Okay. This article is for everyone, from teenagers to octogenarians. I’m going to explain precisely and beyond a doubt the exact emotional ingredients of the one thing every single human being has experienced (or wanted to experience) since we left the trees. Savvy? Let’s get started.
The problem with deciphering what precisely love is, is that it tastes elemental—like nothing else on earth—like your favorite soda. The more you taste it, the more you want. And it tastes like nothing else. But look at that soda. If it weren’t cold, bubbly AND sweet, it wouldn’t be soda. You need those three things combined… or it just isn’t the same.
Right. So. The ingredients of love are as follows: Understanding. Acceptance. The willingness to do anything for the object of your devotion. That’s it. That’s ALL there is to it.
Any relationship you’ve ever been in, any relationship you’re in now—it all applies, and it’s all universal. How many songs—good, bad or otherwise—have been written about it? How many plays? Or TV shows? Or movies? Everyone, everyone is looking for it and when they have it, half the time they don’t even realize it.
The formula applies to every type. Your best friend, your brother, sister, mother or father; your lover. It’s the same.
Understanding: If you want to love someone, you have to get who they are. Truly get them. John Hinckley (would-be assassin of Ronald Reagan) didn’t understand Jodie Foster. He wanted her, sure, and he certainly accepted her based on what little he knew of her, and he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt he was willing to do anything for her… but it wasn’t love. It was obsession. If he’d ever once met her in person, instead of growing fixated on her based on her films, he might have had a better purchase on his own sanity. But he didn’t, and ol’ Ronny caught the bullet for it.
Acceptance: You have to accept someone for who they are before you can love them. But if you can truly accept someone? Unabashedly, without reserve, for who they are? It’s one of the single greatest feats of accomplishment we can achieve; and a vital ingredient to love. Good families are made of this: they accept their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers for what they are, and commit to stand by them.
Willingness To Do Anything: The person you’ve grown attached to, through the things you have in common. The things they feel for you, and make you feel in return. It’s the ingredient that marks truly great friendships, great loves, great families. It’s not always easy, and is occasionally downright hard… but it’s a sign of greatness. It’s also the crux of Patty Hearst Syndrome—if someone has you at gunpoint for long enough; you are forced to do what they want, to see them from their perspective. This explains why kidnap victims eventually grow to feel attachment to their captors. It’s the only explanation.
Loving someone, truly loving them, requires all three. Without understanding, you have only acceptance, which results in devotion. I understand Adolf Hitler, but I would never accept him or devote myself to his cause. Without Acceptance, we end up again with Patty Hearst syndrome. Without Willingness to do anything… we have friends. Good friends, fair weather friends, whatever. It is what it is.
I’ve been in love twice, in my life. Both times, it cost me a great deal to demonstrate it. I maintain that it was the right thing to do. The second time—which was more intense, more visceral, less mature—being willing to do anything meant saying good-bye. For good. The heart of the old adage, “If you love someone, let them go.” I did it because it was the right thing to do at the time, and that hasn’t changed.
Kids, Adults, Old-Timers falling in love anew… the next time you feel a crush, or infatuation, or that warm flush in your gut and the sides of your face when that certain someone walks by… just run through the check list.
Do I understand this person?
Do I accept this person?
Would I do anything for this person? Including putting their happiness above my own?
If the answer is yes… congratulations. If not… take a look at what you want from them in return.
That’s all I’ve got.