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Love: Is it a behavior or an ability?

 
 
ArtUnbound
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 03:06 pm
Seems I didn't notice the end page of the discussion, answered halfways. Sorry all, I'll go back and read again.

Quote:
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? [/quot4e]

Yes, I think so. Either that, or they don't enter in relationships at all, let alone getting children.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 03:29 pm
Hi All, I definitely think it's a learned behavior. I remember many years ago seeing orphans in Boznia that didn't receive any human contact - left in their cribs without human touch and love. As they grew up, they showed very little, if any, emotion. I think that's an extreme, but it shows how human contact is necessary to learn love and social intercoarse with others. c.i.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 03:30 pm
That is fascinating, dlowan. I should do some reading on that topic.

I would imagine that within the animal world that bad parenting skills would evolve right out of the line up pretty quickly in that there is not much intervention from others. Or is there?

I have read of animals tending to abandoned litters of other species. Perhaps that is not so uncommon either.

Booman, I didn't mean fear of communicating love.

I meant fear. Our bodies go through a physiological process when our senses tell it "danger". Do our bodies go through a similar chemical event when the feeling is love. Is this the "2 year chemical stew" that dlowan refered to? Or is that lust?

I think lust is an underrated response that doesn't deserve the bad rap it usually gets. Lust has a very specific place within our lives. But to confuse it with love? I'm sure some people do, but not me and, I think, not most.
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cicerone imposter
 
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Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 03:37 pm
Without lust, our species would disappear. Wink c.i.
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ArtUnbound
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 04:14 am
boomerang wrote:
"Learn life anew" and "Something always goes wrong with [love].

ArtUnbound, I have read your respnse over and over and over and I am still digesting all that it implies.

I too am in the process of learning life anew. Mr. B is too. It's like learning to trust your fingers to make thoughts out of braille. Am I understanding or am I not? To me this feels like learning; to him it feels like an awakening. Interesting food to nourish me through my days.


Boomerang, I need much time myself to digest the idea, I'm just starting. To discuss 'all that it implies' goes beyond the subject of this thread I guess, I'm thinking of a new one.
Your braille metaphor sounds beautiful though.

To me it seems that the innate drive to love is there, always has been. Communicating or expressing it can go amiss, but that isn't the real problem. Where it's getting really difficult, is in receiving love.

So it would seem, if love gets 'misplaced', it's not a matter of miscommunication, but of it not being a two-way situation.
If I pour out my 'love' over someone, by doing this I inhibit the other to return love, or whatever feeling they have for me. If someone tries to do that to me, I feel that same inhibition.

I've never quite understood the idea of 'to love someone else you have to love yourself first', but if I translate it into:
'learning to love begins with learning to receive love', I'm getting closer to the point.
Somehow I must have 'learned' that love is always contaminated with punishment. So to receive love a barrier must be passed, an inhibition to accept. That's the hard part - in my case, it can take years.
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hiama
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 04:50 am
Wow, I have just read all the responses and this has to be the most cogent, stimulting, illuminating and honest thread on here.

I am not so sure its that important to vote either way and I'm definitely sitting on the fence on this one as the question has become secondary by the wider and deeper issues it has evoked.

That we are all products, at least to some extent, of our familial conditioning I think is a given. I certainly believe that over 90% of us are to some extent dysfunctional in the plain meaning that society has given to the word, I also think that the majority of that 90% to which I definitely belong is quite normal-whatever that is.

A good point that I think someone made and if not I am making it now is that whatever has happened to us when growing up, what we get out of life now is entirely up to us. No one has the right to make us feel anything other than wonderful unless we give them that permission. It is something that I only learnt myself quite late in life, some equate it with loving ourselves. I also think we do not touch each other and tell each other how much we care, then when its too late we all wish we had. Well the way to deal with this is to start today.

I think there is a lot of sense in the scientific exemplars that dlowan has given us, another very sad extreme example of the removal of love is the chinese dying rooms for female babies, this is an unbelievably cruel and heartless example that leaves us aghast.

Please forgive me for rambling, I feel that I have not answered the question, hopefully I have raised some issues for further discussion.

What wonderful people you all are, I am priviliged to be counted amongst you. Very Happy
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 07:31 am
<<A good point that I think someone made and if not I am making it now is that whatever has happened to us when growing up, what we get out of life now is entirely up to us.>>

Hiama, it may have been my 10%-90% comment that made you think of that. If so, I am flattered.

I have seen people who come from backgrounds of neglect and abuse go on to become very loving people. They simply decided at some point not to continue the pattern, but to live differently. A simple decision, yes, but profoundly difficult to live out. Then they had to be given effective models and strategies for their new life.

Art Unbound, I was stunned by the openness of your response. I think learning to love ourselves may be the most important thing we can do. I define that love as being good to yourself, treating yourself kindly, patiently and generously. We are all prone to be harder on ourselves than on others. We need to reeducate our hearts.
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hiama
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 08:04 am
Visitor Very Happy
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 02:06 pm
ArtUnbound, although my online time is somewhat limited and I'm often interrupted, I'm willing to discuss the topic as long as there are others who are.

