Jens Oliver Meiert

Love Reciprocity

Post from August 26, 2015 (↻ August 23, 2017), filed under .

Love! What a wonderful topic. My mind would instantly turn into a good number of directions, from love in our personal lives to different forms of love, to the powers of love, to the possibly universal character of love. I don’t understand it and I’m a bit out of touch with it these days, despite modest attempts to examine or locate it. I wonder how you feel.

Here I want to touch an idea we best call love reciprocity (there aren’t an awful number of search results for this term precisely, but mutual love has clearly been discussed at length).

The idea of love reciprocity, most notably in the romantic flavor of love, comes from the desire for mutual love. The idea stems from the wish that if we love someone, then that someone would love us back. That wish appears to be very strong, in my eyes well explaining why we’d seek it, and how we may want to believe in love reciprocity, too.

Love reciprocity makes us prefer to not love without being loved back. Evidently, that would violate the idea. If what we want is reciprocal love, and we love, but the recipient refuses to share some of his or her love, too, then that’s not reciprocal—it’s unilateral (and painful). And so there’s an odd twist then when on the receiving end, we do want to be loved without having to love back. The very same thing (response to love) that we wish from others is something we don’t want to, and probably cannot, guarantee them. (Maybe that’s the paradox of love reciprocity?)

And so we make two points:

  1. More often than enough, what we may be looking for is reciprocal, mutual love, which is different from and more specific than “just” love.

  2. We seem to catch ourselves with a double-standard when not wanting to love, or not wanting to have to love, someone who loves us (which is understandable), but being all disappointed when someone we love doesn’t love us (which, too, is understandable).

As always there’s more but I think this makes for an interesting detail to consider when it comes to the wonderful topic of—love. In consequence, maybe we should consider not making reciprocal love a goal, and learn how to better love actively, unconditionally, and—unilaterally? Even if that sounds all political now.

About the Author

Jens Oliver Meiert, photo of July 27, 2015.

Jens Oliver Meiert is an author, developer (O’Reilly, W3C, ex-Google), and philosopher. He experiments with art and adventure. Here on meiert.com he shares and generalizes and exaggerates some of his thoughts and experiences.

There’s more Jens in the archives and at Goodreads. If you have any questions or concerns (or recommendations) about what he writes, leave a comment or a message.

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Last update: August 23, 2017

“The end does not justify the means.”