Have You Ever Truly Madly Fallen In Love?

How do we find this sometimes elusive mixture of emotion and attachment, and why does it at times go so horribly wrong?

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“I want to be with you. It’s as simple and complicated as that.” Charles Bukoswki.

On thinking about our pursuit for purpose or meaning, it seems that for many of us there is also a search for love. A particularly romantic kind of love. The kind that holds us up when everything around us crumbles, and which stays in our mind, body and soul, when all else falls into despair.

That heady experience that makes your heart race and consumes your thoughts. The realisation that, when eventually we come to know that material things are not the route to our complete happiness, all you need is ... well, as The Beatles said, “Love is all you need.”

Yes … love conquers all!

But how do we find this sometimes elusive mixture of emotion and attachment, and why does it at times go so horribly wrong?

The key is in what you are looking for. To love, or to be loved.

Many people are looking for that person that can love them rather than a person they can love. This means the quest underpinning life becomes how to be loveable. Is it power and wealth, physical attractiveness, or your personality that will capture the heart of that special person … ‘the one’, making them fall for you?

I ask this because there is a crucial difference between needing to be loved, and wanting to love. It defines how you experience being 'in love'.

So, which of these descriptions do you think is more ‘you’?

Do you love because you need someone? Or only because you are loved? Some people find life unbearable on their own, and so find someone who has expressed an interest, and then quickly fall head over heels in love with them.

Or … do you need that person because you love them? Are you loved because you love? Some people are able reach out and love in general; people and humankind. Here they also find someone special that they can love easily, intimately, and where the love naturally comes back to them.

This is called Mature Love …

According to the highly respected social psychologist and psychoanalyst, Eric Fromm (1900 – 1980), there are 5 elements that make up mature love.

1. Giving – The giving of yourself in the way of joy, interests, humour, understanding, all that makes you ‘you’ and makes you alive. This is not to be confused by the giving up of yourself to the other where you sacrifice who you are to become who you feel the other wants, or needs you to be.

2. Care – the active concern for life, and the self-growth of whom you love.

3. Responsibility – to be able and ready to respond to the needs of another human being.

4. Respect – the ability to see a person as they are, with their unique individuality. To respect and desire the other to grow and develop for their own sake.

5. Knowledge – Being able to step outside of yourself and know the other in their own terms. In seeing them angry, to also know that they are anxious and worrying.

There is more than one type of love.

Brotherly love is love among equals. Motherly love is love for those whom are vulnerable and helpless. Erotic love is the craving for physical and psychological union with another. Self-love is mature love of humankind, and thus love of my own self as part of humankind.

Do you need them all?

So, how can you love, and be loved more?

To experience more love, begin to focus on bringing these three virtues into your life in a more purposeful way …

1. Discipline: Be committed to your life and to love others. Be mindful.

2. Concentration: Be with yourself and learn about you, minus distractions.

3. Patience: Love cannot be rushed.

And remember, “To love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love” Erich Fromm (The Art of Loving, 1956).


Dr Sandra Westland

Sandra is a UKCP registered Existential Psychotherapist and Counsellor. She has nearing 20 years of experience as a therapist helping people through various difficulties. Her research interests include weight issues, body image, eating disorders and trauma. As an advanced practitioner of Inner Child Therapy, she works with trauma of various kinds experienced from childhood. Sandra teaches, lectures and runs workshops across Europe.