Threat to society
Falling in loveand getting back up
Part of the problem is that we have one little word for emotions that are as complex as a computer manual!
(Excerpted from The Why Files.)
My name is Jimmy
Watkins. I am seven years old. My uncle's computer is fun to play with.
I am going to help him write his book.
What is love?
Love makes you
have puppies. Mom wouldn't let my dog out this week. She said, "Buffy
is in love. We don't want any more puppies." I let her out when Mom
wasn't looking. It made Buffy happy.
But love doesn't
make people happy. That is what Billy Smith said. Billy Smith is in sixth
grade and he knows everything. Billy Smith says, "Love make you feel
warm all over your body. It makes you feel light-headed. It makes your
stomach go flip flop."
I was in love
last week. Mom took me to the doctor. I got a shot where I sit down and
I did not even get a lollipop.
The man on the
TV says that love is giving. I gave Betty Green the chicken pops. I gave
Junior Jackson a black eye. But I think love is just giving good things.
The man on TV
says that love is in the afternoon. And love is made out of chocolate pudding.
That is what the commercial says. "Thanks for the love in my lunch
box." Do you know what is in the lunch box? A can of chocolate pudding!
Love also tickles your nose and makes you belch. The lady sings "Canada
Dry tastes like love." Ginger ale tickles my nose and makes me belch.
And the man and
the lady on the TV said that love can be put together. Last night I got
out my Lego building blocks. I asked real nice and said please, "Can
you help me make some love?" Daddy's head turned red and the veins
on his neck stuck out. And he said, "Never say that again!" I
asked Billy Smith. Billy Smith is in sixth grade and he knows everything.
He said that love is four-letter word. You will have to eat soap if you
say words with four letters!
My Dad says I
watch too much TV. He said "Love is not in the afternoon. Love is
not chocolate pudding. Love is liking somebody just the way they are."
I like Betty
Green. She is in first grade. She is beautiful and she has a neat chipped
front tooth. I ride my bicycle past her house without my hands. Today I
even stood on my seat. She just yelled that I am mentally retired.
Mom and Dad love
me just the way I am. Even when I got sick on the brand new carpet. They
loved me after I Buffy a haircut with the weed whacker. Buffy still loves
I know I am loved.
That makes me feel good. Like when I come in from outside when it is three
hundred degrees below zero. My nose is dripping down to the knees of my
snow pants. My Mom gives me a big cup of hot chocolate. It makes my insides
feel warm. That is what love is.
I hope you love
me, Uncle Jim. Buffy just wet on your notes.
I have got to
keep my office door locked! But in his seven-year-old way, Jimmy does point
out some problems with this slippery word "love."
Part of the problem
is that we have one little word for emotions that are as complex as a computer
I say, "I
love deep-dish pizza." "I love my brother." "I love
my best friend." "I love my wife." But obviously, I don't
love Lois the same way I love pepperoni pizza. (Well, there was this one
exciting evening that involved spaghetti sauce, but that's another story!)
And I don't love my kids the same way I love my wife.
Four kinds of love
The Greeks were
smart enough to give the world Philosophy 101, gyro sandwiches, the Olympic
games, and fourcount 'em, fourseparate words for love.
a word that came from the Latin god of hormones, was used to refer to sensual
or sexual love. I eros deep dish pizza because it makes my taste
buds feel good. In the same way, I eros the sensation of sea breeze
in my face, my ragged Indiana Wesleyan sweat shirt, hot tubs, and sexual
Phileo and storge describe friendship love and love for
one's family. I storge my Mom and Dad. I storge my kid brother.
I phileo my old college roommate. I phileo all the people
of the world. I phileo anybody who buys this book!
is a willful, deliberate, I-choose-to-love-you love. (The Latin word is
"caritas" from which we get "charity.") This love is
not based on warm mushy feelings or even on a relationship. It is unconditionaljust
like the love Cubs fans have for their team even during its usual losing
St. Paul provides
us with a classic definition of agape.
Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It is not rude,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
Love never fails.
With four words
for love, things were less confusing in ancient Greece. When Marcus reached
over in the back seat of the chariot and whispered, "I love you,"
in Daphne's ear, she knew exactly what he had on his mind.
have said, "I eros you," which roughly translated would
have meant, "Baby, you look hot in that robe Why don't you take it
He could have
said, "I phileo you," which meant, "Let's be good
friends." (Now there's a phrase that we guys love to hear!) Or perhaps,
"I storge you" ("I love you like a sister"),
but that somehow wouldn't have gone with the wine and the moonlight.
