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Love: Is it a behavior or an ability?

 
 
Rae
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Apr, 2003 07:34 pm
For me, it's been learned.

I've loved people my whole life. Without question.

But, the concept of love never sunk in until I learned to love myself.
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Gala
 
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Reply Sat 12 Apr, 2003 07:48 pm
It's both. The need for love is innate, but to love productively and well is often learned from experience.
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husker
 
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Reply Sat 12 Apr, 2003 08:36 pm
I was just thinking but not to hard - if we answer this question to completeness what would that mean.............
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cicerone imposter
 
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Reply Sat 12 Apr, 2003 11:22 pm
That we are being honest with each other? c.i.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 07:22 am
c.i., you do ask a lot of questions! I don't know the answer to most of them and can only speak for myself on others.

I believe that love is essential to the stability of marriage and that it flourishes with independance and sharing. (Can you truly share when you are dependant?)

I don't believe that sexual behavior defines the parameters of love as it is certainly possible to have and enjoy sex with someone that you don't love. And, at least for me, most of the people I love are people that I will never have sex with.

When and why does love occur is really the essential question to this thread. If we could answer this we would be able to answer the original question, would we not?

Husker, IS love a verb? Is either "behavior" or "ability" a verb or is the expression of these things the verb? Hmmmmm.

I remember a conversation I had with Ridinghood once where we discussed how we preferred the verb definition of "mother" to the noun definition. I've known people who fit the noun definition who do not fit the verb definition. Is it more important to give birth or to nourish, nurture and protect?

CodeBorg, I too have been honored and amazed by the responses to this thread. I can identify with the idea of "buyer's remorse" - that is a great description of the feeling one gets after revealing something personal about themselves.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 08:02 am
I'm not ignoring the rest of the responses - I've been interrupted for a bit.....
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husker
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 08:06 am
no problem boomer take your time - we understand
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Eva
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 08:40 am
I just voted for "learned behavior" while thinking there is a great difference between "love" as a noun and "love" as a verb. Then I read through all the responses and found that others here are also asking "noun or verb"!

Love as a noun is an emotion, hence an innate ability. Passion has best been defined here by dlowan as "an approximate 2 year chemical madness" (love that definition!) And my experience as a mother has shown me that love for my child is somewhat biological and without reason.

However, I subscribe to the oft-repeated philosophy that "life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you make of it." I had to be taught what to do with those emotions. I am fortunate to have been raised in a (mostly) loving environment. However, I have had intimate relationships with people who were not. There was a huge difference. Some people simply do not know HOW to love (verb).

Ever the optimist, I hope someday they will learn. But I hope it is someone else that will teach them, not me! That process can be very painful for the teacher.
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Gala
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 09:50 am
Physiological differences need to be taken into account. In other words, when I was 16 I thought I would marry my boyfriend at the time. Thankfully, we didn't make it, because it was merely a case of raging hormones. As visitor said, 'I have had intimate relationships with people who were not." I agree, you can give love to someone who does not return the love, although you make excuses for their behavior as a form of love. Looking back on those experiences, I see them for what they were, incomplete, and in a sense, a necessity in order to find out what it is you want from a relationship.
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Booman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 10:03 am
It's a feeling. It 's an instinct. you don't have to learn it. It's in us from birth. The more intellectually we develope, the more of a task, it becomes to communicate it. and at the same time the more adept, we become at concealing, and suppressing it, if we so choose.
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Gala
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 12:54 pm
Well Booman, that's a very tidy answer, and wouldn't it be lovely if we could wrap up the act of loving someone at the initial stage of feeling. The fact is, as humans we do some awful things to the ones we love, for example, love is often taken for granted. While the feeling and instinct part of love is integral to the process, it also requires more than just instinct to make that love survive.
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Booman
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 02:31 pm
Yes it requires more than instinct. It also requires, trusting the instincts.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 03:33 pm
That is an interesting thought, midnight, about how your love feelings for family changes over your life.

But maybe you learn that what passed for love was really the dependancy in the first place. Maybe as you move on to more mature phases of your life you realize that family relationships, like all relationships, can be based on things other than love.

