To Know is to Love

The foundation of love is connection.  This truth is keenly felt during the initial stage of love: the falling.  As we fall, it’s as if the world obscures and leaves only two.  If we fall further still, the two become one.  Bliss.

Undeniably, this is a wonderful aspect of life.  Yet the heights of infatuation are based less on skill and more on biology. While in the honeymoon phase of a relationship, our brains produce intoxicating neurotransmitters that induce euphoria.  We become drunk on love, literally.  Unfortunately, as we all know, this euphoria doesn’t last.  Whether slowly or in spectacular fashion, we eventually sober.

Without the skill to maintain our initial connections, we are fated to continually suffer from disappointment and isolation.  Thankfully, a better way exists.  This improved way is only made possible through a shift in attitude about what it means to love.  Erich Fromm and his “The Art of Loving” provide us with an illustration of what this attitude looks like in practice.

“Most people”, according to Fromm, “see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving.” In other words, most people conceptualize love as a receiving rather than a givingThis misconception inhibits our ability to create and maintain deep, meaningful connections.

According to Fromm, the art of loving consists of certain basic elements that one provides to another.  These are care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge.  This post will center on knowledge.

Without knowledge, it would be impossible to address the needs of another.  Just as we all have individualized values, tastes, and interests, we also have individualized insecurities, challenges, and aspirations.  If we hope to support our partners, we must seek to understand them.  In this pursuit, the goal is to penetrate from the surface to the core.

To illustrate, on the surface, an individual may appear angry.  Yet, to someone who knows them well, they know that the anger is a manifestation of something else, something deeper.  Instead of anger, they know that it’s anxiety or embarrassment or sadness or fear that their loved one is experiencing.  Because they know this, they can respond accordingly.

This may seem like a basic concept, yet given the complexity and depth of a human, getting to know someone in a meaningful way is far more involved than it may initially seem.  It requires the sacrifice of time.  It requires that we provide our undistracted, undivided attention.  It requires that we withhold judgment.  It requires that we cultivate the skill of listening.

Listening

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” – Stephen Covey

What this means is that people don’t listen at all, and when they do, it’s only in brief spurts.  If this is your current method of communication, you’re doing it wrong.

It’s impossible to get know someone, it’s impossible to understand someone, and therefore it’s impossible to connect with someone, if you don’t listen to them. And just as you’re continually evolving, so too are the people around you.  If you stop talking, if you stop listening, you’ll drift toward becoming strangers once more.  As a result, the process of getting to know your loved ones never stops.  Ironically, this effort – to perpetually connect – will soon become one of life’s greatest joys.

The goal of listening is to see the world through the other’s eyes – to understand, to empathize.  To do this, you must listen, without distraction – without a television on, without a phone in your hand, without judgment, without interruption.  Just sit down and shut up, literally.  If you don’t understand what your partner is talking about, ask them.  Ask them to clarify until you understand.

On top of that, don’t rush to give advice.  Men are especially guilty of this.  We become immediate fixers.  When someone opens to us with a problem, we automatically try to repair.  Although noble, this is almost always ineffective.  Stop trying to fix, instead, empathize.

Empathy means to comprehend another’s thoughts, to feel another’s feelings.  It means to see the world from another perspective.

Keep in mind that it’s vitally important to remain non-judgemental.  Judgement is basically rejection and if someone dares to divulge themselves to you, the worst thing you can do is criticize.  If you do, you’ve basically told your partner that it’s dangerous to take that risk, and chances are, they won’t make that same mistake again.  As an imperative, remember this: don’t judge; rather, empathize.

Of course, as your partner offers themselves to you, you must offer yourself back.  This is intimacy, which means to create and maintain an atmosphere of closeness, safety, and acceptance.

Know your partner, know your friends, know your family.  This process is an invaluable avenue toward holistic health and greatly improved relationships.

2 thoughts on “To Know is to Love

  1. Can we talk about the morning after? The Hangover? The immediate and utter shock of holy shit was this a regrettable mistake? You know when the drunk in love goggles come off, and the reality of sobriety kicks in? The walk of shame we do in the morning as we sneak out the fire escape holding our shoes, hoping you don’t wake up.

    How many times have we been in relationships that have clearly lasted longer than it should have because of “Drunk in Love” Goggles.

    You made a great point about being empathetic toward your lover.

    My greatest fear in being with a person is being naked in front of them. I am not talking about the literal meaning. But those rare moments that you decide this person is the person I am going to be naked in front of. Let this person see me, all of me. My strengths and my flaws. My flaws that make me who I am. My strengths that came from overcoming my flaws.

    If you know the things I hide, you know me. If you see me without my spanx, you see me. If you see me without my makeup, you see me. If you see me the next morning, hungover after a night of partying, you see me.

    You know, the night of partying is me with a full face make up. I use concealer to cover up my blemishes I encountered in life. The primer is the wrinkle filler I use to pretend I haven’t aged as much as I really have. The foundation is used to make everything one even skin tone, to show that I am very well put together. The eye shadow I use is to show you that I really am fun and flirty. The blush I put on to show a shy conservative side of me. The highlighter shimmer I use to shine your night up. The luscious red lips I use to show you my sexy side. The spanx I squeeze all of the raw me into so I can be in this shape that the world seems to think we should be in.

    It’s vitally important to remain non-judgemental. How much of us is just a show?

    To Know is To Love.

    The real question I feel like is, how much do we really want to know? How much do we really want to love?

    This was an amazing blog! Anything that makes me think of questions I ask myself is one worth reading ^.^

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *