Different Kinds of Love

We feel and experience love in different ways. Some love is passionate, some is compassionate. Learning how to find balance between compassion and passion is key to successful relationships.

My grandmother on my dad’s side told me when I was young, that I was put on this earth to love other people.  When I think back on it, this one thing she said has had a profound impact on my life and how I choose to live it and who I am as a person. I am here to love other people. That is my purpose.

How I choose to manifest that love depends on the situation. I love a lot of people: my husband and son, my extended family on both sides, my friends and acquaintances.  And more abstractly I love the other 7 billion people that make up my human family.  Oh – and I love my pets too.

I talk a lot about compassion as it relates to my practice as a Humanist. To me, compassion is an expression of my love for others. As a Humanist, I experience compassionate love as Promethean – meaning it is aimed at alleviating the suffering of others.  It is why I work so hard to make the world a better place.

But my compassionate love is also more immediate. It’s not just an abstract Promethean urge. It’s also about how I feel about people when I meet them and interact with them. It’s protective and caring.

But my love can also be passionate. Specifically, the sexual yearning I have for my husband or the intense protectiveness I sometimes feel for my son.  My life, every day is so filled with love that I rarely experience depression or aloneness.

When I talk to others about this, I get the impression that the only love they are willing or want to experience is passionate love. When I suggest compassionate love, I meet resistance. Compassion is about helping others. What’s in it for me?

What’s in it is the feeling of love. Compassion has passion at it’s root.  It’s an intense feeling and it by and large feels really good to care about other people.  Compassion is intense. Just intense directed towards others instead of directed toward myself.  Passionate love is possessive. Compassionate love is altruistic.

And that is the key. We all need meaning and purpose in our life. Without it we are stressed and unhappy. What better meaning can you give your life than to live a life of love.

If you are worried that all this love for others will drain you don’t be. I was once asked if I would rather be in love or be loved. My answer was that I would rather be in love. Being in love feels great. Being loved doesn’t feel like much of anything. And if you don’t reciprocate it, having someone love you can be really annoying and frustrating and you feel bad for them. So I will always choose to be in love over being loved.  Perhaps that’s why I’m so happy.

If you need help learning how to be compassionate without being taken advantage of – consider taking this free ecourse from Dr. Marcia Sirota – Ruthless Compassion - https://humanistlearning.com/ruthless-compassion/

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