Love Is A Taught Construct



How do you know how to love? Did you sit wide-eyed in front a large screen as colourful costumed characters hugged one another to a saccharine sound-track so this imbued you with the concept of what love was? Did those cartoon characters explain to you what it is to love? Did their exaggerated voices and crazy antics, followed by the moral of the story teach you what love is? Perhaps you read about it in love, heard it in songs and studied the many ways in which this ultimate emotion appears and affects people. Chances are that you have been affected by those hugely affecting passages from the great works dedicated to love. Chances are you have been captured by haunting lyrics and catchy jingles which also profess to tell you what love is. They have all played a part. You may have learned about love from the version churned out by the media, of Hollywood romance, dashing heroes, fair maidens, tarts with golden hearts, the good man who rides to the rescue, the wayward soul saved by love. Love may have been explained to you from the pulpit as a higher love, something which transcends all earthly manifestations, a love so powerful and complete that it sacrificed its only son in order to demonstrate its love for humankind. This godly love is all around you, it touches each and all and is mighty in its effects. Love may have been learned from furtive fumbles down alleyways, sneaking into bedrooms when so young, the exploration of warm and urgent body parts accompanied by those every so sincere protestations of love. A haphazard journey through galloping teen years as nothing and everything makes sense all at once. Then again, love might have appeared to you in the form of something small and furry, an unconditional (so long as it was fed) love which was loyal, giving and ever so cute. So many erudite tutors, learned lecturers and wise proponents of what love is. Love thy neighbour, love yourself, love is all you need, woman in love, it must have been love, crazy little thing called love, to know him is to love him, we found love, how deep is your love? Love is all around us, in us, between us, lifting us up and letting us down. It is everywhere and you may well have been taught by many of the above and more besides as to what love is.

However, love most likely will have been taught to you by those who created you, those two people who came together and through their own pleasure created you. Two people who decided that they would shoulder the responsibility of creating life, nurturing it and bringing a new person into the world. Those two people accepted many, many responsibilities from such a decision and act. Chief among them was the responsibility of teaching that person what love is. Through their offices they have furnished each and every one of us with the notion of what love is. A deep-seated and visceral understanding of this is how love feels, this is what it looks like, this is what it sounds like. This is love. From those two people more than anything else we are first grounded in the concept of what love is. This grounding lasts a considerable time and whilst there are other factors to be considered, as I have mentioned above, it is this lesson which is learnt invariably first and the one lesson which resonates beyond all others. So often we are in their hands when it comes to being taught about love. So, what is this taught love? It has so many, many facets.

Love is being told to never trust anybody.

Love is being made to re-write the entire essay because of one spelling mistake.

Love is being sent to stand outside on a cold winter’s day until all three verses of Ode to Autumn are recited correctly.

Love is knowing nothing is ever good enough.

Love is understanding that someone else knows better than you what is best for you.

Love is turning away from the reality.

Love is standing straight against a wall for several hours for speaking out of turn.

Love is for the weak.

Love is being told that when I am gone nobody else will look out for you.

Love is succeeding.

Love is building a wall as high as possible.

Love is trying until it hurts and gaining that final curt nod of approval.

Love is being seen and not heard.

Love is fulfilling your potential and securing that legacy.

Love is hurting you even though it hurts me, but someone in this household has to do it and it won’t be him will it?

Love is reading to yourself than being read to.

Love is living in the shadows and hoping not to be noticed.

Love is being the best.

Love is the preserve of the powerful.

Love is being denied a birthday party because the other children are too stupid.

Love is being undermined in order to prevent conceit.

Love is a begrudged recognition and the injunction to try harder, go further, climb higher, run faster, study longer.

Love is burning your hand but not crying.

Love is don’t tell anybody about our secret.

Love is a righteous beating.

Love is being distant and pretending things never happened.

Love is being sent away.

Love is not being told.

Love is splendid isolation.

Love was taught this way.


13 thoughts on “Love Is A Taught Construct”

  1. Love is a warped concept when you grow up in a Narcissistic family. Even when you get away from them your perception remains forever distorted.

    Here’s what I was taught:

    Love is about taking it.
    Love is playing along.
    Love is letting someone else determine my options.
    Love is being a slave.
    Love is taking my feelings and shoving them down.
    Love is being humiliated and hurt by you, because it pleases you to do so.
    Love is someone not doing their part and saying it’s your fault. (I lived that long before reading it on HG’s site!)

  2. Some have been raised that way- and end up empaths so as never to have that done to another ( they also do not expect much in return) and some end up as narcs. So sad!

