Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What is Love?

Looking back at an old blog post of mine,  came across these words: 
"If there is no joy, then the love isn't true. True love doesn't cause suffering, or make another person cry all the time. Rather true love, brings joy. If you are noticing the person in your life is bringing you more pain than joy, you must ask yourself "is this true love?"  If it isn't than what is it?"  

In order to know what it is, in order to recognize love you have to have experienced love. You must have seen it, felt it, breathed it in and basked in it. How else can you know, or recognize something you've not experienced? I don't believe you can, unless you have some schema for what love truly is. It is my contention that many of us who became involved with, or are currently involved with a disordered person whether that be of the antisocial category or some other form of disfunction, have come from backgrounds where the illustration of love was somehow amiss. I am a teacher. I have learned and firmly believe the best teacher, the most impactful teacher is experience. Nothing else can match, or top it. You can tell me, I can read about it, you can show me a picture, you can use the entire Websters Dictionary to teach me something.  You can use all the bells and whistles and dance steps you can muster.  You can write me a song, play me a song, write me a letter, show me a video, have me listen to a tape, simulate the thing as best can be done. Yet none of it will top my having experienced it first hand myself. If I've had this thing (whatever thing we are referring to) in this case love, if I have experienced it, seen it in action, watched it happening around me and felt it's arms entranced around me, then I am apt to pick it up, understand it, feel it, seek it and expect no less.

This brings me around to my point. Those of us who have accepted, tolerated, remained in and become a part of a loveless relationship, most likely have experienced the LACK of it(love) before. More often than not, that experience came from our childhood, but maybe not. Perhaps it came afterwards. However, I have not a doubt in the world that if I were to research the backgrounds of victims of abusive relationships I would find a high majority came from difficult childhoods. I myself did. I had wonderful loving parents. But, I also had parents trapped in their own sorrow and pain of some kind. Parents who weren't able to model true love for me. In particular, love from my father. My father was not a loving, kind, or thoughtful husband. He could be quite cruel and unfeeling as a husband to my mother. I saw him having multiple affairs during his marriage to my mother. I witnessed him verbally abuse her on a regular basis. I witnessed her accepting that behavior and shriveling under it's pressure during my childhood. The lack of love was so evident in my household that on the rare occasions that my parents did express love, or affection towards one another, it made me uncomfortable.

Given this example and modeling of behavior I experienced growing up it, isn't any wonder how, or why I became involved in a relationship with a psychopath and accepted virtually w/out question his abhorable behavior towards me. I didn't know any different. This was the sample of love set before me at a very young age. So, how do we know what love even is? What does it look like? Let me tell you. 
A few years ago(when I was heavily involved in the relationship with my ex psychopath) a good friend of mine purchased a book for me titled True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh. It is based on Buddhist teachings and illustrates quite effectively what love is. In the very beginning of our break up this book helped me immensely and encouraged me to accept no less than true love. It helped me understand what love truly is and what love truly is not.

It was one of the first steps, of many more steps to come, that helped nudge me along my journey to recovery.  If you are in a relationship with a disordered personality, or currently recovering from one than get into the frame of mind  that healing will take many many steps, each one beginning with putting one foot in front of the other and choosing to keep walking in a different direction no matter how painful, tiresome, or difficult. You have no idea what glorious pastures lay ahead for you when you do.
So, what is love then? True Love depicts love as having a combination of elements which are as follows:
First of all, love isn't cruelty. Love isn't suffering. Love isn't unfeeling. According to True Love, love is loving kindness in action. In order for a person to love, this person must have the desire and ability to act "loving" and kind toward you. Loving kindness in action would not consist of a push me, pull me attitude which is what my ex exhibited. He loved me, didn't want me. Loved me, didn't want me. Loved me, didnt' want me and so on. He appeared to be almost exhilarated by my turmoil and pain.

The second element of True Love is compassion. again, Hanh defines this as not only the desire to be compassionate, but the ability to be compassionate. As in the form of a verb, action, not just in thought or desire. My ex would often say things like, "Well, I was going to buy you flowers but...." Typically the "but" was because I had done something wrong he was discouraged from caring out this thoughtful act, or deed. Compassion is the desire AND ability to EASE another's pain and suffering. This is very important. Stop and meditate on this thought for a moment. True love doesn't just DESIRE to ease your pain, it WILL ease your pain. It will NOT CAUSE you pain. It will NOT cause you pain. Let me say that once more. It will NOT cause you pain. Intentionally, or otherwise. True love which includes compassionately understanding your suffering and will do what it needs to do to ease your suffering. It will not bring it to you served on a metal hubcap disguised as a silver platter. 