I have a sister that I always take a while to warm up to despite the fact that we see each other every few years and talk every couple of months. During short visits or when there is other family around the warm up often never even happens. While I most certainly love her, we will never really be friends.

My other sister is really more friend than family. We talk to each other several times a week, we sneak away for long weekends together in fun places. She is the first person who hears my news and the first person I turn to for advice. There is no doubt that I love her, but it is more like the love one gives a trusted ally.

But it is my brother that I love beyond reason. Strangely, he is the oldest and I am the youngest and, while we lead very different lives we are spookily similar. He lives halfway around the world, we correspond infrequently, yet every time we speak and especially every time we see each other it is like only a minute has passed. There is some kind of connection between us that defies explaination and it is so obvious that other family members are often jealous of our love for each other.

I mention all this because your comment about your sister showing up after a long absence and telling you that she loves you and expecting you to return the emotion seems so fraudulant. It seems to me that both giving and recieving love takes effort.

And then there is this effortless love my brother and I have for each other....

Is one a learned behavior and the other an innate ability?

And am I back at square one?
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 02:17 pm
Having seen "comtaminated love" I know how luck I am to have never had to experience it, ArtU.

Back at the very beginning of this thread we talked about the difference between friends and acquaintences and, in a way I think that really gets to the heard of misplaced love. Maybe some people, not knowing love, settle for a lesser feeling mistaking it for love.

I think loving yourself means learning to be content with your own company and happy in your own skin. This is not to say that we should stop looking for ways to change or that we should never stop examining our intentions but simply that we have reached a place where we are able to induce the change.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 02:25 pm
Oh boy!

OK, I have been blathering for a while about a book I have yet to read: "The Blank Slate", by Stephen Pinker. I have read reviews of it, and have a general idea as to the contents, and am very very very interested in it. Basically, it goes into the ways people are NOT blank slates -- how so much is inherent/genetic/predisposition.

An excellent book I have read is called "The Scientist in the Crib", by Alison Gopnik et al, and that is great. I highly recommend it to you, Boomer. This book also talks about the variety of ways in which we are personalities from the moment we emerge from the womb.

I read "The Scientist in the Crib" when the sozlet was a few months old, and got a crick in my neck from nodding so much. She was just so apparently HERSELF from day one, and hasn't varied too terribly much.

OK, I'll pause and come back to that.

I think there are basic personality patterns that "fit" better together. I think that within a family, there is a good chance of those basic personality patterns being similar, in the same way that there is a good chance of eyecolors being similar. But, again in that same way, it is not a given that all of the children's eye colors will be the same. In a family with a blue-eyed mom and a brown-eyed dad, two kids could have blue eyes, two could have brown eyes.

What I'm getting at is that I think your brother and you both have blue eyes, personality-wise. And that "kindred spirits" are the other blue-eyed personalities that we come across in our lives.

Does that make sense?
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 02:41 pm
Hi hiama, thank you for joining the thread. I agree that the posters here have shared some remarkable thoughts. I don't consider your post rambeling at all.

One of the things I love about such forums is that they get you out of your comfort zone of people who know you well enough to know what you want to hear. They really open the door to a greater variety of thought than a person can find within their own circle, don't they?

I've been thinking a bit about dysfunction and it's definition. Maybe I flatter myself by thinking I fall into the 10% of functionality because I know that there are people who point to aspects of my life thinking that some sort of trauma led me to make the decsions that I have.

I believe in karma and I think that if there is a lesson you're supposed to learn that you will not escape it even if you run very very fast. Perhaps this belief is my grain of salt that I take to allow me to roll along.

I've been thinking a lot about the "permission" that you and Visitor speak of and I'm still trying to organize my thoughts but it seems to me that we often do grant others permission to damage us. In current jargon I believe this is called enabling.

With the help of a therapist I am currently dealing with just such a topic. It's a very complicated situation but the questioning goes something like this:

Did I enable someone to do damage to me?
Is/was it really damage?
Is what I first thought was damage done to my life really an inexplicably wonderful gift?
And now that I have this gift, where is my life headed?

Visitor, I need to think a bit on those big thoughts - "effective models and stratagies" and "reeducating hearts". More later.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 02:50 pm
Yes! You make perfect sense, sozobe. Kindred spirits is exactly the right description!

Really, it's like that Bhuddist (?) saying "When the student is ready the teacher will come."

These kindred spirits don't have to be part of our daily lives to have an impact on every breath. In fact, I'm sure that some of them pass in and back out of our lives never to be seen again. And that's the way it should be.

Now I'm going to reflect on my kindred spirits for a while.