Finally, he could
have chosen, "I agape you," which would have meant, "I've
thought this through and have decided that I am going to love you unconditionally
no matter what comes our way."
So if someone whispers "I love you" in your ear, you may want
to respond with "Hold it right there. Let's define terms!"
During the dating
period, many couples emphasize the eros side of the three-sided
"love triangle." But Dr. Frederick Meeker of California State
Polytechnic University believes the "half-life" of romantic love
is about three months. (If , like me, you didn't do that well in chemistry,
that means if a romance has an intensity of "10," it will degenerate
to a "5" in just ninety days. In six months, eros will have eroded
to a 2.5 on the romance Richter scale.)
That's why most
relationships last about six months. Without adequate amounts of phileo
and agape, the lop-sided triangle comes crashing down.
Love that lasts
longer than dinner and a movie, then, is a healthy blend of eros
(physical attraction), phileo (friendship), and agape (commitment).
Intersecting love triangles
And, from what
side we enter the "love triangle," can also have an effect on
the stability of the relationship. We can, as Hollywood would want us to
believe, approach love with our hormones (eros). But as we've said,
eros usually has a diminishing dimension. In the rush of estrogen
and testosterone, we're often blinded to the seriousand sometimes dangerousflaws
in our partner. (Eros love is not only blind, it's deaf and "dumb".)
That's why sometime around six months, when the hormonal haze begins to
clear, that we start to wonder, "Why am I dating this person?! What
was I thinking?!" Relationships entered in to from the eros
entrance, very quickly see the "Exit" signs.
to the love triangle is with our hearts (phileo). Few people want
to hear their hopeful partner say, "Let's just be friends," but
this entrance does offer hope for a lasting relationship. Remember those
human interest news stories of couples who have been married for seventy-five
years? The one's who look like they've just been unearthed by an archaeologist
in Egypt? The reporter asks the standard question, "What's the secret
to a long marriage?" Inevitably, they mumble through toothless gums,
"Because we're each other's best friend."
friends" takes the pressureand the masksoff a relationship. You
see the person clearly, rationally with all their strengths, weaknesses,
good and bad hair days, emotional ups and downs, endearing and annoying
habits, positive and negative interactions with other people in a variety
of settings, the whole cafeteria line of life. And if you decide, this
is a person you'd like to spend a lot more time with, eros has a
chance to develop along with the commitment of agape.
Loislike most hormone-driven malesfrom the eros side. (She was
gorgeous!) She, however, had just broken up with a guy and only wanted
to be friends. We dated a few times, but nothing erotic seemed to be happening,
so I decided, "Well, if I can't have her as a girlfriend, I can at
least enjoy having her as a friend."
And so for months,
we were just that. I thoroughly enjoyed heavy discussions with her over
lunch in the college cafeteria about the Vietnam War, the oil embargo,
whether the Beatles would get back together, life after death, whether
the Brady Bunch's Jan needed professional help, religion, and what
type of people were marriage possibilities. She was smart, funny, loved
to be with all kinds of people, and enjoyed most of the same things I enjoyed.
I'm really not
sure what happened that fateful night in November of 1972. We were driving
back from a concert with four other friends, and somewhere on I-294 west
of Chicago eros happened! I think it shocked both of us. But by
February 1973 we were engaged and thoroughly in phileo, eros, and
The final way
to approach a relationship is with one's head (agape) which would
work fine for Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame or in countries where
arranged marriages are still contracted. I'm not recommending this approach
unless, of course, you're a Vulcan. But one arranged couple made a good
point. "You Westerners bring the pot to a boil, get married, and then
take it off the stove. In Eastern cultures, we get married and put the
pot on to boil. It starts slow, but we keep it on the stove." I know,
I know. It sounds like a fortune cookie!
But here's my
point. Relationships entered into from the eros side face many more
challenges for survival than those approached from the phileo front.
But without the commitment of agape love, any relationship is in
the express lane to Heartbreak City. (So, if you want agape from
your partner, and they're only interested in other forms of love, take
the exit ramp!)
