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I'm going to be writing several different posts on love: what it is, how to express it, how to accept it, etc. I figure I'm old enough I can do that now ;) So, here is the first one, on Selflessness.

The act of loving someone requires the ability to express several different things. One of those very important expressions is Selflessness.

Selflessness is the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of another, motivated by no concern for yourself. A selfless act involves you deciding that the action you are performing, the statement you are making, whatever you are doing for another person is because you believe that it is in the other person's best interest and not your own.

Committing a selfless act doesn't mean that you blindly make up whatever you think might be in the best interest of the person, either. Just doing what YOU THINK is nice for another isn't very selfless…you've forgotten to include what THEY THINK in the process.

This, of course, means that they have to provide you with some kind of feedback. How do you know whether what you are doing is in their best interest if they never provide you any feedback to let you know that it is, or tell you that it is to begin with? You are acting blindly, and the result is you are acting in what you HOPE is their best interest. In which case they could end up feeling annoyed or even angry, rather than gratified that you were considering their welfare.

Acting with selfless intent towards someone you love is not as easy as it might seem. We tend to review everything in terms of what is in our best interest. But it becomes easier, once we start feeling love towards another, to want to do something for them. That feeling of happiness when we see their response to something we've done for them is, in a way,

Date: 2013-02-08 06:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ideaphile.livejournal.com
If my car is dirty, and I spend the afternoon giving it a thorough detailing, do I call myself selfless? Do I argue that the car received the entire benefit of the work, and all I got was sweaty and tired?

Well, of course I don't. The car is my property. It can't receive any benefit at all. All the benefit goes to me. I feel better because my car looks better.

When something good happens to someone you love, do you not benefit? Do you not become happier whenever a person you love becomes happier?

Well, of course you do.

The only way you can be selfless toward one you love is to provide a benefit in a way that hurts you-- that causes you enough pain to outweigh the pleasure you feel from the help you give. That would take some kind of pain, wouldn't it?

Not even give your life to save your love's life would do it. Wouldn't you still feel, as you died, that the trade was worth it?

Even the ultimate self-sacrifice isn't necessarily a selfless act.

And of course a person worthy of your love would actually be hurt by the kind of bizarre behavior that would truly qualify as selfless. Prostrating yourself across a cold, muddy puddle so your love doesn't have to step around it? Selfless; you're uncomfortable for the rest of the day, and your love gains essentially nothing. Robbing a gas station so you can give your love $23 and a candy bar? That would be selfless. You go to jail for a year, your love gets to go see a movie.

I don't believe you could love the sort of person who would let you be selfless. And by definition, that sort of person can't love you back. Hardly the basis of a good relationship.

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