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And just as easily, it can spontaneously degenerate when the magic "just isn't there" anymore. Love is the attachment that results from deeply appreciating another's goodness. After all, most love stories don't feature a couple enraptured with each other's ethics. God created us to see ourselves as good (hence our need to either rationalize or regret our wrongdoings). Nice looks, an engaging personality, intelligence, and talent (all of which count for something) may attract you, but goodness is what moves you to love. Just focus on the good in another person (and everyone has some). I was once at an intimate concert in which the performer, a deeply spiritual person, gazed warmly at his audience and said, "I want you to know, I love you all." I smiled tolerantly and thought, "Sure." Looking back, though, I realize my cynicism was misplaced.

Erich Fromm, in his famous treatise "The Art of Loving," noted the sad consequence of this misconception: "There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love." (That was back in 1956 ― chances are he'd be even more pessimistic today.) So what is love ― real, lasting love? What we value most in ourselves, we value most in others.

A woman I know once explained why she's been happily married for 25 years.

So I decided to try out the "giving leads to love" theory. A few days later I offered to help her with a personal problem. This is why your parents (who've given you more than you'll ever know) undoubtedly love you more than you love them, and you, in turn, will love your own children more than they'll love you.True giving, as Erich Fromm points out, is other-oriented, and requires four elements.The first is care, demonstrating active concern for the recipient's life and growth.A few years ago, I spoke to a group of high-schoolers about the Jewish idea of love. By focusing on the good, you can love almost anyone. " "We're choosing to love him," her mother explained, "because love is a choice." There's no better wisdom Susan's mother could have imparted to her before marriage.You can care for, respond to, and respect another only as deeply as you know him or her.


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