we have truly found unconditional love, we will realise that it was never to be found outside of ourselves, for true love is our very essence. Thus, it can only be found within. Once found, peace quickly follows.