Link back to index.html
Love is NOT Blind but Love is Super Sighted
All the passages below are taken from John Powell and Loretta Brady’s book “Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?” published in 1985.
A good working definition of interpersonal love is that of psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan: "When the satisfaction, happiness, and security of another is as real to you as your own, you truly love that person." This desire to see you satisfied, happy, and secure is not just a feeling. Feelings are instant, transient, and ambivalent. Love is rather a decision (I am going to love you) and a commitment (I will say, do, and be whatever you need for your satisfaction, happiness, and security). In other words, I decide that I am going to love you as I love myself. And I am going to provide as best I can whatever promotes your true happiness.
This is what love is. And this is the love that must be the motive of all communication. Like many other things, a motive can be recognized by its consequences or results. "By their fruits you shall know them." If my motive is love, the first thing I will do is to observe you, to look at you with the super-sighted eyes of love. Love is not really blind; it is super-sighted. A loving person sees things in another that non-loving eyes can never see. I make this observation of you in order to read your moods and recognize your needs. On one day you may need me to celebrate a recent success with you. On other days you may need me to sit silently with you in a dark room of grief. It may be that you will need my tenderness at times. At other times you may need my toughness. But whether you need blue velvet or blue steel, I will try to supply it.
In trying to love you, I may even offer you a gift of love which you may not want or appreciate. I may think that love asks me to challenge you or confront you. This may not be easy for either of us. However, if my motive is really love, I will try to say and do and be whatever will promote your satisfaction, happiness, and security. But please be patient. There will be times when I am uncertain, when I will hold out my gift in trembling hands. I ask you to believe that I am offering this gift because I love you and want whatever is best for you. And also, please be forgiving. There will no doubt be times when my own pains will overpower my best intentions, when I will act selfishly, when I will do and say hurtful things.
But true love, if it is rightly understood and if it is my motive force, will always offer these two gifts:
1. The gift of myself in honest self-disclosure.
2. The gift of yourself by contributing to your awareness of your own unique goodness and giftedness. This is my contribution to your self-esteem.
At times it may seem that these two gifts are incompatible. If I am angry at you or feel hurt by something you have done, I owe you this honest self-disclosure. If I try to keep it bottled up inside myself, I will act it out in stupid, immature ways. I will always be harboring a hidden agenda. On the other hand, if I tell you of my anger or my hurt, even if I own them and take personal responsibility for them, such disclosure may not promote your self-esteem.
There is no easy answer to this dilemma. It will certainly help if I do own and accept responsibility for my reactions, whether appropriate or inappropriate. It will likewise help if I make it clear that no judgment of you or your intentions is implied. However, I think that the rest of the dilemma must be resolved by trust in human intuition. If I tell you of my anger or hurt---not in order to make you feel bad or to get even with you, but only because I want you to know me---I think you will realize that. You will intuitively recognize my sincere and loving intention.
Those occasions when confrontation seems in order also present a difficult situation. There could well be times when I see you on a self-destructive course and feel the need to confront you. Obviously before doing so I should honestly evaluate my motives. If I am confronting you and challenging you to change so that it will be easier for me to deal with you: that is not love. That is manipulation. If I am confronting you and challenging you to change because I think that you will be much happier: that is love. But once I have checked out my motives, I will have to rely on your intuition to know that my confrontation is intended as a gift of love.
In any case, it is no doubt much better for me to tell you of my anger or hurt and to confront or openly challenge you. I know that I would rather have you be open with me. I would rather have your anger, hurt, or challenge out in the open where we can deal with it. The only alternative is to leave me guessing, and to leave you bottling up your thoughts and feelings. Again, what we don't speak out we act out. So if you don't level with me, your suppressed thoughts and feelings will probably take the form of pouting, distancing, or wall building. Whatever is not openly expressed in a relationship becomes a subtle force of destruction.
Sometimes it is difficult to know what is the loving thing to do, to say, to be. Each of us is a profound mystery. It is not easy to read another's mood and recognize another's needs. At times I will be flying blind. Sometimes love is blue velvet---tender and gentle. Sometimes love is blue steel---firm and tough. Consequently, love is an "art," not a “science." There are no hard and fast scientific formulas guaranteed to produce definite results. Love is a delicate art that requires many sensitive decisions. Sometimes love leaves us filled with doubts, somewhere between a rock and a hard place. We wonder what love would have us do, be, or say.
At times I have thought that it is much easier to know what love excludes rather than what love requires. However, once more a loving intention is recognized by its deeds. The motive of love would clearly exclude:
1. Hurting or punishing you.
2. Retaliating for something you have done.
3. Putting you down, back into your place.
4. Getting you off my back by closing you out.
5. Keeping you at a distance.
6. Manipulating you to feel or act in a way that would please me.
7. Ventilating, dumping my "emotional garbage" on you.
8. Refusing to listen to you.
9. Building walls between us.
10. Ridiculing, chastizing, judging, or competing in order to surpass you.
In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us what love is and what love isn't, what love does and what love does not do. Of the ten things listed above, Paul would say, "Love is not like this. Love doesn't do these things." "Love," he says, "is patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud. Love is not haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not insist on doing things its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges. Love is loyal: it hangs in there with the one who is loved. It looks for what is best, and stands firm in defending the person who is loved" (paraphrasing is ours).
Finally, there is one other common misunderstanding about the meaning of love. Most of us fear that the decision-commitment of love is like volunteering for "doormat duty." Sometimes it seems that it should be very easy for others to take advantage of a loving person. The truth is that love is not a synonym for naivete. One of God's central commandments is to "love our neighbor as we love ourselves." A proper love of self always enters into good communication. And love of self would never tolerate being used or abused. Love of self does ask me to go out of myself to read your moods and recognize your needs, but it doesn't ask me to let you become a domineering tyrant or an emotional bully. That would not promote either your happiness or my own.
If someone were to begin to abuse me verbally, or try to manipulate me, to treat me as a doormat or a dingbat, it would neither be loving myself nor loving that person to smile sweetly and turn the proverbial "other cheek" for more punishment. It is true, I am sure, that the only formula for human happiness is to become a loving person and to make one's life an act of love. This is the supreme and universal beatitude. But this does not mean that we are invited to crawl through a long and dark tunnel on bleeding hands and knees. "The glory of God is a person who is fully alive," according to Saint Irenaeus. To become an underdog in a human relationship, to invite or accept inhuman treatment, to become a thing of convenience for another is neither the fullness of life nor the way of love.
The contents of this book have been divided into twenty-five guidelines or directives for good communication. In a very real sense they are also twenty-five guidelines or directives for loving oneself and others. To quote God's word once more:
Make love the rule of your life
and you will be very happy.
And a happy life to you and all those whose lives you will lovingly touch! [200-206
Link back to index.html