In our society, the word “love” has been used in many ways and defined as many things. Unfortunately, people throw the word out so often that we’ve forgotten what it means.
In my group therapy, we talked about mature love versus immature love. When developing mature love, love first grows within and shines outward toward others. When you first love yourself, it becomes almost impossible to allow others in your life who only know how to love immaturely. You love, accept, and are aware of yourself and can allow yourself to influence others.
In the same week, I came across a Tik Tok by Toktoker hope_peddler that talked about how the world incorrectly uses love when referring to how they feel in a relationship. It opened my eyes to so much. She defined love, care, and cathexis. She said that love, as defined by Dr. Scott Peak in his book The Road Less Traveled, is defined as the will to extend oneself, to nurture oneself or another person’s spiritual growth. She defined care as meeting another person’s needs and cathexis as the emotional investment in another person.
Apparently, I was taught to care for others, not love them. But the way I choose to treat others is with love. By the above definitions, I realized that my past relationships were with people who showed cathexis towards me, meaning they loved how I made them feel and cared for me, but not many reached the level to love me. As a result, I always walked away from relationships feeling like the relationship had no substance. I now understand that it wasn’t that the relationship had no significance; the person I was with could not love me maturely.
I believe that all three are needed. I want to care for someone. I want how I feel with them to be a positive experience. Most of all, I want to take action and nurture their spiritual growth. I want all that for myself as well. But in a relationship without love, nothing is sustainable. Everyone evolves and grows, but if you are in a relationship without a will to nurture and support, the growth happens alone and in opposite directions. The people in the relationship no longer recognize each other because one might only recall the person they were and the old feeling of how they made them feel.
I choose to love myself to better and maturely love another. I hope you also choose to love yourself.