Scalene love triangles
That nice equilateral
triangle of love (and our bodies) begins to change shape with time. After
observing thousands of couples, Dr. John Money believes romantic love begins
to fade after two to three years." An old movie about marriage break-ups
is more optimistic with the title "Seven Year Itch." Actually
marriages which end in divorce have a median length (same number longer
and shorter) of 6.8 years, but that doesn't make quite as catchy a title.
And so, those who buy into the Hollywood illusion that love is strictly
eros, despair and divorce.
that are built on phileo and agape love, can continue to
mature and developeven if slightly out of shapegeometrically and physically.
While Lois and
I don't have the same level of physical passion for one another's bodies
that we once did, there is an even more passionate commitment to one another's
emotional and spiritual well-being. Lois has graciously encouraged a "silly
city boy" to pursue his dream of writing and speaking for a living.
And I've supported Lois as she worked on her graduate degree. We've been
there for each other when we've had to purchase pain pills and anti-depressants
in the economical fifty-five-gallon drum. And believe it or not, that's
even more attractive than young love.
Which is why,
I suggest that the classic love song "The Rose" needs some rewriting
to truly capture the essence of love.
Some say love
it is a feeling,
that makes the heart rate rise,
Some say love it is a hormone,
that makes our race survive.
I say love it is a diaper
that's changed at three a.m.
It's attendance at recitals, and games
that never end.
I say love is buying tampons
and jockstraps for your mate,
I say love it does for others,
the things you truly hate.
Then again, maybe
I better stick with prose!
Copyright © 1987 James N. Watkins. All rights reserved.
Lookin' for love
Love and communication
Jim's weekly newspaper column on relationships
I read your article, "fallin in love ...and gettin back up" few days back and after reading it, thought I should share my thoughts about it. I'm writing this with the believe that you will receive these thoughts in a positive manner.
First of all, on the lighter side, I think you should restict yourself to prose (like you said) and refrain from writing poems.
Second, you are committing heresy by glorifying a contaminated human emotion "love" to the angelistic purity Paul defines. (John Calvin would have called you "pathetic"). Greek had 4 different words for nuances of love.. Tamil has 20 different nuances, so what are you gonna do then? Are you gonna define all of them in the light of scripture or gonna escape by restoring it to the standard phrase "by whatever name you call, a rose is a rose"? Pathetic human race!!...with just 8% of brain working, behaves as though it has fathomed the meaning of love that passath all understanding!!! Just imagine to what level of arrogonce the human race will elevate itself, if all the brain cells were designed to work!!
Here is your height of ignorance: You call agape as unconditional (I suppose you mean "giving" with "no expectation" of whatsoever in return) and then turn around and advice to take the "exit ramp" if the partner does not give agape. Should it not be "give agape even if you don't get anything in return"? Rings a bell? Yes, The Savior Jesus Christ told this! Regards,
Tanya (March 2004)
It's taken me a long time to realize just what you stated. I feel being "in love" "in
lust" and infatuation has nothing to do with real love, and it always passes. I believe
it's a biological thing that happens to our bodies and minds so we copulate and can
continue our species. I also think that's why so many people move in and out of
relationships because they're continuing to look for that rush of those feelings and think
that it's love, but it's not. Anyway, I like you site!
I just read your the excert "Falling in love... and
getting back up" on the gospelcom.net website and I
just wanted to thank you for expressing so clearly
what a lot of humans spend their whole lives trying to
understand for one single moment!
I just came out of a four-year relationship with the
man I thought was "the one". We'd made plans to get
married and even talked about exactly how many
children, dogs, cats, fish and ants to have. I was
very badly burnt by the breakup because the reason he
gave was that he was "drained". And all this while I'd
joyfully supported him through college, bad jobs with
worse bosses, and chasing his dreams all the way to
Bible school while trying to help him deal with the
baggage of his childhood and upbringing. And no, I
never felt "drained". I dragged my deflated, tattered
heart back to God and asked him what was going on, and
the answer I got was, "You only feel drained when the
love you feel for the person is something other than
what I feel for you."
I still don't know what the story is here, whether he
never felt "agape" for me, whether he really is the
one God intended for me but somehow things went wrong,
or what. I've made up my mind that I'll take the rest
of my life as a journey with God, and as long as
between the two of us, one has a map, I'll just enjoy
the ride for what it is. Thanks again for the article.
It's been a while since it was written; I hope your
nephew's allowed into your office now. :oP Sharon (February 2004)
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