When I read about people who went from "damaged" child to loving adult, like c.i. and others talk about here, I really wonder if they didn't learn what love isn't before they could learn what love is. Do some people end up in abusive realtionships because their "innate ablitly" was filled up with crap and clutter?

Not too much rambling at all Dianne. In fact, you touched on the very issues that raised this conversation between me and my husband.

Humans are not the only animals that neglect and destroy their offspring though. I know that it happens throughout the animal kingdom (I would have to do some research to find out how prevalent it is though). Could it be that some animals, and I include humans here, be born without this innate ability? And, if so, can they be taught to function in social relationships?

I love the story of your aunts, thank you for sharing it with us. I wonder if it just takes a few concerned people to change a life (hmmm... that might make for an intersting conversation in itself...) My grandmother always said "You can't change the world but you can change little corners of it". That has been one of the guiding principals of my life but I've often wondered what difference is might have made/is making.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 03:37 pm
I think you are making an enormous difference right now, about the most enormous that can be made.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 03:45 pm
Rae, I love your decisive answer!

It brings up a very, very important area of love too. Many people hardly like themselves - much less love themselves. How is self-love so very different from other-love? And, if you can't or don't love yourself is it even possible for you to truly love another?

Husker, I don't think that there really is a universal answer to this question but as c.i. points out, thinking about it makes us be honest with ourselves and with others about an important facet of our lives.

Hi Visitor!

I think we have a lot in common here. I too was raised in a very loving environment and I too think that love is learned. Your third paragraph sums up a lot of my feelings on the topic.

There is one person that I've tried to teach how to love simply by loving her anyway. She's a young woman who has had a huge impact on my (and my husband's and our families, and our neighbors, and our work, and our on and on and on) life. She grew up without any love and she doesn't know how to receive it. So sad.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 03:52 pm
Yes indeed, Gala, such difference do need to be taken into account. But aren't attempts at love just like the attemps we make at other things we want to succeed in? Isn't that the very nature of learning!?

Hi Booman. Even though I disagree, I like your certainty.

I running through all my thoughts and ideas trying to come up with another instict that is so problematic to communicate. I can't think of one although I can see where we do try to supress instinctive responses - fear being the obvious example.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 03:54 pm
Thank you, sozobe.

Coming from someone who knows the whole back story to this question, your kindness means a lot.
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dlowan
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 04:23 pm
Boomer - from what I know from looking at various works of ethology, animals follow the pattern of their own parenting, too - with less opportunities of changing the patterns than we have.

Amongst them, though, the children of less than optimum mothers have a much lessened chance of survival.

A lovely longitudinal study of this in chimpanzees has come through Jane Goodall's work.

One of her original study chimps, Flo, despite a face only a mother could love and advancing age, was the troupe "it" girl - the dominant female, the object of the most fervent sexual advances by the boys, and a relaxed, loving and competent mother.

Her children have become the dominant boys in the group, working as a team, and her daughter, Fifi, has become the same thing to the group that her mum was - also successfully raising happy children.

Goodall also gives less happy examples. There is a lovely documentary on kangaroos, called "Faces in the Mob", with similar info re parenting and some similar work has been done with cats.

These are just some examples.
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Booman
 
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Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 04:23 pm
Hi Boomerang,
...I don't think you're 180 degrees away from me.
...I believe there are two reasons love is so problematic, to communicate. One is because, it can be confused with lust, or simply liking someone, which is more intellectual. Two, like you said, is fear. Love often conflicts with the survival instinct, ("Danger Will Robinson!"/"No,no, this is the real thing!")
...There are several times in my life, I can view, in retrospect, and realize I did wrong when I ignored the first instinct, be it love, or survival.
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ArtUnbound
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 02:50 pm
c.i., so sorry - I didn't read your post well at the time. (Or we crossed).

Boomerang, CodeBorg, Midnight, Diane - let's keep on thinking about this and communicate. It's so important, it's confusing, takes time.
I'm not used to talk about it.

My younger sister - I haven't met her for 12 some years, haven't seen my niece and nephew grow up since they were 5 and 3, now tells me she loves me - I told her I need more time for that.
My elder sister (we're very close, but I'm the eldest) tells me the same, in a very indirect way - after 15 years, I need more time for that.

We're talking about love. There are some that I love more than my sisters - but I recognize love when it's there.
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