Sending and receiving the message of love


One of the last smses that my ex sent me before the break up had a part which said, “I just want to say that I love you, and Jesus loves you much much much more.”

Remembering that got me thinking about love; how it’s shown and given, and how it’s received and felt.

If Jesus loves me so much, why can’t I feel it? What can it possibly mean for someone like Jesus to love me, someone I can neither see, hear nor touch? Of what value is such a love, that cannot catch a movie with me on a whim, or call me up at night to share the joys and sorrows of the day, nor give me a hug when I’m down?

Just like communication and perception, love is half-half, isn’t it? I mean, when communicating, the words are only half the message. The other half lies in someone’s head: their interpretation and understanding of your words. Similarly, when we see events around us, what happens physically holds only half the meaning of what happened; our perception and understanding of the event gives the other half. Isn’t love like this too, perhaps even more so?

My ex likes reading about things like the five love languages. The concept is pretty straightforward: people express their love in different ways, and there are five main ways in which they do so: quality time, words of affirmation, gift giving/receiving, acts of service and physical touch. Knowing your partner’s love language is helpful because you won’t miss it when they express their love, and you’d have a better idea of how to make them feel loved.

I scored highest for ‘quality time’, which made sense when I thought about it. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, to the extent that it rarely matters to me what the activity is. I could have zero interest in an activity but gladly participate to spend time with friends.

So. A love language. How we communicate our love. How something intangible, abstract and nigh indescribable in our heads (or hearts, if you like) is converted into the real world. And how that is subsequently picked up on and converted back into something intangible in the mind (or heart) of someone else.

It’s easy to see how that can break down.

Miscommunication.
When a child being disciplined doesn’t see the love behind the actions. When you focus on what someone fails to do and miss out on all the things they do for you. When a husband works because he loves his wife, but the wife, left alone, feels unloved. When a bad tempered relative seems on the surface to ignore or pick on you, but has actually made great sacrifices for your sake.

Un-received. One sided love.
When you crush on someone you can’t reach, like a celebrity. When your love is received as annoyance instead. When someone is oblivious to your love.

Unsent.
When you keep your crush a secret. When you don’t act on what’s in your head. No action, no interaction.

‘Sent, but unreceived’ is unrequited love. A delusion, obsession, infatuation… is it still love?
‘Unsent, but received’ is slightly bizarre but not unimaginable: an orphan who convinces himself that his parents love him although he doesn’t know who or where they are, and feels loved when he thinks of them. Or someone who mistakenly interprets ambiguous actions as love. Surely this constitutes delusion, not love?

In my entry Unconditional Love, I wrote, “I love you, even if you don’t want to receive it.” and “My love is mine to give, and you can’t take that away from me.” But maybe that’s incoherent. Maybe that’s not love.

If I love you without sending it, and without you receiving it, is that love at all? If I love you without you caring, knowing or being affected by it in anyway, is there any value in such ‘love’?

After all, love is more than a feeling, right?

Even if it begins with a feeling, even if it’s rooted in emotion… love, ideally, should be more than that, because feelings and emotions are fleeting and transient. Love, to me, is a feeling cemented by commitment. Love is a feeling that drives you to action. Love changes you, and changes the one you give it to.

Love without action; love that never leaves your own head; love that doesn’t affect anyone else; love that exists only in your head. Can any of these be genuine love? Or just an insubstantial feeling. Just delusion.

What do you think?

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3 thoughts on “Sending and receiving the message of love

  1. I like the five love languages as an illustration, but like so many illustrations, it can be turned into a rigid doctrine that isn’t really the point of it. Not saying that you’re doing this, just that I tend to be wary.

    As a thought experiment, imagine you and your childhood sweetheart are both madly in love and have been for many years. Now imagine that he’s arrested and held in a maximum security prison for some reason (it’s OK, it doesn’t have to make sense) and isn’t even allowed to phone you. He’s unable to show you his love in any meaningful way, at least until he’s eventually released because it was all a terrible mistake. Does that mean he doesn’t love you during that period?

    Not trying to make any profound point, just musing.

    • yeah, i tend to take these things (like the 5 love languages and personality profiles) which a pinch of salt. something to read for fun, maybe learn something about yourself, and then mostly forget about it. you’re a constantly evolving person anyway. And these are tools to help you be more aware of yourself rather then tests scores set in stone…

      mm i thought of that too. but i suppose while the both of you are separated, each of you ‘knows’ the other loves each other because of actions that happened before the separation, and actions that you anticipate will happen after the separation. so it’s those actions that speak the love, and it’s both of you holding on to that? I mean, while you’re separated, it’s completely possible for one person to ‘stop loving’ the other, and the other would be none the wiser… then it seems we would be back to one-sided, unrequited love. and without actions to express the love, you’d have no way of knowing if it’s mutual or one sided…

  2. Pingback: Two one-way streets | Raintree Branches

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