Real Men Hate the Word Love

Happy young couple playing in hotel room while laying on bed in

Have you ever noticed that I talk about relationships all day long and I only rarely mention love? And when I do, it is usually to caution that it is a delusion intertwined with sexual attraction. Or, I remind you that love is a verb, not a noun. An action word. Not a state of being. Long term love is an intellectual commitment, I say.

Could I sound any more unromantic?

Hey, and speaking of romance, I normally dismiss flowers, chocolate, fine wine, and high heels as  simple accoutrements to delusion. I should also tell you that my “brainy” ideas about love have garnered me a group of male readers who say, “finally a woman who gets it.” Men do love to make rational sense of things that are so irrational. And men love to hate the word love. It feels weak to think feelings for a woman might disempower them.

But do I really get it?

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I certainly have some textbook notions about how biology and psychology get all tangled up and sometimes make people do things they shouldn’t be doing. Running off with a paramour when a perfectly good spouse is right in front of you. Staying with an abusive spouse because of love. Jumping into bed with a Casanova because you will be the one to change him. Thinking that a loss of sexual energy is a loss of love. And, my favorite transgression of love’s delusion: Dragging children through our delusions.

Could love really be that dangerous? Must it always involve some form of heartbreak, dysfunction, boredom, loss, or even violence? And if that is the case, why do we march right back into the fire when we should know better?

I have some of the answers. But only some.

Psychologists would say that love is a seeking out of early womb experiences and infantile bliss. A baby’s play and cuddling becomes an adult sex life. Parts of our brain consider a lover a kind of mother, a nurturer, a protector, even an executor of boundaries. We feel safe and cared for in a love relationship.

We do it, that is, fall in love because it is the single best chemical high in our lifespan. At least, the best high that both genders can experience. We women, also get to do childbirth, which is pretty darn close to experiencing heaven and hell at the same time. But love is different. It is shared with an adult.

Both genders can experience love together. Love. An unconscious handshake between too souls who agree there is more to this world than work, play, and food.  It is an exchange of mutual projections that when executed well, is better than any Academy Award winning movie. Love may be a delusion but it is one of the best ones we have. And sometimes it’s all we have. With so many people losing faith in old religions, I wonder if love is becoming our new religion. And what is faith after all? Merely a belief in something that we have little scientific proof of. I would venture to say that we have far more proof of love’s power than many religions do in their folklore. The selfless acts of love that happen every day are real, observable, and can bring us to our knees in awe of the God-like powers within humans.

Now I will really go out on a limb and say that Love (look, I’m using a cap now!) can feel like a spiritual experience. All we can hope for, is that each new love relationship will bring us different challenges. We hope that as we grow we will not become trapped in familiar, unhealthy patterns that get us stuck. Delusion or not, love is something we should all sign up for. It’s an antidote to fear, horrific TV news, sickness, and other suffering. Love is the answer. And when life gets us down, when we feel, shame, loneliness, victimized, pressured, indecisive, or angry, love is the only choice that will work every single time. It won’t always have an instant result and it won’t always come back directly to us with the precision of a ping pong ball, but a loving act will change our biology and change the world. One selfless act at a time. Don’t fear love, nor waste it thoughtlessly. It is the biggest gift you will ever receive. Ya listening guys?

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3 thoughts on “Real Men Hate the Word Love

  1. Right on Wendy! Love is a chopice that must be created on a dialy basis. It grows out of caring behavior. Once we get past the infactuation phase we can grow our connection so that out love, sex and relationship is a real spiritual experience.

  2. Thanks for the insightful essay, Dr. Wendy. You’re doing a great service w/ your candor and frankness.

    Some of us suspect that many other feelings can mimic love, especially in the short term. For men, especially, there’s love-like adrenalin high and devotion that can flow from infatuation or a sense of out-of-the-ordinary stimulation or, even, escapism. And, how about attachment to a rescuer? In some weird parallel to the Stockholm Syndrome (when captives become attached to their kidnapper), it can be the case that two people are drawn together because they are each rescuing one another from their “ordinary” daily travails. That sense of being elevated, treated uniquely and rescued sure can generate short-term highs that feel the attributes of love. But, upon closer examination it’s really more like falling for the lifeguard at the beach (or swimming pool). — Thanks for continuing to help distinguish these heart emotions.

  3. Dr. Walsh, I would like to propose that Love is an insufficient word as it is used to describe too many things. Like the Eskimos have 80 words to describe different types of snow, so our language needs to evolve to provide the broad range of descriptions to the loves that exist. We love a book, we love our children, we love a certain color, we love another adult human being. We love animals, we love certain foods, we love particular sensations. A single word being used to describe distinctly different chemical balances and feelings. The love of a person after intimacy, the love of the same person after a disagreement are by no means the same although they share the same core. As you say it is a verb, but to me it is a badly abused verb, lost in its flexibility and uncertainty.

    Lets be creative and start adding words to the language (that’s the joy of english, we can do that) and coin words to differentiate between these various levels of love. Maybe start with three: INADE for the feeling for a parent toward a child when looking at the child sleeping peacefully in their crib/bed. UOVE for the feeling of an adult toward another adult when sitting as a restaurant, holding hands, looking only at each other and realizing that the sounds of the room are missing. NAEVIE for the feeling of a favorite food being offered and the sensations of that first taste sliding gently across the pallet, triggering the wonderful memories which made the food a favorite.

    Shall we start a new dictionary?

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