Peter Emer

The Lil Project

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Is love something we are taught or something that comes naturally to us?

Somethings that we see as natural are things that classically conditioned in us. For example, our sense of whats wrong and whats right is something that has been classically conditioned into our brain. Now i was just wondering if the ability to love is something that we acquire through society or maybe it has been there since we where toddlers. If love was something natural why is it hard for us to love one another? If love was something we are taught, why is it limited? As in the idea of love is engraved in our brains but its not open and able to be illustrated towards everything or everybody.

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    Mar 22 2012: Hi Peter,
    I believe, and it is supported by some teachings and research, that children are born unconditionally loving. When they arrive on this earth, they are honest, trusting, vulnerable, dependant on their parents or caretakers, and it is very natural and instinctive for children to love.

    Life circumstances sometimes cause people to build protective walls around themselves, thereby denying themselves the pleasure of giving and recieving unconditional love. Walls may protect us from being hurt, and they also prevent deeper levels of unconditional love. Vulnerability is a necessary quality to fully enjoy unconditional love, so if we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable because we have built protective walls, we do not experience the full possibility of unconditional love. Walls based on fear or protectiveness keep us from giving and recieving unconditional love. When I speak of unconditional love, I'm speaking of love for/with all people... trust, honesty, compassion, empathy, vulnerability and respect for/with all people. I am not seperating individual relational love, which may have many of the same qualities, and different dynamics.
  • Mar 5 2012: Love is something that comes naturally to us. Happy Today. Hope you give and accept a whole lot of love today.
  • Mar 22 2012: I think some of us are given more love at a young age, and in turn naturally grow up learning to give the same amount of love that we received. I think some of us are given less love, and learn deep down that 'what's the point in giving love, you're never going to get that much back from others anyway...'

    It's a big question and I think the journey to love and be loved more is what we get up for in the morning.
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      Mar 22 2012: That's a good input Michael...I wanted to see which is more plausible I tend to think its something that we are taught because out upbringing plays a major role in how we love and if we love at all. And one thing I always wondered is if it would fair to attribute all the emotions we feel as a byproduct of love in some way or another. For example when we are enraged something is it because of love? And same goes for happiness?
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    Mar 6 2012: Loving my enemy does not come natural. (This was taught to me)

    Loving my woman comes naturally for a large number of reasons (attraction, intimacy..)

    Being "in love" is natural and can lead to a number of problems in our brains as well as an empty bank account
    and "loving others" was something I had to learn how to do by denying my selfish human nature.
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      Mar 22 2012: Interesting take on it Kevin...:that ideal never came to mind. I mean I have always thought human nature is selfish, but I just never connected the selflessness that someone who loves others has to endure.
  • Mar 5 2012: Hello Peter,
    I cannot comment as an expert, but I know from my experience that love was not taught in my childhood. Love is learned and appreciated; it is better learned and experienced when given away to others. This I had to learn later in life.

    Children are naturally sharing, but fighting can be learned also. Antagonisms cause irritation and anger, but love is learned by observing patience and graciousness. A person can be trained in gracefulness, but graciousness is a result of a love saturated personality.

    I think love can be natural, but it can also be pushed downward inside a person who is mistreated. Psychological problems often result from lack of love. Given a fair chance, love can blossom in a person and when mutually shared in a relationship, happiness can be bountiful. Even when adverse situations arise, love can prevail for a person who chooses love.

    So much more could be said. Better to let other more experienced persons take this further.

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      Mar 22 2012: I agree with you kurt(: that was well stated....but from what I got is that you favor the idea that love is more of a learned thing. I agree that it can definitely be pushed dow psychological events or disorders.thanks for your input, It was very insightful. Greatly appreciated
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      Mar 22 2012: Hi Mark,

      I have to agree with your comment.

      And I will add, that I feel that sometimes when children grow up without love, but see that it is possible to give and receive love, they can, and often do, show love in extraordinary ways when they grow up.

      Some, because they lacked love in childhood, make it their aim to give love abundantly to others, and instill it in their children as well.

      I mean, you do not need to be loved to turn out to be a loving observers in life, we can "choose" to be loving, when we see the benefit of giving and receiving love.

      I remember how much the song "What the world needs now, is love, sweet love, it's the only thing, that there's just too little of"...did for me when I was just a little girl.

      I remember listening to it and thinking, she's right. The world needs love. Why do people hate each other so much, and why don't they live up to what they preach? And why are people racist?

      I don't know if people are born loving or not. But I do know that when a baby is born, if it is not held and cuddled there are severe consequences...I have seen the studies. I have also seen the consequences of verbally abused children.

      In the end I think it is a little bit of both nature and nurture. (Plus self discovery and concerted effort as Obey said)
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    Mar 27 2012: I would say LOVE is born naturally within each one of us, but we are taught by others and the big environment how to use this LOVE.
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    Mar 22 2012: Wow, good question. Thumbs up from me.
    Suggest a bit of both.
    I categorise romantic/partner love into 3 groups.
    1. Lust at first sight followed by a strong connection or attraction after some conversation
    2. The first few weeks or months where you are still very attracted and also enjoying the process of getting to know the person. You do nice things to impress the person. You feel great being with the person.
    3. The deep love - the deep bonds. Deep caring and sacrifice. Not romantic warm fuzzy love. The electricity of attraction is gone.

    Biologically - 1 is a quick shot impregnation. 2, well if you have a few goes you are more likely to pass on the genes. 3 maybe related to the bonds that support nurturing a family - ensuring your progeny survive.

    Of course we are more than an urge to pass on our genes.

    I think we can learn about the deep caring love. Thinking about the other person, about ways we can make them happy, rather than make ourselves happy just to be around them. Think you can learn or absorb a lot from your own parents and peers even books. Hardest thing is changing your patterns, habits that are selfish.

    Mix of nature, nurture and self discovery and hard work
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    Mar 5 2012: Sometimes you can say so much more by a simple touch.
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      Mar 22 2012: Adriaan!! Hi, I really enjoyed reading this comment of yours.

      I do agree with you that Love has to be taught in some measure. It takes a vigilant parent to instill love in the children. It is innate in us to be last.

      Don't you think that the best way parents show their children to love is by their example?

      I think, like Michael Donagy mentioned, that when children receive love, it is much easier for them to be loving.

      It is easy to love those who give you is much harder to love those who don't.............Mastering, or cultivating love of everyone is very liberating.

      Like a friend of mine says, the love we have for others should far outweigh their imperfections.

      Also, you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

      And as the song goes....what the world needs is's the only thing that there's just too little of. :)

      As adults, I think it is important to have a healthy love of self. If we do not love ourselves, it will be hard to love others.

      Great question Peter Emer!!!
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    Mar 5 2012: What do you mean by "love"?
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      Mar 22 2012: I mean to care selflessly about something. To put others before yourself or will to jeopardize your lifestyle to help others.
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        Mar 22 2012: Is love congenital? As a follower of Christ and his teachings in the Holy Bible I say the answer is "Yes". God is love. Man is made in the image of God. Therefore man is made in, and with, the image of love. The world condition does not seem to support the idea of mankind's love one for another as you describe it. The Bible explains this disconnect in eight short New Testament verses (ROMANS, chapter one, verses 18 through 25).The image of God (love) in man is polluted beyond recognition by man's vanity and foolishness (sin).Love can be mimicked, but not learned. True love can only be restored by being born again as Jesus so emphatically taught (JOHN, chapter 3, verses one through 21). Thank you for a very important question. God bless you.