A Definition Of Loving with Dr. Pat Love

In an exclusive interview with PsychAlive, Dr. Pat Love explains and defines the unique paradigm that is Love.

It’s interesting that you ask what my definition of love is, because before research I would have said, “Love is a response to getting your needs met.”  Because if you look in the Western literature, it basically says love – if you treat me the way I want to be treated, then the response that I feel toward you is love.  But if you look in the Eastern literature, it’s a very different, very different definition.  And it’s something like this:  Love is the wish to make someone happy — which is a very different paradigm.  And so love, you know, some people believe the only love you truly can feel is lov-ing.  That if you treat me in the way that, that is touching, what I feel is my feelings in response to you.  So that love is truly a verb or a moving toward you experience.  But I like love as a wish to make people happy.  Or love is the wish to make you happy.

I like that point of view because it’s a different paradigm. It puts the onus on me to move toward you and it makes me accountable for my actions and it makes me responsible for my actions and it puts love in my control.  So I really, I really like that and I have to credit the Dalai Lama, by the way.  He’s one of the Eastern writers that I studied, with that idea of love as the wish to make someone happy.  And I think when people say they want to be in love, initially you think, “Oh, I want someone moving toward, moving toward.”  But I think what we love is lov-ing.  I think we really do enjoy that loving.  So I like that definition.  Love is the wish to make someone happy.

Yes, now there is a distinction between love and compassion.  And I think it’s an important distinction to look at — love, empathy and compassion.  Because in the Western world, we tend to revere empathy –when I can feel what you feel.  But when you think about it, you can actually use empathy against someone.  If I know how you’re feeling, I can manipulate, I can twist that.  But the higher order — if you want to put a hierarchy on it — is compassion because compassion is the desire to ease suffering – that I want to be part of the prevention and the promise and the solution, not the pain.  Do I want to cause suffering or do I want to be part of the solution?  Do I have a desire for you to be happy?

So that’s very different, you know, and it’s a form of love.  It’s a high form of love, I think, because it requires altruism, it requires you to get outside yourself.  But again, what I love about the idea of compassion is, it’s in my control.  I really can choose to be part of the solution or part of the problem.  I really can choose that.  And I think that’s extremely important in love relationships, or in parenting relationships or friendships or colloquial relationships.  Do I want to be part of the solution, do I what to be part of the problem?


Order a DVD of Dr. Pat Love’s full interview with PsychAlive, “On Relationships and Parenting

Pat-Love-DVDIn this DVD, Dr. Pat Love covers a variety of topics regarding relationships and parenting. She begins by defining the concept of love and what it means to be loving. She discusses values in a loving relationship and offers tactile tips for couples on improving the quality of their relationships. Dr. Love also addresses the importance of equality in a relationship, sexuality, and what she has learned from her years as a couples’ therapist. Shifting her focus to parenting, Dr. Love offers her perspective on how to raise emotionally healthy children. “Parenting is simply about providing love, structure and protection,” she explains, emphasizing that it is important for parents to set limits for their children but not “hover” over them. This DVD is packed with useful information for introspective individuals and mental health professionals alike.

About the Author

Pat Love, Ed.D. Distinguished professor and Certified Love Educator, Pat Love, Ed.D. is known for her warmth, humor, and commitment to learning. For more than 25 years, she has contributed to relationship education and personal development through her books, articles, training programs, speaking, and media appearances. Learn more at www.patlove.com.

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