Love, the Feeling, versus Love, the Capacity (Immature Love versus Mature Love, part 2)


A properly (or fully) developed human being is a Loving human being.

Love, ultimately, is a capacity. A capacity that develops as the result of developing many other capacities and virtues and behavioral predispositions. Some of these are of the heart, and some of these are of the mind. They include (but are not necessarily limited to):

• Patience
• Discernment
• Resilience
• Forgiveness
• Perspective
• Understanding
• Wisdom / Discernment
• Objectivity
• Fairness / a sound sense of Justice
• Conscience
• Responsibility
• Integrity
• Self-Awareness / Self-Observantness
• Courage
• Proactivity
• Honesty
• Kindness
• Gratitude / Appreciativeness / Thankfulness
• Compassion
• Empathy
• Warmth
• Friendliness
• Affection
• Charitableness / Generosity / Service
• Brotherliness / Sisterliness (Oldest child looking out for younger siblings)
Metta (Motherly or Fatherly love and concern for another human being; closely related to philia and Brotherliness / Sisterliness)

If a person does not have *ALL* of these capacities developed—if they are not character traits (as opposed to sporadic situationally specific behaviors, meaning behaviors dependent upon optimal circumstances for them to be exhibited)—then a person will not really be able to love (in any durable or sustainable or consistent way).

In other words, to the extent that a person has not developed these characteristics and traits and virtues and behavioral predispositions, a person’s capacity to love will be accordingly compromised and inconsistent / self-serving.

To the extent that a person has developed these capacities to the level / depth of character traits, then a person will be able to love and to respond lovingly in less (even much less) than optimal conditions.

The feelings of love are fleeting and fickle and unpredictable at best. However, the capacity to love is something that can be developed and instilled, exercised and increased, if—*if*—the prerequisite virtues and traits and behavioral capacities are instilled and developed and become deeply rooted.

If a relationship based on (or started under) love, the feeling, is to last, then it will depend on the level of development that each of the lovers has attained in terms of Love, the capacity.

If they have developed (and or are working on developing) Love, the capacity, and concomitant prerequisite virtues and character traits and behavioral capacities / habits, then the transition from love, the feeling, should be tenable and a more enduring Love should develop and be sustainable.

If Love, the capacity, is underdeveloped or non-developed in the two lovers, then love, the feeling, will likely be very fleeting, short-lived, and fickle / volatile, and the two will end their relationship (likely badly, with heartbreak for one or both), and the two will wander the earth as falling leaves, as troubled guests, searching out other likewise similarly troubled guests (and there are many, millions and millions of troubled guests walking this dark earth and further mucking things up) with whom to experience love, the feeling, instead of learning how to genuinely Love and how to develop Love, the capacity, within themselves, so that the next time love, the feeling, finds them or happens upon them, they will be better prepared to sustain it, nurture it, care for it (and most of all, care well for the other person with whom they have found this foretaste of heaven on earth), and help make transition into a deeper and more abiding and fulfilling Love relationship.

If love is to truly “win,” it won’t be because of random acts of charity and goodness alone, it will be because of a significant increase in level of inner development in the person. That’s how Love truly wins.


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About John

I am a married, 46-year old, Midwesterner, with four children. My primary interest is in leading a very examined and decent and Loving life; my interests that are related to this and that feed into this include (and are not limited to) -- psychology, philosophy, poetry, critical thinking, photography, soccer, tennis, chess, bridge.
This entry was posted in chapter 13, Conscience, Conscious Love, Courage, Differentiation, Emotional Maturity, Friendship, Generosity, Gratitude, Honesty, Immature Love, Love is Not a Feeling, Mature Love, Perspective, Real Love, Self-Love, Spiritual Growth, Thích Nhất Hạnh, Truth, Waking Up, What is Love? and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Love, the Feeling, versus Love, the Capacity (Immature Love versus Mature Love, part 2)

  1. Respect is good too…

    • John says:

      Respect is definitely good and necessary–essential–too. My list wasn’t inclusive, and was written on the fly. Fromm, in his book, “The Art of Loving,” counts “respect” (as well as “giving,” “responsibility,” “care,” and “knowing”/understanding) as one of the five necessary marks or signs of Love. He defines respect as the ability to see a person as he or she is, to be aware of the person’s uniqueness, and that the other person grow and unfold as he ought to (or as the gods or God intends), and apart from my own (or anyone else’s) egocentric (self-serving) or exploitative designs. In other words (or in Kantian terminology), I value or regard the person never as a means alone, but always as an end in him- or herself as well. That puts a definite limit to the infantile self-centeredness and narcissism and the word revolves around me-ness that we’re all born with and meant to out grow.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Cory, I appreciate it!

      Kindest regards,


  2. Professions for PEACE says:

    Thank you for all you put into your posts John, and this one is outstanding. The first thing that came to my mind was how wonderful it would be if – along with their marriage certificate – all newlyweds were given this (non-inclusive) list you’ve shared as a starting point for them to understand the loving work to put into themselves and the relationship itself.
    Also I really like this: “they will be better prepared to sustain it, nurture it, care for it (and most of all, care well for the other person with whom they have found this foretaste of heaven on earth), and help make transition into a deeper and more abiding and fulfilling Love relationship”
    Beautifully put! Truly a compassionate article, sharing of your highest insights.
    With gratitude, Gina

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  5. Sam says:

    I have been reading your posts lately , I really find them insightful 🙂
    During my time on your blog , I learnt the true meaning of love.
    Having understood that , a question that has been circulating my mind for a while is that can you TRULY love more than one person at a time?
    Another thing that had me confused that can a person remain loving, if yes for how long , in real-sense, when he/she sees that the other person does not or can not accept it ?
    I understand that I should not expect anything in return but how long is it healthy to keep loving when you know that perhaps there might never be any full fledged intimate relationship between the two ?
    PS : This is the first time I have ever posted on any of the millions blogs that I read (trust me on the million part 🙂 )

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