  3. I’ve been waiting for this. Thank you for sharing a part of your story and for saying it with such beautiful words.

    My heart is hurting for that lost little boy. None of us are perfect, but we should all realize how criticism to a child is always magnified. I believe in discipline as many of us have failed to provide that adequately, but I hope we never lose sight of how important it is to teach love, properly.

    As a child, I see how it must have felt as though you weren’t valued… but know that more than you realize… are proud of the man.

    Again, thank you for reposting this glimpse inside a portion of your personal journey and for sharing it in the most eloquent way.

  4. You certainly have a point here HG. How do we know what love is or what love should be without a society regulating the standards for how to feel and how to act? In my case I had a mother who made a mediocre pretence at love, but it was all a fake show to manipulate her surroundings. My father on the other hand is an emotional man that was somehow early on stunted in his ability to express feelings. There wasn’t really that much love to go around in my family and I got my notion of what love is from great works of literature (women suffering and sacrificing themselves for love) and from a TV show I still remember distinctly (sorry! sorry! I haven’t met a man yet who would watch it): I loved The Thorn Birds and the sad story of Father Ralph and Meggie; I still remember the sweetness of crying those tears of tragedy watching it to the end. What kind of a notion of true love in the real world do you get from that kind of conditioning?

    Your childhood notions of love are on the other hand so sad. That’s harsh reality for many children; I recognise some of them from my own formative years. Then I would prefer the alternative of tarts with golden hearts instead and to live in a dream world I guess. But that’s my problem from the beginning; dreaming too much.

  5. Hello! I was wondering can I be a Narcissist and have empathy? I mean, I know it’s one of the defining criteria to lack it but there are things I read I can strongly relate to. Or is it possible that I am lesser or mid-ranger as you put it and the empathy I think I have is actually something else?

    1. No you cannot.
      It is more likely that you are empathic and have narcissistic traits or you have many narcissistic traits and few empathic traits, but you are not a narcissist.

  6. This was painful to read.What many of us experienced as children was an ugly, painful, frightening, embarrassing, distorted and dysfunctional version of love. It was our parents’ version of love.
    That is not the version of love I want to give and receive. I reject it. Completely.

  7. Such awful experiences, made even worse by the fact people assume any parent that does not allow you to starve is automatically a perfect one; emotional abuse is way too often overlooked.

  8. This makes me sad everytime i read it 🙁 having children myself i cant ever imagine blatantly abusing them in this way. It damages the core of who they are. Damage can be undone with therapy or improved. My heart goes out to all of those abused 💓

  9. I get what you say HG but every single relationship you have ” Love” is there for your taking.

    You’ve often said that your victims ( appliances) are out to destroy you No they are NOT .

    You destroy them piece by piece until there’s nothing left for you to take from them anymore AND then move on & repeat the cycle over & over again.

    You know what you are & as much as you think you have control you haven’t ..

    Sadly .

  10. If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
    If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
    If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
    If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.

    If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
    If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
    If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
    If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
    If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
    If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
    If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.

    This beautiful poem was given to me when I was pregnant, and I have referred to it often.

  11. This is very sad to think of little HG having to endure this treatment. However, the positive side is that you have on many levels come out triumphant and have not remained in that small, hurt state.

    I was thinking about this post today and I remembered a Lesser somatic telling me how he had a horrible mother and ran away from home at 15, and I later learned he started getting in trouble with the law when he was still a minor.

    He came from poverty and has since grown into a 40 yr old schlub who is satisfied with working out, getting girls pregnant, going to the bars and working as a lawn sprayer for a living. He does not have your intellect, talent, accomplishments. I have no doubt he would love to have them as his own, but even your blog posts would confuse him, as he’d cry that there are ‘too many big words’.

    His life is, for the post part, fucked. He has nothing, largely because of his own poor choices but also he simply lacks the intellect and abilities you have. Clearly, you were self aware enough to avoid these poor entanglements, where he was not.

    Your achievements are a good thing and worthy of attention. The Lesser somatic is pretty much a life wasted and that saddens me, no matter how big a jerk someone is. It’s still a life.

    So I suppose what I am saying is that while it saddens me to hear of your boyhood hurts, it pleases me that you have been able to gain strengths from it, as well as insights with which you now share.

    And if you ever really want to undergo a daunting task, try discussing literature with a somatic.

    ‘Er…dat dere is a metaphor….dat Melville uses too many big words…um…dur…’

    (True story.)


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