Joy is the third element of love. If your life is w/out joy and this person is doing nothing to bring you joy, then it isn't love. True love not only wants to bring you joy, but according to Hanh it has the ability to bring you joy. To me this translates to w/out question joy will be a part of your life when you are experiencing true love. My ex would often dangle his ability to bring me joy like a carrot before me. Always promising to do this or that, or saying he intended to do this or that, but something had gotten in his way of carrying it through. These empty promises worked by keeping me hanging on for that one would he would actually follow through. Of course that day never came. Hard as it is to see, this person in your life whom you felt loved you, but just doesn't quite know how it show it,  does not love you. In fact this person neither has the desire to, nor ABILITY to bring you joy. Whereas, true love offers joy. True love rejoices in joy!

The fourth element of true love is freedom. In true love you attain freedom. You must love in such a way that the person feels freedom in your love. Although I think freedom comes from within oneself. I don't know that freedom can completely come from another person if you don't already feel freedom within yourself. Even so, if the relationship you are in, or were in brought you feelings of entrapment believing there was no way out, almost as if your feet were frozen, than it isn't/wasn't love. A person who loves you rejoices in your freedom, not in your imprisonment. 
All of this leads me to the question I frequently get asked, "Can a psychopath truly love?" My answer is no. No they can not. Not in the sense I've just described. As I said in the beginning, one must experience a "thing" to know a "thing", in this case love. Psychopaths are unable to bond on an intrinsic level the way a typical fully feeling individual can. They have never experienced loving kindness. For, if it had been offered them, they never felt it, or sensed it in the first place. A person must be able to feel loving kindness to recognize. A psychopath is not able to feel on that level. Their feelings are shallow and limited. They are not able to feel joy, or compassion either. A person must have had experienced compassion in order to offer it. A disordered person can't experience compassion. If you've offered it and they've taken it, they had no idea WHAT they were taking. Hence they can so easily destroy it, take it for granted and throw it away.

If a psychopath can truly love, then they would be able to offer joy. Joy works the same. I can experience joy on a deep level. A pathological personality can not.  They haven't witnessed it, nor experienced it. If they saw joy, they were not able to recognize what it was, it was never intrinsically a part of their fiber the way we know it. This brings me to freedom.

Is a psychopath free? My answer is a resound NO! I think they are the most imprisoned of all. They are in a world that joy, compassion, and loving-kindness can not enter. They see it all around them. But they do not know it, or feel it. Therefor they can not offer it. They can pretend to offer it because they know it's what we want and need. But, when the reality of what those attributes mean, they'll fall short in meeting them. They are in a perpetual search on an unending journey to emptiness. That does not sound free to me in the least. An imprisoned person can not offer me freedom.

My ex would often express to me his confusion over what love "should" feel like. He'd ask me how would a person know when they have it? How do they know when they are feeling it? As a matter of fact, the song at the start of this is one of his favorite songs. "I Want to Know What Love is." When we would argue over his inability to love me the way I understood love to be, he would always say "somethings missing.  I don't know maybe it's missing in me." His search to find true love is unattainable. My search on the other hand is very valid and very attainable.
If there is any question in your mind about the person you are currently with or were with having intended to hurt you, or "accidentely" hurt you look back for these elements of love. Does/did this person treat you with loving kindness? Did/does he/she put your needs above his/her own? Does/did this person bring you joy, laughter, freedom and compassion? If the answer is NO, then quit worrying whether or not this person is or isn't a psychopath, or personality disordered in one way or another. It doesn't matter what this person is, or isn't. What matters is that this person have the desire AND ability to actively love you. Actively loving will always be compassionate. It will always have the ability to bring you joy, kindness and freedom. Take a look at your own way of loving. Do you love YOURSELF in this true sense of love? Are you acting kindly toward yourself? Are you honoring the person that you are by bringing people into your life that bring you joy? Are you keeping those around you who allow you to be free? If the answer is no to these questions, it may be time to make some changes and become free to feel what love truly is. For noone person can bring you true love until you are experiencing it w/in yourself and loving yourself in desire and action. I believe once you are able to do this, leaving the psychopath and recovering from the psychopath will be a much more successful venture. It'll be expidited and more successful when you are truly loved by the one person that knows you best. Yourself.


  1. It is entirely depends on your dedication and efforts and also how much serious you

  2. Do you mean to say, "it" being "love?" Love is dependent on your efforts and dedication and how serious you are about loving that person? If that is what you are trying to say, then this is true. The relationship is only as strong as both parties are willing to make it. But, the point is a nonpsychopathic person is willing and able to do it. A person is not disordered won't toy with another person love the way a psychopath will. Furthermore the person how is disordered is not able to bring about true love even if he/she desires to. He/she doesn't have it to give in the first place.