Better to Love or “Be” Loved?
Many of us frequently think that if we like someone, she or he must love us in return. Dr. Albert Ellis differentiated “loving” from “being-in-love” (in-lovedness or falling-in-love). He had the following to say about these states:
“In many aspects loving and being-in-love are almost opposites. Being-in-love is often a socially polite term for having an obsessive-compulsive fixation on someone. This is statistically normal, since most of us are in this state one or more times during our lives. This state also has distinct advantages; it is highly absorbing, often pleasurable, and sometimes positively ecstatic. But being-in-love usually lasts for a short period of time, while loving may go on for a lifetime.
Loving, in contrast, means being interested in another human being for her own sake and from her own frame of reference. While the individual who is in-love (the state of being-in-love or in-lovedness or falling-in-love), frequently demands return love; the individual who is loving is not interested in reciprocation.
Loving stems from personal strength. When you are loving someone, you don’t care whether the other person loves you and you think-feel-act strongly enough to be truly interested in the other person. It is altruistic but not self-sacrificing, since the loving individual enjoys and likes herself and has no need to sacrifice her own major interests to win other’s approval.”
What follows directly from the foregoing discussion is that few of us have the strength or energy to be loving to a few or even one individual. Loving is hard work, but rewards are enormous.
In contrast to many philosophies that ask us to love everyone (which is most probably impossible), REBT tells us that if we choose to be reasonably happy in our lives, we better unconditionally accept others.