What is Love or Better...What isn't Love?

Most persons don’t realize this, but the common, or popular, view of “love” involves an element of receiving something. “I love chocolate” really means that “I enjoy getting the experience of the taste of chocolate.” Similarly, “I love you” commonly implies “I enjoy playing with your body,” or “I enjoy believing that you will give me security or protection,” or “I enjoy feeling sexual pleasure with your body” (or “I want to have sexual pleasure with your body.”) As a result, Lacan, in his teachings about love, described the typical act of love as “polymorphous perversion.” [5]

Don’t be put off by the big words. You already know what perversion means. Polymorphous simply means “having many forms.” So this amounts to saying, like the popular song from the 1980s, that we’re looking for love in all the wrong places. That is, we look for satisfaction in all the various titillating parts of the body but never find what is truly sought.

What is “truly sought” is something we all experience as painfully missing from life: some comforting sense of absolute belonging and acceptance. Those who are fortunate get a sense of this feeling as babies, under a parent’s protection, although the feeling is fractured more often than not by ordinary parental empathic failures, and then it is lost entirely as children become older and independent and the awareness of their essential human isolation and mortality sets in. Those who are less fortunate suffer a deeper lack: some parents are emotionally or physically distant and rarely provide any comfort and acceptance to their children; and some parents are outright abusive, leaving their children to languish in an environment of criticism and neglect.

  Suffering from the lack of parental acceptance, some people skip from one “partner” to another over the surface of existential pain, like a stone skipping over water. As long as they stay above the surface they’re perfectly happy; but when an affair ends, and they come crashing down, they’re desperate for the next leap, sometimes searching for a new partner even at the funeral for the old one. Yet sooner or later the stone loses vitality, and with a final splunk falls into the depths of tribulation. 

  Lacan points out that although “love”—that is, in its common, popular sense—is, in essence, a futile chasing after something that doesn’t exist, there is nevertheless a love beyond this “making love,” a love that exists beyond lack and limitation and that involves a sort of ecstasy of being,[6] as a matter of soul,[7] not of the body. The irony is that in the common act of “making love” we think we know what we want, but it turns out to be an illusion, while this other love touches on a real experience of which we know nothing. It’s a mystical sort of thing, as Lacan acknowledges.[8]

Now, although Lacan doesn’t say it this way, the difference between these two kinds of love—common “love” and true love (or real love)—can be conceived of as the difference between receiving and giving.

  Note carefully, though, that giving does not refer to the mere sharing of material objects or wealth; it refers to the expression of profound emotional qualities such as patience, forbearance, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness.
This all goes to show that it’s easy enough to “love” those who “love” us: parents who protect us, “partners” who make us feel received, animals who never threaten us. But can we love those who annoy us . . . irritate us . . . obstruct us . . . scorn us . . . hate us? Can we love our enemies? That’s the real test of real love.

  And it was out of a true understanding of the difference between common “love” and real love that a man such as St. Francis of Assisi was led—led right to the point, actually—to pray that he might seek “not so much to be loved as to love.”


Since I posted this under resources....I will include the link to this article I read about Love and the different kinds their are.  There has been something intangible missing I feel in my wife's capacity to Love ..and when I read the highlighted areas, it finally  clicked. while this other love touches on a real experience of which we know nothing. It’s a mystical sort of thing, as Lacan acknowledges.[8]

Yes!!  You know Love when you experience it and I do not experience Love from my wife...at all!  To her...Love is on the outside and she truly is....looking for Love in all the wrong places and she will never find it there...as it said, because it doesn't exist.  She suffers tremendously because of this but.....I am not the person she is looking for to try and fill the void from what she didn't get from her abusive self serving mother who my T feels had a character disorder which I now feel was passed on to my wife in just the way this described.  She is truly a victim but that's not excuse now...at age 60.  If she has never learned the difference by now....I feel there is no hope in that ever happening and I will remain a "Tool" or conduit for her in trying to get from that...which is not in my power to give.  I think in my wife's case...she is truly damaged goods and a right off in the Love department and I feel no Love what so ever...coming from her in the future.  I can feel pity and even compassion for her and we have gotten in some heated arguments already about Love when she has accused me of failing her.  As I see it now....I have only failed to treat her like an unwanted child with an insatiable need for reassurance and to be "given too" even to the point of patronizing her which normally....most would feel offended ( at least for me? ) which she seems to receive as some kind of validation....while at the same time....scoffs and dismisses any real show of Love that I offer her as if it doesn't exist?

While I can feel many things for someone with challenges and with hope and optimism and giving without any need for anything back....when it's a one way street always...and in terms of respect.....I cannot respect anyone who refuses to try and "fix themselves"...and is dependent on others to try and fill the empty black hole inside them and thinks that's Love?  My wife...has no idea what Love is...and thinks in terms of "ideals" and the "idea of Love" as her only way to measure herself from.  I have to be honest with myself within my own limitations...and what I am missing in my ability to respect someone...comes from "respect that is earned" and my wife has failed the test on that one.  I cannot with a clear conscious and without lying to myself....that respect without being earned is a waste of my time and nothing I can "respect" at all in terms of my wife?  I might Love her in the truest sense of the word....but I do not have any respect for her what so ever...and feel she is broken...beyond repair.  When she quit going to see our T by saying that she'd heard everything she needs to hear...and then in turn...accuses me of wasting my time by going to see him and to her...it hasn't done any good?  Beyond sounding completely retarded and absurd....that statement has caused me to lose all respect for my wife and I cannot get passed seeing her now....as just a broken endless pit of despair with no ability or capacity to Love me in the way I Love her which in her mind ( as deluded as it is )...means "take care of me and fill my emptiness for me."

I cannot respect this and I cannot lie to myself anymore about my wife.  She is a product of her mother...and I see nothing good coming from my wife either now...or anytime in the future and it is an insult to what I have to offer to waste it on someone who doesn't even know what Love is except for the perverted form in which she thinks it is...in the broken mind of an abused victim who doesn't have what it takes...to fix her self and do anything about it.  The connection inside her is broken and it's not my job to fix it a she feels that it is.  And when I don't try and fix it for her...she gets hostile and angry and this....I have absolutely no respect for and never will.  We don't have a relationship...;.what we have is a child who needs a parent....at age 60 years old but I'm not a parent...and my wife is definitely not a child.

All I see...is a broken human being who is not willing to change and refuses to take reasonability for here actions and emotions and is a victim which I find reprehensible and have no respect for what so ever even if I do Love her.  Respect...unlike Love...is earned in my book and my wife has done nothing to deserve my respect which is why....I do not respect her as a person.  I don't feel sympathy for her....I pity her and who wants to make Love with someone you pity?  What she respects and feels Love by...are in terms of her environment and things on the outside of her...while the only thing that means anything to me is what is on the inside and I have given her the benefit of the doubt long enough mow to feel that what is on the inside of her...her emptiness, black, and devoid of Love.  I might as well go masturbate alone...than feel emptiness in the act of making Love with my wife which I have no desire what so ever and this is why I think?  Mutual masturbation...is as good as it will ever get and I can do better than that all by myself and I'm not that hard up..to compromise myself to what I do not respect or have any good feelings for what so ever.  My wife deserves someone who is in the dark like her and they can be happy together filling the holes in the life....instead of filling their glass and being happy which in my book...is a perversion in itself.

I'm sorry for the rambling this time in that I am just now coming to any real conclusions and my heart is sinking as I am writing this.  This is not a vent...as much as a realization and a recognition of what I truly feel which is as brutally honest as I can get?