Thanks for knocking that idea loose, sozobe.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 02:51 pm
Oh! And thanks for the book recommendation.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 02:54 pm
boomerang, Your idea about enabling is a whole subject in and of itself - in and out of the subject of love. I'm not sure about predispositions, but dysfunctional families are more common than many of us are exposed to, and are aware of. Why some are able to overcome abuse in their childhood and become happy, successful, adults is a mystery I do not believe "it" has an answer. Even luck might play in the whole scheme of things, although many claim that you bring luck into your own life. I wonder. c.i.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 03:00 pm
c.i. - it is a bit like the old adage that vampires can't come into your house unless you invite them in, isn't it.

I've learned that even if you don't invite them in they sometimes leave the craziest stuff on your doorstep.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 03:39 pm
I think we ALL come from dysfunctional families...every family is dysfunctional in its own special way!...and we all have to work through it and figure it out for ourselves. That's not a problem, it's a process. The ones with the problem are the ones who DON'T figure it out but just keep mindlessly repeating the script. Then, of course, once we have figured out our problem patterns, we try new approaches and make ALL NEW mistakes! Hahaha...it never ends, does it?!

Boomerang, I think you're on the right track...keep going. "Effective models and strategies" means that we must have some good example(s) to follow, we can't figure it out all alone. "Reeducating our hearts" is a whole different topic. For now, let's just agree that a lot of our problems in this area come from intellectualizing matters of love instead of acting from the heart.
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hiama
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 04:21 pm
Boomerang,

Thanks for your hospitable welcome. I think you are right about our intellectualising things too much. I have learnt to grow as a person by trying to be conscious and present now, not thinking of the past or the future and have had some success, it took me quite a few years. It is very liberating, its really the ability to pause and let the world turn, just being still for a few seconds with no thoughts , listening really listening to what other people say without interrupting. Both my wife's and my own family have had several of our near family suffer from mental illness necessitating long periods in "institutions" so I have had a lot of experience of loving people and caring for them when there is literally no response at all. Once you get them through something like that and you see them come out of it and back into society and help them live a life where they are happy it makes the heart glow.

Visitor,

I kind of agree with you about all of us coming from dysfunctional families to a degree although I have met one guy who worked for us a few years and it was like meeting a saint, he was always positive and happy, one day his dad popped in to see him , we needed some help, he rolled up his sleeves and got stuck in with us, looking at him you could see where the lad got it from. Later I met the lad's sister and she was exactly the same, they were just amazing happy positive people. So maybe there are one or two out there that God uses as examples of this is how it can be for all of us, believe it and it is so.

Rambling again, I'll get off the soap box and give someone else a chance.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 05:07 pm
Just a quick comment, without having fully read all the intervening ones, but just catching a few thoughts here and there from them - as I seem to have fallen into a bit of a "voice of science" here (prolly because infant mental health is a specialty of mine - and the research in this area is SOOOOO exciting and SOOOO relevant) - there is NO way we are blank slates - infants are enormously skilled and primed as social, giving, loving, interactive beings - unless something has gone wrong for them physiologically - and they do have temperaments of their own. It is, however, in the interaction with carers that they blossom, or do not.

This blossoming or not is at all levels - including neurological - unattached infants, for example, do not develop neurologically as they ought - this is now known - as is a lot of other stuff that chimes in with a lot of analytic thought.

Re learning to love - I think the crucial thing is the experience of having BEEN loved - it is in the mirror of our carer's loving, or otherwise, eyes, that we form our basic self-concept. I do not think it is any accident that, as we grow up and fall in love, once again we spend, as we hopefully did as infants, many hours gazing into our lover's eyes. The Elizabethans called this "making babies in each other's eyes" - alluding to the reflection of oneself one saw in the other's eyes - but I think this experience mirrors, and can sometimes help heal, the experiences we had with our mothers as babies.

It can also be dangerou, as the more damaged of us form a bond of the kind of primitive dependency that was not met when it should have been, and, when we feel our relationship with a lover threatened, we react with the same fear of annihilation as an infant would, and with infantile, overwhelming fear and rage - thus are born some of our stalkers and violently jealous assaults and murders.

I do not think this means that many of us cannot grow and change if we are loved later, or if we learn to discount hateful things we may have come to believe about ourselves as tiny babies, but it is sure a lot harder.

I agree that optimim care is very rare - what we are aiming for is "good enough" care.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 05:41 pm
And to insert just a wee bit more science (my master's is in Early Childhood Education, which covers some of the same ground, but I'm mostly just interested) I remember that there was a study about soap operas and the super-close-ups which are an integral part of the genre. (You know, "Heather, I have to tell you... I'm really your brother!" Zoom into a horrified face filling the entire screen.) It found that we associate that kind of closeness with intimacy -- usually only our closest family and lovers are that close -- and so that is part of why a) people become so passionately attached to soap opera characters, and b) why soap operas appeal to the proverbial lonely housewife.

Anyway...

Boomer, I'm lucky enough to have several kindred spirits in my life. I recently saw a good friend on a trip to Minneapolis, we hugged, we talked, we felt exactly like we had seen each other yesterday or maybe last week, and it was literally jaw-droppingly astonishing to both of us that when we had last seen each other, the toddlers playing together on the floor were barely twinkles in our respective husbands' eyes. (The kids got along great, too.)
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